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Collaborative Research on Lower Carbon and Healthy City Technology in China

January 23, 2014

SARI Center -- Karl SeifertThe Drexel University School of Public Health recently received a $150,000 grant from the Drexel–Shanghai Advanced Research Institute (SARI) Center for Global Research and Education (image right) to lead the study “Drexel-SARI Co-Research and Education on Low Carbon and Healthy City Technology.”  Four faculty members from the School of Public Health will participate in the research.

The goal of the study is to examine the complexity of urban energy use and the environment, and their interactions with public health in urban Chinese populations.  It will be one of the first studies to evaluate the complexity of energy, environment and population health using a systematic and multilevel approach.

According to the researchers, cities currently account for about two-thirds of global energy consumption and about 70 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  In China, urbanization increased from 18% in 1978 to 47% in 2009.  It is estimated that almost half of China’s 1.3 billion people lived in cities in 2012.

“Increasing urbanization and climate change are two of the great challenges in the 21st century,” said Longjian Liu, MD, PhD, MSC, FAHA, an associate professor at School of Public Health and the principal investigator of the study.  “Urbanization, environmental pollution and the rapidly aging population (partly due to one-child policy in the past three decades) have posed serious public health issues in China.”

Charles N. Haas, PhD, a professor at the College of Engineering, is the co-principal investigator of the study from Drexel University. Mingquan Wang, PhD, an assistant professor at SARI is the principal investigator, and Weiguang Huang, a professor and vice president, is the co-principal investigator, from SARI.

Co-investigators at Drexel University include:

School of Public Health
Arthur Frank, MD, PhD, Department Chair and Professor

Shannon Marquez, PhD, MEng, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Director of Global Health Initiatives and Associate Professor

Seth Welles, PhD, ScD, Department Chair and Professor

College of Engineering
Peter F. Decarlo, PhD, Assistant Professor

Jin Wen, PhD, Associate Professor

College of Arts and Sciences
Mimi Sheller, PhD, Professor and Director, Center for Mobilities Research and Policy

In the study, the researchers aim to evaluate the impact of GHG emissions, carbon dioxide and air pollution on health, with a focus on the risks of heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases in urban Chinese populations.

The scientists will also assess the impact of healthcare support and health outcomes on low carbon and healthy city improvement.

“The study provides a unique opportunity to advance the frontiers of research in energy efficiency, the environment and urban health,” said Liu.  “The grant funding will bring together multidisciplinary research teams from Drexel and SARI, the leading research institute in China, to investigate the serious changes in environment and public health issues.”

The Drexel-SARI Center was officially opened in June 2012 to combine Drexel University’s research and academic excellence with the pioneering work in technology innovation at SARI of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The grant on carbon emissions and China was one of three, $150,000 grants awarded by the SARI Center beginning in 2014.  The research teams are expected to apply for additional external funding and enhance the collaboration between SARI and Drexel University.