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Four new research centers to explore link between oceans and human health

ARLINGTON, VA. AND RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the National Institutes of Health, have announced funding for four joint Centers for Oceans and Human Health (COHH). The centers will be located at the University of Washington, the University of Hawaii, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, and the University of Miami.

The federal agencies expect to invest a combined total of $5 million annually for the next five years to support the four centers. The centers will bring together experts in biomedical and oceanographic sciences for the first time to study the effects of harmful algal blooms, marine pathogens, and the oceans' vast potential for drug discovery. The combined expertise of the participants will accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, ranging from the development of new sensors for early warning systems to enhanced progress in finding novel compounds with pharmaceutical potential.

"The formation of this funding partnership demonstrates that NSF and NIEHS are addressing the current and future needs of a growing human population, one that is increasingly dependent upon the ocean's resources," said Arden Bement, acting director of NSF. "It also demonstrates NSF's commitment to bridging major interdisciplinary gaps in science, and among different parts of the research community." Added Margaret Leinen, NSF assistant director for geosciences, "The new centers are a wonderful example of how basic research can focus on a topic of great practical significance. We look forward to the discoveries that will come from this program, and to the important new applications that will follow."

This effort, supported by the respective strengths of NSF and NIEHS in physical and biological sciences, said Leinen, highlights the capacity of federal research agencies to work together in a collaborative fashio
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