The impacts of climate change on human health are likely to be significant and unavoidable, especially in underserved populations across the globe. A $574,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health will help support a new climate change and health research area in Penn State’s Population Research Institute (PRI).
According to principal investigator Jennifer Van Hook, the Roy C. Buck Professor and director of PRI, the new supplemental grant under PRI’s Population Dynamics Centers Research Infrastructure Program will contribute to building the fundamental knowledge and skills to conduct multidisciplinary climate change and health science.
“Penn State has unique strengths in both population health and climate science, yet the intersection of climate change and health is a relatively new research area on campus,” Van Hook said. “This effort will bring together population health and climate change scientists to form new interdisciplinary, multi-expertise teams.”
The grant will support the teams through a seed funding program, which will allow researchers from diverse fields to form research collaborations with the goal of developing competitive proposals for external funding.
“We hope this new research area will draw together population scientists at PRI and other faculty from across the University,” said Brian Thiede, associate professor of rural sociology, sociology and demography and co-principal investigator on the project. “This will result in much needed interdisciplinary collaborations to advance climate change and health research.”
Other initiatives of the new climate change and health research area will include training and capacity-building workshops, the formation of a new climate change and health working group, and a mechanism to provide computing and programming support for climate change and health research. Together, Van Hook said, the goal of these initiatives is to assist faculty to become NIH grant-active population scientists and expand PRI’s portfolio of NIH funded climate change and health projects.
The new research area will be added to PRI’s four existing research areas: communities, neighborhoods and spatial processes; migration, immigration and immigrant integration; families, networks and well-being; and population health.
Additional support for the new initiative will be provided by Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute and Institute of Energy and the Environment.