New research program in health, environment and economic development

November 04, 2002

Bethesda, Maryland -- The Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced a new research program to support international collaborations to study the relationships between health, environment, and economic development. FIC, with four NIH partners and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), has issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for the first phase of the Health, Environment, and Economic Development (HEED) program. This RFA invites proposals for interdisciplinary, international research collaborations to examine the health effects of major economic development trends that affect the natural environment.

In addition to FIC, the NIH partners are the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). The current combined financial commitment of the HEED partners is approximately $1.5 million per year in support of two-year planning grants. The partners expect to follow these planning grants with a request for full research and training proposals for five-year HEED projects. Although not providing financial support, the USGS will provide support through collaboration with USGS scientists.

"One of the major challenges in global health today is to understand how economic development and the environmental changes linked to that development impact the health of individuals and communities," said FIC Director Gerald T. Keusch, M.D. on behalf of the partners. "The HEED program will support research to bridge disciplinary interests of development and health economists, environmental scientists, epidemiologists, demographers, and other professionals. It will improve our understanding of the complex linkages between health, economics, and environment and will inform healthcare strategies."

Many low- and middle-income countries suffer from air, land, and water contamination; natural resource depletion; and ecosystem deterioration. These conditions exacerbate the spread of disease, place stress on poorly functioning and overburdened health systems, complicate disease etiology, and lead to depletion of human and economic resources. The combination of environmental and health problems often occurs simultaneously with natural disasters, civil strife, and economic crises. Economic factors also impact policy decisions and individual choices about health and the environment. Much remains to be learned about how health, environment, and human behavior interact in developing countries to hasten or impede development. The HEED program will support new partnerships between developed and developing country scientists to expand the scientific evidence necessary to inform U.S. and international policymakers in the formulation of environmental and development strategies. Planning grants for up to $100,000 in direct costs will support travel and preliminary data-gathering to inform the full five-year research and training grant proposals.

Applications for the first phase of the HEED program are due by December 30, 2002, and the deadline for receipt of Letters of Intent is November 30, 2002. The Request for Applications is available at http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-TW-03-005.html. More information about the program is available on the FIC website at www.nih.gov/fic/programs/HEED.html.

FIC is the international component of the NIH. It promotes and supports scientific discovery internationally and mobilizes resources to reduce disparities in global health. FIC will commemorate its thirty-fifth anniversary in 2003 with a year-long lecture series on global health issues and a scientific symposium on May 20-21, 2003. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Press releases, fact sheets, and other FIC-related materials are available at www.nih.gov/fic.

NIH/Fogarty International Center

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