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Georgia State Leads Training to Protect Healthcare Providers from Ebola, Other Viral Threats

Georgia State University will train some of the nation’s leading infectious disease control researchers on healthcare-associated prevention strategies against Ebola and other threats at its School of Public Health laboratory in the Petit Science Center, May 23 – 27.

The training workshop will allow researchers to gain practical experience and learn techniques for handling surrogate viruses to study personal protective equipment for infection threats to healthcare providers. Surrogate viruses are used as stand-ins for other viruses that may be too difficult or dangerous to use in laboratory experiments.

Lisa Casanova, assistant professor of environmental health at the School of Public Health and co-principal investigator for the Prevention Epicenter of Atlanta Consortium Hospitals, will lead the training. She joined a team of researchers at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology in this prevention program, which is focused on new methods to protect patients and health care workers from infectious diseases that can spread in hospitals and healthcare facilities.

“We know that hospital-acquired infections are a serious public health problem for patients in the hospital, but healthcare professionals are also at risk for getting infections while doing their jobs,” said Casanova. “My research is focused on a crucial need in public health preparedness, the need to protect our healthcare workforce from occupational infection.”

The Prevention Epicenter of Atlanta Consortium Hospitals (PEACH) is focused on strategies for protecting healthcare providers from Ebola and other occupational infection threats, and builds on Casanova’s previous work using simulation-based approaches to understanding how healthcare personal protective equipment works and how to improve its effectiveness. PEACH brings together a team of physicians, environmental psychologists, human factors researchers, microbiologists and health care epidemiologists to seek new strategies to reduce the spread of infections in hospitals, including new and emerging threats such as Ebola.

“Dr. Casanova’s experience using surrogate viruses in research on healthcare personal protective equipment led to a request from officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Georgia State to host a training workshop for top scientists at other epicenters,” said James Weyhenmeyer, vice president for research and economic development at Georgia State. “This effort demonstrates Georgia State’s inter-institutional leadership and collaboration, and showcases our state-of-the-art research facilities.”

The workshop is funded by Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.