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Your Environment. Your Health.

Understanding the Global Burden of Disease Part I

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Understanding the Global Burden of Disease Part I

July 17, 2019

Interviewee: Howard Hu, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D.

In this podcast we will focus on the Global Burden of Disease Study and how it is helping inform health organizations and decision makers as they prioritize environmental factors that need to be addressed.

Understanding the Global Burden of Disease

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In this podcast, we’ll learn more about the global burden disease (GBD) and how the GBD study could ultimately help clarify the true burden of environmental exposures, thereby raising prevention and associated policies as a societal priority (in all countries). Part 1 focuses on the GBD Study and how it is helping inform health organizations and decision makers as they prioritize environmental factors that need to be addressed. Coming August 2019, part 2 will focus on the Pollution and Health Initiative, which aims to expand the number of environmental factors that are included in the GBD and how impacts on human health are measured.

The GBD Study is a systematic effort to track estimates of all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and location over time. The goal of the study is to inform decision-makers at local, regional, national, and global levels with the best evidence on trends and drivers of health to inform decision making. A primary focus on the GBD Study is preventable environmental exposures, such as air pollution.


Howard Hu, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D.

Howard Hu, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D., is a physician-scientist who holds a doctoral degree in epidemiology and is board certified in internal medicine and occupational/environmental medicine. Hu’s research is focused on the role of environmental exposure to metals and other pollutants, gene-environment interactions, genetics, and epigenetics as determinants of developmental impairment in children and chronic diseases in adults.

Hu has contributed to several NIEHS-funded research projects including serving as a Founding Director for both the NIEHS Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Research and the NIEHS Environmental Health Core Sciences Center at the University of Michigan, as well as working on ELEMENT (Early Life Exposures in Mexico and Environmental Toxicology).

Hu has been a driving force in bringing together multidisciplinary expertise to address the rising global burden of disease. He is involved with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the Global Burden of Disease Project’s Pollution and Health Initiative, and is working with collaborators to form a global pollution observatory to assist countries in prioritizing pollution initiatives.

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