OEE Research - Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Education and Research Center

OEE Research

Faculty and students involved with the OEE program work on a wide range of research. A unifying theme for all of the research conducted by our students is the emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex problems.
The following are examples of the types of research opportunities trainees in the OEE program have access to.

Taconite Worker Health Study
Current and former students are examining the health of taconite (iron ore) miners with data obtained from the Taconite Worker Health Study. Taconite mining in Northeastern Minnesota provides a majority of the iron for the US steel industry and iron mining has been an important economic driver for the state for more than a century. Along with the benefits of producing steel comes some potential health consequences associated with the unique exposures in the industry. OEE trainees have conducted research related to lung cancer, mesothelioma, non-malignant respiratory disease and biomarkers of exposure response to silica and elongate mineral particles.

US Radiologic Technologists Cohort study
The US Radiologic Technologists Cohort study is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota, the National Cancer Institute and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists that has followed a cohort of 146,022 registered radiologic technologists for 35 years. It is primarily a cohort that evaluates the health effects of low level repeated occupational ionizing radiation exposure, however the nationwide nature of the cohort has provided other opportunities. Recent and ongoing student research includes an evaluation of cataract risk associated with ionizing radiation exposure  and a study of how socioeconomic factors as determined by neighborhood influence the association of radiation and circulatory diseases. Both of these studies included the application advanced and novel epidemiologic methods.

Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH)
Agriculture related illness. The Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH) is one of ten Agriculture Safety and Health Centers of Excellence funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). UMASH investigators have partnered with the MCOHS OEE program to analyze the risk of infectious diseases related to certain occupational exposures in animal agriculture.

The University of Minnesota has a wide range of opportunities to develop collaborations to explore health and occupational exposures.

In addition to the School of Public Health University of Minnesota Academic Health Center houses the School of Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy, School of Dentistry, and a Comprehensive Cancer Center. These resources along with the vast network of scientists at the University of Minnesota and close connections to a number of businesses in the region, including several Fourtune 500 companies, creates considerable opportunities to develop research.

Students in the OEE program have conducted research evaluating fluorochemical exposures in 3M chemical manufacturing workers and others have partnered with faculty at the cancer center or medical school’s Division of Pulmonology to integrate laboratory and clinical science into their research. In all research the benefit of interdisciplinary collaboration is emphasized.