Winter 2014

To Our Collective Health

Dean KochevarHumans and animals both benefit when veterinarians and physicians work together.

At a conference at Rockefeller University in New York City in November, the audience included these and other health-care professionals. The purpose was to share insights about the health and well-being of animals and humans within the context of ongoing research. Cosponsored by Rockefeller University and the Bronx Zoo, in partnership with the Animal Medical Center, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, this was the third in a series based on the popular book Zoobiquity, written by medical cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and co-author Kathryn Bowers.

Conference attendees—among them students and faculty from the Cummings School—were energized by the interprofessional (or “One Health”) discussions about disorders that afflict animals and humans, including cancer, cognitive dysfunction, infectious disease, neurodegenerative deficiencies and eating disorders, as copresented by Cummings’ own Dr. Lisa Freeman. These discussions were evidence-based and highlighted the tremendous value of comparing and contrasting what we and our medical colleagues understand, or don’t, about disease.

At events like these, veterinarians sometimes find themselves speaking primarily to other veterinarians—the One Health choir, as it were. A gratifying feature of this conference was the near-equal mix of physicians and veterinarians. We do well to remember that the themes highlighted at this meeting included those One-Medicine principles upon which the veterinary schools at Tufts University, the University of Pennsylvania and selected other universities were founded. Having veterinary and medical students learn together during portions of their preclinical study acknowledges comparative medicine as a worthy goal, but one that, decades later, has never been fully realized. Today, the veterinary and medical professions continue working to break down interprofessional silos in ways that benefit our patients through a mutual understanding of health and disease.

In Massachusetts, we are privileged to share an extraordinary intellectual environment with our medical colleagues and are finding ways to work together. For example, the National Institutes of Health recently awarded a major Clinical Translational Science grant to Tufts and a network of partners. One of the two signature programs highlighted in this successful project is One Health.

In this issue of Tufts Veterinary Medicine, you will read about the many facets of One Health, including the activities of researchers investigating immune function relevant to animals and people, as well as the burgeoning field of human-animal interactions and the positive impact they have on our own happiness and health.

Please enjoy these stories. And thank you for all you do to support the clinical care, teaching and research that we do at the Cummings School.

Deborah Turner Kochevar, D.V.M., Ph.D., is the dean and Henry and Lois Foster Professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

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