Climate Change and Public Health

Creating a Global Research Collaboration to Address Two of the Most Pressing Issues of the 21st Century


Sheri Thompson, PhD

Institute for Public Health

Office: 858-534-8673,

Faculty Group Members: 

Henri Migala, EdD, MPH, Director

Bradley Moore, PhD

Michael Pratt, MD, MSPE, MPH, Director


The UC San Diego Institute for Public Health (IPH), the UC San Diego International House (I-House), and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) will bring three global thought leaders to UC San Diego, to present their research to faculty, students, and the San Diego community. Each of the three seminars will relate to the theme of public health effects of climate change, and be coupled with either a student or community oriented event, or opportunities for UC San Diego faculty/students to interact with the visiting speakers. The IPH, I-House and SIO Team will host one event during each quarter of the 2017-2018 academic year. In keeping with the IPH Mission to address faculty, student and community needs, each of these audiences will be targeted in some way during every visit. Seminars will be alternately hosted by the primary academic partners (Family Medicine and Public Health, SIO, Engineering) thus spreading engagement across campus. The UC San Diego I-House is especially well positioned to bridge from academia to the San Diego Community and will lead this component of the project.

We will bring in leading experts applying their international experience to climate change and health at the local, national and global levels. We will support expansion of the current IPH network to include other researchers on campus interested in the interactions of climate change, health, and society, and foster related new collaborations.

Background: The IPH was formed in 2014, specifically to facilitate multidisciplinary research at UC San Diego and bring together students and faculty interested in public health from across campus. IPH aims to improve the health and wellbeing of populations locally, nationally, and globally with special emphasis on healthy lifestyles, climate change and health, and technology and health. The IPH has developed strong partnerships with the UC San Diego International House, whose Mission is to build community and promote intercultural and global awareness, understanding and citizenship to foster a more tolerant, sustainable and peaceful world, as well as with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

Each of these partners is currently engaged in ongoing IPH research working groups and/or co-sponsoring seminars and events across campus. IPH, I-House and SIO have been co-hosting a series of programs on climate change and health during the 2016-17 academic year. Yet budget limitations have precluded inviting high-profile, internationally renowned experts to further the dialogue with UC San Diego faculty, students, and the local community.

Methods: The team of I-House, SIO and IPH will host three multi-component events, led by internationally renowned presenters who will share cutting-edge research, disseminate innovative practices, and foster multi- national research collaboration on public health and climate change. All seminars will be concluded by June 2018, culminating in a Series Wrap-Up/Celebration event to highlight key lessons learned, and offer outcomes presentations from San Diego colleagues on the use of skills, knowledge or contacts gained from the series.

Several international experts have already expressed willingness to participate in the proposed series. A few representative individuals and their areas of expertise follow.

  • Rodrigo Reis - Professor at Washington University, St Louis and Pontiff Catholic University of Parana and the Federal University of Parana (Curitiba, Brazil). Dr. Reis has a MSc in Physical Activity and Health and a PhD in Ergonomics. He works on community physical activity and health behavior change projects in Brazil and around the world, including Project GUIA (Guide for Community in Latin America), and the IPEN Network (International Physical Activity and Environment Network). He authored a paper in the 2016 Lancet series on scaling up physical activity promotion to improve global health, and leads a line of research on climate change and health with an emphasis on the reduction in carbon emission and chronic disease that can be obtained through urban planning, integrated transportation systems, and active transport. Dr. Reis comes from Curitiba Brazil, widely recognized as the greenest city in Latin America and the birthplace of Bus Rapid Transit. He will reflect on the culture and policy initiatives that led to innovative strategies in Curitiba, as well as the cutting edge research he is currently engaged
  • Alistair Woodward - Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. A medical graduate, with postgraduate qualifications in public health and epidemiology, his research has looked into tobacco, environmental health and the social determinants of health. He and Kirk Smith (UC Berkeley) led the writing of the health section of the 5th Assessment Report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is working with colleagues from China Centres for Disease Control on environmental health issues in that country. Recently, Alistair and Cameron Muir, an environmental historian, completed and launched Tony McMichael's last book, "Climate Change and the Health of Nations." Potential presentation topics include insights on collaboration with China, or even broader multi- national perspectives on climate change or environmental health
  • Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury - former Under-Secretary General of the UN, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and former President of the UN Security Council. Among many areas of expertise, Ambassador Chowdhury could speak on the UN “Save the Oceans” Initiative and its implications, perhaps along with the SIO’s Oceans and Health Department

Faculty Groups