Read the October 2008 Columbia Alumni
This month's edition includes information about a happy hour with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, Homecoming on Oct 4 and a panel discussion on globalization.
Linda Fried, MD, MPH, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, announced the creation of a new Program in Climate and Health within the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. The Program has been established to foster expansion of the research and teaching on climate and health across the Mailman School. Directed by Patrick Kinney, ScD, associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School, the program will also serve as a means to facilitate the School's interactions and collaborations with the Columbia Climate Center—part of The Earth Institute—and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society.
"Public health protection will be a prominent goal of any adaptive or mitigative actions addressing climate change," said Dr. Fried. "Thus, optimal decision-making will require both the best available estimates of future health impacts under alternative climate scenarios as well as data and analytical tools needed for tracking emerging public health threats related to climate change."
Kinney, the new program director, is a national leader on research issues that are at the intersection of global environmental change, air pollution, human health and policy. His early work in the 1990s on air quality and environmental justice in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx led to important new insights into the impacts of diesel vehicle emissions on local air quality. He has carried out numerous studies examining the human health effects of air pollution, including studies of the effects of ozone and/or particulate matter on lung health and on daily mortality in large cities. Over the past five years, he has developed a new interdisciplinary research and teaching program at Columbia examining the potential impacts of climate change on human health.
Kinney was the first to show that climate change could worsen urban smog problems in the U.S., with attendant adverse health impacts. He has also projected future health impacts related to heat waves in the New York City metropolitan area. In a new research initiative, Kinney is working with clinicians at Columbia University Medical Center to understand how past and future climate may affect pollen-related allergic airway diseases. Kinney earned his doctorate at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he studied the effects of air pollution on lung function in children as part of the Harvard Six Cities Air Pollution and Health Study.
"Public health impacts of climate change in the U.S. and elsewhere are likely to arise across a diverse range of climate-sensitive domains," noted Kinney, "including increasing mortality from extreme heat, immediate trauma related to extreme storm events as well as post-storm mold infestation, changes in the temporal and spatial distributions of air pollution and airborne allergens and a range of infectious diseases carried by vectors, food and/or water."
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