The London-based Wellcome Trust has announced a five-year, £75 million ($116 million) research initiative to investigate the connections between the global environment and human health.
The initiative, Our Planet, Our Health, is aimed at developing a stronger evidence base about the impact of humans on ecosystems that will enable individuals and governments to make informed decisions to safeguard the health of the population and the planet. To that end, the trust is calling for proposals to establish high-quality, significantly resourced, multidisciplinary research projects that seek to address challenges associated with the global food system or urbanization. Projects may be funded for up to £2 million ($3.1 million) for a maximum of five years.
The trust also has announced ten pilot projects it already has funded in the scoping phase that involve researchers in a range of disciplines — from economic and social sciences to epidemiology and ecology — collaborating to examine the links between health and the global food system, urban environments, and environmental changes. Funded pilots include a study of the effects of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on survivors and their children; research into the potential of duckweed as a new source of protein; and a project that will track seasonal migrants in Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire, and Senegal via their mobile phones and map the movement of populations against patterns of disease.
"We know our relationship with the planet is jeopardizing both delicate ecosystems and our long-term health, but we're also aware of significant knowledge gaps that need to be filled so the world can decide how best to act," said Wellcome Trust director of strategy Clare Matterson. "Wellcome is launching this program to improve the understanding of the links between planet and population health, and how to build the resilience of both."