The Gulf of Mexico is an ecologically, economically rich ecosystem that is increasingly impacted by physical, chemical, and biological stresses directly related to human activity. The health and environmental problems, and their causes, in the Gulf are nuerous, complex, and often interconnected and the financial and technical resources required to understand and solve them are limited. In response, the Gulf of Mexico Program (GMP) is working to facilitate the protection and restoration of its coastal habitats, sustain living resources, protect human health and the food supply, and ensure the recreational use of Gulf shores, beaches and waters in ways that are consistent with the economic well-being of the region. In an effort to understand and solve the most important health/environmental problems in the Gulf Coastal Zone, the GMP has formed four Focus Teams to address those problems: Nutrient Enrichment, Habitat, Public Health and Invasive Species. In addition, the GMP organized the Monitoring, Modeling and Research Committee (MMRC) as an operational committee to provide advice, identify requirements, and coordinate monitoring, modeling, and research efforts in the GMP. In coordination with the MMRC, nine panels of scientific experts from Gulf State and Federal agencies have identified critical scientific research that is needed to understand and address environmental and public health issues facing the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem.