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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Georgia State, CDC Partner on Research of Atlanta Beltline Infrastructure Project

The School of Public Health at Georgia State University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have received $100,000 in grant funds to work together on research to examine the impact of the Atlanta BeltLine on its surrounding communities.

The two-year pilot study will fall under the umbrella of the School of Public Health’s Partnership for Urban Health Research (PUHR). The funds have been granted by the CDC and Georgia State University.

Researchers involved with the interdisciplinary project say little work has been done to understand the effect the BeltLine has on the quality of life for people who live in the neighborhoods along the current and future path of the BeltLine, which encircles intown Atlanta. The former rail corridor, which is 22 miles long, includes multi-use paths, parks and connections to public transit.

Co-investigator Dr. Christina Fuller, assistant professor in environmental health at the School of Public Health, will evaluate the BeltLine’s effect on air quality.

“The major problem we have here in Atlanta is air pollution from traffic.” Dr. Fuller said. “We want to find out where people along the Beltline are getting their exercise. Is it near a high traffic area where the potential for exposure is higher or is it through a park?”

Co-investigator Dr. Scott Weaver, research assistant professor in epidemiology and biostatistics and director of data and research services for the School’s Center for Excellence in Health Disparities Research, will be responsible for developing the sampling framework and advising on statistical analysis. Part of the project will include surveying 400 residents along certain sections of the BeltLine to compare their perceptions of the multi-use path and attitudes about physical activity, crime and other issues.

Dr. Holley Wilkin, associate professor in the Department of Communications and School of Public Health, is the co-principal investigator along with Candace Rutt at the CDC. Dr. Wilkin, an avid walker, recalls that when she first moved to Atlanta, she would get frustrated walking in many areas where a sidewalk would suddenly end.

“It’s really exciting to me that the BeltLine is creating an opportunity for people to come together to help solve community problems and space for people to be able to walk to places like coffee shops or grocery stores,” said Dr. Wilkin.

Mr. Paul Morris, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine Inc., said he is pleased to see Georgia State and the CDC teaming up to study the impact of the infrastructure project. “We have the opportunity, and the obligation, to positively impact each unique neighborhood around the Atlanta BeltLine,” Mr. Morris said. “Our job is to create a healthy, vibrant environment for everyone by building the foundations to work, learn, play, and shop near where they live.”

The collaboration to study the BeltLine will involve more than 20 investigators at Georgia State and the CDC with expertise in public health and a range of other disciplines, including several affiliated with PUHR. PUHR brings together faculty from across Georgia State who are interested in collaborating on research that examines the factors in cities that influence health and finding solutions to improve people’s health.

To learn more about the BeltLine’s potential impact on public health, go to: “Civic identity, social connection.”