To Our Health
President Jean Mayer declared early in his tenure that veterinary medicine and nutrition would join medicine and dentistry to create an enviable One Medicine lineup at Tufts. The more current concept of One Health is the integrative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals and the shared environment (modified from the American Veterinary Medical Association).
One Health is thriving nationally, internationally and at Cummings School. In this issue you will read about decades of study at Tufts of a protozoal parasite, Cryptosporidium, that causes diarrhea, especially in children in low- and middle-income countries. Zoonotic diseases like cryptosporidiosis are transmitted from animals to people and have long been recognized as One Health threats. The intensity and impact of these diseases, including ones like Ebola virus, have increased with our highly mobile society and with disruption of environmental barriers that once kept pathogens at bay.
One Health is not only about transmission of infectious diseases. This issue’s article “Like Minds” reveals a career-spanning set of investigations with compelling outcomes. In this case, the One Health interface resides with naturally occurring diseases in animals that provide windows into similar diseases in people. Genetic mechanisms and predispositions are at the root of many diseases, and our breed-specific companion animals, especially dogs, help shed light on these.
More than ever, medical doctors are appreciating the value of One Health in their understanding of human disease—so much so that a key group of medical institutions, including Tufts, funded through the NIH Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSAs), are including veterinary clinician scientists on their translational teams. The recently formed CTSA One Health Alliance comprises 10 veterinary schools and their CTSA medical partners committed to advancing our understanding of diseases shared by humans and animals.
“The Ducks Are Dying” addresses another One Health theme—the intimate relationship between environmental events and the spread of infectious disease. Novel viruses, like the one thought to have caused recent eider duck die-offs, may start in a single species but could spill over to other species to cause pandemics.
In the article “Animal Instinct,” you’ll see that Tufts has also committed to a fourth dimension of One Health related to the importance of human-animal interactions to the health and well-being of people. The new Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction will be a force to watch as our understanding and appreciation of One Health continues to evolve.
All the best,
Deborah Turner Kochevar, D.V.M., PH.D.
Dean and Henry and Lois Foster Professor