UCSF Sustainability Stories


Robert Hood, November 15, 2020


Dr. Tom Newman Receives Teaching Award for Lecture on Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons

Tom Newman holding sign at rally.For Dr. Tom Newman (photographed above), professor in the UC San Francisco School of Medicine, there is no question that climate change and nuclear weapons are the two biggest global health threats of the 21st Century. That’s why he has been happy to give a lecture on these topics in the UCSF School of Medicine’s Bridges Curriculum.

Newman’s lecture was recently recognized with the Bridges Curriculum Outstanding Lecture Award. The award is presented on behalf of the UCSF Medical Students Class of 2022 and 2023

“I think most medical students are very concerned about climate change,” Newman said. “When I first started talking about the issue to medical audiences, the health effects seemed remote – both in time and geographically. Now, with the increase in forest fires and poor air quality and resulting respiratory illnesses, it’s clear that we’re already seeing effects right here in the Bay Area.”


Newman, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Pediatrics, was the founding chair of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Environmental Health Committee. He’s been giving the lecture on Climate Change and Health for the last four years, with nuclear weapons added for the last three.

The UCSF School of Medicine Bridges Curriculum educates MD graduates to excel in the competencies needed by 21st-century physicians. Students work collaboratively with interprofessional teams to provide compassionate patient care while broadening their knowledge, advancing science, and seeking new ways to improve health care delivery in their communities and nationwide.

“I’ve been giving the lecture on climate change since the beginning of the Bridges Curriculum,” Newman said. “I think the first time I was invited to give the lecture because Chris Stewart (professor of pediatrics) was on the committee developing the Health and Society Course and had heard me give a Grand Rounds lecture on the topic.”

Newman’s lecture also receives plenty of positive comments from students during evaluations. Some of the most recent comments include:

“I really enjoyed Dr. Newman’s lecture! I think he did a great job on focusing both on the problem at hand and on the power of doctors to advocate. It was inspiring to hear of his own advocacy work!”

“Dr. Newman’s lectures are very engaging. I liked learning about how he has integrated climate activism into his career because it made me think about how I might do that in my own career.”

To view a similar lecture by Dr. Newman, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHJS5SSKuiM