We live in an interconnected world. The collective impacts of human activities have already led to fundamental transformations in terrestrial habitats, air quality, and clean water availability. Anthropogenically induced climate change poses a near- and long-term threat to human health, while the legacy of human evolution leaves us genetically predisposed to adverse responses to environmental change that increase risk of chronic disease. Likewise, changes in land use and emissions also threaten environmental health, e.g., by increasing risk of species extinction, disrupting critical biogeochemical cycles, and changing the risk of disease emergence in both human and animal populations. Precisely because human and environmental health are linked, scientists, engineers, community leaders, and policy makers must work collaboratively to translate evidence-based discoveries into public action. Such translation is challenging and requires collective effort to establish a goal-driven community that ensures that science has an active seat at shaping the very policies that impinge on human and environmental health.
The Health & Environment Leadership Development (IHE-LeaD) Program aims to create an innovative research, training, and outreach environment that fosters impact-driven research and knowledge translation at the interface of Health and the Environment. Our goal is to establish a diverse, interdisciplinary community among Georgia Tech students, researchers, and faculty as well as local and national partners who together work towards integration of evidence-based discoveries into public debates, public-facing initiatives, and policy changes. Funded by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund seed grant, ‘Climate Change and Health small grants’, we have created the IHE-LeaD fellowship program geared towards advanced graduate students and postdoctoral researchers across all Georgia Tech Colleges at the intersection of health and environment, with particular interest in the link between climate change and health. The fellowship will prepare trainees to initiate team projects that translate scientific principles and discoveries into public engagement, decision making, and initiatives.
The IHE-LeaD Fellowship
The IHE-LeaD fellowship program will prepare graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to engage in collaborative, science-informed approaches to address challenges at the interface of human and environmental health. During the two-semester program, an interdisciplinary cohort of eight graduate students and postdoctoral researchers across Georgia Tech colleges will receive training in leadership and translational development led by Georgia Tech and local and national experts. Fellows will apply their knowledge to identify, prepare, or realize translational actions based on their academic background and work. The IHE-LeaD fellows will further take the lead in organizing and hosting a two-day symposium in early summer 2023 that brings together regional and national academic experts, trainees, community leaders, and policy makers to foster collaboration towards science-informed, sustainable public actions at the interface of human and environmental health. The cohort will be supported by a faculty advisory team with the goal to seed a diverse, cross-disciplinary community of translational researchers. The program provides fellows the opportunities to establish professional networks, develop skills for implementing science-informed actions, and be directly involved in shaping a collaborative, interdisciplinary community.
The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.
– John H. Schaar, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Santa Cruz