Public Health

Public Health

Scientists increasingly are discovering new links between human health and our environment. The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment brings world-class experts in medicine, environmental health and other disciplines together to solve complex challenges in resource-scarce areas. Woods’ Water, Health and Development program works with global partners to deliver affordable, sustainable water supply and sanitation services. In Haiti, an initiative launched by Stanford graduate students is reducing water contamination from human waste while creating jobs. In Bangladesh, a Stanford-led team is developing low-cost devices that treat water at the point of collection for thousands living in urban slums. In Senegal, researchers funded by Woods’ Environmental Venture Projects program are pioneering natural approaches to curb the spread of a deadly parasitic disease. Through these and other projects, Stanford researchers are working to sustain the health and well being of people around the world.


Informing Safer Groundwater

Groundwater in South and Southeast Asia often contains up to 100 times more arsenic than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit, poisoning millions of people through toxic drinking water. The phenomenon was largely a mystery until The Terry Huffington Professor in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, Scott Fendorf and his team discovered how bacteria living in shallow sediment layers of permanently flooded wetlands catalyzes arsenic release into groundwater. Read more.

Making Sanitation Sustainable

Lack of access to toilets and sustainable sanitation suffered by approximately one out of every four people globally has devastating effects on public health. Stanford researchers found that child growth improves when open defecation is reduced. Stanford’s Water, Health and Development program hosted a webinar focused on container-based sanitation solutions as a way to address the need for sanitation. As evidence, nearly 75 percent of urban Haitians who participated in a trial using a portable dry toilet and a related service chose to pay to continue it according to a study co-authored by former Woods Rising Environmental Leaders Program fellows Kory Russell and Sebastian Tilmans. Read more.

Reaching for Water Goals

Stanford researchers launched a World Bank-funded study of the health impacts of access to chlorinated water in Bangladesh. This work became part of an interactive e-book for middle and high school students that illustrates how scientists and engineers solve problems . Higgins-Magid Senior Fellow Jenna Davis worked actively with the U.N. General Assembly to develop ambitious goals, targets and indicators for water supply and sanitation services including monitoring over the next 15 years. Read more.

Understanding Insect-Borne Disease

Stanford researchers are actively engaged in studying insect-borne illnesses such as Zika virus, which is transmitted through mosquitos and has reached epidemic levels in some parts of the world. Woods-affiliated Associate Professor of Pediatrics Desiree LaBeaud advised the public on how to avoid infection. In the San Francisco Bay Area, trail-lined open space holds surprisingly higher risks of tick-borne disease such as Lyme, according to a study by George and Setsuko Ishiyama Provostial Professor Eric Lambin (Stanford Earth). Read more.

Finding Ecological Solutions

Emphasizing the connection between ecological and environmental factors and human disease, researchers launched the Program for Disease Ecology, Health and Environment at Stanford in collaboration with Woods and the Center for Innovation in Global Health . The program, led by Woods Senior Fellow Giulio De Leo (Biology) and Susanne Sokolow, research associate at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, will focus on finding sustainable ecological solutions to a range of diseases.

On Camera

Cleaning Drinking Water in Bangladesh

Here in the US, we take clean drinking water for granted. In many parts of the world, however, modern water treatment simply doesn't exist. This creates a major problem -- poop in the drinking water! Amy Pickering, a Stanford engineer, went to Dhaka, Bangladesh to observe how the residents collected water. The challenge? Build a simple, cheap device so that residents can easily collect clean drinking water.

Celebrating Toilets in Rural Mali

Better Sanitation without Subsidies: New research shows childhood stunting diminishes with community-led promotion of latrines. Read more.

In The News

A Transcript of Jill Stein’s Meeting with The Washington Post Editorial Board

Cites research by Mark Jacobson showing that metrics of health would improve with phase out of fossil fuels.
August 25, 2016 - By Post Opinions Staff, Washington Post

Read More

Why Snails Are One of the World's Deadliest Creatures

Interview with Susanne Sokolow regarding freshwater snails that carry a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis.
August 13, 2016 - By Elizabeth Shockman, PRI - Science Friday

Read More

A Creative Approach to Controlling a Deadly Snail

Profile of ecological disease intervention initiative that received early funding from the Stanford Woods Institute’s Environmental...
July 29, 2016 - By Elizabeth Shockman, Science Friday (PRI)

Read More

News coverage of BPA study

Jennifer Hartle, a 2015 fellow with Woods' Rising Environmental Leaders Program, led research that puts to rest any lingering doubt about whether...
June 29, 2016 - By , UPI, CNN, KQED, Forbes

Read More

Top Tweets