Environmental Justice and Human Health: Creating Systemic Solutions


This was a 6-week Osher Mini-Medical School series co-organized by the UCSF EaRTH Center, UCSF Program for Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE), and San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and further supported by the UCSF Center for Climate Health and Equity and the Environmental and Climate Health Student Advisory Group. Series Co-Chairs include Annemarie Charlesworth, Patrice Sutton, Robert Gould, Nadia Gaber

Series Overview

Human health is inseparable from environmental health. Our exposure to toxic environmental chemicals through air, water, food, and consumer products is contributing to a surge in chronic disease (cancer, asthma, diabetes, COPD, etc.), developmental delay, neurodegenerative disease, and infertility. Our climate emergency’s concomitant catastrophic events (hurricanes, wildfires, floods, famine, etc.) are driving massive human displacement as populations flee climate-fueled war, conflict, and environmental degradation. Existing health challenges, and health care systems, will need considerable investments of resources and attention in order to mitigate the impacts. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how the web of life connects human health to other species and global health, and the importance of systemic solutions.

Environmental threats to human health are not experienced equally among populations. Structural and institutional racism, and other economic and public policy choices underlie the fact that some communities suffer more and die earlier from environmental health harms. While health care professionals work to mitigate suffering of individuals, the etiology and enduring solutions to these problems are systemic, and as such, require solutions that address the upstream influences on health at a society-wide level. Thus, research and policy decisions are needed that address the systemic roots of environmental threats to our health. This series will explore a range of environmental contributors to human health and disease through the lens of our most vulnerable populations, and seek to identify and advocate for systemic solutions by health professionals and community members.


The series ran every Tuesday from February 23 through March 30, 6 pm - 7:30 pm.


Jump to speaker list and referenced articles/materials

Speakers: Referenced Articles

Santosh Pandipati, MD - Dr. Pandipati is Medical Director for Maternal-Fetal Medicine at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, CA.

The Earth Has a Fever

Anticipated Impacts of the Climate Crisis on Women’s Health: A Call to Action

Climate Change Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD - Dr. Conry is President elect of the International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (FIGO).

Toxic Chemicals & Pregnancy Infographics

Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH - Dr. Woodruff is the Director of the UCSF EaRTH Center and Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE). Prior to joining UCSF, she was a research scientist at the USEPA.

Executive Summary of Recommendations to EPA

Navigation Guide

Lucia Sayre - Ms. Sayre is the Director of Regional Innovation and Community Resilience for the Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC) of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH). Dr. Sayre has been co-creating the Anchors in Resilient Communities (ARC) project in California for the past five years, which is now serving as a model for HCWH’s organizational transition to hold community resiliency at the core of all programming.

HCWH Community Benefit Healthy Food Playbook

The Democracy Collaborative's ARC Assessment 

Anchors in Resilient Communities (ARC)

ARC Case Study from Healthcare Anchor Network (2020)

Celebrating the opening of the Union City Culinary Center (January 2021) "Supporting resilient communities, one meal at a time"