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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health


The Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) is a NIOSH Education and Research Center (ERC) funded by Grant #T42OH008421.  The SWCOEH supports research, education and outreach in occupational and environmental health. It is under the leadership of Elaine Symanski, PhD and George Delclos, MD, MPH, PhD who serve as Director and Deputy Director.


The mission of the SWCOEH is to promote and improve health, safety, and well-being in the workplace and the community.

Board of Advisors

An external advisory board comprised of members from industry, labor, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and academia provide guidance to the SWCOEH on current and future directions.


The SWCOEH was established in 1977 as a NIOSH-funded Education and Research Center (ERC), now one of 18 ERCs in the nation.  In 1985, the SWCOEH became a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health.  In 2010, the SWCOEH, in collaboration with our colleagues at the University of Utah, received a large 5-year Worker Education and Training (WETP) award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to provide hazardous materials and emergency response training to workers.  Having grown considerably since we were established, we also conduct research on how environmental and occupational exposures affect health and on how to mitigate health risks associated with these exposures.  

SWCOEH Directors

2011-present Elaine Symanski, PhD
2006-2011 Sarah Felknor, DrPH
1997-2006 George L. Delclos, MD, MPH, PhD
1991-1997 Lawrence W. Whitehead, MPH, PhD, CIH
1988-1991 Patricia Buffler, RN, PhD
1985-1988 Edward J Fairchild II, PhD
1977-1985 Marcus M. Key, MD, MIH

What We Do


The threats to health and well-being posed by occupational and environmental factors are complex and require interdisciplinary and innovative approaches to improve the health of workers and communities.  In addition to utilizing the best available research practices and interventions, solutions must also consider geographic, economic, behavioral, cultural and political dimensions.  The SWCOEH addresses these threats by providing graduate-level education in environmental and occupational health, conducting research into the causes, prevention and control of disease and injury, engaging in research to practice activities, and providing continuing education and outreach to our stakeholders.


We conduct research in areas that include military health, ergonomics, farmworker health, workplace violence and air pollution epidemiology. Funding primarily comes from the NIH, CDC NIOSH, DOD, and FEMA.

Graduate-Level Education

The SWCOEH provides a variety of graduate-level training opportunities for occupational and environmental health professionals through our industrial hygiene, occupational and environmental medicineoccupational epidemiology, and Total Worker Health®.

Continuing Education and OutreachFarmworkers

The SWCOEH Continuing Education (CE) and Outreach Program serves as a training resource for professionals by delivering specialized courses in response to current training needs and responding to emerging issues in occupational and environmental health.