Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Bernstein focuses on the health impacts of the climate crisis on children’s health and advancing solutions to address its causes to improve the health and wellbeing of children around the world.
Dr. Bernstein is an author on the Human Health chapter of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, a Congressionally mandated report that evaluates the impacts of climate change on humans and natural systems in the United States led by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. He regularly testifies before Congress on the child health impacts of climate change, drawing from his personal experience as a pediatrician having to treat children with breathing difficulties, vector-borne diseases, and trauma from natural disasters. He is a trusted voice for major news outlets, providing interviews and expertise to reporters from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, CNN, and The Guardian, and writing articles for the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, and the Boston Globe, among others.
With Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Chivian, Dr. Bernstein co-authored and co-edited the Oxford University Press book, Sustaining Life, which received the distinction of best biology book of 2008 from the Library Journal, and which has been published in several foreign language editions.
Dr. Bernstein leads Climate MD, a Harvard Chan C-CHANGE program to encourage physicians to transform climate change from an issue dominated by politics and concerns about the future or faraway places, to one that matters to every person’s health here and now. He is the course director for Human Health and Global Environmental Change and created the HarvardX course “The Health Effects of Climate Change” which explores how climate change influences health through its effects on air quality, nutrition, infectious diseases, and human migration as well as solutions to the climate crisis. Through this course, thousands of students from over 100 countries have learned how climate change directly impacts their lives, and what they can do to become part of the solution.
In 2015, he was awarded a Lokey-Businesswire visiting professorship at Stanford University and has also been a visiting professor at Columbia University. Dr. Bernstein has been a member of the Harvard President’s Climate Change Task Force and co-Chairs the University Food Standards Committee.
He serves on the External Advisory Board of the Dalio Center for Health Justice at New York Presbyterian Hospital, is Chair of the Board of Directors at the U.S. Green Building Council, and is on the Board of Advisors at Parents Magazine as an environmental health specialist. Previously, Dr. Bernstein served on the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health Executive Committee as well as the Board of Scientific Counselors to the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Stanford University, he received graduate degrees in medicine (MD) and public health (MPH), from the University of Chicago and Harvard University, respectively. He is a recipient of Stanford University’s Firestone Medal for Research and a Harvard University Zuckerman Fellowship.
An avid bicyclist, Dr. Bernstein pedals to and from work year-round.
Want to prevent pandemics? Stop spillovers
World leaders must make spillover prevention central to 3 landmark agreements under development, writes our Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein.
What's Climate Change Doing to Our Kids' Health?
Our Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein answers questions about what parents can do to protect their kids from the health impacts of climate change.
The Dawn of the Pandemic Age
We need to rethink how we address emerging infectious disease risks by stopping infections before they start, says our Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein.
Increased infectious disease risk likely from climate change
Our Director Dr. Aaron Bernstein comments on a study showing climate change will increase the risk of emerging infectious diseases jumping from animals to humans.
Climate action is critical for health equity. Community health clinics are key - and need more support.
We are working with Americares and Johnson & Johnson to develop climate health equity programs at community health clinics across the nation.
Research Shows Actions to Prevent Pandemics Cost 5% of Lives Lost Every Year from Emerging Infectious Diseases
Better surveillance, wildlife and hunting management, and forest protection can prevent pandemics at a fraction of the cost.
Primary Pandemic Prevention Costs 5% of Lives Lost Every Year from Emerging Infectious Diseases
Primary pandemic prevention actions cost less than 5% of the lowest estimated value of lives lost from emerging infectious diseases every year
Summer Heat and Children Emergency Department Visits
When summer temperatures rise, so do kids' visits to the emergency room—but not just for heat-related illness, and not just on the hottest days.
As Covid-19 cases rise, global task force lays out how to avert future pandemics
New report suggests that investing in conservation, improving agricultural practices, and strengthening healthcare systems can help prevent future pandemics.
Preventing future pandemics depends on environmental action, Harvard task force finds
Environmental efforts, such as forest preservation and wildlife trade regulation, are essential to preventing future pandemics.