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Your Environment. Your Health.

Podcasts: Global Environmental Health Chat

Global Environmental Health


This podcast series brings to you the knowledge and experiences of people working to understand and combat environmental health problems that reach beyond national boundaries and contribute to the global burden of disease.

GEH Chat - Boy Running

Cookstoves and Indoor Air Pollution (2-part series)

Globally, about three billion people use inefficient fires or basic stoves for their daily cooking, lighting, and heating. The smoke from these fires contributes to over 4 million avoidable deaths annually, with women and young children the most affected.

In this 2-part series, experts discuss the health, safety, environmental, and economic implications of solid fuels in low- and middle-income countries. We also consider the goals and challenges of efforts to improve cookstoves to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

Part 1: Dr. Claudia Thompson: NIEHS’s Global Work on Indoor Air Pollution

Dr. Claudia Thompson

Claudia Thompson, Ph.D., is the branch chief for the Susceptibility and Population Health Branch in the Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT) at NIEHS. She joined DERT in 1994 as a program administrator for the Superfund Research Program (SRP) and was also responsible for building the grant portfolio in the areas of biomarker (exposure, effect, and susceptibility) development, metabolic toxicology, chemical mixtures research, and molecular mechanisms of metal toxicity and carcinogenicity. In addition to her branch chief responsibilities, Claudia is a senior advisor to the SRP and provides leadership to the Deepwater Horizon Disaster Academic-Community Research Consortium. Prior to joining DERT, she was a research scientist for 10 years in the Laboratory of Biochemical Risk Analysis in the Division of Intramural Research at NIEHS.

Part 2: Dr. Kalpana Balakrishnan: Cookstove Challenges

Dr. Kalpana Balakrishnan

Kalpana Balakrishnan, Ph.D., is a professor of biophysics in the Department of Environmental Health Engineering at Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai, India. She also serves as director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Occupational and Environmental Health and The Center for Advanced Research on Environmental Health for the Indian Council of Medical Research, Government of India. She has been involved with research concerning air pollution and health in the ambient, household and occupational environments leading several regional efforts in South Asia. She has contributed to several national and international technical assessments concerned with air quality, including the World Health Organisation Air Quality Guidelines for ambient and household air pollution. She also serves as a Regional Editor for Environmental Health Perspectives, the official journal of the NIEHS and as an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Public Health.


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Health Impacts of Climate Change (3-part series)

With rising temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events, and a host of effects on air quality, food supply, and infectious diseases, climate change is projected to have a major impact on human health and well-being. In many places, these effects are already being felt.

In this 3-part series, hear what two recent climate assessments—the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment—say about the health impacts of climate change in the United States and around the globe.

Part 1: Dr. John Balbus: Overview

Dr. John Balbus

John M. Balbus, M.D., M.P.H., is a senior advisor to the NIEHS Director on public health issues and serves as NIEHS liaison to its external constituencies, stakeholders, and advocacy groups. He serves as HHS principal to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, for which he also co-chairs the Interagency Cross-Cutting Group on Climate Change and Human Health. He was among the lead authors of the health chapter of the Third National Climate Assessment and was a review editor for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment report. His background combines training and experience in clinical medicine with expertise in epidemiology, toxicology, and risk sciences. He has authored studies and lectures on global climate change and health, transportation-related air pollution, the toxic effects of chemicals, and regulatory approaches to protecting susceptible subpopulations.

Part 2: Dr. Alistair Woodward: Focus on IPCC Fifth Assessment

Dr. Alistair Woodward

Alistair Woodward, Ph.D., is a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He has worked for the World Health Organization throughout the Pacific and contributed to a number of reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He and Kirk Smith led the writing group that prepared the chapter on human health for the 5th assessment. His research interests include climate change, tobacco, radio-frequency radiation and health, and transport and injury. He also serves as an editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Part 3: Dr. Kim Knowlton: Focus on National Climate Assessment

Dr. Kim Knowlton

Kim Knowlton, Dr.P.H., is a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s health and environment program and assistant clinical professor of environmental health sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. She served as co-convening lead author for the human health chapter of the Third National Climate Assessment and participated in the development of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment report. Her work focuses on the health effects of climate change and she has researched heat- and ozone-related mortality and illnesses; connections between climate change and pollen, allergies and asthma, and infectious diseases; the health costs of climate change; and domestic and international climate-health preparedness strategies.

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A New Chapter in NIEHS-WHO Collaboration (3-part series)

With the NIEHS’s recent designation as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Environmental Health Sciences, the Institute and WHO are celebrating a renewed partnership and looking forward to working together to address pressing global environmental health challenges. In this 3-part series, leaders at the NIEHS and WHO discuss their vision for a fruitful collaboration.

Part 1: Dr. Linda Birnbaum, NIEHS

Dr. Linda Birnbaum

Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., is director of the National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Toxicology Program. As NIEHS and NTP director, Birnbaum oversees a budget of $730 million that funds biomedical research to discover how the environment influences human health and disease. The Institute also supports training, education, technology transfer, and community outreach. NIEHS currently funds more than 1,000 research grants. A board certified toxicologist, Dr. Birnbaum has served as a federal scientist for nearly 34 years. Prior to her appointment as NIEHS and NTP director in 2009, she spent 19 years at the Environmental Protection Agency, where she directed the largest division focusing on environmental health research. She is the author of more than 600 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and reports.


Part 2: Dr. María Neíra, WHO

Dr. María Neira

María P. Neíra is a Spanish national who holds a degree in Medicine and Surgery (University of Oviedo, Spain) and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie. Dr. Neíra is the Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization (WHO). Previously, she was President of the Spanish Food Safety Agency and Vice Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs in Spain. Before that, she was Director of the Department of Control, Prevention and Eradication at WHO. Before joining WHO, Dr. Neíra worked as Public Health Adviser in the Ministry of Health in Mozambique and earlier, in Kigali, Rwanda, she was a UN Public Health Advisor/Physician on assignment from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Among other distinctions, Dr Neíra has been awarded the Médaille de l'Ordre national du Mérite by the Government of France.


Part 3: Dr. Luiz Augusto Galvão, PAHO

Dr. Luiz Augusto Galvão

Luiz Augusto Galvão, a Brazilian national, received his medical degree at the Faculdade de Medicina do ABC. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health with specialization in environmental epidemiology. Dr. Galvão is Chief of the Special Project on Sustainable Development and Health Equity at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization’s regional office for the Americas. He has been involved with the work of PAHO since 1984. Dr. Galvão's professional career includes extensive teaching experience and a vast number of technical publications. He was president of the Brazilian Society of Toxicology and is an active member of several professional associations.


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Environmental Health and Sustainable Development, with Sir Andrew Haines

As the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approach their 2015 deadline, leaders are considering ways to build upon and expand the successes of the MDGs after 2015. In this podcast, Sir Andrew Haines discusses how the new set of strategies, goals, and indicators can simultaneously improve health and increase sustainability.

Sir Andy Haines

Featured Expert

Sir Andrew Haines, MBBS, MD is Professor of Public Health and Primary Care at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).  He previously served as Director (originally Dean) of LSHTM for nearly 10 years. An epidemiologist and practitioner of family medicine, Sir Haines has worked internationally in Nepal, Jamaica, Canada, and the United States and been a member of a number of major international and national committees. He is currently a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an interdisciplinary group that provides technical advice on the post-2015 development agenda. He has also been a member of the WHO Advisory Committee on Health Research and of Working Group 2 of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the second and third assessment reports. He is currently review editor of the health chapter of the IPCC’s fifth assessment report.


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Climate Change and Health Inequalities, with Dr. Gueladio Cisse

Public health infrastructure is extremely fragile in many areas of Africa. Climate change is expected to increase the threat of infectious diseases in the region, and more extreme weather could bring disasters like drought and floods. Dr. Gueladio Cisse explains how these aspects of climate change threaten to further exacerbate health inequalities in Africa.

Featured Expert

Dr. Gueladio Cisse

Dr. Gueladio Cisse is Professor Sanitary Engineering & Environmental Epidemiology and the Project Leader of the Ecosystem Health Sciences Unit at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. With a passion for water and sanitation challenges in Africa, he directs a project focused on water, health, and climate change in four river-adjacent West African cities. Dr. Cisse holds a Ph.D. in Sanitary Engineering and a M.Sc. in Environmental Sciences from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.


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Building India’s Public Health Capacity, with Dr. Rao Aiyagari

India, the world's second-most populous country, faces a host of public health challenges from infectious diseases to air pollution. Climate change is expected to exacerbate many of these health issues in the coming years. In this episode, we discuss what can be done to build the country's public health capacity and work toward a healthier future.

Featured Expert

GEH Podcast - Dr. Rao Aiyagari

Dr. Rao Aiyagari is a Senior Advisor for Research and Scientific Operations at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). He is a Mechanical Engineer, an expert in Science Policy Studies and a specialist in the areas of Operations Research, Systems Analysis and Industrial Engineering Problems. At PHFI, Dr. Aiyagari is involved with research policy guidelines for supporting the PHFI research agenda, capacity building and training efforts, and academic management. Dr. Aiyagari has served as Scientific Adviser to the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India for a number of years and has made outstanding contributions towards the promotion of research and development in science and engineering. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering.


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Feeding the World in a Changing Climate, with Dr. Pamela Anderson

Climate change could make it harder for farmers to meet the world’s growing food demands. In this episode, we look at the agricultural impacts of climate change and learn what scientists are doing to prepare crops for a future with more heat, drought, and extreme weather.

Featured Expert

Geh Podcast Dr. Pamela Anderson

Dr. Pamela Anderson is Director General of the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru. CIP is one of 15 international agricultural research centers in the CGIAR Consortium, a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future. A leading expert on emerging plant diseases, Dr. Anderson has also conducted research in agricultural entomology and plant virus epidemiology related to food security and income generation for resource-poor populations. Dr. Anderson has worked in Latin America for 30 years and spent two decades working within national agricultural research systems before joining CGIAR.


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