In 1999, the College of Public Health became the 11th college at the University of Iowa. It was organized in five departments, one of which is the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health. Being a department in a growing College creates special opportunities to obtain interdisciplinary training and to blend academic and field work.
Since its establishment, the Department of OEH has steadily added faculty, to the present level of 19. Their success in obtaining grant funds to support research, education, and outreach has swelled the total of extramural funding from $5.2 million to $10 million.
The current Department of Occupational and Environmental Health has its roots in the former Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health (PMEH) in the UI College of Medicine. Environmental issues, particularly those related to hygiene and sanitation, were an important part of the PMEH curriculum early on.
The health of farmers and farm families was another early focus, one that is retained in the present department in programs such as Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH) and the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health.