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Fogarty International Center (FIC)

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Irene Edwards

Fogarty International Center Announces First Awards for Health, Environment and Economic Development Program

Bethesda, Maryland — The Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announces the funding of 11 research projects under the Health, Environment and Economic Development (HEED) program. These awards, co-funded with 4 NIH institutes and Offices* and the U.S. Geological Survey, support innovative developmental and exploratory research and research capacity-building projects in developing countries on topics that combine the issues of health, environment and economic development. The program aims to gain a better scientific understanding of the relationship between these issues and to suggest policy measures to address the problems associated with them. The combined financial commitment from FIC and its partners is approximately $3 million over a two-year period. The program uses an exploratory-developmental grant mechanism (R21). FIC hopes to launch a larger research project grant (R01) program within three years to build on this initial effort.

"In order to tackle some of the truly critical challenges facing the global community today, we need to understand more fully the linkages between public health, environmental conditions and economic development," said FIC Acting Director, Sharon Hrynkow, Ph.D. Hrynkow noted that "HEED provides funding for interdisciplinary projects that integrate approaches from the health, social, and natural sciences, and creates teams of researchers from both developed and developing countries to create new scientific knowledge." In addition, the research produced by the grantees is intended to provide evidence and insights for policymakers to use in addressing health, environmental and economic development challenges. The collaborations between developed and developing country scientists, the establishment of research centers at project sites, gathering of original data, and creation of interdisciplinary partnerships within developing countries all contribute significantly to expanding research and training capacity in developing countries.

"Some of the world's most difficult issues involve the complex interactions these research teams are addressing. Their findings will provide valuable evidence for health and environmental policy-makers in developing countries and globally," said NIEHS Director, Dr. Kenneth Olden.

In this first round of awards, five projects will be conducted in Africa (Chad, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Ghana), three in Latin America (Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico), one in India, one in China, and one in Syria.

*The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Aging, and the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research.

The following are recipients of HEED grants:

  • Dr. Melissa Perry of the Harvard School of Public Health is collaborating with Dr. Leslie London of the University of Cape Town on a project to collect data on pesticide use in Tanzania and South Africa, characterize human exposure, and develop tools to assess the neurobehavioral and childhood developmental impacts of these exposures.

  • Dr. Max Pfeffer of Cornell University and Dr. Diana Sawyer of CEDPLAR, Federal University of Minas Gerais, are examining the effects of changes in climate and environment in the Amazonia in Brazil, with a focus on how economic development and social networks change vulnerability to malaria among sub-populations.

  • Dr. Reeve Vanneman of the University of Maryland is working with Dr. Abusaleh Shariff of NCAER in New Delhi, on a study which examines the effects of indoor air and water quality on maternal and child health, studies the effects of environmental pollutants on pulmonary diseases among the elderly, and assesses how social inequalities, gender, and poverty affect environmental exposures and how public policy impacts those health risks.

  • Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths of Tufts University and Dr. Fernando Sempertegui of the Ecuador Biotechnology Center are generating original data for analysis of the costs, risks and benefits of public policy responses to air and water quality problems in a heavily polluted urban area in Ecuador.

  • Dr. Siobhan Harlow of the University of Michigan in collaboration with Dr. Catalina Denman of El Colegio de Sonora, is investigating a paradox identified in the maquiladora communities along the Mexico-U.S. border: why have average economic indicators improved while infant mortality rates have worsened in the period since the maquilas were established in these communities?

  • Dr. Alan Krupnick of Resources for the Future is working with Dr. Zou Shoumin of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences to determine whether the use of tradeable emissions permits in a heavily polluted city in China brings the same cost effectiveness as seen in the United States, and whether the health and economic benefits obtained outweigh the costs of achieving improvements in ambient health quality.

  • Dr. Kenneth Ward of the University of Memphis is collaborating with Wasim Maziak of the Syrian Society Against Cancer in an effort to examine the health status of urban dwellers in informal settlements in Aleppo, Syria. Their research focuses on respiratory and water-related diseases and hopes to identify intervention strategies that will be most effective in relieving the environmental health risks facing these communities.

  • Dr. Burton Singer of Princeton University is working with Dr. Richard Mukabani of the University of Nairobi to address the challenge of getting proven cost-effective malaria control interventions adopted and sustainably utilized at the community level in a remote area of Kenya.

  • Dr. Michael White of Brown University and Dr. Kofi Awusabo-Asare of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana are gathering extensive demographic and environmental data in order to examine how urbanization influences environmental health risks, and how these in turn influence local thinking about environmental issues.

  • Dr. Lori Leonard of Johns Hopkins University is collaborating with Dr. Grace Kodindo of the University of N'Djamena to assess the impact of the Chad-Cameroon Petroleum Development and Pipeline Project on household economies, production activities, decision-making and health in three types of communities (a rural village, a local town with worker in-migration, and a peri-urban area of the capital city) in Chad.

  • Dr. Stuart Batterman of the University of Michigan is working with Dr. Rajen Naidoo of the University of Natal, on a project in South Africa on a project that examines risk perceptions, values and decision-making surrounding individual and institutional health behaviors in the rapidly urbanizing South Durban Industrial Basin of South Africa.

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