Global Public Health Research
Faculty in the Global Public Health and the Common Good are committed to advancing research in a diverse range of fields. Students are invited to participate in this research and to become involved in projects of significant importance to modern societies.
Areas of major research interest within the program are:
- The spread of pandemics,
- Nutrition and health.
- Health impacts of pollution and climate change, and
- The ethical and legal foundations of public health
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Boston College established the Global Observatory on Planetary Health in 2018 to track the impacts of pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss on human health and to develop science-based solutions for protecting the earth’s environment, preventing disease, saving lives and advancing social justice. Researchers in the Observatory are currently examining the impacts of pollution and climate change on children’s health, heart disease, cancer, and ocean health; studying the health hazards of plastics across their entire life cycle; and developing options for reform of national and international chemical policy. The Observatory is an interdisciplinary collaboration whose members are drawn from schools and departments across Boston College.
The work of the Global Observatory on Planetary Health is inspired and guided by Pope Francis’ teaching in his encyclical letter, Laudato Si’, calling on all of us to care for our planet - our Common Home, end social and economic injustice, and prevent the disease, disability and premature death that fall disproportionately upon the poor.
The Observatory is deeply committed to communication. We develop carefully curated science-driven, impactful reports and recommendations to guide leaders of governments, inform the media and the public, and assist cities and countries to prevent pollution, mitigate climate change, improve health and advance the common good. Recent reports have examined Air Pollution in India; Pollution and Economic Development in Africa; The Human Health Benefits of Climate Mitigation, Pollution Prevention, and Preservation of Biological Diversity; and Human Health and Ocean Pollution. We also produce editorials and commentaries that have appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, The Boston Globe and The New York Times. These reports are already influencing health, energy and environment policy within countries and internationally.
The Observatory continues the work of the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, co-led by Observatory Director Dr. Philip Landrigan. The Lancet Commission found that pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world, responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths each year. It reported additionally that pollution can be prevented and that pollution prevention safeguards health, saves lives, slows the pace of climate change and preserves biological diversity.
To advance its work, the Observatory has established formal partnerships with UN Environment and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco. Its work is supported by UN Environment, the Minderoo Foundation, the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, the Barr Foundation, the Owsley Brown II Family Foundation and the A-Team Foundation.
In all of its work, the Observatory trains and mentors post-doctoral fellows, undergraduate and graduate students and thus builds capacity in planetary health for future generations.