“Nurture Your Nature” Wins Serious Play Award

Let’s Get Healthy!’s new game about epigenetics has won a 2014 International Serious Play Award silver medal!  The Serious Play Awards honor exceptional examples of corporate, military and education games, as well as games for good.  The “Nurture Your Nature” game has been used to teach epigenetics to middle school students and will be demonstrated at the 2014 Serious Play Conference at the University of Southern California in July.  Play the game!

For a full list of winners and more information about the 2014 Serious Play Conference visit http://www.seriousplayconference.com. Visit the Let’s Get Healthy! website.

Submitted by Lisa Marriott.

Welcome Summer Interns!

Colleen Hunter (left) and Jeana Yee, two of our 2014 Summer Interns.

June brings us many new faces in the form of sharp and energetic college students. This summer is no exception, and we are pleased to greet our 14 summer interns who will be supporting Occupational Health Sciences and Oregon Healthy Workforce Center research.

All of the students selected for these paid internships are either Oregon residents or attend Oregon schools. Students will spend three months working alongside researchers and faculty on basic and applied research projects, sharing their own research findings in poster presentations later in August.

Congratulations to the following students who have been selected as our 2014 Summer Interns:

  • Aviva Browning – Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR – Anger Lab
  • Jami Cheng – Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD  – Rohlman Lab
  • Devin Christiansen – Portland State University, Portland, OR – Anger Lab
  • Leanne Hicks – Portland State University, Portland, OR – Hammer Lab
  • Colleen Hunter – Pacific Univ. Oregon, Forest Grove, OR – Olson Lab
  • Michael Jacobson – Reed College, Portland, OR – Butler Lab
  • Krista Leonard – Willamette University, Salem, OR – Rohlman Lab
  • Hilary Nichols – Western Washington Univ., Bellingham, WA  – McCullough Lab
  • Tiffany Nguyen – Yale University, New Haven, CT – Rohlman Lab
  • Silvia Plascencia – Univ. of Portland, Portland, OR – Kretzschmar Lab
  • Grace Recht –­ Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH  ­ Kuehl Lab
  • Ryan Stadnik – Univ. of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO – Spencer Lab
  • Madison Trowbridge – Linfield College, McMinnville, OR – Shea Lab
  • Jeana Yee  – Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD – Olson Lab

Thank you to all of the students who submitted applications this year.  Learn more about our Summer Intern Program.


Director Steven Shea Receives Distinguished Service Award

AASM president Safwan Badr, MD (L), presents award to Steve Shea.

Congratulations to Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences Director, Steven Shea, who received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) during the 28th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, held May 31 – June 4 in Minneapolis, MN. The award was presented in recognition of his 5 years service on the AASM Board of Directors.

The AASM is the only professional society dedicated exclusively to the medical subspecialty of sleep medicine. With the vision of achieving optimal health through better sleep, the AASM sets standards and promotes excellence in health care, education and research. The AASM was established in 1975 as the Association of Sleep Disorders Centers, and has a combined membership of nearly 12,000 accredited member sleep centers and individual members, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals. From insomnia to sleep apnea, the AASM considers sleep disorders an illness that has reached epidemic proportions.

The AASM mission is to improve sleep health and promote high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards.

Health Consequences of Sedentary Work

Sit less, move often, move more was the message from Dr. Nico Pronk (HealthPartners) at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences Symposium Thursday (June 5).  He showed research evidence that providing sit-stand desks in his company was followed by reduced sitting time and reduced low back pain in employees. More than one speaker recommended standing and walking for a few minutes following sitting for an hour (or even after you sit for less time).  ‘Sitting is the new smoking’ was mentioned by more than one speaker, suggesting that prolonged sitting had serious negative health consequences.

Dr. Saurabh Thosar (Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences) followed with evidence that people who report prolonged sitting time die earlier … this is even true of individuals who are highly physically active. Consequences of sitting for as short a time as an hour are reduced blood flow in the thighs and increased blood pressure.  Dr. Jennifer Hess warned that stretching and fitness was not a substitute for ergonomics.  She focused on balance and muscle symmetry. For example, a worker returning too soon from an injury can lead to avoiding use of a muscle that was not fully recovered and this can then lead to asymmetric postures that produce to further injuries.  Shown below are Dr. Hess, Dr. Pronk and Dr. Thosar responding to a question from the audience. Occupational Health Sciences Director Dr. Steve Shea is on the right, coordinating the Q&A period.

Speakers provided examples of healthy exercise programs and addressed the need to provide exercise options appropriate for different cultural groups to have effective programs.  Below, Occupational Health Sciences Senior Research Associate Dede Montgomery introduces Kadalyst Wellness Director/Partner Kerwynn Prinzing (standing at lectern) who described an activity program that had changed her life.  A webcast of all the presentations with much more detail including data supporting the results described above will be available at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences Health & Safety Training web page under Outreach and Education, by mid-June.


Get Moving!

We look forward to next week’s symposium on Sedentary, Stationary and Physically Demanding Work. If the number of registrations is any indication of interest – wow, many of you are eager to learn more about health consequences and solutions as well. And while we look for ways to get ourselves moving during the day – whether that be sit-stand stations, walking meetings or stairwell challenges – we know that it really is a “lifestyle thing” and that our families, co-workers and organizations can be terrific motivators as we achieve better health.

For encouragement, keep in mind that my 84 year-old father is successfully demonstrating that you can make a positive change and potentially improve your health outcomes at any point. In his case, his 50 minute date with a stationary bike five or six days a week has significantly improved his health. If you are not yet convinced on the importance of moving, watch this: YouTube Preview Image And some inspiration from those of us at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.




Kent Anger wins Faculty Senate Award

Dr. Kent Anger poses with his spouse, Billie.

Congratulations are in order for Dr. Kent Anger, Associate Director of Applied Research at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences and Director of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center. Annually, faculty members at OHSU are recognized through the Faculty Senate Awards for their exceptional efforts in support of OHSU’s mission. At today’s ceremony, Dr. Anger received the 2014 Faculty Senate Award for Collaboration. This year the nominees for the Collaboration Award were from OHSU’s Affiliated Units and Institutes.

In endorsement letters provided by colleagues, Kent is described as productive, diligent, and energetic, and a genius at bringing together interdisciplinary experts to collaborate.  He is a team player who has made extensive contributions to the development of workplace interventions aimed at improving the health and well-being of workers and their family members.

We offer our heartfelt congratulations to Kent.

What’s up with Epigenetics?

Did you know that your choices can alter the way your DNA works – all without changing the “letters” that make up your genetic code? You may have heard of genetics, but what about epigenetics? It is a brand new field of science and was even recently featured on NPR!

In collaboration with epigenetic researcher, Dr. Mitchell Turker, at the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Let’s Get Healthy! developed a set of classroom lessons on the topic and an interactive video game that teaches about why our choices matter.

The epigenetics station debuted last month at St Helens Middle School, where

Students engage in Let’s Get Healthy! activities.

450 students attended the Let’s Get Healthy! fair that day.  Students could explore the interactive video game or DNA manipulatives to learn how epigenetic marks on our DNA can influence our health, our risk of disease, and can be passed to future generations.  Student understanding of epigenetics was measured using pre/post-surveys given in the classroom and through questions integrated into the game. In pre-surveys, only 8% of students had ever heard of the term “epigenetics” before.  After fair, students showed significant increases in their understanding of epigenetics and talked about it more frequently to their friends, teachers and family.

Learn more about epigenetics. Even better, play the game yourself!

This project was funded by a pilot project grant from the OHSU Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness and by the National Institutes of Health through a grant to the Interdisciplinary Center for Epigenetics, Science and Society (5P20HG00551).

Let’s Get Healthy! is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health.  For more information, visit Let’s Get Healthy!

Submitted by Lisa Marriott, Associate Director, Let’s Get Healthy!

Moving Workplace Safety Ahead by Looking Back

Thanks to OHSU staff and visitors who joined us today for our Occupational Health Sciences Safety Break Seminar: From Fur-Trapping to High Tech: The evolving Oregon workplace and its impact on workforce safety and health.

We enjoyed the opportunity to share early Oregon workplace photos while we acknowledged the great strides we’ve made in protecting workers tempered by the reminders of the many challenges ahead. We were pleased to have staff join us from OHSU’s Environmental, Safety and Health Department, OHSU Risk Management and OHSU Health Promotion.

John Burnham (OHSU EH&S Director), Dede Montgomery, Fred Berman, and OHSU Risk Management’s Michael Rochlin.


Oregon City Arch Bridge – courtesy of Old Oregon Photos.







Choke setters – courtesy of Old Oregon Photos.


Pond monkeys – courtesy of Old Oregon Photos.








Raising the pole – courtesy of Old Oregon Photos.


Celebrating OHSU Research

Nate Donley

Congratulations to all of the OHSU researchers, including our staff from Occupational Health Sciences, upon a successful research week.

OHSU Research Week is a university-wide event celebrating the excellence of research performed by students, faculty, research-ranked employees, postdocs and staff across all schools, centers, institutes and education programs.

Harini Sampath.









Megan Parish












Anna Ohlrich, Gwen Hryciw and friend.









Eleonora Juarez









Naima Laharnar
















Sudeshna Dutta


Cast Your Vote for Sunwise Contest

A Beaverton School District 6th grader from Cedar Park Middle School is the Oregon state winner of the Sunwise with Shade Poster Contest!

Please vote for Catherine and the state of Oregon in this national competition to raise awareness about sun safety. The winning student will win a trip for her and her teacher to Washington D.C. and a sun shelter for her school. Visit this site to cast your vote. Use School code: vote14. Voting is open until 11:59 p.m. EST on May 8. Vote for Oregon!

Students in grades K-8 are helping raise awareness about sun safety by drawing posters for the 2014 SunWise with SHADE Poster Contest, organized by the SHADE Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise Program.  One in five children will grow up to develop skin cancer.  It is important for children to learn about sun safety to protect their health.

Some facts about skin cancer:

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancer cases are diagnosed annually.
  • Each year, there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers.
  • Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young people 15–29 years old.
  • May is Skin Cancer Prevention Awareness Month and May 23 is Don’t Fry Day.

Ways people can protect themselves in the sun (SunWise Action Steps):

  • Do not burn
  • Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds
  • Generously apply sunscreen (SPF 30+)
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Seek shade
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand
  • Check the UV Index
  • Get vitamin D safely

Vote here!


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