In 2008 the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) commissioned ten think-tanks to work on disease-specific and thematic reference groups to identify top research priorities that would advance the research agenda on infectious diseases of poverty, thus contributing to improvements in human health. The first of the thematic reference group reports ? on environment, agriculture and infectious diseases of poverty ? was recently released. In this article we review, from an insider perspective, the strengths and weaknesses of this thematic reference group report and highlight key messages for policy-makers, funders and researchers.