Harvard Catalyst Profiles

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Renee Nicole Salas, M.D.

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Overview
Dr. Renee N. Salas is Affiliated Faculty and previous Burke Fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and a Yerby Fellow at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also a practicing emergency medicine physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and Affiliated Faculty at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

She has served as the lead author of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change U.S. Brief since 2018 and founded and leads its Working Group of nearly 80 U.S. organizations, institutions, and centers working at the nexus of climate change and health. Dr. Salas was also a Co-Director for the first Climate Crisis and Clinical Practice Symposium and co-leads the broader Initiative in partnership with The New England Journal of Medicine. She was the lead author of the cornerstone Interactive Perspective for The New England Journal of Medicine that launched the journal’s climate crisis and health topic page and has continued to contribute content.

Dr. Salas was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2021 for her work on climate change and health. She served on the original planning committee for the NAM’s Grand Challenge on Health and Climate Change and continues to serve on committees related to this work. She has testified before Congress for the full House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the White House Health Equity Forum on how climate change is inequitably harming health. She served as a delegate to the 25th and 26th United Nation Climate Change Conferences (COP).

She engages in research on how climate change is impacting the healthcare system and developing evidence-based adaptation. She advocates for both the downstream adaptation and upstream societal-wide mitigation required to equitably protect health, which often leads to meeting with national and international leaders and decisionmakers both within the traditional health sector and beyond. She lectures and serves on committees at the nexus of climate and health internationally and nationally, advises and publishes in high impact journals, and her work and expertise are regularly featured in mainstream media outlets like the New York Times, NPR, Time, and the Associated Press.

Dr. Salas is the founder and past Chair of the Climate Change and Health Interest Group at the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) and led their first pre-conference workshop on the topic. She also gave the first national emergency medicine conference presentations on climate change and health at the SAEM and American College of Emergency Physicians annual meetings. In addition, Dr. Salas spearheads work that spans disciplines, such as collaborations on Amicus Briefs for Juliana v. United States and a response letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed transparency rule. Lastly, she is the recipient of the Clinician-Teacher Development Award from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Shore Fellowship from Harvard Medical School.

Her Doctor of Medicine is from the innovative five-year medical school program to train physician-investigators at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine with a Master of Science in Clinical Research from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, which later awarded her the Early Career Leadership Award for her outstanding career achievements. Her Master of Public Health is from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health with a concentration in environmental health. Dr. Salas received her undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s College, which later recognized her as a prestigious Shannon Scholar for exceptional alumna.

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Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.