Jonathan Patz

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Profile photo of Jonathan Patz, 2013. Taken by Sarah Rose Smiley.

Jonathan Patz is an expert in global health. He is a professor and John P. Holton Chair in Health and the Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also serves as Director of the Global Health Institute. Patz also holds appointments in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Population Health Sciences at the university.

His research and interests include: Global health, public health, global climate change, infectious diseases, urban air pollution, land use change, the built urban environment and transportation planning effects on health. Geographically, he is focused on Ethiopia, Brazil and the United States.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Patz attended the Colorado College, receiving a BA in Biology in 1980. Patz received his Medical Degree in 1987 from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and completed a residency in Family Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in 1990. In 1992 he completed a Masters in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as well as an Occupational and Environmental Medicine residency in 1994, and board certification in 1997.

Career and publications[edit]

From 1990-1994 Patz worked as a clinician practicing family medicine in Missoula and Baltimore and moved onto full-time research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1994, in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. Patz is among the pioneering health scientists who created and developed the field of climate change health impacts since the 1990s. In 1994, Patz organized the public health profession’s first ever session on the topic of climate change for the American Public Health Association (APHA)’s annual conference.[2] This panel session included Dr. Robert Watson, who later became the chair of the IPCC.[3] A year later, Patz authored APHA’s first policy resolution on the threat that climate change poses for public health; many subsequent resolutions on the subject followed. In 1996, his paper “Global Climate Change and Emerging Infectious Disease" was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) . His many other peer-reviewed scientific publications, in top journals such as Nature, Science, PNAS, Lancet, JAMA, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Environmental Health Perspectives, also focus on publicizing the public health effects of climate change.

Patz has also held a variety of positions in which he has furthered the discussion on the public health effects of climate change. Beginning in 1998, Patz served as Co-chair of the Health Expert Panel for the first US National Assessment on Climate Variability and Change. Patz also served as Founding President of the International Association for Ecology and Health from 2006-2010, convening diverse scientists and professionals around health crises stemming from global climate and ecological change. In 1997, he organized and led the first briefing on climate change and health to then EPA Administrator Carol Browner on why climate change matters to public safety. Patz has also cochaired the health expert panel of the first U.S. National Assessment on Climate Change, a report mandated by the U.S. Congress. Patz has testified on climate change and health in both houses of Congress, state legislatures, and has given invited presentations to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). He has served on five scientific committees of the NAS, and on a recent committee of the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). He has also served on science advisory and FACA committees for several federal agencies. He was invited on two occasions to brief the Dalai Lama on the inequities posed by climate change,[4] following a widely cited peer-reviewed quantitative assessment led by Patz in 2007, comparing carbon dioxide-emitting countries with countries burdened most by climate-sensitive diseases. Also in 2007, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, of which Jonathan Patz was a member alongside Al Gore, though Patz name is not on the medal.[5][6]

In September 2015, Patz addressed the Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Climate Health Summit to inform participants about the health implications of climate change. Watch his presentation, "Climate and Health - Where We Stand", here. Patz also delivered a keynote presentation at the University of Geneva in February 2015.[7] His most recently published book, Climate Change and Public Health co-authored with Barry S. Levy, further describes the implications of climate change with a focus on the adverse public health effects.[8]

Jonathan Patz presents to students at the U of Geneva on February 17, 2015

Involvement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison[edit]

In 2004, Patz joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Associate Professor of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Population Health Sciences. In 2008 he became a full professor as well as a faculty affiliate of the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs. In 2011 Patz was appointed to serve as the inaugural Director of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s campus-wide Global Health Institute. In this role, he has placed climate change and health at the forefront of the campus mission of “sustainable global health” – health for today without compromising natural resources for health tomorrow. Patz has also fostered partnerships between the Global Health Institute and the UW Energy Institute, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and the campus’ Office of Sustainability, among other organizations and groups.[9]

Patz has trained a generation of young professionals in this new field and designed environmental health courses around the theme, “Health Impact Assessment of Global Environmental Change.” Patz has also developed a number of graduate-level courses and taught WHO workshops on global environmental health, and he has advised many PhD and Masters students. He directs a “Certificate in Humans and the Global Environment,” that emerged from his directing (as Principal Investigator) a National Science Foundation (NSF) Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) award. He developed and taught a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Climate Change Policy and Public Health in November 2015 to close to 10,000 people from across 179 countries.[10]

A non-exhaustive list of peer reviewed journal articles, authored and co-authored by Patz (sorted by publication date)[edit]


Patz and his research team focus on the cusp of climate change and health. Patz served as Principal Investigator for an EPA STAR grant in 1996 entitled, “Integrated Assessment of the Public Health Effects of Climate Change for the US and US territories”, one of the first federal grants awarded on this subject.[11] This project led to over 20 peer-reviewed research papers. Scientific discoveries under his team leadership on this and subsequent projects include: the impact of climate change on increased risk for asthma; the relationship between heat wave mortality and latitude, and identifying populations most vulnerable to heat-related morbidity; the association of Hantavirus outbreaks with El Niño in the Southwestern US; the relationship between waterborne disease outbreaks across the US and heavy rainfall events; the link between South American cholera outbreaks and childhood diarrheal diseases to El Niño; altered mosquito-borne malaria and dengue fever risks from projected climate change; and increased malaria risk from combined land use and local climatic change in the Amazon Basin. His team’s recent research has targeted and substantially contributed to a new area of climate change and health assessment: health “co-benefits” of greenhouse gas mitigation policies.[12] [13]


Patz holds various notable awards including:[14][unreliable source?] [15] [16] [17] [18][19]

  • Homer Calver Award for Leadership in Environmental Health, American Public Health Association, 2015 [20]
  • The John P Holton Endowed Faculty Chair in Health and the Environment, 2015 – present
  • Fulbright Scholar Award, 2014
  • H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship Award of the University of Wisconsin, 2009
  • Nobel Peace Prize, 2007 (awarded to UN IPCC Lead Authors & Co-chairs, along with Al Gore)
  • Zayed International Prize for the Environment, 2006 (awarded to Lead Authors and Co-chairs of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment)
  • Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2005
  • Senior Fellow of the UW Program for World Affairs and the Global Economy, 2005
  • Family Medicine Teaching Award, 1989


  1. ^ "Dr. Jonathan Patz CV" (PDF).
  2. ^ APHA, American Public Health Association. "About APHA: Our History". American Association for Public Health. APHA. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  3. ^ World Health Organization. "Jonathan Patz, bio" (PDF). WHO Conference on Health and Climate. WHO. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  4. ^ "CHANGE YOUR MIND, CHANGE THE WORLD 2013 Conference". University of Wisconsin. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  5. ^ UW Alumni, Ask Abe. "Nobel Prize Winners". Wisconsin Alumni Association. University of Wisconsin. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  6. ^ Lueders, Bill. "Madison's Peace Prize Winners". Isthmus. Isthmus Madison. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  7. ^ Grauvogl, Ann. "EPA Administrator's WHO address completes 18-year circle for Patz". Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Nelson Institute.
  8. ^ Levy, Barry S.; Patz, Jonathan. "Climate Change and Public Health". Oxford U. Oxford University Press.
  9. ^ "Meet our Director Jonathan Patz". Global Health Institute. Global Health Institute. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  10. ^ MOOCs, UW-Madison. "Climate Change Policy and Public Health". Massive Online Open Courses. University of Wisconsin.
  11. ^ Winner, Darrell. "Final Report: Integrated Assessment of the Public Health Effects of Climate Change for the United States". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA.
  12. ^ Patz, Jonathan. "Leadership: Jonathan Patz". Global Health Institute. Global Health Institute. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  13. ^ Peeples, Lynne. "Swapping Tail Pipes For Pedals: Small Changes Could Pay Huge Dividends For Public Health And Economy". Huff Post Green. Huffington Post.
  14. ^ Patz, Jonathan. "Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH". Public Figure Facebook Page. Jonathan Patz. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow". Stanford.
  18. ^ UW Alumni, Ask Abe. "Nobel Prize Winners". Wisconsin Alumni Association. University of Wisconsin. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  19. ^ Lueders, Bill. "Madison's Peace Prize Winners". Isthmus. Isthmus Madison. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  20. ^ Grauvogl, Ann. "Patz receives APHA award for environmental leadership". Global Health Institute. University of Wisconsin.