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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

  • Amanda Wissler
  • Sharon DeWitte
Award Date:07/29/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 138,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 138,000
  • FY 2021=$138,000
Start Date:08/01/2021
End Date:07/31/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.075
Primary Program Source:040100 R&RA ARP Act DEFC V
Award Title or Description:Investigating the Long-Term Impacts of Pandemic Disease
Federal Award ID Number:2104830
Program:(SPRF-FR) SBE Postdoctoral Res
Program Officer:
  • Josie S. Welkom
  • (703) 292-7376

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of South Carolina
Cong. District:06

Abstract at Time of Award

This award is funded in whole or in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2). This award was provided as part of NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (SPRF) program. The goal of the SPRF program is to prepare promising, early career doctoral-level scientists for scientific careers in academia, industry or private sector, and government. SPRF awards involve two years of training under the sponsorship of established scientists and encourage Postdoctoral Fellows to perform independent research. NSF seeks to promote the participation of scientists from all segments of the scientific community, including those from under-represented groups, in its research programs and activities; the postdoctoral period is considered to be an important level of professional development in attaining this goal. Each Postdoctoral Fellow must address important scientific questions that advance their respective disciplinary fields. Under the sponsorship of Dr. Sharon DeWitte at the University of South Carolina, this postdoctoral fellowship award supports an early career scientist investigating the long-term impacts of pandemics on population health and demography by studying how the 1918 “Spanish” influenza pandemic influenced the health of influenza survivors and how sex and race mediated these changes. The results of this project will be used to support public health measures that will mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19. Novel data on gendered and racial health disparities will be generated, increasing knowledge of health inequality in the past, and contributing to current discourse on health disparity and the social determinants of health. Characterizing how pandemic influenza influences mortality among various populations will help inform predictions of how future outbreaks will affect modern society. Results on how demography influenced long-term survival in 1918 will be used to understand how sex and race may affect health and mortality of Covid-19 survivors. This project has the following research goals: understand how overall population health changed after the pandemic and characterize how sex and social race influenced health and survival. Previous studies on the 1918 flu pandemic have relied primarily on documentary evidence – such as hospital or death records – or on viral RNA extracted from a handful of individuals. Researchers have been unable to explore factors influencing mortality on a population scale from a biological perspective. This project will use an untapped source of data: human skeletal remains of individuals who survived the 1918 pandemic. This proposed project takes a bioarchaeological approach, analyzing the skeletal remains of individuals who died before and after the 1918 pandemic. Skeletal lesions associated with increased morbidity and mortality will be analyzed alongside ages-at-death using hazards analysis to assess if post-pandemic populations lived longer or had less disease compared pre-pandemic populations. Differences in survivorship and lesion prevalence will also be assessed by sex and social race to examine if demographic factors influenced mortality and survival. The findings of this research on how sex and social race influenced long term survival in 1918 can predict how demography will influence health and mortality in Covid-19 survivors in the upcoming years. The information learned from this project will be disseminated through lectures increasing public literacy of the roles sex and social race play in creating health disparity, educating the public about virus transmission, and increasing public awareness of the ongoing danger of epidemics in our highly interconnected society. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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