Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Disease Ecology, Health and the Environment

Main content start

Scientists are discovering new links between human health and the health of the natural environment. At Stanford, researchers are studying these connections and pioneering ecological solutions to disease.

The Program for Disease Ecology, Health and the Environment works with experts in public health, ecology, engineering, computer science, medicine and the social sciences to find sustainable environmental interventions for a range of diseases. 

It expands on an initial keystone project called the Upstream Alliance, a multi-institution initiative seeking environmental interventions to curb the spread of schistosomiasis, a waterborne parasitic disease affecting about 250 million people. Results from a demonstration project in Senegal show that the team’s reintroduction of native prawns at river access points led to fewer disease-carrying snails and reduced transmission of schistosome parasites to people. 

The Program for Disease Ecology, Health and the Environment is a joint initiative with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. Its mission: To discover ecological solutions to humanity’s health challenges and to develop the next generation of planetary health innovators.

The program is led by Giulio De Leo, a biology professor at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute, and Susanne Sokolow, a research associate at Hopkins Marine Station.

The team received early funding for its Senegal work from the Stanford Woods Institute’s Environmental Venture Projects seed grant program (read about the project).  The program received initial funding from the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies.



Giulio De Leo

Professor of Oceans, of Earth System Science, Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and Professor, by courtesy of Biology