Our research themes

OHSU Portland Aerial Tram

Our mission is to improve the lives of workers through biomedical and occupational research. At the institute, we stand at the intersection of the workplace and well-being. We do so through basic and applied research, outreach and education.

We have 4 main research themes or directions that respond to our mission:

  • Sleep and shift work: Impact on safety and health: Adequate sleep is not only essential for our safety and productivity but also for our overall well-being and health. At the institute, we are developing research programs to study common sleep problems and implement solutions, ranging from screening and treating sleep disorders, educating communities and workforces about ‘sleep health’, to implementing interventions designed to improve sleep, safety, productivity and overall health in the workplace.
  • Genome instability and human disease: Our researchers are using cutting edge science to characterize the adverse effects of occupational exposures, determine the mechanisms by which these exposures produce negative health outcomes, and apply that information to develop specific worker training and other strategies to help prevent these exposures.
  • Injury, treatment, recovery and prevention: Physical injury is the largest contributor to workers’ compensation costs in Oregon. To reduce this burden on worker wellness and productivity, our scientists are conducting innovative research on the causes, treatment, recovery and prevention of workplace injuries.
  • Total Worker Health: Oregon Healthy Workforce Center (OHWC) researchers are developing, testing, and disseminating programs that integrate occupational safety, health, and well-being by addressing organizational factors like work safety practices, effective supervision, and health promotion. This includes vulnerable working populations, including young workers, agriculture workers and isolated workers, which have factors that may contribute disproportionately to workers’ compensation costs.

The institute also engages in outreach, education and dissemination efforts. We provide resources, content and educational opportunities through conferences and talks on relevant and emerging workplace safety and health topics throughout our communities. We’re also improving the safety, health and well-being of workers through collaboration with partner organizations and dissemination of evidence-based toolkits and tools. Check out our podcast and social media pages (Facebook and Twitter) for news, events and current research.