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Respiratory Diseases Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
input. The impact of the program’s research is evaluated in terms of its contributionsto worker health and safety. The committee has assigned a score of 5 in its rating ofrelevance. This reflects the judgment of the committee that the activities related tomost of the strategic goals are in the highest-priority subject areas and highly relevantto improvements in workplace protection and that the RDRP is engaged in transferactivities at a significant level. The committee has assigned a score of 4 in its ratingof impact. This reflects the committee’s judgment that most subprograms within theRDRP have made major contributions to worker health and safety on the basis ofend and well-accepted intermediate outcomes. If the committee had been given theoption of providing non-integer scores, the score for program impact would have beenbetween 4 and 5.
The committee provides recommendations intended to assist NIOSH in identifying opportunities to improve the relevance and impact of its research portfolio. Theserecommendations include an emphasis on the need to expand surveillance activities todetect exposure to those agents responsible for disease and to detect outbreaks of knowndiseases and identify new respiratory diseases affecting workers. The committee alsorecommends continued support of research on the development and improvement ofmethods to detect respiratory effects earlier and more accurately, continued researchon the molecular mechanisms driving the pathogenesis of workplace respiratory diseases, the characterization of those agents (or attributes of those agents) responsiblefor adverse respiratory effects, evaluations of genetic variability that affects workersusceptibility, and research on improving respirator technology.
The committee’s recommendations are important, despite the high scores given forrelevance and impact. The high scores reflect the guidance for ranking established bythe framework committee and the committee’s recognition of the financial constraintsthe RDRP has operated under. The committee’s evaluation is of necessity retrospective. The recommendations are prospective, and are meant to help ensure that theRDRP continues to maintain its progress toward its goal of protecting workers fromrespiratory disease.
NIOSH was established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to “conduct … research, experiments, and demonstrations relating to occupational safety and health” and to develop “innovative methods, techniques, and approaches for dealing with [those] problems” (Public Law 91-596, 84 STAT. 1590, 91st Congress, S.2193, December 29, 1970). As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the Department of Health and Human Services, NIOSH is authorized to conduct research, training, and education related to worker health and safety; perform on-site investigations to evaluate hazards in the workplace;