Unified NIH research agenda on climate change sought

September - October, 2008  |  Volume 7, Issue 5

A satelite image shows the retreat of the Arctic ice cap as of Sept. 29. Photo: NASA
A satellite photo shows
retreat of the Arctic ice
cap as of Sept. 29.
Photo: NASA

With global warming a ripe political and environmental issue, a working group representing 16 institutes, centers and offices has been formed under Fogarty leadership to help the NIH demonstrate the relevance of basic health research to climate change policy.

Because the approximately 900 projects funded by the NIH are scattered among portfolios in 24 institutes and centers--and because most grants support basic research only indirectly linked to global warming--the group's first task is to analyze the research in the context of probable health effects of climate change.

The group’s goal is to use the existing science base at NIH to “evolve a coherent strategy, including the identification of gaps and priorities for future investments,” says chair Dr. Joshua Rosenthal, deputy director of Fogarty’s division of international training and research.

“It appears almost certain HHS and NIH will be asked to provide such a strategy,” he said at the first meeting of the Trans-NIH Working Group on Global Health and Climate Change.

“Health research and the scientific rigor that NIH can bring will be critical to inform the growing number of climate change programs among implementation agencies.” Rosenthal said.

It plans to produce a research agenda in the next year for use by the new administration based on portfolio analysis, literature surveys, interagency discussions and at least one public conference.

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