Iowa receives grant to create the Climate Change and Health Solutions Challenge

Published on March 1, 2023

A University of Iowa collaborative project has been awarded a one-year, $50,000 Climate Change and Human Health seed grant by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. The grant will be used to create a campus-wide entrepreneurial challenge to develop climate change and health solutions, with $10,000 awarded to four teams to put their ideas into action.

“Climate change is the grand challenge of the 21st century and one of the most significant threats to human health,” says Peter Thorne, the grant’s principal investigator and UI Distinguished Chair and professor of occupational and environmental health. “This entrepreneurial challenge will invite multidisciplinary teams from the University of Iowa community to propose creative solutions that target the impact of climate change on human health.”

Teams composed of undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and/or faculty will be invited to submit proposals describing the problem they seek to address and their potential solution. Following several rounds of judging, an expert committee will select four teams to receive monetary and technical support plus entrepreneurial training to bring their projects to fruition. More details about the challenge and how to submit proposals will be available this spring.

The Climate Change and Health Solutions Challenge is a cross-campus collaboration. The team working with Thorne to develop the project includes David Hensley, John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC); Stratis Giannakouros, Office of Sustainability and the Environment; and Emma Stapleton and Michael Welsh, Carver College of Medicine.

“Since the concerns surrounding climate change and human health will be with us well into the future, our long-term goal is to continue to expand this project beyond the University of Iowa with additional educational, entrepreneurial, and philanthropic partners,” Thorne says.

In addition to the grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Climate Change and Health Solutions Challenge is supported by a generous gift from Don Diebel, MD, PhD, and Cindy Diebel made through the UI Center for Advancement, as well as funding from the Iowa JPEC, the UI Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates.