Built Environment and Planning

The built environment is integral to a range of health issues. Public health professionals and urban planners have sought ways promote health through better design. The work conducted by the researchers of Columbia Urban Health brings together practitioners, researchers, and policy makers to find opportunities to transform cities into places that cultivate health.


CCCEH is an interdisciplinary team of researchers following a birth cohort in NYC to study the health effects of prenatal and early postnatal exposures to common urban pollutants. More information

Professors: Frederica PereraJulie Herbstman

Cities: New York City; Krakow, Poland; Chongqng and Shanxi, China



This study aims to further understanding of the causes of disparities in asthma prevalence and morbidity between low-income urban neighborhoods as compared to higher-income communities. It investigates environmental and other causes.

Professors: Matthew Perzanowski

Cities: New York City


Evaluation of an Educational Initiative to Promote Shopping at Farmers’ Markets among WIC Participants in New York City

This study was published in the Journal of Community Health. More information

Professors: Ann Chiasson

Cities: New York 


Homelessness History & Present

Faculty have been investigating the history, causes, and public response to homelessness, with particular emphasis on legal aspects and advocacy.

Professors: Kim Hopper


Injury Free Coalition for Kids

Through education, improving the physical and social environment for children, and developing a coalition from the medical community, governmental agencies and the community parents and organizations, this coalition works to reduce injury to children and promote safe communities. More information

Professors: Barbara Barlow

Cities: See site list


Evaluating Compliance and Refining Enforcement of Smoke-Free Housing Policy in Low Income Multiple Unit Housing

In collaboration with a community-based organization that owns and manages several affordable housing properties throughout NYC, this project evaluates implementation of a smoke-free housing policy using community health workers and harm reduction. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Professors: Angela Aidala, Diana Hernandez

Cities: New York


A citywide cluster randomized trial to restore blighted vacant land and its effects on violence, crime and fear

This study, published in PNAS, found that restoration of vacant urban land reduces gun violence, crime, and fear. More information

Professors: Charles Branas

Cities: Philadelphia 


Modifiable environmental features related to adolescent homicide

This study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, identified modifiable environmental features that are worth future study.  Interventions on these features may have an impact on reducing youth violence. More information

Professors: Charles Branas

Cities: Philadelphia 


A Randomized Trial of Abandoned Housing Remediation, Substance Abuse and Violence

This study looks at the effects of abandoned housing remediation on substance abuse outcomes (both alcohol and drug related) and violence outcomes (particularly firearm violence). More information

Professors: Charles Branas

Cities: Philadelphia 


A Randomized Trial of Urban Vacant Lot Stabilization and Substance Abuse Outcomes

This study seeks to determine if health and safety and improved by “greening” vacant land and creating little parks in residential areas. More information

Professors: Charles Branas

Cities: Philadelphia 


Urban blight remediation as a cost-beneficial solution to firearm violence

This study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that urban blight remediation projects can reduce firearm violence. More information

Professors: Charles Branas


The Vertical Farm Project

This project focuses on growing food in high rise buildings in urban centers.

Professors: Dick Despommier


Potential Inhaled Dose of Particulates, Biking and Cardiovascular Indicators

This project looks at the cardiovascular impacts of short term exposures to air pollution while exercising. More information

Professors: Darby Jack

Cities: New York 


NYC Housing Authority Comprehensive Mold Remediation Initiative

Mold Busters equips property management staff with the tools and knowledge needed to identify sources of mold, treat the problem, and prevent mold from coming back.

Professors: Matthew Perzanowski

Cities: New York


Motor Vehicle Safety Projects

Funded by the CDC, multiple urban transportation safety projects are ongoing at the Injury Center. One project is examining injury and hospitalization of rear-seated taxi occupants. Other projects are assessing the impact of alcohol and drug use on transportation safety.

Professors: Joyce Pressley