NIH News Release
John E. Fogarty International Center
for Advanced Studies in the Health Sciences

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

National Science Foundation

Wednesday, November 1, 2000
NIH: Jennifer Cabe, 301-496-2075
NSF: Cheryl Dybas, 703-292-8070

Ecology of Infectious Diseases Grants Jointly Announced by National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, and National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia — Initial awards have been announced to fund 12 research projects under the new Ecology of Infectious Diseases initiative. The joint NIH-NSF initiative supports efforts to understand the underlying ecological and biological mechanisms that govern relationships between human-induced environmental changes and the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases. The highly interdisciplinary research projects will study how large-scale environmental events — such as habitat destruction, biological invasion, and pollution — alter the risks of emergence of viral, parasitic, and bacterial diseases in humans and other animals.

The initiative is a team effort to bridge gaps between scientific disciplines in order to meet a critical need. The grants are funded jointly by NSF and three NIH Institutes and Centers — the Fogarty International Center (FIC), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). These four organizations have jointly committed more than $23 million to fund the projects over a period of 5 years. Other Federal agencies participating in the program are NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

"FIC initiated this collaborative effort to address an important gap in the ability of the scientific and public health communities to predict the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases in relation to our rapidly changing global environment," says FIC Director Gerald T. Keusch, M.D. on behalf of the NIH partners. "This initiative will allow institutions throughout the world to participate in studies that can lead to the development of predictive models for disease emergence, allowing implementation of strategies to prevent and control disease before an outbreak occurs."

Adds NSF Director Rita Colwell, Ph.D., "The current spread of the West Nile virus, for example, brings home to all of us the critical need to understand the ecological dynamics of diseases and pathogens. This kind of knowledge is at the heart of understanding our planet's biocomplexity, the interrelatedness of all life to its environment. The studies funded by this competition demonstrate how basic science can have important societal impacts."

The following are successful applicants for the new awards:

NSF is an independent federal agency which supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. NSF-related materials and information are available at FIC, NIAID, and NIEHS are components of the NIH. NIH supports biomedical and behavioral research training and is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. FIC promotes and supports scientific research and training internationally to reduce disparities in global health. FIC-related materials and information are available at NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious and immune-mediated illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, autoimmune disorders, asthma, and allergies. NIAID-related materials and information are available at NIEHS seeks to reduce human diseases by discovering their environment-related causes, and by studying the variable susceptibility of people to various environmental factors. NIEHS-related materials and information are available at