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World Health Organization Recognizes UMass Lowell


The University of Massachusetts Lowell's Department of Work Environment has been selected by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Knowledge Network Hub on employment conditions as a social determinant of health.

Only eight other institutions from across the globe were chosen as Knowledge Networks in other project themes.

"The designation of the University as Knowledge Network Hub in Employment Conditions is a recognition by the World Health Organization of the maturity and intellectual accomplishments of the Department of Work Environment, now in its 18th year," said Prof. Rafael Moure-Eraso, principal investigator in the project. "WHO is asking us to summarize and share our work with the world.  We are very excited to be selected as this hub."

The role of the Work Environment Department, part of the University's School of Health and Environment, as a Knowledge Network Hub will be to assemble scientific evidence of the relationship between employment and health. The data collected will underpin recommendations regarding structural and internal employment variables affecting health and health inequalities.

The department's task relates to its ongoing academic work, which has clarified the close relationship between public health and the work environment. The international network developed by Work Environment through the years will be tapped to obtain first-hand information of nations' priorities on improving employment conditions and proposed interventions to improve them. Brazil, Mexico and India are the first countries under consideration as network participants.

            The selection was announced by the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health established in 2004.  The commission is charged with demonstrating that influences across the socio-economic spectrum - such as poverty, malnutrition, bad housing, arrested childhood development, inaccessible and unaffordable health care and  employment conditions - contribute to the health of a nation.  Previously, WHO assessed only the size and efficiency of a nation's health delivery system as the principal determinant of health.

Work Environment's selection continues a 10-year relationship with the World Health Organization. The department was chosen in 1996 as a World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization Collaborative Center in Occupational and Environmental Health. In 2000, it received a Fogarty Program grant from the National Institute of Health to develop Centers of Excellence in Occupational and Environmental Health in Brazil and Mexico. 

            UMass Lowell's role in the project will include collaborations by the University departments of Work Environment, Regional Economic and Social Development, and Economics.  In addition to Moure-Eraso, who directs the project, individuals involved include Dr. Supriya Lahiri, co-principal investigator; and Doctors David Wegman, Marian Flum, Carlos Eduardo Siqueira, Chris Tilly and Robert Karasek as scientific collaborators. Work Environment graduate student E. Massawe also will participate.

UMass Lowell, a comprehensive university with special expertise in applied science and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students more than 80 degree programs in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, and the School of Health and Environment and the Graduate School of Education.  Visit the website at

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