University of Oklahoma investigators have been awarded a $730,000 grant from NASA to study emerging infectious disease threats in central Asia, including the 2019 novel coronavirus emanating from Wuhan, China. The Oklahoma-based team research concerns “zoonotic” outbreaks, meaning those that evolved in part as a result of increased contact between humans and animals.
The University of Oklahoma team will leverage the grant funds to mobilize an investigation into how to support new measures that can be employed to guide an understanding of existing population vulnerabilities in the region as well as develop new forecasting abilities that could help populations better prepare for more outbreaks, reports local news KOCO.
This grant is part of NASA’s Land-Cover and Land-Use Change Program, which brings together-sensing specialists via the leadership of principal investigator Kirsten de Bears, chair of the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at University of Oklahoma, along with other social scientists. This research centers on combining interdisciplinary research methods to identify and analyze “risk zones.” The Oklahoma-based team will coordinate, communicate, and collaborate with researchers across central Asia to overall enhance the region’s capacity and ability to identify and respond to developing health threats such as the 2019 nCoV.
Kirsten de Beurs, chair of the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at University of Oklahoma