Geneticist named environmental and public health ambassador

Geneticist named environmental and public health ambassador

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A clinical geneticist and assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Nursing is the new environmental and public health ambassador for the State Hygienic Laboratory.

Sandra Daack-Hirsch
Sandra Daack-Hirsch

The Hygienic Lab announced today that Sandra Daack-Hirsch, Ph.D., accepted the one-year honorary position to help raise awareness of laboratory sciences, particularly in the areas of newborn and maternal screening.

A reception honoring Daack-Hirsch and previous ambassadors will be held at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22, at the Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville.

Much of Daack-Hirsch’s previous clinical practice and current research focuses on genetic and environmental influences on the health of babies, and explaining these often complex issues to affected families.

“My program of research involves the development of innovative strategies to communicate complex genetic information with individuals, families, and clinicians so that they can use this information to make informed healthcare decisions," Daack-Hirsch says. "As the hygienic laboratory ambassador, this year I aspire to showcase interdisciplinary collaborations that delve into issues about our prenatal and newborn screening programs.”

Daack-Hirsch is a member of the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Congenital and Inherited Disorders Advisory Committee, which advises the state’s newborn and maternal screening program. The State Hygienic Laboratory performs screening as the designated laboratory for this potentially life-saving program and informs newborn screening staff at the UI Children’s Hospital of abnormal results. The newborn screening staff informs the local care provider and works with these providers to obtain further testing and/or referral to a medical consultant affiliated with the newborn screening program. The program also provides patients with educational resources and counseling services.

The State Hygienic Laboratory Ambassadorship program began in 2009 as a partnership between the laboratory and accomplished researchers, educators, and other public figures committed to advancing the sciences. Previous environmental and public health ambassadors include Doug Herman, AP biology teacher at West High School in Iowa City and 47-year veteran science teacher; Hector Ibarra, Ph.D., director of Learning Without Limits and nationally recognized educator; and Anne-Michael Langguth, Miss Iowa 2009 and current student at the UI Carver College of Medicine.

With its renowned faculty, advanced clinical experiences and tradition of innovative leadership, the UI College of Nursing is consistently ranked as one of the best nursing programs in the nation. Its graduates are sought after as highly skilled professionals who have received a rigorous education of the highest quality.

The college is committed to preparing nurse clinicians, scholars, and educators to meet the health needs of the people of Iowa. As part of a research intensive university, the College of Nursing supports its research mission through national and international leadership in innovative educational and practice programs and the generation of new knowledge. Visit to learn more.

The State Hygienic Laboratory is Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory, with facilities located at the UI Research Park campus in Coralville, at the Iowa Laboratories Facility in Ankeny and at Lakeside Lab in northwestern Iowa. For more information about the laboratory and its programs and services visit


Pat Blake, State Hygienic Laboratory, 319-335-4177
Jamie Nicpon, College of Nursing, 319-335-9917


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