Climate Change

To avoid widespread famine and malnutrition, the world must double current food production by 2050, and do so in the face of climate-driven pressures. That is why a key thrust of the Whitehead Initiative on Biology, Health, and Climate Change focuses on plant seeds, the source of more than two-thirds of calories currently consumed globally.

Climate change and economic development are increasing our risk of being infected by parasites and harmful viruses and bacteria. Whitehead Institute researchers are leveraging their expertise to better assess where pathogens will spread and evaluate their risk to humans.

The Whitehead Initiative on Biology, Health, and Climate Change (WIBHC), launched in 2021. It is a multidisciplinary program that explores the biological and health effects of climate change and that builds the foundations for biomedical and biotech interventions that could help prevent, mitigate, or treat detrimental impacts on human health. 

Whitehead Institute Member Jing-Ke Weng studies plant metabolism, the set of processes plants use to produce thousands of unique molecules, many of which have potent medicinal properties. The Weng lab is hunting for more of these molecules in the wild, and developing strategies to sustainably produce plant molecules already of interest at scale.