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Roundtable – Leadership: One Health Initiatives

Round table discussion
Leadership: One Health Initiatives
July 23, 11:20 am session
Moderator: Chris Beuoy, Illinois
Other schools represented: Florida, Tufts, Wisconsin, Western U of Health Sciences

What is One Health?

Most of the discussion in our session centered on what historically has been called “comparative”* (or more recently “translational”) medicine, in which research for animal populations also has relevance, whether directly or secondarily, for human medicine. We also noted that “one health” is referred to in relation to zoonotic infectious diseases transmitted between species. At Wisconsin “one health” has always been part of the school’s identity, and there are strong ties with other (human) health professions on campus and elsewhere. Western, being on a campus with 8 other health professions, also promotes “one health” in its educational model, in which students from all colleges participate in a problem-based learning model. Illinois defines “one health” as having a strong environmental health component in addition to human and animal health.


Donors: We talked about what audiences would respond to the “one health” theme, noting that a large segment of animal-focused donors are simply not interested in human health, while other donors may actually give to human medical causes over veterinary ones because more prestige is associated with those causes. One participant advised including “one health” in conversation with donors to see if there was a spark of interest before pursuing. Tufts held a “one health” event for donors and got a disappointing turnout; also, the speaker was boring. Wisconsin placed a high-powered researcher on the lineup of a campus foundation donor luncheon and got great feedback; however, it is difficult to convey to the foundation the concept that faculty from the vet school have relevant human health research to crow about.
On campus: While the “one health” concept unites health professions, participants cited anecdotes indicating development staff have problems with “sharing” programs and, more to the point, prospective donors across unit divisions. At Wisconsin, the human cancer center featured the veterinary cancer program in one of its publications recently—an example of good cross-unit partnerships. An example of a cross-unit gift that worked included funding for veterinary research within a larger pediatric cardiology program at Florida.

*RE: “comparative medicine”: It was noted that this means different things to the veterinary (= cross-species) and human medical (basic à clinical) fields.

Policy makers/state and federal funders: This audience was key for most of us. Many schools had “one health” funding related to homeland security (RESPOND). Similarly, the joint DVM-MPH degree programs were successful in attracting scholarships.  

Alumni: While the “one health” message was important to all our colleges, most of us felt it would not be a message that resonated too strongly with alumni.

General public:   Areas of strong overlap between veterinary and human health initiatives include obesity (fat kids, parents, pets), food safety, ovarian cancer, infectious disease outbreaks. One concern that arises here is that the use of animals in research has the potential for being immediately negatively perceived, especially in relation to veterinary medicine (where it might be acceptable in human medicine). The negative reaction is even greater when the animals used are pet species. The public cannot distinguish animal research done at other campus units from the work of the vet school on the same campus.

Our group then talked about issues related to messaging about the use of animals in research, and that was it for One Health. J

Side note:

Illinois held a series of talks on “one health” issues in spring 2013 on campus and (for two of the four) repeated in the Chicago area (at Brookfield Zoo).  The topics were designed to be very relevant to the general public and to have the effect of educating the public of the many little-known ways that veterinary professionals play a role in  human health and “one health” areas. A link to the lecture series is here: http://vetmed.illinois.edu/ope/onehealth/

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