The Health of our Children depends on our responsible stewardship - TODAY - of Earth's natural ecosystems and the services they provide.

As scientists increasingly discover new links between human health and the environment, we need specific, actionable solutions. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and a new scientific field, “Planetary Health,” are drawing attention to these issues. They’re raising questions about how human health relates to a habitable climate, clean water, biodiversity, food, fiber, fuel, and natural products.

Stanford established the Program for Disease Ecology, Health and the Environment in 2015 to support research and creative solutions to modern health and environmental challenges.

Our program focuses on finding sustainable environmental interventions, or “ecological solutions,” for a range of diseases. It brings together scientists and stakeholders from Stanford and outside the university in a joint initiative combining forces from two preeminent Stanford centers: the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Innovation in Global Health.


Our mission is to discover ecological solutions to humanity’s health challenges and to prepare the next generation of planetary health innovators.

Our program pursues ecological solutions that protect the health of people and our planet.
“Ecological solutions” use knowledge about the links between people and the environment to design mutually beneficial solutions that promote health and wellbeing while preserving or restoring the integrity and functioning of natural ecosystems.
Our research projects strive for sustainability.
We define “sustainability” in terms of enduring benefits and long-term impacts. In practice, what is considered “sustainable” will be determined on a project- by-project basis, acknowledging that incremental progress is often part of achieving impact.
We recognize poverty- disease cycles as a core issue in public health.
Poverty and disease can have reinforcing feedbacks: poverty engenders a strong reliance on the environment, frequent exposure to environmental health hazards, as well as a lack of access to healthcare. This can mean higher risk of disease transmission among the poor, especially for pathogens with an environmental stage. Disrupting the cycle of poverty and disease in these situations thus requires knowledge of the ecology of disease transmission. We seek to harness this knowledge into solutions.
We take a creative approach to tough challenges.
We enthusiastically take on complex, human-centered problems. We value creativity in all facets of our work, including our research, relationships, and solutions exploration.
We are committed to building deep local and global collaboration.
Collaboration happens across disciplines, between project leaders, and among community participants. We value building a strong community as well as a dedicated network of collaborators—including researchers, students, policymakers, leaders and engaged citizens.

Standards of Excellence


We promote engagement with stakeholders, students, funders, and the public that will energize and extend our impact.


We aim to educate the next generation of leaders in interdisciplinary research on disease ecology, health, and the environment.


Our work should be accessible to the general public and impacted communities.


We aim to foster discovery by promoting cross-disciplinary dialogue among the health, environment, and socio-economic sectors.


We hold all our partners to the highest standards of excellence and integrity in their fields.

Meet the people who make it all happen.

See our research in action.