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Public Health Institute's Alcohol Research Group Becomes a WHO Collaborating Center

September 28, 2011

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the Public Health Institute's Alcohol Research Group (ARG) a Collaborating Center for Alcohol Epidemiology and Injury.

The center will be headed by Cheryl J. Cherpitel, DrPH, a senior scientist and associate director of the National Alcohol Research Center at ARG who is well known for her international studies on the epidemiology of alcohol-related injury and violence. Since 1984, Cherpitel has been interviewing patients in emergency rooms around the world, compiling data on the association between drinking and a range of injuries that now includes 30 countries. Emergency rooms afford unusual access to this population which in most other circumstances can be hard to reach.

Much of Cherpitel's recent work has been in collaboration with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, WHO and other organizations internationally. WHO has adopted the patient interview questionnaire she designed for her ER studies for its own ER study on alcohol and injuries in 12 countries.

"The designation by WHO is an honor and recognition of Cheryl Cherpitel's outstanding work in helping us to understand the interplay between drinking and injury in many cultures so that we then can better intervene to prevent these injuries," said Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, president and CEO of PHI.

Under the aegis of the collaborating center, Cherpitel will continue her work with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) of WHO in emergency rooms in five Central American countries, providing support, training and data preparation. She will edit the book, Alcohol and Injury in the Americas: Evidence from Emergency Room Studies a follow-up to an earlier book she edited for WHO. Additionally, she will provide technical support for integrating alcohol and drug surveillance in emergency rooms where PAHO or WHO seeks assistance. Also, she will give expert advice on substance abuse documents and regional alcohol drug strategy. The center designation is for four years.

"Through this work, we are coming to understand alcohol and injury better in a global perspective and the burden that alcohol-related injuries place on society," Cherpitel said.