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Fogarty, NSF award ecology of disease grants

September - October, 2008  |  Volume 7, Issue 5

A man secures himself to a tree to collect date palms. Photo: Jon Epstein.
The sap from date palms may be a risk factor for transmission of the Nipah virus.

Photo: Jon Epstein.

In conjunction with the National Science Foundation, Fogarty has awarded eight new projects for the study of how large-scale environmental events — climate change, habitat destruction, biological invasions and pollution — alter the risks of infectious diseases.

“Ecological studies of infectious diseases are beginning to move from basic science to translational research. The results will help us to better manage these diseases,” Fogarty program director Dr. Joshua Rosenthal says.”

This year's awards, totaling $16 million, support studies on:

  • Bacterial pathogens and human infectious diseases in an estuary subjected to extreme climatic events. (Rachel Noble, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Virulence trade-offs in a vertebrate virus-—infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN)-—a disease of salmon and trout. (Benjamin Kerr, University of Washington)
  • Agricultural antibiotics and human health, using a multi-scale ecological approach to the development and spread of antibiotic resistance. (Joseph Eisenberg, University of Michigan)
  • Environmental determinants favorable for the presence and transmission of vibrios, bacteria typically found in saltwater and important human pathogens. (Crystal Johnson, University of Southern Mississippi)
  • Eco-epidemiology of West Nile virus emergence in urban areas. (Tony Goldberg, University of Wisconsin at Madison)
  • Ecology of anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease in cattle, and the relationship of disease reservoirs, risk and incidence, (Felicia Keesing, Bard College)

Awards funded entirely by Fogarty are for studies on:

  • "Immune landscapes" of human influenza in households, towns and cities of southern China. (Derek Cummings, The Johns Hopkins University)

  • Ecology, emergence and pandemic potential of Nipah virus, a virus harbored in fruit bats, in Bangladesh. (Peter Daszak, Center for Conservation Medicine).

The coincidence of broad-scale environmental changes and the emergence of infectious diseases points to underlying and predictable ecological relationships, said Rosenthal. "The EID program links these components to produce a comprehensive understanding of disease transmission."

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