Emergency Preparedness and Response

Disaster Science Responder Research Program

What to know

This page describes the Disaster Science Responder Research (DSRR) Program. The program develops and implements tools, policies, partnerships, and procedures to allow for real-time research during public health emergencies. The program also identifies and conducts research to perform outside the scope of an emergency to protect workers in the future.

person wearing protective glasses and clothing looking into a microscope


The DSRR Program looks at all workers impacted by a disaster or public health emergency. This includes workers beyond traditional response and recovery workers.

Research conducted when a disaster or public health emergency occurs can include:

  • Impact of a new exposure
  • Unexpected or severe health effects
  • Effectiveness of a proposed intervention
  • Mental health and resilience issues
  • Disease outcomes with latency periods

Research priorities

Strategic Goals

  1. Identify critical topic areas to enhance safety and health among all workers impacted by public health emergencies
  2. Address major logistical, technical, and administrative challenges associated with conducting research during a public health emergency
  3. Identify existing data collection capabilities and information resources to use or modify for occupational research
  4. Ensure study findings are rapidly shared to inform the ongoing response

Topic Areas for COVID-19

The program identifies critical topic areas to address research gaps that can be studied outside the scope of an ongoing response. The critical topic areas for COVID-19 research include:

  1. Economics
  2. Engineering Controls
  3. Epidemiology and Surveillance
  4. Mental Health
  5. Occupational Environmental and Exposure Assessment
  6. Occupational Violence
  7. Personal Protective Equipment
  8. Transmission and Occupational Health
  9. Zoonosis


Research Agenda‎

The NIOSH DSRR Program COVID-19 Research Agenda addresses occupational health research gaps in the context of the ongoing response.

A Decision Process for Determining Whether to Conduct Responder Health Research Following Large Disasters

Call to Action: Include Scientific Investigations as an Integral Component of Disaster Planning and Response

Recommendations for Biomonitoring of Emergency Responders

Research as a Part of Public Health Emergency Response