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Healthy planet, healthy people: How climate change impacts human immunology

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Healthy planet, healthy people: How climate change impacts human immunology

28 July 2021

12:00 p.m. ET

Register now!


Climate change, along with natural and human-made health stressors, can have a profound effect on the human immune system and health. Water quality, pollution, and other environmental stressors can increase susceptibility to disease, especially in vulnerable populations. A warming climate and increasing exposure to allergens may disrupt antigen-specific tolerance, leading to a rise in immunologic disease.Vector-borne illness and emerging pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2, can cause epidemics that result in profound disruptions in global health security. Malnutrition is known to affect both innate and adaptive immunity, increasing susceptibility to disease, especially among children. Recent evidence points to the microbiome as a key player in the immune system, with declining biodiversity potentially leading to inflammatory, autoimmune, and neurological diseases.

In this webinar, we will explore these challenges and focus on ways that science and innovation can help mitigate some of the negative impacts of climate change on human health, such as devising novel vaccine approaches, investing in discovery science that elucidates the inner workings of the human immune system, and supporting research to translate this knowledge into the development of enhanced disease treatments and immunotherapies.

During this webinar, the panelists will:

  • Discuss the burden climate change is placing on the human immune system, and explore how that burden is being borne inequitably by poor and vulnerable populations
  • Highlight critical research areas with the greatest potential to mitigate the impact of climate change on human health
  • Identify potential pathways for policy makers, research funders, and medical and scientific communities to support climate change–focused health research
  • Answer questions from the online audience during the broadcast.

This webinar will last for approximately 60 minutes.

Speaker bios

Gwen W. Collman, Ph.D.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH
Bethesda, MD

Dr. Collman serves as acting deputy director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Prior to that, for the past 11 years, she has been an active member of the NIEHS executive leadership team in her role as director of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT). She led the implementation of many exciting scientific programs with partners from NIH institutes and centers, and other federal agencies. Dr. Collman has directed scientific activities across the field of environmental health sciences, including basic sciences organ-specific toxicology, public health-related programs, and training and career development. She also oversees the implementation of the Superfund Research Program and the Worker Education and Training Program. She is credited with building the NIEHS grant portfolio in environmental and molecular epidemiology, and she has also developed several complex multidisciplinary research programs, including the NIEHS Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers Program; the NIEHS/Environmental Protection Agency Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention; and the Genes, Environment and Health Initiative. In recognition of her achievements, she has received many NIEHS Merit Awards, three NIH Director’s Awards, and the Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service. Dr. Collman received a Ph.D. in environmental epidemiology from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health. 

Marcelo Korc, Ph.D., MPH

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
Washington, DC

Dr. Korc is chief of the Climate Change and Environmental Determinants of Health Unit at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). He has 28 years of experience in designing, planning, and managing strategic efforts and conducting research studies in global health equity with an emphasis on environmental determinants of health and populations in conditions of vulnerability. Prior to joining PAHO/WHO in 1998, he worked in the private sector for Sonoma Technology, Inc. and Independent Project Analysis, Inc. Dr. Korc obtained a B.Sc. in chemical engineering (cum laude) from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (1987), a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Rochester, New York (1992), and a Master’s in public health from the University of Texas at El Paso (2011). He is the author and coauthor of over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters and is a member of the U.S. National Environmental Health Association.

Sheri Weiser, M.D., M.P.H., M.A.

University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California

Dr. Weiser is a professor of medicine and an internist in the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Her research focuses on the impact of food insecurity and other social and structural factors on treatment outcomes for HIV and other chronic diseases both domestically and internationally. She also studies how extreme weather events affect food security and infectious disease outcomes and evaluates sustainable food insecurity and livelihood interventions as a way to improve health. She has published over 175 manuscripts on these topics and has been the principal investigator on over 25 research grants in the area, including 9 grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. In addition to the above, Dr. Weiser cofounded and will be codirecting the new UCSF Center for Climate, Health and Equity, where she aims to expand climate and health research, education, and clinical initiatives. She also coled the University of California-wide Climate and Health Education Faculty Development Initiative, which has trained faculty members throughout the University of California Health science schools to integrate climate and health into their ongoing courses. She was a recipient of the UCSF Faculty Sustainability Award and the UC Sustainability Champion Award.

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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