National Research Programs

Over the last several decades, the United States has experienced an escalating and worrisome trend in the incidence of problems associated with harmful and toxic algae (commonly called "red tides"). Formerly only a few regions were affected, but now virtually every coastal state is threatened, in many cases over large geographic areas and by more than one harmful or toxic species. Impacts include mass mortalities of wild and farmed fish and shellfish, human illness and death from contaminated shellfish or fish, death of marine mammals, seabirds and other animals, and alterations of marine habitats or trophic structure. These economic, public health, and ecosystems impacts are strong practical motivations for a coordinated, multidisciplinary research program.


National Research Programs for the Study of Harmful Algal Blooms

Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms

The ECOHAB program has largely been focused on the ecology and dynamics of phytoplankton and the oceanographic conditions and processes that contribute to natural blooms.
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Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms

The principal focus of the MERHAB program is to build the capabilities of local, state, tribal, and private sector interests for regular and intensive measurement of HAB parameters, making existing monitoring programs more efficient while providing for better coverage in time and space.
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HAB Prevention, Control and Mitigation (PCM)

The Prevention, Control, and Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms (PCM HAB) Research Program is a new program, authorized by the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (1998, 2004).  PCM HAB will transition promising PCM technologies and strategies to end-users. PCM HAB will also assess the social and economic costs of HAB events and the costs and benefits of PCM strategies, which will aid managers in devising a cost-effective management strategy.
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Other National Research Programs Supporting Harmful Algal Bloom Research

NSF/NIEHS Oceans and Human Health Initiative

The National Institute of Environmental Health and the National Science Foundation have funded four Centers for Oceans and Human Health. These centers seek to provide linkages between members of the ocean sciences and biomedical communities through the support of interdisciplinary research in areas where improved understanding of marine processes and systems has potential to reduce public health risks.
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NOAA Oceans and Human Health Initiative (OHHI)

The scope of the OHHI research portfolio includes pathogens, HABs, sentinel species as environmental or human health indicators, marine toxins, marine biomedicine, and pharmaceuticals, along with a view to integrate these into an ecosystem framework.
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National Sea Grant College Program

This program sponsors a variety of marine research, outreach, and education projects, primarily through the 30 state Sea Grant Programs. It has also established a series of National Strategic Investments which have a national focus and are intended to enhance Sea Grant's network-wide capabilities to respond to high priority issues and opportunities.
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EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

This program funds research grants and graduate fellowships in numerous environmental science and engineering disciplines through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. The extramural program complements EPA's own intramural research program and those of partners in other federal agencies.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC works with public health agencies, universities, and federal partners to investigate how algae which can cause HABs may affect public health.
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Last updated: May 15, 2013