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Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases grants announced

Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases grants announced - 1 November 2013. iStock

A collaboration between BBSRC, the USA's National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded more than $16M in Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) grants.

The EEID program supports research to understand the ecological and biological mechanisms behind human-induced environmental changes and the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases.

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC chief executive, said: "Tackling the infectious diseases that threaten the health of humans and livestock is a critical need, especially in the face of a growing global human population expected to reach nine billion by 2050.

"We face many challenges related to food security and health. These EEID projects will combine international expertise to help us find solutions."

Projects funded through the EEID program allow scientists to study how large-scale environmental events - such as habitat destruction, invasions of non-native species and pollution - alter the risks of emergence of viral, parasitic and bacterial diseases in humans and other animals.

This year's EEID awardees will conduct research on subjects including honeybees and their parasites, the evolution and spread of virulent infectious diseases, the macroecology of infectious disease, and the persistence of foot-and-mouth disease.

Sam Scheiner, NSF EEID programme director, said: "Our understanding of the ecology and evolution of pathogens comes from knitting together information from many different sources.

"They include diseases of humans, frogs, honeybees and plants. Each system provides a different piece of the puzzle that helps us protect human health, the health of our agricultural systems and that of our natural world."

Researchers supported by the EEID programme are advancing basic theory related to infectious diseases, and improving understanding of how pathogens spread through populations at a time of increasing environmental change.

The benefits of research on the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases include development of theories about how diseases are transmitted, improved understanding of unintended health effects of development projects, increased capacity to forecast disease outbreaks, and knowledge of how infectious diseases emerge and re-emerge.

Christine Jessup, EEID program director at NIH's Fogarty Center, said: "This year's EEID projects bring together multiple scientific fields to address how human and natural processes influence infectious diseases in humans and other animals, including diseases that affect wildlife and agriculture, as well as those of significant public health concern in the developing world.

"Findings from EEID-supported research are improving public health interventions and management decisions."

EEID 2013 grants

  1. Andrew T. Storfer, Washington State University, Emergence, transmission and evolution of Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease
    Additional Collaborators: Hamish McCallum, Griffith University; Menna Jones, University of Tasmania; Elizabeth Murchison, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; Paul Hohenlohe, University of Idaho
  2. Patrick Stephens, University of Georgia, RCN Proposal: Macroecology of infectious disease
    Additional Collaborators: Robert Poulin, University of Otago; Sonia Altizer, University of Georgia; Katherine Smith, Brown University; Alonso Aguirre, Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation
  3. Jill Stewart, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The impact of intensive livestock production on the disease ecology of antibiotic resistant staphylococcus
    Additional Collaborators: Jacqueline A. MacDonald, Rachel T. Noble, Marc L. Serre, Steven B. Wing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  4. Bret Elderd, Louisiana State University,
    Scaling up epizootic dynamics--Linking individual infection to spatial spread of a disease using Bayesian hierarchical approaches
    Additional Collaborators: Kelli Hoover, Penn State University; Michael Stout, Louisiana State University AgCenter; Vanja Dukic, University of Colorado
  5. Cheryl Briggs, University of California-Santa Barbara, Disease in complex communities: How multi-host, multi-pathogen interactions drive infection dynamics
    Additional Collaborators: Andrew R. Blaustein, Oregon State University, Jason T. Hoverman, Perdue University, Pieter T. Johnson, University of Colorado, Jason R. Rohr, University of South Florida
  6. Jacobus de Roode, Emory University, US-UK collaboration: Understanding the effects of spatial structure on the evolution of virulence in the real world: honeybees and their destructive parasites
    Additional Collaborators: Berry J. Brosi, Emory University; Keith Delaplane, University of Georgia; Mike Boots, University of Exeter
  7. Wayne K. Potts, University of Utah, The evolution and spread of virulent infectious disease
    Additional Collaborators: Frederick R. Adler, University of Utah; Henry D. Hunt, Michigan State University
  8. Mercedes Pasqual, University of Michigan, The impact of seasonality and vector control on the population structure of Plasmodium falciparum
  9. Anna E. Jolles, Oregon State University, US-UK collaboration: Persistence of a highly contagious pathogen: ecological and evolutionary mechanisms in foot-and-mouth disease virus
    Additional Collaborators: Jan Medlock, Oregon State University; Nicholas Juleff, The Pirbright Institute
  10. Alison G. Power, Cornell University, US-UK collaboration: Spatial epidemiology of a vector-borne plant virus: Interactions between landscape, hosts, vectors and an emerging disease of potatoes
    Additional Collaborators: Laura E. Jones, Cornell University; Lesley Torrence, University of St Andrews

ENDS