Climate Change and Health


Working Group Leader

Amanda Wendt



Climate change, alongside biodiversity loss and other planetary crises, is arguably “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century" (Lancet 2009) because it destroys our living conditions on the planet – through increased storms and floods, heat and drought, harvest failures and famines, infections, conflicts and migration. It hits the poorest particularly hard, thus enhancing existing inequality. Ultimately, it threatens the survival of our civilization.

Simultaneously, "tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century" (Lancet 2015), because what we need to do for climate stabilization is largely similar to what we should be doing for health. Namely, making cities more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, shutting down coal-fired power plants, refining agroecological practices for growing food, producing/eating less meat and more vegetables, consuming fewer products and having more time for friends and family. After all, many diseases are caused by air pollution, lack of exercise, unhealthy diets, and stress. A win-win situation!

Planetary Health builds on Public Health and Global Health and goes beyond. While taking social, economic and political determinants of health as well as global interdependence into account, Planetary Health explicitly considers the natural systems of the planet, on which human wellbeing and existence ultimately depend. The long-term goal is: healthy people on a healthy planet.

Our newly established research group will link climate research at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and human health research at Charité, guided by the transdisciplinary concept of Planetary Health and with a focus on nutrition. Our research aims to contribute to a better understanding of the impacts of climate change on nutrition and health as well as to evaluate concrete solutions towards healthy food systems that achieve responsible planetary stewardship of the global commons.

Key questions

  • What strategies and interventions will enable us to improve nutrition and health outcomes while staying within planetary boundaries?
  • How can we leverage agriculture to improve nutrition and health and increase climate resilience?
  • What are the impacts of agricultural change on diets and health?
  • What are the long-term consequences of nutritional and other impacts in utero on the health of the offspring (fetal programming)?

Current Projects

Team members

Prof. Dr. Dr. Sabine Gabrysch  (RD2 Head)

Dr. Amanda Wendt (Working Group Leader)

Jillian Waid (Scientist)

Dr. Anna Müller-Hauser (Scientist)

Nicholas Kyei (Guest Scientist)

Shafinaz Sobhan (Doctoral Student)

Join the team!

  • Find out more about joining our team as a PhD student here.
  • If you would like to write your Dr. med. or master’s thesis with our group, please check out our list of potential student research topics here, eligibility criteria and application forms for Dr. med (here) and master's students (here).

Selected publications

Waid JL, Sinharoy SS, Ali M, Alam MM, Wendt AS, Gabrysch S. What were the drivers of improving child nutritional status in Bangladesh? An analysis of national household data from 1992 to 2005 guided by the UNICEF framework. 2020. The Journal of Nutrition. In press.

Seiermann A, Alrahman H, Waid JL, Wendt AS, Sobhan S, Gabrysch S. Women’s fasting habits and dietary diversity during Ramadan in rural Bangladesh. 2020. Maternal & Child Nutrition. In press.

Sutradhar I, Jackson-deGraffenried M, Akter S, McMahon SA, Waid JL, Schmidt HP, Wendt AS, Gabrysch S. Introducing urine-enriched biochar-based fertilizer for vegetable production: Acceptability and results from rural Bangladesh. 2020. Environment, Development and Sustainability. In press.

Kyei NNA, Boakye D, Gabrysch S. Maternal mycotoxin exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes: a systematic review. Mycotoxin Research. 2020. doi: 10.1007/s12550-019-00384-6.

Sparling TM, Waid JL, Wendt AS, Gabrysch S. (2020): Depression among women of reproductive age in rural Bangladesh is linked to food security, diets and nutrition. Public Health Nutrition, 23(4):660-73.

Wendt A, Waid J, Gabrysch S. (2019): Etiology of anemia among women and children in rural Bangladesh: an assessment of nutritional and non-nutritional factors (P10-115-19). Current Developments in Nutrition, 3(S1):nzz034.P10-115-19.

Wendt AS, Sparling TM, Waid JL, Mueller AA, Gabrysch S. (2019): Food and Agricultural Approaches to Reducing Malnutrition (FAARM): protocol for a cluster-randomised controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a Homestead Food Production programme on undernutrition in rural Bangladesh. BMJ Open, 9(7):e031037. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031037. 

Wendt AS, Waid JL, Gabrysch S. (2019): Dietary Factors Moderate the Relation between Groundwater Iron and Anemia in Women and Children in Rural Bangladesh. Current Developments in Nutrition, 3(10):nzz093.

Gabrysch S, Waid, JL, Wendt AS, Müller AA, Kader A, Gosh U. (2018): Nutritional effects of flooding due to unseasonably early monsoon rainfall in Bangladesh: a cross-sectional study in an ongoing cluster-randomised trial. The Lancet Planetary Health, 2(S1):S3, doi: 10.1016/S2542-5196(18)30088-3.

Wendt A, Waid J, Gabrysch S. (2017): The Food and Agricultural Approaches to Reducing Malnutrition (FAARM) trial in Bangladesh. UNSCN News, 42: 149-50.

Lorenz E, Gabrysch S. (2017): Covariate-constrained randomization routine for achieving baseline balance in cluster-randomized trials, The Stata Journal, 17(2):503-510.

Sinharoy S, Waid JL, Haardörfer R, Wendt A, Gabrysch S*, Yount KM*. (2017): Women’s dietary diversity in rural Bangladesh: Pathways through women’s empowerment. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 14(1). doi:10.1111/mcn.12489. (* equal contribution)