WASHINGTON - President Obama launched an initiative Tuesday aimed at highlighting the connections between climate change and public health, bringing both medical and data experts to the White House this week.

As part of the effort, the White House will hold a Climate Change and Health Summit later this spring, featuring Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. The administration is expanding its Climate Data Initiative, which it launched a year ago, to include more than 150 health-relevant data sets.

Speaking to a group at Howard University, which included the school's College of Medicine dean, Edward Cornwell, and Tyra Bryant-Stephens, who directs the community asthma-prevention program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Obama said that warmer temperatures contribute to health problems such as asthma both by increasing smog-forming pollutants and by fueling wildfires that emit fine particles, or soot, into the air.

"And so there are a whole host of public health impacts that are going to hit home," Obama said. "So we've got to do better in protecting vulnerable Americans. Ultimately, though, all of our families are going to be vulnerable. You can't cordon yourself off from air or from climate."

White House senior adviser Brian Deese cited a recent study by the American Thoracic Society that found that 7 out of 10 doctors reported climate change was contributing to more health problems among their patients.

"One thing that we know is the most salient arguments around climate change are the ones around health impacts and involve meeting people where they are," said Deese in a phone call with reporters Tuesday.

As part of that effort, the interagency U.S. Global Change Research Program is releasing a draft Climate and Health Assessment report that will detail how public health is influenced by changes in weather extremes, air quality, and vector-borne diseases.

The new initiative will also call on private-sector firms to devise solutions to health-related climate problems. Microsoft researcher Ethan Jackson told reporters that his company was launching a pilot program to see whether it could use autonomous equipment to monitor the density of mosquitoes in a given areas as a way of detecting a potential disease outbreak before it happens.

A coalition of deans from 30 medical, public health, and nursing schools also pledged Tuesday to train their students to address climate change's health effects. Those universities include Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland, Harvard University, and the University of Nebraska.