Non-communicable Diseases and Environment

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, are collectively responsible for more than 70% of all deaths worldwide, 85% of which occur in low- and middle-income countries.

NCDs are becoming extremely prevalent due to the combination of an increased life expectancy and a higher prevalence of well-known major risk factors, such as smoking, air pollution, an obesogenic diet, physical inactivity and occupational exposures, as well as contextual changes in socio-economic and environmental factors, such as poverty, urban structure and climate change.

The NCDs and Environment Programme at ISGlobal aims to study the causes and mechanisms of development and progression of NCDs, covering the entire life course from prenatal to late adult life in high and low-middle income countries. We focus on the following determinants: environmental (air pollution, built and natural environment, light exposure, water chemical pollution, climate and global environmental crisis), occupational (occupational exposures, work shift, occupational heat stress), lifestyle (sleep, physical activity, diet), and genetic and molecular (genomics, epigenomics, molecular biomarkers) factors; and on the following diseases: cancers, respiratory, allergic, cardiometabolic (diabetes, obesity) and renal diseases, and neurological and mental health disorders, as well as multimorbidity and interaction of NCDs with infections (COVID-19).

Our ultimate goal is to use our research findings to prevent the occurrence and delay the progression of NCDs, in link with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Main research themes

  • Measuring health loss, risk factors, exposures and impacts of NCDs
  • Understanding the development, course, mechanisms and multimorbidities of NCDs
  • Informing interventions and policies for primary and secondary prevention of NCDs
  • Quantifying environmental exposures and NCDs burden in LMICs and vulnerable groups

Scientific approaches

  • Using and improving advanced epidemiological, statistical and bioinformatics models
  • Increasing the adoption of complex methods like artificial intelligence and data science
  • Increasing the adoption of multilevel approaches like exposome and multiomics
  • Developing the eHealth approach to NCDs
  • Developing the Planetary Health approach to deal with NCDs in the context of the climate crisis, the 2030 SDGs and the post-pandemic green new deal in the EU
  • Adopting intersectorial comprehensive methods, like multi stakeholder participation, for the translation of research results

Our Team


  • Judith Garcia
    Judith Garcia Head of the Non-Communicable Diseases and Environment Programme

Our Team

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Highlighted Projects


Population based multicasecontrol study on common tumours in Spain


Network on the Coordination and Harmonisation of European Occupational Cohorts


Exposome Project for Health and Occupational Research



Severe respiratory failure in COVID-19: clinical, biological and imaging risk factors


Leveraging the European Genome-Phenome Archive (EGA) for Industry and Society


Connecting digital mobility assessment to clinical outcomes for regulatory and clinical endorsement

AiguaBCN Project


Exposure to emerging contaminants in drinking water in Barcelona potentially liked to chronic diseases and wellbeing

CALMA Project


Co-created educational programme for dyspnea-bearing patients and their caregivers

Cancer-Watch Project


Risk of colorectal and breast cancer with widespread drinking water chemical contaminants


Cohort of COVID-19 in Spain: social dynamics, mental health and inequalities

iGenCo project


In-Depth Genomics and Cross-Omics Analysis for Undiagnosed Rare Diseases on a User-Friendly Collaborative Platform

Other projects

See Past Projects


Physical Activity as a Crucial Patient Reported Outcome in COPD


Impact Of Pollution on Asthma and Rhinitis


Las Voces de los Afectados por la Nefropatía Mesoamericana