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Human and Planetary Health Initiative

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Without a healthy biosphere, there is no human future.

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,  the Stanford School of Medicine’s Center for Innovation in  Global Health, and the Stanford Program on Disease Ecology, Health and the Environment – 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.

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, training future leaders, accelerating global impact, and building the human and planetary health community at Stanford. 

Our four areas of focus include

Climate & Health

Promoting the health of vulnerable populations by investigating opportunities for climate change mitigation and adaptation—including extreme weather, wildfires, resource scarcity, displacement, new disease patterns, and other impacts.

Image credit: Moniruzzaman Sazal / Climate Visuals Countdown

Ecosystems & Human Wellbeing (Healthy Planet, Healthy People Initiative)

Understanding how human environmental pressures affect transmission of human pathogens and threaten life-sustaining resources—and identifying opportunities for solutions through disease ecology and integrated conservation and health approaches to protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services. This Area of Focus is represented by the Healthy Planet, Healthy People Initiative at the Doerr School of Sustainability.

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

Healthy Foods for People & the Planet

Generating knowledge to develop a food system that provides healthy affordable human nutrition while supporting thriving biodiverse terrestrial and aquatic environments

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

Our Team

Stephen Luby

Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute and the Freeman Spogli Institute 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, Senior Associate Dean, Global Health, 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

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
    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:

Recent News

What do EV batteries have to do with health?

Stanford researchers combine epidemiology and management to confront a growing threat from lead-acid batteries in electric vehicles.

Stanford Researchers Team up to Reduce Pollution and Improve Health

Brick kilns and their pollution are ubiquitous in South Asia. An interdisciplinary team is combining satellite data and political persuasion to track kilns, raise public awareness and incentivize kiln owners to use cleaner technologies.

Embracing the emotions behind climate science - Global Health

A recent publication in Nature Climate Change that describes the impact that emotional responses to climate change such as grief, hopelessness, and despair can have on educational and research outcomes.