Research Themes

IHACC: Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change

Sleeping sickness in sub-Saharan Africa

Climate change impacts on vector-borne and zoonotic diseases

Tracking climate change adaptation


IHACC: Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate ChangeCurrent funding: IDRC, CIHR, SSHRC, NSERCPrincipal Investigators:Lea Berrang Ford and James Ford (Canada), Shuaib Lwasa (Uganda), Alejandro Llanos (Peru)Key Partners:Cayetano University (Peru), Makerere University (Uganda), Ugandan Ministry of Health, Public Health Agency of Canada, University of GuelphStudent participation: Kathryn Dingle, Irene Hofmeijer, Mya Sherman, Blinaid Donnelly, Carol Zavaleta, Joseph Lewnard, Kaitlin Patterson, Yang Guo, Sierra Clark, Isha BerryProject Website:

I am currently Co-PI on a $2.5M IHACC project (Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate change), funded by the IDRC and tri-councils IRIACC program. This international, interdisciplinary project aims to identify and characterize the vulnerability of Indigenous health systems to climate change and develop interventions to promote adaptation. The work involves participatory research with community partners in the Peruvian Amazon (Shipibo communities), Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda (Batwa pygmy communities), and the Canadian Arctic (Inuit), and close collaboration with researchers and stakeholders in Uganda, Peru and the Arctic. IHACC is currently entering its second year of a longitudinal health survey, and has begun qualitative health systems and vulnerability assessment, as well as policy review. Visit the IHACC website, or click here to watch a short video on the project.

Related Publications:


Sleeping sickness in sub-Saharan AfricaPrevious funding: IDRC, National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)Key collaborators:Uganda Ministry of Health, Makerere UniversityStudent participation: Jamie Lundine, Finola HackettI am participating in ongoing research evaluating the determinants of T.b. rhodesiense sleeping sickness incidence in Uganda. This research has involved a number of projects, including spatio-temporal analysis of historic disease spread and associations with land cover and analysis of conflict as a determinant of disease at the national and continental levels. Recently research has focused on collection of expert-sourced national tsetse vector data, as well as recent epidemiologic and spatial evaluation of sleeping sickness cases over the past 10 years. My lab has also begun research on the burden of sleeping sickness using the DALY measure (Disability Adjusted Life Years) for Uganda, with particular interest in how burden estimates different across scales and how zoonotic diseases are considered in burden analyses.Related Publications:


Climate change impacts on vector-borne and zoonotic diseaseCurrent funding:Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)Researchers involved at McGill:Lea Berrang-Ford; Peruvian research in collaboration with Dr. Tim Brewer, Antonio Ciampi, and Cayetano University (Peru)Student participation: Valerie Hongoh, Rose Eckhardt, Roland Ngom, Charlotte Picard, Aidan FindlaterVector-borne diseases are known to be highly climate sensitive. Projected changes in climate are expected to have implications for the potential range distributions of vectors and pathogens of public health importance. Within this research program, we have conducted projects in Canada and Peru. Our research team completed an evaluation of the changing risks of vector-borne diseases in Canada. These projects focused on collection of existing data on vector and pathogens species distributions, as well as ecological determinants such as climate and land cover. Ecological niche modeling and spatial analysis were used to determine the spatial and temporal determinants of species ranges in order to develop species maps. Downscaled climate projection data were used to project scenarios of potential changes in range distributions. In Peru, our research focused on an epidemiologic analysis of historical incidence of infectious disease and sea surface temperature data to evaluate long-term national and sub-national epidemiologic associations. The project aimed to evaluate the extent to which disease incidence in Peru has been determined by variations in climate, with a focus on leishmaniasis and dengue.Related Publications:


Tracking climate change adaptationFunding:Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Canadian Foundation for Climatic and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS)Researchers involved at McGill: Lea Berrang-Ford, James Ford, Jody Heymann, Magda Barrera, Jaclyn Patterson, Carolyn Poutiainen, Alexandra Lesnikowski, Victoria Aton, Michelle Maillet, Tanya SmithKey collaborators:Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, National Collaborating Centre for Environmental HealthThis research program is developing novel methods to track adaptation action in different sectors and at different scales, with a focus on adaptation to the health impacts of climate change. The goal of the research is to apply systematic mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) to evaluate progress and policies on global adaptation. Research projects to date have included a systematic quantitative literature review of peer-reviewed evidence of global adaptation, systematic policy analysis of national adaptations in the health sector, review of participation in health adaptation by NGOs, and characterization of adaptation in the Ontario health sector.

The Tracking Research on Adaptation to Climate Change Consortium, TRAC3, was launched in 2014 to link a growing network of researchers working to advance approaches for tracking progress on adaption to the impacts of climate change.TRAC3 was created to facilitate new collaborations that address conceptual, methodological, and practical challenges associated with tracking progress on adaptation around the world. TRAC3 was founded by Dr. Lea Berrang-Ford and Dr. James Ford, Associate Professors in the department of Geography at McGill University, and Dr. Robbert Biesboek, Assistant Professor in the department of Social Sciences at Wageningen University (Netherlands). Follow Trac3 on twitter @tradacptcc or click here to be redirected TRAC3′s main website. Related Publications: