NOAA grant to prevent ciguatera poisoning

03 Jan 2012

NOAA has awarded the first year of an anticipated five-year, $4 million grant to scientists researching the causes of ciguatera fish poisoning, focusing on the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

Ciguatera is the most common form of algal toxin-induced seafood poisoning in the world and affects tens of thousands of people annually, but the occurrence has been impossible to predict and manage. The research project could lead to better predictions of ciguatera outbreaks.

“Ciguatera is of great concern to people who prefer or depend on reef fish in their diets,” said Michael Parsons, professor of marine science and director of the Coastal Watershed Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University, who will lead the international research team. “Anything we can do to lessen illnesses by reducing the exposure to the toxins that cause ciguatera would be a great benefit to the consumer.”

Joining Professor Parsons will be Don Anderson and Mindy Richlen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Deana Erdner, University of Texas Marine Science Institute; Ron Kiene, University of South Alabama; Yuri Okolodkov, University of Veracruz, Mexico; Alison Robertson, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory; and Tyler Smith, University of the Virgin Islands.

The first year award will be $554,159 and the entire five year grant could total $4,015,370.

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