The Health and Environment Action Research Team at Commonweal (HEART) convenes ten Commonweal program directors and senior staff engaged in environmental health science, science communication, and science action projects at Commonweal. HEART partners strengthen their current work and explore new initiatives in human and ecosystem health. HEART partners are active at state, national, and global levels. Their work reaches tens of thousands of scientists, clinicians, and concerned citizens.

HEART partners include:

Alexandra Destler, Director of SafetyNEST at Commonweal
SafetyNEST is committed to transforming prenatal care by equipping both reproductive health providers and the pregnant women they serve with the most accurate, evidence-based, and personalized information about the effects of environmental toxins on prenatal and early childhood health in order to reduce the incidence of preventable diseases linked to toxic chemical exposure. SafetyNEST is developing a highly engaging, interactive mobile platform designed to educate women about how to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals in their daily lives, particularly in their homes. Partners include UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the American Medical Women’s Association.

Steve Heilig, Senior Research Associate at Commonweal
Steve is a co-founder of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, a director of the San Francisco Medical Society, editor of two medical journals, host of many dialogues for the New School at Commonweal and active in other programs at Commonweal.


Jerrold (Jerry) Heindel, PhD, Director PEDS at Commonweal, Adjunct Professor of Toxicology NCSU, and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The Program in Endocrine Disruption Strategies (PEDS) supports the development of scientific, educational, outreach, and policy initiatives in the field of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). PEDS has developed a global online network focused on EDCs in obesity, diabetes and metabolic diseases. Jerry works closely with Sarah Howard on her Diabetes and Environment initiative (see below). PEDS also sponsors an annual workshop focused on strategic opportunities to advance EDC science, education, outreach, and policy.

Sarah Howard, Program Director, Diabetes and the Environment at Commonweal
Diabetes and the Environment focuses on the role of environmental factors in the development of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, as well as obesity. The program tracks scientific research in the field, summarizes it on a webpage, and raises awareness about the specific role of environmental chemical and air pollution exposures in these conditions. Sarah produces weekly updates on scientific advances in obesity, diabetes, and metabolic diseases.

Michael Lerner, President and Co-founder of Commonweal
Michael is co-founder of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, Healing Circles, Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies, The New School at Commonweal, and the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. He is president of the Jenifer Altman Foundation and co-founder and chair emeritus of the Health and Environmental Funders Network. He chairs the board of the Wildflowers Institute in San Francisco which works with low-income diaspora communities of color. He received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship for contributions to public health in 1983.

Sharyle Patton, Director of the Health and Environment Program and the Biomonitoring Resource Center at Commonweal
Sharyle was Northern Co-Chair of the International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN) when it won the Stockholm Convention—the first global treaty banning toxic chemicals. She is currently working with the International Association of Fire Fighters and United Fire Service Women helping to assess exposures of their members. She continues to work closely with IPEN, Coming Clean, the Western States Pediatric Environmental Unit, and health advocacy organizations on biomonitoring and related environmental health projects. She is a member of the California Health Tracking Program’s Advisory Group.

Heather Sarantis, Women’s Health Program Director at Commonweal
Heather coordinates the California Comprehensive Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. The project explores the full range of breast cancer risks and opportunities for interventions to prevent breast cancer. This is the first plan of its type in the country, and it is hoped that is can be used as a model for other states and, ultimately nationally.  Heather also works with the California Breast Cancer Research Program in offering QuickStart—a training to build successful California-based partnerships to conduct community based participatory research focused on breast cancer.

Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, Science Director, Science and Environmental Health Network;  Director, Ecology of Health initiative at Commonweal
“Most of us think of health primarily as an attribute of a person. But studies repeatedly show that your zip code can be a better predictor of your health than your behavior—a healthy neighborhood helps, too. And then there are planetary conditions that affect as all.”  Ted has developed an ecologic framework to embrace this complexity. It recognizes that people are progressively nested within families, communities, ecosystems, societies, and planetary systems. Here the concept of health extends far beyond the boundary of an individual person, with implications for health care, disease prevention and a wide range of policies and practices. Ted is author of The Ecology of Breast Cancer and numerous other articles and reports. Find out more at the Science and Environmental Health Network.

Maria Valenti, Director, Health and Environment Literacy Project at Commonweal
The Health and Environment Literacy Project (HELP) works to raise awareness of the multiple environmental factors that affect health across the lifespan. HELP focuses on health professionals, health advocates, policy makers, and concerned individuals. HELP supports science-informed action to protect health from the personal to policy levels. Current projects include: A Story of Health, a multimedia eBook and continuing education course that is a collaboration among the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment at the University of California, Berkeley; the Collaborative on Health and the Environment at Commonweal; the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment; California’s Environmental Protection Agency; the Science and Environmental Health Network; and the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit.

Karen F. Wang, PhD, Director of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment at Commonweal
The Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) is dedicated to educating people on the ways in which the environment impacts human health and well-being. CHE cultivates a learning based community through CHE’s webinar series, ScienceServs, and ongoing communication to the CHE network of over 10,000 scientists, health professionals, policymakers, health and environmental justice advocates, and other concerned citizens. CHE is also embarking on new program, Because Health, that will expand our community. Because Health’s mission is to reach 20-40 year olds with environmental health information. Because Health will do this by sharing knowledge, providing resources, and building a young community around a shared concern for how environmental risks can impact health. The goal is to keep the information accessible, curated, relevant, and shareable, while still being strongly rooted in the latest science.