Virtual One Health International PhD and Postdoc Summer School 2021

Environmental pollution: from soils to human health


When: 9 -13 August 2021
Where: Virtual, organised by the University of Bern, Switzerland
Participants: PhD students and Postdocs with backgrounds from the following fields: biology, environmental sciences, medicine, veterinary medicine, chemistry, geography and bioinformatics.

In response to the ongoing pandemic, we have decided to operate the One Health International PhD and Postdoc Summer School in distance learning mode in 2021. The virtual programme will consist of a mix of interactive live sessions at fixed times and independent work in small groups.

The virtual course will explore the fate, transport and health effects of contaminants in the environment. The week consists of 10 keynote lectures given by leading national and international scientists and will provide participants with detailed overviews of the key issues concerning environmental pollutions and their connections to global health. The keynote lectures focus on the biogeochemical cycles of inorganic and organic contaminants, their transformations and bioaccumulation. Toxicity assessments, health effects as well as the use of models to predict their environmental fate will be discussed. A final keynote on environmental legislation will allow the participants to put research on environmental pollution in a broader context.

The programme is complemented by two parallel workshops for in-depth analysis of inorganic or organic pollutants. The workshop on inorganic pollutants will provide an overview of innovative sampling and data analytical technologies to measure inorganic pollutants in the field. The workshop on organic pollutants will provide an overview of analytical methods to extract a wide range of organic contaminants in different environmental matrices with focus in state-of-the-art analytical technology such as high-resolution mass spectrometry (HR-MS) couple to different ionization techniques and data processing (e.g., target, suspect and non-target analysis). Participants are expected to present and discuss their own work in short virtual presentations and can benefit from the interaction with international peers and renowned scientists.

Why this summer school is relevant to PhD students and Postdocs from biology, medicine and veterinary medicine, as well as environmental sciences, chemistry, geography and bioinformatics

Pollutants are ubiquitous in the environment. They do not only affect wildlife and plants but can also have a severe impact on human health. In contaminated environments, the pollutants can be transferred from environmental media such as soil to crops and finally enter the human food chain. The pollutants enter the body via food, drinking water or air and cause various health effects. They are responsible for, or co-factors of, wide-spread diseases, even at low concentrations (e.g. air pollution and asthma or strokes or arsenic and cardiovascular diseases or cancers). Furthermore, the toxicity of a pollutant does not only depend on its concentrations and pathway of exposure, but also on various other environmental and human health factors such as soil properties, plant physiology or human gut microbiome. In this summer school, we address the relevant processes controlling the fate of pollutants in the environment and its possible health consequences to humans.