NIOSH Dust Tool Makes HHSinnovates Finals

For the first time, members of the public can vote until Sept. 14 for their favorite innovation, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced.

A coal dust explosibility meter developed by NIOSH with industry and commercial partners is one of six finalists in the finals of HHSinnovates, a program created to recognize innovative projects headed by HHS employees and designed to help solve the country's toughest health care challenges. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Sept. 7 that for the first time, members of the public can vote to choose their favorite innovation from among the finalists. Public voting is open until Sept. 14.

"The HHSinnovates Program recognizes and rewards good ideas and facilitates the exchange of innovations throughout the Department and beyond," she said. "Innovative ideas and practices aren’t restricted to the private sector; government workers are developing new ideas and facilitating connections to improve the way government works and improve the health of all Americans."

HHS employees are invited to submit their innovations twice a year, and the best ones are chosen in online voting by the entire HHS community. Six finalists are chosen, and this time the public will pick the "People's Choice" winner that will be announced Sept. 24. This round's finalists were among 60 submissions.

The NIOSH meter provides real-time data so underground coal miners and coal mine operators can assess the relative hazard of dust accumulations in mines. More than 200 of the devices have been sold and are being deployed in mines across the United States, according to HHS.

The other finalists are:

  • The 100K Pathogen Genome Project from the Food and Drug Administration, academia, and industry partners, which attempts to sequence the genetic codes of 100,000 strains of important food pathogens and make them available in a free, public database at the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Exchange. NIAID staff can advertise government-owned scientific and office equipment and supplies they no longer need and search items advertised by other staff members. The HHS summary says this program has saved more than $30,000 since its release in January.
  • Online Food Handler Training Project, a certification program created by the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service and used to train an average of 3,500 food handlers annually.
  • National Health Service Corps Jobs Center, an online employment site connecting job-seeking medical professionals, doctors, nurses, dentists, and mental health providers with employers in underserved communities.
  • NIH Research Health Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT), a one-stop shop for the public and the scientific community to search NIH-funded research.

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