Teaching Risk Assessment in Cairo, Egypt

by Abdel Kadry, John Vandenberg, and Ila Cote

My colleagues and I were delighted to respond to an invitation from Professor Dr. Osama El-Tawil, the Chairman of Toxicology & Forensic Medicine Department, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, to provide an international training course on risk assessment. We arrived in Cairo on May 16, 2012.

Over the next three days, we offered comprehensive training on current, state-of-the-art risk assessment practices as used and implemented by EPA and various international organizations. The course is titled “Risk Assessment as a Critical Tool for Everyday Challenges.”

More than 300 men and women from throughout the Middle East attended the training. The course offered hands on training in the primary areas of risk assessment (i.e., hazard identification, dose-response assessment, exposure assessment, risk characterization). Additionally, we covered risk communication, because outreach to the public and other stakeholders is essential to the successful implementation of risk assessment.

Throughout the course, there were discussions of real environmental and public health problems experienced in the country. Students had the opportunity to apply skills learned in class to these problems in several small breakout sessions. In addition to learning about risk assessment, the participants formed new friendships and extended their professional networks.

The course also attracted a large number of newspapers and TV stations. This training represents a culmination of knowledge sharing among science experts in the field of risk assessment. (For more information about the course go to: EPA Risk Assessment Class at Cairo University.)

It was such great opportunity to meet the leadership team of Cairo University, especially: Professor Dr. Prof Hossam Kamel, President of Cairo University; Professor Dr. Azz Eldin Abostat, Vice President of Students Affairs, Cairo University and Professor of Agriculture Science; Professor Dr. Gamal El-Din Essmat, Vice President for higher studies, Cairo University; Professor Dr. Heba Nassar, Vice President for Environmental and Society Services, Cairo University; and Professor Dr. Fathy Farouk, the Dean of  the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University.

On Sunday, we were invited by the Dean of the Veterinary School to tour Cairo University (home to 250,000 students), meet the faculty and discuss their research. We visited the famous library of Cairo University, the veterinary clinic, microbiology laboratories, and the latest incineration facility in Cairo University, which is charged with sanitary disposal of infectious biologic materials.

About the Authors:  John Vandenberg, Division Director; Ila Cote, Senior Science Advisor; and Abdel Kadry, Senior Advisor for Scientific Organizational Development and International Activities in EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment.