Public Health

smoggy day at the beach

Connections between human health and environmental conditions are undeniable, yet our society far too often reacts to, rather than anticipates these problems. Early prediction of such threats demands an understanding of the underlying (often environmental) determinants. SAGE is the perfect home for research and training to grapple with this challenge because sustainable public health is inextricably linked to the state of natural resources; SAGE strives for health solutions for today's populations, without jeopardizing the health of future generations. SAGE is catalyzing strategic interdisciplinary approaches throughout the UW-Madison campus, including partnerships across centers of the Nelson Institute, the Department of Population Health Sciences, the Global Health Institute, the School of Veterinary Medicine, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, The International Institute, and other units on campus. Many longterm off-campus ties are in place, for example, with the International Association for Ecology and Health and the Consortium for Conservation Medicine. Federal research sponsors include: EPA, NASA, CDC, NIH, and NSF.


Ongoing Projects

Climate Change Health Impacts in the Great Lakes Region - Drs. Patz and Holloway are collaborating with Dr. Steve Vavrus, Center for Climatic Research, Nelson Institute on this project. This EPA-sponsored project "Health Risks from Climate Variability and Change in the Upper Midwest: a Place-based Assessment of Climate-related Morbidity" primarily addresses the risks of heat-related illness and water contamination from extreme precipitation for the state of Wisconsin. We also project mid-century risk scenarios for the region. This grant is in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, and with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Deforestation and Malaria in the Amazon - Patz and his students are working on this NASA-sponsored project for the Brazilian Amazon. We are combining the tools of classical epidemiology and field insect surveys with satellite remote sensing images of the changing landscape to determine the potential increase malaria risk from deforestation and climate change.

'Healthscapes' - Drs. Patz, Ozdogan, and Schneider are developing a web-based system to assemble, interpret and report data that describe the state of infectious diseases, how they are changing, and the risk they present. HealthScapes will be an open-source tool that will link data from near-real-time environmental monitoring satellite platforms with historical data on local and regional land use, climate, and socio-demographic conditions.

Health in the 'Built Environment' - Patz and students evaluating health/fitness, air quality, and climate benefits associated with increased bicycle use in Madison, Wisconsin, as a model for developing healthy urban areas worldwide, and show the health benefits of a "low-carbon economy." See Grabow, M.L., S.N. Spak, T.A. Holloway, B. Stone Jr., A.C. Mednick, and J.A. Patz. (2012). Air quality and exercise-related health benefits from reduced car travel in the Midwestern United States. Environmental Health Perspectives 120(1), 68-76.