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Environmental Health Institute

The Geisinger Center for Health Research and The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health joined together to form the Environmental Health Institute (EHI) in 2007. The mission of the EHI is to understand how land use, the built environment, energy production and use, food systems, and water systems may impact human health in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Such knowledge can be used not only to improve the health of the Geisinger Health System's patients, but also to understand how to develop and promote healthy and sustainable communities.

Brian Schwartz, MD, MS, Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Senior Investigator, Geisinger Center for Health Research serves as Director of the EHI.

Why does the Geisinger Health System have an Environmental Health Institute? Because …

  1. Geisinger is a leader in personalized medicine, integrating genomics into health systems. It is increasingly understood that our genes interact with exposures around us to cause disease. It has been said that, for many diseases, "…genes load the gun, but environmental exposures pull the trigger."
  2. Community circumstances can affect health. Many chronic diseases have lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, and stress, that can be influenced by the communities in which we live.
  3. Community circumstances can enable or constrain the influence of healthcare. For example, diabetes care provided by the health system may be less effective in communities that constrain our ability to eat healthy or walk more.
  4. Our region has many old and emerging environmental conditions that could affect health. These include, for example, abandoned coal mines, Marcellus shale development, and large-scale animal feeding operations that add antibiotics to animal feeds.
  5. New approaches to personalized medicine require that the health system consider and care for patients in the context of the communities in which they live