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Dr. Kiros Berhane is Cynthia and Robert Citron-Roslyn and Leslie Goldstein Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biostatistics at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. He received his BSc in Statistics from Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), MS in Statistics from University of Guelph (Canada), PhD in Biostatistics from University of Toronto (Canada), and completed postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University (USA).
He is a widely published international expert on development of statistical methods for complex and correlated data structures, and their application into a wide range of public health topics with focus on environmental health. Prior to joining Columbia in January 2020, Dr. Berhane was Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Southern California. He served on several national and international advisory and review panels, including committees of the Institute of Medicine (US National Academies) and as a member of the US-EPA Science Advisory Board. He currently serves as a member of the Review Committee and the Global Health Oversight Committees of the Health Effects Institute (HEI).
He recently joined the Science magazine’s Board of Reviewing Editors. He was a Fulbright Scholar in 2016-2017. He will be serving as a member of the newly formed committee of the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) on Assessing Causality from a Multidisciplinary Evidence Base for National Ambient Air Quality Standards. He is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association.
Prof. Chen, Chien-Jen received his Sc.D. in epidemiology and human genetics from the Johns Hopkins University (1983). He then worked as an associate professor (1983-1986) and professor (1986-2006) of National Taiwan University. He was appointed as the director of Graduate Institute of Public Health (1993-1994), founding director of Graduate Institute of Epidemiology (1994-1997), and dean of College of Public Health in National Taiwan University (1999-2002). He became a distinguished research fellow of Genomics Research Center of Academia Sinica (2006-2015), and was appointed as a vice president of the academy (2011-2015). He was appointed as the Minister of Department of Health (2003-2005) and Minister of National Science Council (2006-2008). He was elected as the 14th Vice President of the Republic of China (Taiwan). He is now an academician and distinguished research fellow of Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica.
Prof. Chen has dedicated himself to molecular and genomic epidemiological research on chronic arsenic poisoning and virus-induced cancers over 40 years. His discoveries of multiple health hazards of arsenic in drinking water has led to the global awareness and mitigation of the largest environmental calamity, and his research on end-stage liver disease risk prediction of chronic hepatitis B has pioneered the viral load paradigm in its clinical management. He has published over 750 scientific articles and over 75 books/chapters, which have been cited for over 93,000 times with an H-index over 140 (Google Scholar).
Catherine Coleman Flowers is an internationally recognized environmental activist, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, and author. She has dedicated her life’s work to advocating for environmental justice, primarily equal access to clean water and functional sanitation for communities across the United States.
Founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), Flowers has spent her career promoting equal access to clean water, air, sanitation, and soil to reduce health and economic disparities in marginalized, rural communities. In addition, Flowers serves as Rural Development Manager for Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), is a Senior Fellow for the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, and sits on the Board of Directors for the Climate Reality Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council. In 2021, her leadership and fervor in fighting for solutions to these issues led her to one of her most notable appointments yet — Vice Chair of the Biden Administration’s inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
As the author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, Flowers shares her inspiring story of advocacy, from childhood to environmental justice champion. She discusses sanitation and its correlation with systemic class, racial, and geographic prejudice that affects people across the United States. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Guardian, and on PBS.
Danielle Purifoy is a lawyer and assistant professor of Geography at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on environmental justice and the racial politics of development in Black towns and communities. Danielle serves as Board Chair of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network and on the leadership team of Durham Beyond Policing in Durham, North Carolina. She is the former Race and Place editor of Scalawag, a media organization devoted to Southern storytelling, journalism, and the arts.
(Hanna-)Andrea Rother is a Professor and Head of the Environmental Health Division in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. As an environmental health specialist, her contribution to the field globally, with a focus on Africa, has been in the areas of pesticides and other chemicals, risk communication, climate change and children’s health. Based on her extensive research and 30 years of experience, she has designed and led the development of three internationally recognized academic programmes in pesticide risk management, in chemicals risk management (Professional Masters) and a Master of Public Health track in environmental health.
Since 2011, Prof Rother is a WHO expert advisor and chaired the United Nations FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management. She received UCT’s Social Responsiveness Award for her ground-breaking research uncovering the extensive sale and use of illegal street pesticides resulting in child poisonings. Her passion and commitment for research translation and capacity building for community members and policy makers has resulted in the development of six virtual chemicals Communities of Practices (e.g., highly hazardous pesticides, lead in paint, chemicals in products).
Prof Rother has also developed over 50 risk communication materials and policy documents for vulnerable and low-literate populations in Africa, as well as decision makers. This commitment has also culminated in extensive peer-reviewed publications, guidance documents and input to policy development national and internationally on chemicals, climate change and children’s environmental health.
Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera is an early-career researcher at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine of the University of Bern (Switzerland), where she leads the research group on Climate Change and Health (EpiCimLab). She is also a member of the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research of the University of Bern and an Honorary Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Her current research develops along the intersection between epidemiology and climate sciences to understand how different climate factors and other related environmental stressors affect health in the context of climate change. In particular, her research interests concern the evaluation of adaptation strategies, mitigation policies and air pollution co-benefits. Her research also focuses on the development of new methodologies in projections of climate change impacts, health effects of compound events and detection and attribution studies. She has led and collaborated in several large epidemiological studies on temperature-related health impacts (e.g. within the Multi-City Multi-Country (MCC) Collaborative Research Network) and nationwide studies in US, Switzerland and UK. She is also a contributing authors of the 6th Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
She holds an MSc in Environmental Toxicology (University of Valencia, Spain) and Epidemiology (University of Turin). Since the completion of her PhD studies (University of Valencia) in 2014, she joined different research institutions in Sweden (Umea University), Switzerland (Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute) and the UK (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine).
Dr. Cavin Ward-Caviness is a Principal Investigator in the Public Health and Integrated Toxicology Division of the US Environmental Protection Agency. With a background in computational biology and environmental epidemiology, Dr. Ward-Caviness seeks to understand the environmental factors which influence health in vulnerable populations and the molecular mechanisms that influence environmental health risks.
The Ward-Caviness lab uses a variety of “big data” approaches, and Dr. Ward-Caviness is the PI of the EPA CARES research resource, which allows researchers to study environmental health effects in vulnerable patient populations, e.g. individuals with heart failure, using large electronic health record databases.
Dr. Ward-Caviness is also interested in how epigenetics and metabolomics can serve as an early indicator of adverse health effects from chemical and social environmental exposures and in particular how molecular biomarkers can give us insight into how the environment may accelerate the aging process and thus contribute to chronic disease. By integrating molecular and clinical data, Dr. Ward-Caviness seeks to understand environmental health as a way to advance personalized medicine and reduce health disparities.
Born in 1947, Prof. Reiko Kishi was a medical student when she first learned about the victims of the Minamata mercury poisoning. Thereafter she began to study toxicology and obtained her PhD from Hokkaido University (1977). In 1990, she received an MPH degree from the School of Public Health, Harvard University. In 1997, she was the first woman to become a full professor of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Hokkaido University. She is currently a Distinguished Professor of Hokkaido University, Center for Environmental and Health Sciences.
She was a trailblazer in the elucidation of various health impacts of developmental exposure to low-level environmental chemicals in birth cohort studies. The Hokkaido Study of Environment and Children’s Health (N=514 and 20,926) was launched in 2002. The most remarkable feature of this study is that it is a study of the effects of general background levels of chemicals in the environment. Her group discovered that chemicals such as PFASs have effects on birth weight, and immune function. In addition, they found strong evidence of endocrine disruptions caused in utero in humans. An increase in maternal dioxin, PFASs and MEHP was found to be related to some sex hormone levels in cord blood. Her work emphasizes the life course approach, focusing on the early life period as it sets the stage for lifelong health. In the last 20 years, her group has published more than 150 original research papers from the cohort. Their biomolecular studies revealed that even with a similar level of exposure to chemicals, genetic polymorphisms such as those in aryl hydrocarbon receptors, and drug-metabolizing enzymes were associated with large differences in fetal effects.
She has also used environmental epidemiology to influence public policy. From 2005, as a member of the Science Council of Japan she organized several committees that issued more than ten recommendations to the government and academia. In 2011, after the great East Japan earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear accident, she used environmental epidemiology to effect public policy. As the Chair of the Food Hygiene Council of the Japan Committee of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, she worked to codify the safety limits for the level of radiation-contaminated foods in Japan. This contributed to decrease the risk of thyroid cancer in Fukushima.
In 2011, she was a cofounder of the Birth Cohort Consortium of Asia (BiCCA). Since 2015, her center has been a WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health and Prevention of Chemical Hazards and she has been its director. She has been a member of the ISEE Asia and Western Pacific Chapter Executive Council since 2014 and was the president of the 4th ISEE & ISES (joint) Asian Chapter Meeting. (2016)
As she noted in two of her recently published books, Health Impacts of Developmental Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, and Indoor Environmental Quality and Health Risk Toward Healthier Environment for All, Springer Nature, 2020, the accumulation of scientific knowledge and reinforcement of political actions based on scientific evidence are exceedingly important and of key significance for SDGs.