Home Institution: The University of Western Australia
Field: Planetary Health
My Driving Question
How do we imagine a brighter future? What kind of world do we want to live in?
There could not be a more important time to imagine a better world.
Project Earthrise takes inspiration from one of the most transcendent moments in modern history—when we first saw the Earth across the void of space. One planet. One people. Igniting profound wonder and awe, it inspired a renewed desire for peace, unity, justice and appreciation and care for nature. It revealed that we are more aligned in our vision and desire for a better world than our current polarized social climate suggests—especially when we are inspired.
Now, in an era of so many “broken systems” we must fundamentally question the way we choose to live on our planet. How we see ourselves. How we treat others. How we care for our place, our communities, and our ecosystems. We must equally address the crisis of “broken spirit” and address the value systems that created our greatest challenges in the first place. It is time to call on “the best” of the human spirit as our greatest asset —the very things that unite, empower and refocus priorities of individuals and societies. Project Earthrise seeks to normalize mutualistic approaches, and to place a higher value on creativity, imagination and self-development in solving challenges at all scales—for all citizens of the world. It will provide a forum of diverse platforms for rich conversations and diverse perspectives:
- to inspire hope, purpose and optimism, by imagining a better future;
- to revalue the power of kindness, empathy, love, and mutual respect (which have been neglected and devalued)—and their importance in health and resilience on all scales;
- to question what we value as progress and how we define growth;
- to rediscover our love of nature—and the awe, wonder, joy, compassion this inspires;
- to restore our communities and build grass roots efforts towards meaningful change; and
- to understand our connectivity and the interdependence of our problems and the solutions.
Imagining the Future is the first step to getting there.
We might all begin by asking ourselves: “What kind of world do we want to live in?”
Professor Susan Prescott, MD, PhD, is a pediatrician, immunologist, and an internationally acclaimed physician-scientist, well known for her cutting-edge research into the early environmental determinants of health and disease. Globally, she is recognized for her work on the interconnections between human health and planetary health and promoting mutualistic value systems for both ecological and social justice. She has a particular focus on immune health, and how this can be enhanced—for all aspects of wellbeing across the life course—through microbial biodiversity, healthy nutrition, stronger relationships with natural environments, and positive emotional assets.
She works at the highest level of her profession internationally, with over 25 years of research experience. She is a former Director of the World Allergy Organisation (WAO), and former Head of Children’s Allergy Immunology Research at University of Western Australia. She is also the Founding President of the multidisciplinary DOHaD Society (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease) in Australia and New Zealand. Her early work as an immunologist, published in The Lancet, lead to a paradigm shift in understanding the importance of the early environment in immune programming for the risk of subsequent disease. She is also Director of the Nova Network.
In addition to over 300 scientific publications, Susan is also an artist and award-winning author of several books—The Allergy Epidemic, The Calling, Origins, and gold medal winning book The Secret Life of Your Microbiome. Her inspiration to study medicine came from her grandmother, one of the few women to study medicine in the 1930s.
She is a passionate advocate for social change and adopting a holistic approach to life. As an artist and award-winning author, she communicates these ideas, not only through the knowledge base of science but also through the inspiration of art. In finding common ground, she maintains that we can work together to address many global problems, recognizing the direct connections between personal and planetary health.
With this goal, she leads both local and global efforts towards improving personal and planetary health.
Education and Training
- PhD, University of Western Australia
- MD (MBBS), University of Western Australia
- Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians
- Practitioner Fellowship by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) – 2009-2018
- Recognized as one of “10 of the best” in Australian NHMRC Research, 2010
- Winston Churchill Fellowship
- Understanding Engagement in Digital Mental Health and Well-being Programs for Women in the Perinatal Period: Systemic Review Without Meta-analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2022.
- Project Earthrise: Inspiring Creativity, Kindness, and Imagination in Planetary Health. Challenges, Sept 2020.
- A pledge for planetary health to unite health professionals in the Anthropocene. The Lancet, 2020.
- A butterfly flaps its wings: Extinction of biological experience and the origins of allergy. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: Official Publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 2020.
- Introducing the ORIGINS project: a community-based interventional birth cohort. Reviews on Environmental Health, 2020.
- Spaceship Earth Revisited: The Co-Benefits of Overcoming Biological Extinction of Experience at the Level of Person, Place and Planet. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 2020.
- Preventive Medicine for Person, Place, and Planet: Revisiting the Concept of High-Level Wellness in the Planetary Health Paradigm. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2019.
- Larger than Life: Injecting Hope into the Planetary Health. Challenges, 2018.
- Down to Earth: Planetary Health and Biophilosophy in the Symbiocene Epoch. Challenges, 2017.
- The Secret Life of Your Microbiome: Why Nature and Biodiversity are Essential to Health and Happiness. First published in 2017.
- Transforming Life: A Broad View of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Concept from an Ecological Justice Perspective. Challenges, 2016.
- See more of Dr. Prescott’s publications