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Faculty & Staff Honors

UMiami: Researchers Receive State Funding to Study Human Impact of Harmful Algal Blooms

To support scientists on research efforts to improve the understanding of the potential long-term human-health impacts of harmful blue-green algal blooms, the Florida Department of Health announced research awards to three Florida universities, including the University of Miami (UM), the University of Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Florida Atlantic University.

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis considers these grants important, as they can help advance the crucial research that is needed to ensure Floridians and visitors that they can safely enjoy Florida’s waterways. Water and natural resources are what make Florida a desirable and unique place to live and visit, he said to medical communications at the UM Miller School of Medicine. When these resources are threatened, he added, Florida’s economy is threatened as well.

From the Miller School and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez, assistant professor at the University of Miami Department of Public Health Sciences, and Dr. Kim Popendorf, assistant professor at the Rosenstiel School, will serve as co-principal investigators on a research project titled “Diversity and Innovation in Screening and Prevention of Exposure over the Long-term (DISPEL) to Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).”

HABs occur when colonies of algae, such as plants that live in the sea and freshwater, grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. While they are rare, HABs can cause human illnesses that can be debilitating or fatal.

Potential outcomes of the project include improved environmental and/or human toxin tests and a better understanding of the health risks for people with variable exposure to the toxins.

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