The Gulf Coast Health Alliance: health Risks related to the Macondo Spill (GO-HARMS) consortium will address critical concerns raised by our community partners regarding Gulf of Mexico seafood safety in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Disaster. The GC-HARMS consortium participants include the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG), and Gulf Coast communities impacted by the DWH Disaster. The coalition of community partners are represented by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (Baton Rouge, LA), the Center for Environmental and Economic Justice (Biloxi, MS), the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese Fishertolk (Gulfport, MS), and the United Houma Nation (Houma, LA). The mission of the GC-HARMS consortium is to explore the health impacts and community resiliency related to the DWH Disaster by fostering collaborative interactions amongst multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional basic and clinical investigatorsbuttressed by active participation of the community partnersto pursue both fundamental and translational research pertinent to the effects of the oil spill on human health. The overall theme of the GCHARMS consortium is to understand and communicate the human health risks of exposure to potentially hazardous food-borne petrogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH). Our goals developed in collaboration with our community partners are to, 1) assess PAH contamination of Gulf seafood caught by the subsistence fishing communities for personal consumption and commercial sale, 2) determine the toxicity of petrogenic PAH, 3) evaluate exposure and health outcomes in a longitudinal study involving the community partners measuring multiple stressor biomarkers, and 4) disseminate the findings to our community stakeholders. To achieve these objectives, the GC-HARMS consortium is comprised of four research projects, including a Community-based Participatory Research project, a closely allied Community Outreach and Dissemination Core, and an Administrative Core. Additionally, the consortium leverages support from two NIEHS P30 Core Centers to provide essential resources.
Our program seeks to address the impact of the DWH Disaster on health, illness and quality of life for the general population residing in the Gulf Coast region, and compile the scientific evidence needed to strengthen the resiliency of vulnerable populations along the Gulf Coast, enabling them to prepare for and recover from the effects of the man-made (e.g., oil spill) and natural (e.g., hurricanes) disasters. Our interest in ascertaining the current and future safety of the seafood upon which the coastal fishing communities rely directly addresses the issue of community vulnerability and resiliency following the DWH Disaster.
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