Research Themes

The Planetary Health Alliance will not be tasked with carrying out research itself, but will provide: training in planetary health topics, support in using relevant datasets and research methodologies, announcements about relevant new research and job opportunities, an annual convening to share research results and opportunities – all necessary elements for building a cadre of young investigators with the capacity and motivation to break new ground in this field. In addition, the Alliance will support a postdoctoral fellowship, competitively awarded to post-doctoral candidates with outstanding track records within their disciplines and strong capacity to step out of their disciplinary experience to engage in trans-disciplinary planetary health research with PHA-associated faculty.

To provide a framework for understanding the breadth of the field of planetary health, two primary categories – ecosystem transformations and health impacts - comprising a total 14 thematic areas have been defined. These thematic areas provide a taxonomic structure to organize the research in the field, and provide a sense of the variety of topics covered in the field. It is important to note that all of these thematic areas are interconnected and many overlap; their utility is structural and they provide a general sense of the topics within the field.

The category of Ecosystem Transformations includes the thematic areas that are centered around environmental topics:

  • Changing abundance, composition and distribution of species
  • Changing biogeochemical flows
  • Changes in land use and land cover
  • Changing food systems
  • Natural disasters
  • Urbanization
  • Global pollution
  • Climate change
  • Water scarcity


The category of Health Impacts includes the thematic areas that are centered around public health topics:

  • Infectious diseases
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Nutrition
  • Civil strife and displacement