In late March of 2017, the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Dr. Linda Birnbaum, visited Puerto Rico to participate in a community forum on environmental health issues which was held in San Juan. On the evening before the forum, PROTECT and CRECE team members had the honor of meeting with Dr. Birnbaum to tour the Centers’ Puerto Rico-based research labs.

The forum took place on March 28th and had goals of creating a dialogue between the public and environmental health professionals in the area. Event organizers hoped that creating this dialogue could both improve knowledge of the issue in the community and improve the prevention and intervention strategies of local environmental health workers.

Crowd of attendees at the community forum held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In addition to Dr. Birnbaum, the forum hosted many influential environmental health leaders including the Director of the Caribbean Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Region 2), Carmen Guerrero, and the Assistant Secretary of Environmental Health for the PR Department of Health, Dr. Wilma Rivera Díaz. During the event, the Co-Leader of the PROTECT Community Engagement Core and the CRECE Community Outreach and Translation Core, Dr. Carmen Milagros Vélez Vega, participated in a panel with these environmental health leaders.

The event served as a great chance for making community connections, leading to many attendees expressing interest in collaborating with PROTECT and CRECE in the future.