Department of Health and Human Services/National Institutes of Health

Areas of Global Change Research. National Institutes of Health funding supports research on health effects of CFC replacement chemicals and ultraviolet radiation, including studies in metabolism and toxicity of HCFCs and halogenated hydrocarbons; effects of UV exposure on the pathogenesis of disease and on target organs, especially skin and eyes; repair of solar UV radiation-related DNA damage in human cells; and effects of shorter wavelength UV radiation on photosensitivity in people who use many commonly prescribed drugs.

HHS Program Title FY96 FY97 FY98
NIH Human Health Effects of Exposure to UV Radiation 3.9 4.1 4.3
Total  3.9 4.1
President's Request  4.0 4.0 4.3
NIH National Institutes of Health

FY98 Program Highlights. Research conducted by NIH that is relevant to global change has been an important component of the NIH research agenda for a long time. The potential for increased human exposure to UV radiation, air pollution, infectious diseases, or agricultural chemicals resulting from ozone depletion or climate change serves to heighten the NIH commitment to this broad range of health research, from exploring the biological mechanisms of how disease is initiated and promoted to finding new treatments and technologies to care for people who are ill.

This research could help to reduce the substantial burden on individuals and society imposed by cancer and the need for cataract surgery. From 1973 to 1993, the age-adjusted rate for melanoma in the United States increased from 5.7 to 12.2 per 100,000. More than 1.5 million cataract and more than 800,000 nonmelanoma skin surgeries are performed annually.

Highlights of the FY98 research program include studies to determine how UV radiation-induced immunosuppression and genetic damage contribute to skin cancer in humans and experimental animals; to understand the roles of DNA repair and mutant frequency in cancer susceptibility to UV exposure; and to understand the photobiological mechanisms involved in aging caused by chronic UV damage. Other research projects include the testing of antimalarial drugs in order to determine whether the cutaneous and ocular side effects associated with their use are light-induced, and studies of the photochemistry of all light-absorbing components of the eye in order to determine whether long-term exposure to light contributes to the deterioration of clarity of the lens and functioning of the retina.

Related Research. In addition to research that is designated as part of the USGCRP, NIH conducts research related to other impacts of global change on human health, including the effects of environmental and occupational exposures to air pollution, agricultural chemicals, and materials used in alternative or new technologies to mitigate or adapt to climate change. Exposures of special concern for FY98 include those that contribute to the greatly increased incidence of childhood asthma and that disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system. Renewed concern about emerging and reemerging infectious diseases has prompted increased attention to a variety of diseases whose incidence would be affected by environmental change. NIH provides significant resources for research on and development of vaccines and treatment for cholera and vector-borne diseases, such as encephalitis, malaria, dengue, and Lyme disease.

Mapping of Budget Request to Appropriations Legislation. In the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, USGCRP activities are funded under the NIH section of Title II-Department of Health and Human Services, within the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences account.