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Hutton Seminar Series: Planetary change and the future of human health, Professor Howard Frumkin

Hutton Seminars
24 October 2018, 3:30pm
at James Hutton Institute, New Seminar Room (Dundee) and Macaulay B (Aberdeen)
for scientists, students, researchers and anyone interested
Hutton Seminar Series 2018 badge

Our planet is changing in multiple ways, driven in substantial part by human activity. Climate change is perhaps the most widely recognized planetary change; other changes include biodiversity loss, altered land use and reduced soil quality, changes in the hydrology of both marine and freshwater systems, environmental loading with persistent chemicals, and changes in phosphorus and nitrogen cycling. Urbanization, while not a change to natural systems, represents another global trend. Each of these trends has important implications for human health and well-being. The emerging field of Planetary Health proposes that these earth system changes are now so far-reaching that they drive a substantial, and increasing, proportion of the global burden of disease. This presentation describes pathways from various planetary changes to human health, and proposes approaches that may point the way to sustainable solutions.

Howard Frumkin is head of the Our Plant, Our Health initiative at the Wellcome Trust in London, the largest research funder at the interface of human health, climate change, urbanization, and food systems. He trained as an internist, occupational and environmental medicine specialist, and epidemiologist.  From 2010 to 2018 he was Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health in Seattle, where he served as Dean from 2010 to 2016, and is now Emeritus Professor.  During his time as Dean the School of Public Health established its award-winning undergraduate public health major; secured funding for its new building; strengthened links with the city, county, and state; and launched strategic initiatives in global environmental change, genomics, obesity, health policy, implementation science, and social determinants of health. From 2005 to 2010 he held leadership roles at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, first as director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR), and later as Special Assistant to the CDC Director for Climate Change and Health. During his tenure NCEH/ATSDR created programs in Climate Change and in Healthy Community Design; launched training programs for college students, doctoral students, and post-docs; expanded its Biomonitoring and Environmental Public Health Tracking programs; and launched its National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures. From 1990 to 2005, he was Professor and Chair of Environmental and Occupational Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Emory Medical School.

Dr. Frumkin’s research interests include public health aspects of the built environment, climate change, energy policy, nature contact, and sustainability. His community and professional activities have included serving on numerous National Academies of Sciences committees, on the Boards of the Bullitt Foundation, the Seattle Parks Foundation, the U.S. Green Building Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, the American Public Health Association, the National Environmental Education Foundation, and the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute, on advisory committees to the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education (Columbia University), the Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health (George Mason University), and the Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium (University of Toronto), on the Steering Committee of the Planetary Health Alliance (Harvard University), on the National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors, and on the American Institute of Architects Design and Health Leadership Group. As a member of EPA’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee, he chaired the Smart Growth and Climate Change work groups. A graduate of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership, he was named Environmental Professional of the Year by the Georgia Environmental Council in 2004. He is the author or co-author of over 250 scientific journal articles and chapters, and his books include Urban Sprawl and Public Health (Island Press, 2004, co-authored with Larry Frank and Dick Jackson); Emerging Illness and Society (Johns Hopkins Press, 2004, co-edited with Randall Packard, Peter Brown, and Ruth Berkelman), Environmental Health: From Global to Local (Jossey-Bass, 2005, 2010, and 2016), Safe and Healthy School Environments (Oxford University Press, 2006, co-edited with Leslie Rubin and Robert Geller), Green Healthcare Institutions: Health, Environment, Economics (National Academies Press, 2007, co-edited with Christine Coussens), and Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-Being, and Sustainability (Island Press, 2011, co-edited with Andrew Dannenberg and Dick Jackson).

Dr. Frumkin was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He received his A.B. from Brown University, his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. from Harvard, his Internal Medicine training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Cambridge Hospital, and his Environmental and Occupational Medicine training at Harvard. He is Board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Environmental and Occupational Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Collegium Ramazzini and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. He is an avid cyclist, paddler, and hiker. He is married to radio journalist Joanne Silberner, and has two children, Gabe, a law student, and Amara, a medical student.

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.