ing. In addition, it could serve as a clearinghouse, matching skills and interests to research needs. By becoming a nucleating center or coordination node, both regional and international investigators can find out the status of current research. KERRN could facilitate communication between investigators via the web as well as through face-to-face meetings.
According to McLachlan, KERRN is going to be a “bottom-up” effort, meaning a community-based effort that reaches out not only to the scientific community but also to other kinds of community efforts. This network is designed to be transparent and nimble because issues in the area are evolving and any research effort needs to be flexible to address this, noted McLachlan.
The network has three goals: intellectual capacity, preparing for future disasters, and approaching environmental health in the region in a systematic way. First, a network in which the scientific community engages in working on problems may help to rebuild the intellectual capacity in the region, noted McLachlan. Second, KERRN can become a central data source for research plans and findings. Through analyzing these data, the center can pass on lessons learned for the next disaster. Third, it is hoped the network will help create a new model for environmental health research. Taking a systems approach, connectedness, and the realization that environmental health is the ultimate transdisciplinary subject will contribute to creating a new model for environmental health research.
Post-Katrina issues are interconnected, and what we can learn from the disaster is how to break down the silos and take an interdisciplinary approach to research.
Scientists need to break the habit of basing research approaches on who provides the money or who has the ideas, noted McLachlan. Post-Katrina issues are interconnected, and what we can learn from the disaster is to how break down the silos and take an interdisciplinary approach to research.
Hurricane Katrina affected not only cities, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but also small towns and rural communities, said Sandral Hullett, CEO and Medical Director of the Jefferson (Alabama) Health System. Most of the affected rural areas are in the “black belt” that includes counties across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. The black belt was named because of the rich soil that historically produced most of the cotton in the country. Today, the