Performance Improvement 2006. Review of the Joint National Institutes of Health / National Science Foundation Ecology of Infectious Disease Program


Initiated in 1999, the Ecology of Infectious Diseases (EID) initiative is a competitive research grant program administered jointly by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its purpose is to encourage development of predictive models and discovery of principles for relationships between anthropogenic environmental change and transmission of infectious agents. In 2005, as part of its ongoing program review procedures, the Fogarty International Center (FIC) convened a panel of seven experts to review the achievements of the EID program to date and to make recommendations about its future. Fields of expertise represented on the panel included infectious diseases, epidemiology, public health, ecology, environmental science, and biostatistics. The panel met June 18th-20th, 2005, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Interviews were conducted in person and via telephone with EID principal investigators, EID key personnel, NSF and NIH program partners, EID program officers, and outside experts with relevant knowledge. In these interviews, the panelists  explored the appropriateness of the program mission, management, partnerships, communication, and results. The Panelists also reviewed key program data including: current and former Request for Applications (RFAs) and Program Solicitations, annual progress reports, funding data, publication data, key personnel data, and other historical program documents. Overall, the panel concluded that the first five years of the EID program have been successful and productive. A total of 34 projects have been funded, and all of them have been both interdisciplinary and appropriately targeted at the development of new concepts and methods to predict and respond to emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases. At least 566 individuals from 123 institutions in 23 countries around the world have served as key personnel on the grants. Although EID is not a training program, it has considerable potential for impact with respect to capacity building, especially in the area of human capital and has helped to train at least 208 students at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral levels. Though it is a young program, more than 228 journal articles, 95 abstracts, and 11 book chapters already have been attributed to the EID program. While the program has been effective in achieving goals, the panel made several recommendations for the program’s future. This report outlines the panel’s rationale and full set of recommendations based on the findings of the review.

PIC ID: 8203; Agency Sponsor: NIH-FIC, Fogarty International Center; Federal Contact: Kupfer, Linda, 301-496-3288; Performer: Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA

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