Awards to Combat Infectious Diseases

Preventing outbreaks and controlling the spread of infectious diseases requires knowledge on how pathogens move through populations and how to keep infectious diseases contained. The National Science Foundation (NSF), with NIH and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), have provided over $15 million in funding. 

Funding was provided through the “Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases” (EEID) program and will be used to fund eight new projects to look at how pathogens interact with humans, animals, and plants.

The 2017 funds awarded through the EEID program span a wide range of research topics. The awards include projects that address fundamental questions about pathogens and diseases, as well as research that may have an immediate impact on infectious disease management.

One project under the EEID program and sponsored by National Jewish Health in Denver Colorado with funding of $2,321,257, is studying the environmental factors affecting a type of bacteria “Nontuberculous Mycobacteria” (NTM) which causes an infectious type of lung disease in people.

This specific lung disease occurs worldwide and the number of people affected is increasing as the bacteria infects 180,000 people in the U.S each year. Hawaii has the highest prevalence of the NTM lung disease, but as of yet, researchers don’t really understand the chances for this bacteria to cause disease and how the interaction with the host causes the disease.

By having NSF, NIH, and USDA support the research, this is the first time soil and water characteristics, climatic factors, human genes and behaviors, bacterial genomics, and potential vertebrate reservoirs are being studied together in a single model.

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