RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has awarded the first four grants from the Climate Change and Human Health Seed Grants program. The mechanism aims to stimulate the growth of new connections between scholars working in largely disconnected fields whose collaboration has the potential to change the course of climate change’s impact on human health. Over the next two years, the Fund will dedicate $1 million to supporting small, early-stage grants of $2,500 – $50,000 toward achieving this goal.
“At the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, we do a regular assessment of the research landscape, asking how science can find solutions to the biggest questions facing society,” said Fund President and CEO Dr. Louis J. Muglia. “For us, climate change and human health have emerged as a top priority, given the pervasive consequences for human nutrition, health impacts of extreme weather, changes in pathogen ranges, and social justice.”
Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis through August 30, 2023. Reviews of submitted proposals will be conducted quarterly.
Current recipients of the seed grants are:
Engaging Diverse Youth in Learning About Extreme Heat
Principal Investigator: Dana Haine
Center for Public Engagement with Science | Institute for the Environment
University North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Educators from the UNC Institute for the Environment, in partnership with educators from Durham (NC) Public Schools, and the Durham-based Museum of Life and Science will create, pilot, and disseminate an interdisciplinary instructional module to engage students in a place-based exploration of extreme heat. This work will leverage Durham’s recent heat mapping campaign conducted by the museum in collaboration with NOAA and the National Integrated Heat Health Information System.
High school students will learn about, measure, and examine the urban heat island effect and consider implications for their school, their city, and their community. This solutions-focused, hands-on STEM module will sharpen students’ critical thinking skills and help them evaluate ways that individuals and communities can mitigate and adapt to extreme heat to protect human health.
Climate and Environmental Change and Preterm Birth
Principal Investigator: Rebecca Fry, PhD
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering | Gillings School of Public Health
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Public Health and the Environmental Protection Agency will bring environmental science, epidemiology, geospatial analysis, and clinical perspectives to understanding the impact of climate change and environmental chemicals on premature birth.
Combining pre-existing data sets including water-well tests, measures of fine particulate matter, heat records, and birth certificates, the team will create one of the largest ever cohorts for examining how the environment, including the changing climate, impacts carrying babies to full term.
Note: The following covers two grants that were developed together
A Tasting Menu of Quantitative Modeling
Principal Investigator: Nina Fefferman, PhD
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis at the University of Tennessee
Introducing Diverse Early Career Researchers to the Interface Between Quantitative Research and Life/Earth Science
Principal Investigator: Ami Radunskaya, PhD
(Dr. Radunskaya is also a professor of Mathematics at Pomona College)
NIMBioS, a center focused on developing interdisciplinary approaches to complex biological problems, will design and run a two-day “Tasting Menu” workshop. The Tasting Menu will work through a number of modeling case studies, using them to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of various modeling approaches. The workshop will introduce quantitative modeling approaches to early career life and earth scientists who are interested in the junction of climate change and human health, providing them access to questions that are not easily approached at the lab bench.
After the Tasting Menu, students will be able to develop ideas for a modeling project they would like to pursue. Those who do will have the opportunity to apply to become part of a cohort that will spend two days together at NIMBioS. There the EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education) Foundation will lead a workshop on successful collaboration. Members of the cohort will then launch their proposed project by making a week-long collaborative visit to a new collaborator’s lab.
Visit the Climate Change and Human Health website for information about future grant deadlines.