Wellcome appoints first climate director

Alan Dangour, an expert in the impact of climate change on food systems, is to join Wellcome as our first director of climate and health.

Alan Dangour

The role has been created as part of Wellcome’s new strategy, which sees us focusing on three urgent global health challenges: climate change and health, infectious disease, and mental health.

Alan is currently professor in food and nutrition for global health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and director of its Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health. His research has focused on the link between environmental change, food systems and health, with his interdisciplinary team at LSHTM working in the UK, India, South Africa and the Gambia.

Alan will lead Wellcome’s work on climate and health, supporting research into the health impacts of climate change and possible solutions.

Commenting, Alan said: As well as acting to limit climate change, we urgently need to discover how to deal with the many threats to health that it brings, whether from the physical effects of heat on our bodies, the impacts of crop failures or the expanding habitats of infectious disease vectors.

With the right support, science can help us solve these rapidly evolving health problems.

There is so much innovation in climate and health research – it’s a new field, full of brilliant researchers working at the intersections between existing disciplines. I’m looking forward to leading Wellcome’s role in helping to expand and strengthen this field around the world.

Alan’s early academic career saw him researching diet and child health in Guyana and Kazakhstan. He completed a PhD in biological anthropology at University College London, and prior to joining LSHTM he was a lecturer in human ecology at the University of Cambridge.

Cheryl Moore, Director of Research Programmes at Wellcome, said: “Alan is an internationally recognised leader in research on the effects of climate change on human health.

“I was impressed by his long-term commitment to ensuring that the benefits of rigorous science are used to respond to the health impacts of climate change.

“Alan will join our team at a pivotal moment as we start to put our climate and health strategy into motion, drawing on research from multiple fields and working to build collaborations across disciplines.

“After a global search we were fortunate to meet many incredible researchers working in the climate and health space. We had the challenge of selecting from a very impressive list of candidates and I want to acknowledge all those who applied and interviewed for the role.

Alan will take up the post in mid-January 2022.