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Human and Planetary Health Initiative

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Sustaining Nature, Supporting Health

Current models of industrialization and consumption are eroding biodiversity, degrading the environment, and impacting the ability of ecosystems to support human communities. Climate change and other environmental challenges are creating a health crisis of planetary dimension, with impacts falling disproportionately on vulnerable and historically marginalized populations.

Stanford's Human and Planetary Health initiative – a multi-disciplinary effort by the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Stanford School of Medicine’s Center for Innovation in Global Health – builds on a vibrant community of engaged faculty, staff, and students. Bringing together perspectives from environmental sciences, public health, systems thinking, policy, law, and other disciplines to achieve breakthroughs and find solutions, more than 130 faculty and Stanford leaders across campus are active in human and planetary health, and student engagement is high in all our work. Programs include postdoctoral fellowships, undergraduate and graduate courses, seed grants, early-career awards, robust solutions-oriented research, a speaker series, action and policy labs, and more.

With a vision of a thriving future for our planet and all who call it home, the Human and Planetary Health initiative is focused on driving solutions-oriented research, preparing future leaders, accelerating global impact, and building the human and planetary health community at Stanford. Read more about the Initiative.

Our four areas of focus include

Climate & Health

Promoting the health of vulnerable populations by exploring climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions, addressing issues arising from extreme weather, wildfires, natural disasters, extreme heat, eco-anxiety, displacement, and other climate-related impacts.

Image credit: Moniruzzaman Sazal / Climate Visuals Countdown

Disease Ecology in a Changing World

We investigate the ecological, environmental, and socioeconomic determinants of diseases transmitted through the environment, including vector-borne, parasitic, zoonotic, and wildlife diseases. We project their future distributions under scenarios of climate change and develop ecological solutions to control disease transmission, improve human health, and protect the health of the environment that underpins it.

Image credit: Anthony Ochieng / Climate Visuals Countdown

Pollution & Health

Understanding and reducing the harm from pollution on the health of humans and the environment by redesigning business models and processes to reduce ocean, land, and air pollution, support health, and build more resilient and equitable economies

Image credit: Abir Abdullah / Climate Visuals Countdown

Food Systems, Health and the Environment

Generating knowledge to develop a food system that provides healthy affordable human nutrition while supporting thriving biodiverse terrestrial and aquatic environments, and reduces carbon emissions from the agricultural sector.

Image credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment

Resources and Opportunities

  1. Human and Planetary Health Early Career Awards
    Health is a critical climate, sustainability, and environmental justice issue. Submissions to the Human and Planetary Health ECA program should explore interactions between global environmental changes and human health, equity, and wellbeing – with an emphasis on developing novel solutions to pressing problems. This program is open to Stanford Faculty  only. 
  2. Human and Planetary Health Postdoctoral Fellowship
    The Human and Planetary Health Postdoctoral Fellowship cultivates new knowledge and solutions at the intersections of health and the environment. Through two-year fellowships, the program supports postdocs in conducting mentored research on cutting-edge human and planetary health challenges – and developing solutions for a healthier future.
  3. Education and Opportunities
    Stanford undergraduate and graduate students can explore courses and educational opportunities offered by the Human and Planetary Health initiative  and related partners.
  4. Human and Planetary Health Seminar Series and Events
    As part of our Spotlight on Human and Planetary Health speaker series, our initiative regularly hosts inspiring and informative speakers for events, fireside chats and scientific presentations on current Human and Planetary Health topics. We also hold an annual community-building convening on Stanford campus every Fall Quarter.

    For more information or to get involved, reach out to the Human and Planetary Health Managing Director, Allison Phillips: 

For updates and Human and Planetary Health news, subscribe to the Human and Planetary Health Listserve here:

Our Team

Stephen Luby

Lucy Becker Professor of Medicine, Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Professor, by courtesy, of Epidemiology and Population Health

Human and Planetary Health Leadership Team

Human and Planetary Health is guided by the following multi-disciplinary leaders from Stanford:

Michele Barry, MD, FACP

Drs. Ben & A. Jess Shenson Professor, Director, Center for Innovation in Global Health, Professor of Medicine, Senior Fellow at Woods and Professor, by courtesy, of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science
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
Angelle Desiree LaBeaud

Professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases), Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and Professor, by courtesy, of Epidemiology and Population Health and at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability
Erin Mordecai

Associate Professor of Biology and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment

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