Elisabet Lindgren Health and the Global Environment

Photo: Orasis/MA

Elisabet Lindgren  MD, PhD, Associate professor, Senior scientific advisor

Elisabet Lindgren, physician and associate professor in Sustainability Science, is a pioneer within research on climate change and health, and has long experience of developing science-based sustainable and healthy solution pathways for policymakers and the general public.

Education and work affiliations

Lindgren has a medical degree from Karolinska Institute (KI). After seven years of work as a physician she shifted to research to explore and understand causes of disease and health in a larger perspective. After advanced studies in biostatistics and epidemiology at KI, she focused on transdisciplinary research on health effects of global environmental changes, in particular climate change. This led to a PhD at Stockholm University (SU). Lindgren later became associate professor in sustainability science. Lindgren's academic base was Stockholm University 1994-2008, and the Karolinska Institute 2009-2013 (Global Health, and Institute of Environmental Medicine). During 2014-2018 Lindgren was affiliated with Stockholm Resilience Centre at SU.

The last decade and a half has seen Lindgren splitting her time between academic research and scientific advisory work internationally with a focus on the science and policy nexus. She has lived part-time in SE Asia for several years. In autumn 2015 Lindgren was senior science director of the EAT Initiative. In 2017 she was advisor to the Swedish Institute for Global Health Transformation, SIGHT, part of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Scientific advisor

One of Lindgren's key missions is to bridge the gap between science and policy. She has been temporary senior advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) on numerous occasions, as well as to different UN bodies, the European Commission, EU agencies like the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Environment Agency, and to Governements and different Ministries in several countries. Lindgren chaired the Workgroup on Climate and Health in the Swedish Government´s Commision on Climate and Vulnerability 2005-2007. She has written and contributed to many science-based policy reports.

Academic research

Lindgren has contributed to numerous international scientific research and policy activities, and has published as first author in journals such as Science and Lancet. She has been reviewer to several scientific journals, including Lancet and Environmental Health Perspectives. She has contributed to three reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC (chapter lead author in AR5), to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report (2005) as well as to other major scientific policy reports. She is a pioneer within research on climate change and health. For example, she:

  • published among the first articles on observed early signs of impacts of climate change on health, showing that decadal changes in seasonal daily climate shifted the northern distribution limits of disase-transmitting ticks further north in Europe, as well as affected the incidence of tickborne encephalitis.
  • was partner in the first EU- financed framework research program on climate change and human health (cCASHh).
  • was on the scientific panel of the first European course on Climate Change and Human Health held at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1999.
  • was  part of the first international cross-sectoral think-tank on Climate Change that was set up by Swiss Re and CHGE at Harvard Medical School and consisted of invited persons from academia, the business sector, and policy-makers.   

Lindgren has long experience of transdisciplinary academic research and of working across sectors. Her focus on global environmental changes and health has included studies of observed climate change-related health impacts, as well as risk and adaptation assessments with emphasis on emerging infectious diseases and climate related disasters. Later research interests have been solutions rather than risks, and to add a health focus within areas such as nature-based solutions, ecosystem services, sustainable cities, and sustainable food systems.

Positions of trust

Lindgren has held several positions of trust, for example

  • Vice-president of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment, ISDE, 1994-98.
  • President of the Swedish Physicians for the Environment.
  • Member of the Swedish Government’s Scientific Council on Climate Issues, 2007.
  • Member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the GECHH program within the Earth System Science Partnership, 2008-2012.
  • Member of the Scientific Committee of the Volvo Environment Prize, 2013-2014.
  • Member of the Funding Committee of the Wellcome Trust's Our Planet, Our Health program 2016-2017.
  • Member of the Development Team of Future Earth's Health Knowledge-Action Network (Health KAN)  2016-2018.
  • Member of the Advisory Panel of the Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium, CANUE   2017-2018.
  • Member of the National Expert Council on Climate Change Adaptation, appointed by the Swedish Government 2018.

Presentations and media

Another key mission is contributing to information and education. In addition to publishing scientific articles and science-policy reports and popular science work, Lindgren has held several hundreds of presentations to the general public, professional groups, policy-makers, and university students. She has often appeared in the media (TV and radio news, panel debates, popular science programs, newspaper interviews, periodicals, etc). Lindgren has participated in museum exhibitions, and appeared in popular science short films and videos. Her work has been widely reported in Swedish and international media.


Elisabet Lindgren, MD, PhD

Associate professor in sustainability science

Senior scientific advisor

Email: elindgren@lhtge.com 

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