Susan Prescott, MD, PhD


Home Institution:
The University of Western Australia

Planetary Health

Current Positions:

    • Professor at the University of Western Australia School of Medicine
    • President of inVIVO Planetary Health
    • Editor-in-Chief, Challenges Journal
    • Co-Director of ORIGINS Project
    • Immunologist, Perth Children's Hospital

How do we imagine a brighter future? What kind of world do we want to live in?

Scholar Project

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 and an internationally acclaimed physician-scientist, well known for her cutting-edge research into the early environmental determinants of health and disease. 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. 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 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 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 & Training

PhD, University of Western Australia

MD (MBBS), University of Western Australia

BS, Denison University


Selected Honors

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


Key Publications

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 Sept 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, May 2020

Introducing the ORIGINS project: a community-based interventional birth cohort. Reviews on Environmental Health, Sept 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, 17(4), 1407

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 (IJERPH) 2019

Larger than Life: Injecting Hope into the Planetary Health. Challenges 2018 9(1), 13

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 Nov 2016

See more of Dr. Prescott’s publications (Link to PubMed search)