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Feature of the month - The Mobi-Kids international coordination team

Friday, 17 January 2014 10:14
Mobi-Kids is run by the CREAL Radiation Programme, which seeks to better understand the potential risks associated with exposure to ionising and non-ionising radiation, with a view to improving public health and ensuring adequate radiation protection of the general public, patients and those exposed in their work.

The Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), an ISGlobal research center in Barcelona, Spain is the international coordinator of the Mobi-Kids study. It is situated in the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB), which is situated by the sea, next door to one of Barcelona’s large public hospitals, the Hospital del Mar. The PRBB includes seven independent research organisations focusing on human health and biomedicine

The international coordination is run by Professor Elisabeth Cardis, the international PI and scientific coordinator, and Dr. Chelsea Eastman Langer, the international coordinator. Mobi-Kids is a complex multinational collaborative epidemiological study, involving research teams  in 16 countries.
Dr Langer’s role as coordinator therefore involves maintaining contact with and answering questions from the national coordinators to make sure the project is running smoothly; reviewing and updating the study documents as needed; and conducting site visits to each centre to meet national PIs, fieldwork coordinators and interviewers and ensure common procedures are being used and maximize the quality of the information collected.

The international coordination of the project is funded by the European Commission (grant agreement FP7-ENV-2008-226873) and a grant from the Spanish ministry of Industry and Competitiveness (MINECO).

Q&A

  • How did your centre become involved in MOBI-Kids?

Elisabeth Cardis: I am the PI of the INTERPHONE study, a multinational study of brain and central nervous system tumours in adults which was conducted between 2000 and 2005(1), while I was at the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Results from the study suggest that radiofrequency radiation from mobile phones may increase the risk of some tumours, though methodological limitations prevent a causal interpretation. Given the rapid rise in use of mobile technologies in young people since then, I felt it important to conduct a similar study in young people, collecting information on other potential environmental risk factors in order to better understand the etiology and improve prevention of childhood and adolescent brain tumours.

  • Do you have any recent publications/links/resources to share that you think are relevant and important (either at the international or national level)?

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new project, GERoNiMO, aimed at closing gaps of knowledge on health effects of EMF and reducing exposure. This project, which is starting this month and will last five years, builds upon Mobi-Kids and other existing epidemiological studies, as well as experimental models and exposure and risk assessment techniques, bringing together researchers from many different disciplines (biiology, engineering and physics, epidemiology and public health, radiation protection and risk assessment and communication) from 19 different research institutions (see below) and 13 countries to address key questions related with EMF. The project will focus not only on radiofrequency radiation but on other types of EMF and study their effects on n the risks of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, behaviour, reproductive outcomes and aging.

  • What do you think is the most interesting part about MOBI-Kids?

Chelsea Eastman Langer: As the international coordinator, the most interesting part of my job - and the study - has been going to each centre for a site visit. Besides enjoying the warm hospitality, local attractions, and delicious food, it has been fascinating to see how the study is implemented in each country. This is my first experience with an international project; I had no idea how complicated they could be! Local customs and culture, language, and ethics boards all influence how the study can be conducted. Figuring out how to address these constraints while adhering to the core study protocol has been the most interesting part of MOBI-Kids.

WHO’S WHO ?

  • Elisabeth Cardis, International Principal Investigator

Elisabeth is Research Professor in Environmental Epidemiology and head of CREAL's Radiation Programme. She has over 25 years of experience coordinating ionising and non-ionising radiation studies, including the international projects INTERPHONE, INTEROCC, and the recently funded project GERoNiMO.

  • Chelsea Eastman Langer, International Coordinator

Chelsea joined CREAL in September 2011 after finishing a PhD in environmental and occupational epidemiology at the University of California, Davis. She has quickly adapted to the Spanish and Catalan work environment, conversing freely with partners in many languages and ensuring very efficient and smooth working relations with all. She always has a smile and a suitcase in her hand.

  • Laura Argenté, Project Manager

As project manager, Laura liases with the European Commission and Partners, keeps us all on task, ensuring that work progresses according to plan, that we do not overspend and that the entire consortium is happy.

  • Alex Albert, Database Manager

Also known as “Mr 5 minutes”, Alex has unlimited energy and creativity to resolve all technical issues arising from the complex computer assisted questionnaire and databases in record time (5 minutes per problem), helping with all of the different language versions (from Catalan to Hebrew to Marathi).

  • Patricia de Llobet, Research Assistant
Patricia over the years since the start of the project has had many essential roles and has made herself indispensible to the project. She has developed an extensive database of mobile phones (over 6500 models) to assist the study participants identify the phones they used; she has extensively tested numerous versions of the computer assisted questionnaire (in English and Spanish); she coordinates the day to day contact with mobile phone operators for validation studies (see WP3 description of Mobi-Kids) as well as the Mobi-Expo study  with volunteers in most Mobi-Kids country.