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Foodborne Disease and Public Health: Summary of an Iranian–American Workshop Overview This summary describes a U.S.–Iranian workshop called “Foodborne Disease and Public Health: An Iranian–U.S. Workshop,” which was held in Washington, DC, on November 13–15, 2007. As described in the Preface and in Chapter 1, the workshop was one in a series of cooperative efforts between the United States and Iran. The project of which this workshop was a part was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with assistance from the Academy for Educational Development. Foodborne disease surveillance has been a major topic of mutual interest for Iran and the United States. The two countries have collaborated in matters of foodborne disease in the past, with the idea of sharing experiences and knowledge in order to make progress in a field of science that benefits greatly from international cooperation. The overall objectives of the workshop were to facilitate the exchange of ideas about foodborne disease and public health and to promote further collaboration among Americans and Iranians in this area of mutual interest. With this in mind, the workshop planning committee, in consultation with other participants and the institutions and organizations represented, focused the program on foodborne disease in a broad sense. As reflected in the agenda for this workshop (Appendix A) and in this workshop summary, the planning committee invited experts to address a variety of topics of mutual interest, ranging from the surveillance of outbreaks of foodborne illness to approaches to medical training in the Iranian and U.S. educational systems. Risk assessment methods were included because they can be used as a tool to decide which pathogens
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Foodborne Disease and Public Health: Summary of an Iranian–American Workshop are of most public health concern. Several aspects of cancer and potential relationships of gastrointestinal microorganisms and chronic disease were of special interest to a number of Iranian scientists. The 11 presenters from Iran and the 10 presenters from the United States represented many different fields of inquiry. Appendix B lists the names and affiliations of meeting presenters and other participants. Appendix C lists the facilities that the Iranian guests visited during their three-week visit to the United States. THE WORKSHOP Michael P. Doyle and Mohammad Reza Zali served as the primary moderators for the workshop. Over the course of the workshop, several Iranian and U.S. colleagues moderated individual sessions. The entire workshop was conducted in the English language, but Iranians had the option of listening to the proceedings as interpreted into Farsi. To foster clear communication, the moderators encouraged attendees to ask questions and to alert speakers of the need to speak more slowly. After an introduction to the Iranian–U.S. collaborative effort of which this workshop was a part, panels of experts addressed a series of topics: foodborne disease surveillance in Iran and in the United States, selected gastrointestinal diseases in Iran and their investigation, the application of risk-assessment methods to food microbiology, selected aspects of cancer, potential associations of the gastrointestinal microbiota and chronic diseases, and approaches to health education. Periodically, presenters and other attendees took part in lively discussions. During the final session, all participants were invited to express their ideas and suggestions for future collaborative activities. Chapter 7, “Opportunities for Future Collaboration,” summarizes the lengthy discussion that took place on the last day of the workshop. Throughout the workshop, and especially during the closing session, participants expressed considerable interest in identifying topics for future workshops, in pursuing avenues to initiate cooperative research and other joint activities, and in finding methods to maximize the benefits of collaborative activities between Iran and the United States. This report is a summary of the workshop presentations and discussions. Appendix D provides a list of abbreviations used during the workshop and in this summary. Meeting transcripts and slides used during presentations served as the basis for the summary, but some of the content has been rearranged for greater clarity. None of the statements made in this workshop summary represents group consensus.