The ways our changing physical and social environment have shaped the emergence of infectious diseases around the world was the focus of a recent talk by Yale epidemiologist Albert Icksang Ko at Yale Center Beijing.

Ko, who is chair of the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at the Yale School of Public Health and professor of medicine (infectious diseases) at the Yale School of Medicine, also told an audience of Yale alumni and friends about how researchers at Yale are applying innovation and novel analytical approaches to develop solutions for these new global health threats.

Ko began his talk by looking back at the history and development of the field of public health. He pointed to the increase in life expectancy and the decrease in childhood mortality as clear signs of the global progress made over the last few decades in combating infectious diseases. Much of this progress can be credited to simple solutions like vaccines and oral rehydration therapy, he said.

However, with the latest global re-emergence of measles, as well as well-known cases of recent outbreaks of SARS, MERS, and Zika, Ko explained, rapid urbanization, globalization, and climate change have created a perfect storm for infectious diseases to spread.