New Oceans and Human Health Centers to Address HABs

 Seagriculture EU 2024

New Centers for Oceans and Human Health will foster interdisciplinary collaborations to study HABs.

To address hazardous algal blooms (HABs) and other toxic marine problems that could affect human health, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) are jointly funding new Centers for Oceans and Human Health, and renewing two centers, as part of a marine-related health research program. Each Center will focus on a different aspect of the interplay between environmental science, climate change, and human health in the ocean and Great Lakes.

Together the two agencies plan to invest more than $42 million over five years for the centers program, continuing a two-decade long collaboration.

“The connection among ocean pollution, climate change, and human health are problems that we are only beginning to understand,” said Anika Dzierlenga, Ph.D., program lead at the NIEHS. “People rely on oceans and lakes for jobs, food, tourism, recreation. These centers will help bring researchers and community groups together to study and take action to protect public health in coastal regions and around the Great Lakes.”

“We’re excited to continue this long-standing partnership with NIEHS. Bringing geoscientists, health scientists, and community partners together to address these important questions has far-ranging impacts beyond what either agency can support alone,” said Henrietta Edmonds, Ph.D., a program manager in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences.

NIEHS-NSF Oceans and Human Health Center Awardees

The following two institutions have been newly funded to foster interdisciplinary collaborations among biomedical researchers, physical and oceanographic scientists, and community partners:

North Carolina Center for Coastal Algae, People, and Environment (NC C-CAPE)
Principal Investigator: Astrid Schnetzer
This center, which was awarded at the end of February, will help lay the groundwork for how cyanobacterial (blue-green algae) blooms in estuaries or coastal waters impact seafood safety and public health. This research will help inform guidelines for the safe consumption of water and seafood. NC C-CAPE will also actively engage with community experts and stakeholders to guide the translation and application of research findings.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts
Principal Investigator: Dennis McGillicuddy
Funding for this center has been renewed in 2024 and will build off its prior research to address how a changing climate could influence harmful algal bloom dynamics and human exposure to HAB toxins, a serious and global human health threat. The center will also work to improve awareness of emerging HAB issues for the public health community and develop new educational materials and interactive activities for K-12 classrooms, and for health care providers.

NIEHS and NSF expect to make two additional awards soon.

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