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Extreme Climates Associated with Infectious and Chronic Diseases

Experts gather in Barcelona, Spain, to explore the consequences of climate change on human health.

Published April 30, 2015

NEW YORK and BARCELONA, April 30, 2015 - The New York Academy of Sciences, in partnership with the "la Caixa" Foundation and BIOCAT, will host a 2-day conference, Human Health in the Face of Climate Change: Science, Medicine, and Adaptation, on May 14-15, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.

 "The threat of climate change to health will take many forms - from a more dangerous physical environment to the worsening quality of air and water to the spread of infectious diseases," says Christopher Dye, DPhil, FMedSci, FRS, Director, Strategy, Office of the Director General at the World Health Organization, as well as a conference organizer and keynote speaker.

The conference is being convened in light of new research that seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the health consequences of climate change on humans - including better quantification of these effects - to improve health preparedness and protect vulnerable populations.

"Many infectious and non-communicable diseases are climate-sensitive. They may be associated with specific seasons; respond to extreme events such as droughts, heatwaves, or flood; or shift in their distribution according to shifts in the long term climate," says Madeleine Thomson, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University, as well as a conference organizer and speaker.

"Climate knowledge and information can be used to understand, predict, and better manage climate-sensitive health outcomes and can also help us to assess the impact of many health interventions. With a changing climate, understanding these connections and empowering the health community to use this knowledge is key to effective adaptation," adds Thomson.

"We need to move forward effectively and quickly as our actions as humans are moving our climate to dangerous and unprecedented states that will for sure exert a strong pressure on the health status of people globally," says Xavier Rodó, PhD, ICREA & Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences (IC3), as well as a conference organizer and speaker. "We need new science that teaches us how to face and respond to this challenge. This conference attempts to highlight those areas that require new science, as well as methods to spur policymakers into action by working together," adds Rodó.

Topics to be explored at this multidisciplinary conference include: changes in the distribution of extreme climate events, vulnerability due to extreme weather events, land-use change and agricultural production, variable epidemiology of parasites and infectious diseases, and climate-altering pollutants.

The conference is designed to be of interest to climate scientists, atmospheric/oceanic scientists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists, epidemiologists, public health specialists, and policy-makers, among others, as well as members of the media.

"The impact on human health is among the most significant measures of the harm done by climate change - and health can be a driving force for public engagement in climate solutions," says Dye.



For media inquiries, including press passes to the conference and interview requests, please contact Diana Friedman (; +1 212-298-8645).


 About "la Caixa" Foundation

The "la Caixa" Foundation, is the largest private foundation in Spain, the second largest in Europe, and the fifth worldwide.  One in every four Spaniards benefits directly from social outreach projects of "la Caixa" Foundation.

The cultural and scientific initiatives of "la Caixa" Foundation, developed both through its own projects and centers and in collaboration with other excellent centers around Spain and abroad.  "la Caixa" Foundation awards research grants and pre-doctoral fellowships in collaboration with world-renowned centers such as IrsiCaixa (AIDS), Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares- CNIC (CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES), Fundació Vall d'Hebron Investigació Oncologica - VHIO (ONCOLOGY), Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - New York, Pasqual Maragall Foundation, General del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas- CSIC, the RecerCaixa grants for research with high impact in society, and CRESIB - ISGLOBAL, among others.

Responding to the foundation's profound social vocation they organize lectures, seminars, conferences and exhibitions on its own centers and as travelling around Spain. The activities organized by the foundation's department of Science, Research and Environment aim at fostering 1) scientific knowledge, 2) scientific method, and 3) scientific opinion, so that citizens are provided with tools to be democratically involved in the decisions affecting their lives. 

Please visit "la Caixa" Foundation at


BIOCAT is the organization that coordinates and promotes the life sciences sector in Catalonia, the most dynamic bioregion in Spain.  BIOCAT's mission is to support and catalyze all the stakeholders in this area to boost research, innovation and companies' growth in order to make the life sciences a driving force for the country's economy and contribute to the wellbeing of society as a whole.

Please visit BIOCAT at   

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at