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Wellcome Trust Grant Funds New SALURBAL Ancillary Study

The Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH), through its Urban Health Collaborative (UHC), is excited to announce a partnership with UC Berkeley on a study called “Green spaces, air pollution, and climate-related heat mortality in Latin American cities.” This study will use data gathered by Salud Urbana en América Latina (SALURBAL) project and extend its research to further the understanding of how urban environments may influence health in the context of climate change. This study was among one of four recipients of the 2019 Wellcome Trust Climate Change and Health Awards.

The UHC-led SALURBAL is a collaboration between the UHC and 13 other universities and research organizations in the US and seven Latin American countries as well as two United Nations entities (the Pan American Health Organization and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean). SALURBAL works to compile and collect data on urban environments and health outcomes of people living in cities, then uses that data to understand how urban environments contribute to both health outcomes and environmental sustainability.

The impacts of extreme heat events will increase with climate change and a rising urban population. Using an urban resident mortality database for nine Latin American countries, this project will convene an interdisciplinary research team to examine: a) the impacts of rising temperatures (and increases in the magnitude, duration, and frequency of extreme heat events) on urban mortality; and, b) the modifying effect of greenspace and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on the association between heat events and mortality. The project will then use the results of the research to model the future impact of climate change on urban mortality under various climate change scenarios.

The Drexel team will also link mortality data to other needed SALURBAL data and create analytical datasets needed for the study. It will also oversee and facilitate the coordination and integration of this study with SALURBAL maximizing synergies and efficiencies. The objective is to “provide evidence of health impacts of a climate adaption and mitigation strategy in the face of future heat waves and outline opportunities for pro-active involvement.” To understand this impact, it will be conducted in two time periods: baseline (2001-2010) and midcentury (2051-2055).

The study is led by Daniel Rodriguez, PhD, MS, professor of city and regional planning, University of California Berkeley, who is also a principal investigator for SALURBAL. Drexel involved researchers are Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH, dean of the Dornsife School of Public Health and director of the Urban Health Collaborative; Leah Schinasi, PhD, assistant professor, Dornsife School of Public Health; Brisa Sánchez, PhD, Dornsife Endowed Professor, Dornsife School of Public Health; Goro Yamada, PhD, MHS, MHS, MMS, senior scientist, Urban Health Collaborative; and Josiah Kephart, PhD, MPH, postdoctoral research fellow, Urban Health Collaborative. The collaboration also includes Sarav Arunachalam, PhD, MS, research professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Nelson da Cruz Gouveia, MD, PhD, MSc, associate professor, Universidade de São Paulo; Waleska Caiaffa, MD, PhD, MPH, professor, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.