Harnessing nature for a healthier planet

Whether its pollution, climate change, deforestation, food, energy and water scarcity, or the trashing of our oceans, the assault to our planet continues.

Through bold, biology-based techniques scientists at the Biodesign Institute are working to solve the world’s sustainability challenges with interdisciplinary and problem-oriented teams seeking disruptive solutions to protect the environment. Of our 14 total centers, several are focused on:

  • Monitoring the health of cities: Providing access to safe drinking water, clean air, healthy food, and renewable energy sources during adverse climate change
  • Improving the effectiveness of producing feedstocks for biofuels
  • Analyzing waste in cities and megacities to detect health hazards
  • Developing economical ways to reuse materials
  • Learning how plants efficiently convert sunlight into renewable energy, to dramatically improve the sustainability of our planet

At the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery, scientists uncovered the inner mechanics of photosynthesis, enlightening an old mystery for the first time. Understanding how plants convert the sun’s energy into chemical energy is the first step in developing new forms of clean and abundant energy.

Professor Rolf Holden’s study of urban metabolism metrology is helping diagnose the health of entire cities with near-real-time indicators of disease, like his measurement of mass prescription medications that are found in raw sewage.