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.
Global Climate Action Summit: A focus on kids and climate
For anyone who thinks that the problem of global climate change is too big or distant or not relevant to their life, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy has this to say: “If you’re wondering who the face of climate change is, it’s not a polar bear, it’s my grandson."
The 100 Reasons to Go Play Outside Right Now
The importance of going outside to human health.
A better way of living
Bernstein, who studies how changes in transportation, diet, and energy can immediately benefit health, lectured on “The Health Benefits of Going Green: How Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Can Benefit Health Today” as part of the Ed Portal’s Faculty Speaker Series.
El Niño’s Impact on Health and Communities
This segment of PRI’s Science Friday explores El Niño—what it is, why it forms, and its consequences around the world.
School buildings and student success
How school buildings influence student health, thinking, and performance.
How Dangerous are Underground Natural Gas Storage Wells?
Study explores the risks of aging infrastructure throughout the United States.
Climate Change and Children's Health
Climate change represents a major threat to child health. This review presents the latest data that demonstrate how climate change affects children's health and to identify the principal ways in which climate change puts children's health at risk.
Climate Change and the Crystal Ball of Vector-Borne Disease Forecasts
We are making advances in predicting the emergence of diseases in new locations.
Q&A: How Climate Change Hurts Health
The public health threats that await humanity if it fails to reverse climate change.
Climate Change and the Health of Children
Climate change is a major concern for children's health.