National Science Foundation issues call for Zika virus proposals
Funding to address ecological transmission dynamics of the virus
Dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile virus -- and now Zika. Is our interaction with the environment somehow responsible for the increase in incidence of these diseases?
Through a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology's Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) Program is accepting research proposals on Zika that address the ecological transmission dynamics of the virus.
"Zika is a serious and unique threat to public health," says James Olds, NSF assistant director for Biological Sciences. "It is also the latest example of an ongoing emergence of infectious diseases for which we need a better understanding of their ecology and evolution."
Zika outbreak spreading
Discovered in Uganda in 1947, Zika has been documented since the 1950s along an equatorial belt from Africa to Asia.
In 2014, the virus spread eastward to French Polynesia, and in 2015 to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, where the outbreak continues.
Zika is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. Because these mosquitoes are found throughout the world, it’s likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries, scientists say.
The illness Zika causes is similar to a mild form of dengue fever; it can't yet be prevented by drugs or vaccines.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis ("pink eye"). The illness usually lasts from several days to a week.
However, Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby, and is suspected of causing birth defects. It may also be responsible for neurologic conditions in infected adults, including cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, muscle weakness as a result of damage to the nervous system.
Predictive models and principles of transmission dynamics
NSF's EEID Program funds the development and testing of predictive models and discovery of the principles governing the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases such as Zika.
Zika project questions may include, but are not limited to:
How to submit an NSF EEID Zika proposal
Before submission of a RAPID proposal, interested researchers should send a one-page summary of the project to email@example.com. The summary should include a statement of how the results of this research would be used to affect management of, or policies concerning, the spread of Zika virus within the next 12 months.
Projects with a more extended timeline should be submitted to the next EEID deadline.
Proposals that deal with disease etiology, pathophysiology, transmission from mother to fetus, transmission through sexual contact, development of diagnostics, or development of vaccines are not appropriate for submission to the NSF EEID program.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has also published a notice of interest for research on Zika virus. Proposals on these topics, as well as the others addressed in that notice, should be directed to that agency.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.
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