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Health

Featured Research Initiative

Climate Change Epidemiology Lab

Weather extremes can have significant to extreme human health impacts. These impacts fall disproportionately on the economically disadvantaged, whether within less developed countries or the financially disadvantaged within wealthy nations. We quantify regional climate-health effects, analyze disparities and improve community resilience through applied climate, health, technology and policy research, to promote local capacity building in vulnerable regions worldwide.

Research Areas

Climate Change and Health

The study of the effects of climate changes on human health, particularly from an epidemiological perspective.

Public Health and Epidemiology

The study of the causes and prevention of human disease emphasizes air quality, aerosols, temperature and other climatic effects.

Labs, Projects, Programs and Collaborations

Center for Anti-Parasitic Drug Discovery and Development at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Neglected tropical diseases are a group of chronic and disabling parasitic infections that primarily affect poor and underserved communities. These diseases affect more than 1 billion people globally yet are rarely the target of new drug discovery efforts. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global climate change will most likely alter the communities at greatest risk for these diseases, as changes in temperature and rainfall influence the distribution and life cycles of the insects that transmit these parasites. In some cases, insects and the parasites they carry have already begun emerging in regions where they were previously unheard of, including the United States. Center for Anti-Parasitic Drug Discovery and Development leverages the Skaggs School of Pharmacy’s strengths in molecular biology, clinical research and pharmaceutical sciences to address this unmet need in global health.

The Climate, Environment and Public Health Working Group

The UC San Diego’s Institute for Public Health’s Climate, Environment and Public Health Working Group was formed due to the increasing understanding that climate change is a significant public health issue. The group’s focus has primarily been on the education and training of emerging climate and public health professionals.

Weather Extremes and Climate Impacts Analytics (WECLIMA)

The WECLIMA group studies relationships between regionally impactful weather extremes and large-scale climate variability and change. They collaborate across disciplines to study impacts on public health, ecosystems, water resources, wildfire, energy and air quality.

Featured Researchers and Professors

Tarik Benmarhnia

Associate Professor, Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science; Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Tarik Benmarhnia has a unique niche of combining epidemiology study design and health risk assessment expertise with climate and econometric models and a clear understanding of health policy. He is passionate about social science and equity in public health. Climate change disproportionately affects underserved populations and communities of color. Benmarhnia is studying how environmental justice plays a role in the health of a community, including risks for infectious diseases, pollutants, heat waves and wildfires.

Christina Chambers

Professor, Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine

Christina Chambers is interested in understanding how exposure to environmental compounds, such as pesticides, medications and infections, can affect embryonic development during pregnancy and childhood development via breastmilk. Chambers finds that climate concerns increasingly influence her work. The most difficult questions come after a natural disaster, like a hurricane or flood, in which pregnant people may be exposed to various toxins, pollutants, molds and infectious diseases.

Jyoti Mishra

Professor, Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine, Co-director, Neural Engineering and Translation Labs at UC San Diego

In 2018, a faulty electric transmission line ignited the Camp Fire in Northern California, ultimately consuming 239 square miles and several communities, including the town of Paradise, which was 95 percent destroyed. At least 85 people died. In a 2021 study, Mishra and the team described chronic mental health problems among some residents who experienced the Camp Fire. In addition, the researchers found that direct exposure to large-scale fires significantly increased the risk for mental health disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Wael Al-Delaimy

Professor, Division Chief of Global Health, Family Medicine and Public Health

Wael Al-Delaimy is a multidisciplinary epidemiologist with a medical background and interest in the epidemiology of chronic diseases, tobacco, diet and the environment. Global worked in the US/Mexico border area on pesticide biomarkers and soil and water contamination as Co-director of Community Engagement Core for the UC San Diego Superfund Project. He introduced climate change studies in health sciences as part of the UC San Diego Strategic Initiative in 2014, leading to the addition of new faculty in this discipline. Health policy and community engagement in climate change are areas of focus and current interest.

Teevrat Garg

Assistant Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy

Teevrat Garg is an assistant professor of economics and works on various issues in economics, focusing on applications to environmental problems in underdeveloped countries. His current research projects include uncovering causal mechanisms that link ecosystem health to human health, with an emphasis on irrigation in rural communities in poor countries and the distributional consequences of adaptation to climate change.

Joshua Graff Zivin

Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy

Joshua Graff Zivin is an internationally renowned economist whose broad research interests include the environment, health, development and innovation economics. He has published numerous articles on various topics in top economic, policy and science journals. Much of his current work is in three distinct areas of research: the relationship between the environment, health and human capital, the economics of innovation with a particular eye toward the role of institutions, social networks and financial incentives and the design of health interventions and their economic impacts.

Videos

Featured Courses

SIO 116. Climate Change and Global Health: Understanding the Mechanisms

This course will introduce students to the public health effects of global climate change. The course will begin by understanding the climate change phenomena and explaining the direct and indirect links between climate change and human health, including the public health impacts of infectious diseases, atmospheric air pollution, and extreme weather events. The second part of the course will be dedicated to adaption and mitigation solutions with a particular focus on vulnerable populations.

GLBH 147. Global Health and the Environment

Examines interactions of culture, health, and environment. Rural and urban human ecologies, their energy foundations, sociocultural systems, and characteristic health and environmental problems are explored. The role of culture and human values in designing solutions will be investigated.