Jun. 24 2015

First PhD Graduate in Climate and Health Invited to Speak at White House Climate Summit

Kate Weinberger, the first graduate of the Mailman School of Public Health's PhD program on Climate and Health, was invited to speak at the White House on June 23, 2015, contributing her expertise on public health training to a burgeoning conversation on climate change and human health. The White House event,  “Your Health and Our Environment: How Can We Protect Both?” brought public health researchers, medical professionals, academic leadership, and other stakeholders to the capital to consider the public health agenda on climate change and advance the goals President Obama introduced in an April 6 Presidential Proclamation.

"The next generation of public health professionals cares deeply about the health effects of climate change," said Dr. Weinberger at a session devoted to the training needs of public health students. "This is because we see it not only as one of the greatest environmental and public health challenges of the coming decades, but also as an opportunity to create climate solutions that will also have broader benefits for population health, especially in vulnerable communities."

Established in 2008, the Mailman School’s Climate and Health program is the first such program in a school of public health and is funded in part by the first NIH training grant in the field. Mailman School Dean Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, and Patrick Kinney, ScD, who directs the program, also attended the summit.

Students in program conduct research on many of dimensions of climate change: from the effects of extreme heat on cardiovascular and respiratory illness, to the links between climate change and infectious diseases such as influenza and malaria, to understanding how strategies to respond to climate change and adapt can also help address existing health disparities. Dr. Weinberger's own work focuses on the relationships between climate change, pollen production, and allergic diseases like asthma.
                                         
This fall, Dr. Weinberger will be a postdoctoral research associate at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society at Brown University where she will be examining vulnerability to extreme heat and storms in New England.

Reflecting on the kind of training that public health schools need to provide those who will be at the forefront of climate and health research, Dr. Weinberger cited the importance of programs that combine research on climate change with core public health subjects such as epidemiology, and that train young scientists to communicate the health risks of climate change to all public health students, policy-makers, and the public.

In a video interview Kate Weinberger talks about her path to studying climate and health at the Mailman School.