Mirko Winkler, PhD, DTM&H

Experience summary

Trained in Environmental Sciences (MSc ETH), Epidemiology (PhD) and Clinical Tropical Medicine (DTM&H), PD Dr Mirko Winkler is the Head of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Research Group at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). He considers himself an Environmental Epidemiologist and is thus concerned with the study of environmental exposures and societal factors that contribute to adverse health conditions and wellbeing. Dr Winkler’s current research activities have two foci. One is on HIA of large infrastructure development projects (e.g. natural resource extraction and renewable energies; www.swisstph.ch/hia4sd), conflict, urbanisation and global climate change in low- and middle-income countries. The other is on chemical and microbial exposure assessment in the context of small-scale agriculture, sanitation safety planning and urbanisation.

Dr Winkler is specialised in epidemiological and environmental data collection in the frame of community health surveys. Applied methods range from participatory data collection to clinical studies and environmental sampling. He has a particular interest in multi-method study designs that integrate participatory, epidemiological and trans-disciplinary approaches. Over the past decade, Dr Winkler has been involved in a wide variety of studies in numerous low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South America. He is an established international expert in the HIA field, having worked on 30 HIA for private and public sector entities.

Dr Winkler is a lecturer in HIA at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and guest lecturer at different universities in Switzerland. At Swiss TPH, Dr Winkler is leading the course “International Cooperation and Global Health" (German title: Internationale Zusammenarbeit und Globale Gesundheit (IZGG); Certificate of Advanced (CAS) accredited by University of Basel; www.swisstph.ch/izgg). At the international level, Dr Winkler is involved in HIA capacity building in various countries in the global south. Moreover, he is serving as an international trainer on ‘sanitation safety planning’ on behalf of the World Health Organization. Finally, supervision of students at MSc, PhD and post-doctoral level is another important activity Dr Winkler is pursuing.


Main research interests

  • Health impact assessment of large infrastructure development projects in low- and middle-income countries, particularly extractive industries, renewable energy projects and water resources developments (e.g. www.swisstph.ch/hia4sd)
  • Impact assessment and evaluation of interventions that aim at building resilience and adaptation to conflict, urbanisation and global climate change
  • Exposure pathways and health effects of pesticide use in small-scale farmers in tropical contexts
  • Safe recovery and reuse of solid and liquid waste for promoting recycling of nutrients, energy and wastewater in the context of urbanisation in low- and middle-income countries


Career history

  • 2018-current: Head Health Impact Assessment Research Group; Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (EPH), Swiss TPH/University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2015-current: Scientific Project Leader; Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (EPH), Swiss TPH/University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2015-current: Course Director and Coordinator of CAS International Cooperation and global health (German title: Internationale Zusammenarbeit und Globale Gesundheit (IZGG) (ehemals: Allgemeiner Tropenkurs (ATK)); Department of Education and Training (ET), Swiss TPH/University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2015-2017: Visiting Research Fellow; Escola Nacional de Saúde Púplica Sergio Arouca (ENSP)’ at the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 2011-2015: Postdoctoral Fellow; Swiss TPH/University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2008-2011: PhD student; Swiss TPH/University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2007-2008: Research Fellow; Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Education and qualifications

  • 2019: Habilitation in Epidemiology (equivalent to Associate Professor in the United States), University of Basel, Switzerland
  • 2012-2015: Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Epidemiology; Swiss TPH/University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2011: Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H); Gorgas Memorial Institute of Tropical and Preventive Medicine, Lima, Peru/University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, USA
  • 2008-2011: PhD in Epidemiology; Swiss TPH/University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2002-2008: MSc in Environmental Sciences (Major: Biomedicine and Human- Environment Systems); ETH Zurich, Zurich Switzerland
  • 2001-2002: Cours des Mathématiques Spéciales (CMS); Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 1996-2000: Professional Degree: Civil Engineering Draftsman and Computer Added Design (CAD) Technologist; WGG Schnetzer Puskas Ingenieure SIA/ASIC, Basel, Switzerland

Farnham A, Utzinger J, Kulinkina A.V, Winkler M.S. Using district health information to monitor sustainable development. Bull World Health Organ. 2020;98:69-71. DOI: 10.2471/BLT.19.239970

Fuhrimann S, Staudacher P, Lindh C, van Wendel de Joode B, Mora A.M, Winkler M.S, Kromhout H. Variability and predictors of weekly pesticide exposure in applicators from organic, sustainable and conventional smallholder farms in Costa Rica. Occup Environ Med. 2020;77:40-47. DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2019-105884

Fuhrimann S, Winkler M.S, Staudacher P, Weiss F.T, Stamm C, Eggen R.I, Lindh C.H, Menezes-Filho J.A, Baker J.M, Ramirez-Munoz F, Gutierrez-Vargas R, Mora A.M. Exposure to pesticides and health effects on farm owners and workers from conventional and organic agricultural farms in Costa Rica: protocol for a cross-sectional study. JMIR Res Protoc. 2019;8(1):e10914. DOI: 10.2196/10914

Leuenberger A, Farnham A, Azevedo S, Cossa H, Dietler D, Nimako B, Adongo P.B, Merten S, Utzinger J, Winkler M.S. Health impact assessment and health equity in sub-Saharan Africa: a scoping review. Environ Impact Assess Rev. 2019;79:106288. DOI: 10.1016/j.eiar.2019.106288

Winkler M, Adongo P.B, Binka F, Brugger F, Diagbouga S, Macete E, Munguambe K, Okumu F. Health impact assessment for promoting sustainable development: the HIA4SD project. Impact Assess Proj Apprais. 2019(in press). DOI: 10.1080/14615517.2019.1694783