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NSF, NIH award Ecology of Infectious Diseases grants

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have announced funding for eight projects under the Ecology of Infectious Diseases (EID) Program, multi-year effort now in its the sixth year of funding.

The joint NSF-NIH program supports efforts to create a predictive understanding of the ecological and biological mechanisms that govern relationships among human-induced environmental changes and the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases.

Interdisciplinary projects funded through the EID program will study how large-scale environmental events--such as habitat destruction, biological invasion and pollution--alter the risks of viral, parasitic and bacterial diseases emerging in humans and animals. These studies will allow public-health officials, wildlife managers and farmers to control the spread of diseases among humans, domestic and wild animals, and crops, say EID scientists.

"The role of biological diversity and habitat structure in stabilizing communities of plants, animals and microorganisms has received a great deal of attention from ecologists in recent years," said Sam Scheiner, EID program director at NSF. "As a result, our capacity to analyze and model biocomplexity and ecological dynamics, and to evaluate spatial and temporal aspects of environmental change, have become increasingly sophisticated. However, few of these advances in the ecological sciences have yet contributed to biomedical research or to public health. That's where the joint NSF-NIH EID program comes in."

Over the past 20 years, unprecedented rates of change in non-human biodiversity have coincided with the emergence and re-emergence of numerous infectious diseases around the world. The coincidence of broad-scale environmental changes and the emergence of infectious diseases may point to underlying and predictable ecological relationships. Yet both basic and applied research in infectious disease ecology have been la
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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
4-Oct-2005


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