Princeton researchers tackle infectious disease, climate, and the link between the two
As experienced in the recent COVID pandemic, the outbreak and rapid spread of infectious disease has potential to dramatically impact human morality, public health systems, and economies worldwide. Society’s ability to control and prevent infectious disease hinges on our understanding of the many factors influencing transmission.
There are numerous unanswered questions about how disease spread is being impacted by changes in extreme weather, temperature shifts, climate migration, and population density. Researchers affiliated with Princeton’s Climate and Infectious Disease Group are working across disciplinary lines to explore how climate-induced changes in the earth’s atmosphere and human behavior influence disease transition.
By combining expertise from across disciplines – in demography, epidemiology, atmospheric chemistry and climate science, professors Jessica Metcalf, Bryan Grenfell, Gabe Vecchi and others are exploring how humidity levels and a warmer atmosphere affect the transmission of respiratory diseases. They are working to understand how wetter storms impact the behavior and location of disease vectors like mosquitos, and other emerging research areas.
“We can predict the next pandemic – but it will require vast amounts of data and vast amounts of insight to manage this,” said Metcalf, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs and co-director of Program in Global Health and Health Policy at Princeton.