Connecting Environment to Health in Texas & Beyond
The Center for Health and Environment: Education and Research at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin is a hub for multidisciplinary environmental health sciences research and education.
The center brings together experts from across UT Austin and beyond, and its steering committee includes representatives from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, College of Pharmacy, Cockrell School of Engineering, Jackson School of Geosciences and College of Natural Sciences. The center also partners with the Office of the Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors.
Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., MHS, leads the center and its work to improve the health of people locally and globally by exploring the effects of environmental exposures borne by air, water and soil. To address health disparities, the center investigates how these exposures disproportionately affect disadvantaged populations, including Black and Latinx/Hispanic communities, as well as those living in poverty.
Areas of Focus
Population health is an important focus for the center since environmental exposures are distributed geographically and have population-scale effects. These exposures perpetuate health disparities. The center aims to increase awareness of the population health and disparity implications of environmental exposures with the goal of stimulating the cross-sector, systems-level change needed to improve health. This work involves sectors such as health care, housing, urban planning, economics and environmental policy.
The center rapidly fosters knowledge that improves health by bringing together a critical mass of faculty across disciplines in environmental health. Sponsored activities include an invited speaker series; active working groups led by faculty within CHEER and across the UT campus; pilot project funding to encourage environmental health sciences scholarship and research; and other events to promote engagement and collaboration.
The center also engages a range of learners — medical students, undergraduate and graduate students, residents, fellows, faculty and staff — in environmental-health education. The center enables sponsorship of graduate students and interdisciplinary postdocs.