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SAMRC’s Environment and Health Research Unit Scientist becomes the first international (non-USA) scholar to be selected for the NIH Climate and Health Scholars Program

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The 2024 NIH Climate and Health Scholars list

Professor Caradee Wright, a dedicated scientist from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Environment and Health Research Unit, has achieved an incredible milestone by becoming the first international scholar from Africa to be selected for the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) Climate and Health Scholars Program. This program, known for its rigorous selection process, recognises the exceptional talent and expertise of scholars who are dedicated to advancing the understanding of the complex relationship between climate and human health.

Prof Wright's groundbreaking work in this field has earned her this remarkable opportunity to collaborate with leading experts from around the world and contribute to innovative research that will shape the future of climate and health studies.

The NIH has selected 7 scientists to comprise its second class for the Climate and Health Scholars Program. These experts will aid the NIH-wide effort to reduce health threats from climate change and build health resiliency in communities worldwide, especially among those at highest risk.

The diverse group of scientists will be hosted by an NIH Institute or Center, beginning their work in the month of October and ending in September 2024. There are many climatic changes facing South Africa which already have, or are projected to have, a detrimental impact on human health and wellbeing. These include an increase in ambient temperature and heatwaves associated with heatstroke, heavy rainfall leading to changes in the occurrence of vector-borne diseases, drought-associated malnutrition and air pollution causing respiratory diseases. Considering these threats, it is important to build knowledge about climate change for us to be resilient and prevent health risks in South Africa and the African continent at large.

Professor Wright is a Chief Specialist Scientist at the SAMRC leading the Climate Change and Health Research Programme in the Environmental and Health Research Unit. She will work with staff at the NIH Fogarty International Centre on pressing climate change and health issues, with a particular focus on low- and middle-income countries. Some of this work will be to work out adaptation approaches to prevent health impacts among under-resourced communities. Professor Wright will also help to identify capacity needs among researchers and policy makers that will help strengthen efforts to mobilise climate change action and improve people’s quality of life.

With profound gratitude for this honour, and in ardent commitment for the work ahead Professor Wright said, “I am delighted to be named a Climate and Health Scholar! I plan on using this opportunity to contribute towards the NIH Climate Change and Health Initiative and help build capacity for conducting climate-related and health research, especially in Africa”.

For more information

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For more enquiries:

  1. Dr Caradee Wright
    Chief Specialist Scientist: Environment and Health Research Unit
  2. Ms Yolanda Phakela
    Public Relations Manager
    Mobile: +27 73 801 3691
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