DOM faculty anchor Climate Change panel at Arthritis Center symposium, grab headlines

[The panel discussion on climate change and health gets underway at the 2024 Living Healthy With Arthritis Symposium, hosted by the UArizona Arthritis Center and Division of Rheumatology]While University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health epidemiology and biostatistics department chair Kacey Ernst, PhD, MPH, gave the keynote address at the 2024 Living Healthy With Arthritis Symposium, it was a smaller story of a Department of Medicine faculty member that took top headlines in the weeks following the event.

[Logo & banner image to promote the 2024 Living Healthy With Arthritis Symposium which focused on climate change and health]See a mini-photo gallery from the annual symposium’s panel discussion, “Assessing the Health Implications of Climate Change and Our Environment,” below. Moderating the panel was C. Kent Kwoh, MD, director of the UArizona Arthritis Center (which organized the event) and chief of the Division of Rheumatology.

Joining Dr. Kwoh on the panel were Fariba Donovan, MD, PhD, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and research scientist at the Valley Fever Center for Excellence; Randy Horwitz, MD, PhD, allergist, professor of medicine, co-director of the DOM Ambulatory Medicine Clerkship, and medical director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine; Julia Jernberg, MD, associate professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, director of the DOM’s Ambulatory Medicine Clerkship and Health and Societies Thread; and Art Sanders, MD, MHA, professor emeritus, Department of Emergency Medicine, and member, Sarver Heart Center.

[Dr. Julia Jernberg (right) came to broader media attention due to a quote she gave as a geriatrician in a KJZZ story on the dire impact of extreme heat on the elderly due to diminished abilty of their bodies to keep cooler.]The media attention on Dr. Jernberg, who also is director of the Arizona Climate and Health Group at UArizona Research, Innovation & Impact, focused on a paper in the journal Nature Communications that she was not an author on and which examined global projections of heat exposure of older adults. Instead, she was quoted as a geriatrician by KJZZ-Radio NPR Phoenix in a piece titled, “More than 200 million seniors face extreme heat risks in coming decades, study finds.”

Dr. Jernberg noted that people’s ability to manage heat diminishes as they age and inflammation, blood clotting and cellular breakdown go haywire under acute levels of heat stress. “It’s like one’s own body is disintegrating from the heat. You’ve reached the tipping point. And in older patients [that process] is much more lethal," she told KJZZ.

That article not only got picked up by Reddit, Ground news and Envirolink, but virtually every NPR station across the nation, numbering more than a thousand. See the DOM Media Mentions webpage for some of those on May 14-15.

Dr. Ernst’s keynote address title was, “Beyond the Forecast: The Interplay of Climate Change and Health,” and focused more broadly on general impacts globally to climate change on health and the environment and the negative boomerang affect between them, possibly worsening that effect. Some of her research has been on spread of the Zika virus due to expanded migration of mosquitos that carry it, due in part to climate change. She was in the audience during the panel discussion, which followed her talk.

For the images below, mouseover to read the caption. Click on them to enlarge.


[The audience at the Living Healthy With Arthritis Symposium's climate change and health panel discussion listens in rapt attention as panelists discuss various ways the two issues are entertwined.] [Moderator Dr. Kent Kwoh poses a question to the panelists: infectious diseases specialist and Valley Fever Center for Excellence researcher Dr. Fariba Donovan; DOM Ambulatory Medicine Clerkship co-director, allergist and integrative medicine specialist Dr. Randy Horwitz; geriatrician and director of the UArizona Climate & Health Group Dr. Julia Jernberg; and emergency medicine professor emeritus and Sarver Heart Center member Dr. Art Sanders.] [Dr. Fariba Donovan, an infectious diseases professor specializing in fungal diseases, including Valley fever, discusses how its spread is affected by climate change.] [Dr. Fariba Donovan notes that Valley fever – caused by inhalation of fungal spores endemic to soils in the Southwest, primarily at issue in Arizona and California – has spread as far as eastern Washington.]

[Dr. Randy Horwitz discusses how those with allergies are affected by climate change with hotter, drier weather changing allergy season as well as spread of pollen, dust and related pollution effects, exacerbating their condition.] [Dr. Julia Jernberg talks about how older people and their health are affected by climate change and extreme heat.] [Dr. Art Sanders discusses how the mix of patients showing up at hospital emergency rooms, or serviced by paramedics on the streets, changes during extreme heat events.] [Dr. Kacey Ernst, presenter of the symposium's keynote address, listens from the audience during the panel discussion on climate change and health. Her research has targeted spread of various diseases due to growing migration areas of mosquitos as influenced by climate change.]

[Dr. Kent Kwoh talks about how acute heat events may affect rheumatological patients and how they handle pain, asking panelists for similar reactions they may be aware of for patients in their specialties.] [Dr. Fariba Donovan discusses how effectiveness of certain biologics patients take can be affected by Valley fever and what that might mean if its geographic area continues to spread.] [Dr. Randy Horwitz talks about ways in which alternative medical remedies may address issues on extreme heat and its repercussions.] [Dr. Julia Jernberg, with the mic, adds to her earlier comments and explains a bit how and what the UArizona Climate and Health Group does to address issues.]

[Dr. Art Sanders points out how the body handles different temperatures and what happens when it's pushed into distress in acute heat.] [Dr. Kent Kwoh thanks the panelists and asks for questions from the audience.] [Prompted by a question, Dr. Jernberg talks about recent studies on high heat effects in various cities and how that might change with increasing seasonal temperatures, as well as higher off-season temperatures, due to climate change.] [Image of a sign in the lobby of the Health Sciences Innovation Building, next to the HSIB forum, on the Interplay between Climate Change and Health symposium hosted by the UArizona Arthritis Center]

Photos courtesy of David Mogollon, Department of Medicine communications manager.

DOM calendar item for this event.

“Climate change and health focus of Living Healthy with Arthritis Symposium” | Posted April 25, 2024

Release Date: 
05/06/2024 - 9:15am