BOX 8.1

Ecology of Infectious Diseases—A Multiagency Initiative

The Ecology of Infectious Diseases (EID) is a joint National Institutes of Health (NIH)–National Science Foundation (NSF) initiative to develop predictive models to describe the dynamics of infectious diseases by supporting research that falls outside the current scope of each agency’s mainstream research programs (NIH–NSF, 2005). The EID 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 funded by this program examine 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 administered by the Fogarty International Center (FIC), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the NSF. Examples of research awards made by the EID program since 1999 included “Microbial Community Ecology of Tick-borne Human Pathogens,” “Impact of Land-Cover Change on Hantavirus Ecology,” and “Environmental Determinants of Malaria in Belize.”

Between 1999 and 2005, 42 research awards were made under the EID initiative, with total funding of approximately $60.7 million. In fiscal year 2006, the program’s sixth year of funding, $8 million was available for new awards, made up of $6.5 million provided by NSF and approximately $1.5 million from NIH. Although funding levels have increased since the program’s inception in 1999, the proportion of funding from NIH and NSF has changed (see Figure 8.1); funding amounts from the two agencies were

  • Resource and infrastructure enhancements (facilities, equipment, databases and other central resource libraries and services, research training through institutional training programs or individual fellowships, etc.), when specifically established to cross disciplinary boundaries.

  • Funding of individual research projects (through awards, grants, cooperative agreements, contracts), when such projects are designed to cross disciplinary boundaries (e.g., the Ecology of Infectious Diseases initiative; see Box 8.1).

Funding Collaborative Research

In an environment of abundant suggestions and ideas for collaborative research but scarce resources, funding mechanisms hold the key to



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