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Health / Safety

One Health event focuses on science at the juncture of human, animal, and environmental health

October 14, 2013
by Coleman Cornelius

At a CSU colloquium on Global One Health this month, President Tony Frank reminded an audience of his academic background in veterinary pathology and toxicology, and he admitted knowledge in these fields recently had him sleepless in Italy.

While visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Madera, Italy, Frank lay awake pondering the site’s history: Humans have lived there since the Palaeolithic period, when they settled in a cave in tight quarters with livestock to use the same water source.

“These were ideal conditions for virtually every infectious disease pathogen, and over the centuries most of them have taken advantage of that – from the plague, during the time of the Black Death, to a cholera epidemic as recently as 62 years ago,” Frank said during his keynote remarks at CSU’s International Colloquium on Global One Health.

“If you’re an infectious disease pathologist, sleeping in one of those caves causes one’s mind to wander,” he added wryly.

Helping animals, people, and the planet

The campus colloquium featured 12 panel sessions, more than five dozen panelists, and drew about 1,000 people to discuss collaborative research aimed at optimal health for people, animals, and the environment.

Infectious disease outbreaks – especially those triggered when pathogens spread from animals to people – remain serious health concerns worldwide and provide an excellent example of One Health opportunities to focus scientific efforts on “feeding the world while advancing human, animal, and ecosystem health,” Frank said. (Watch his One Health address here)

Infectious disease likewise is a One Health subject in which CSU has notable expertise, demonstrated in its teaching, research, and clinical service. Add to that radiological science, global food production, ecosystem health, and other interdisciplinary concerns at the juncture of human, animal, and environmental health, and it’s clear that the university has a distinct advantage in contributing to the burgeoning One Health scientific movement.

International Colloquium on Global One HealthOne Health initiative

The One Health concept has simmered for decades in scientific circles. It has gained steam since 1997, when the American Medical Association and American Veterinary Medical Association together endorsed the worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care.

The International Colloquium on Global One Health, held Oct. 1-3, was designed as a concrete first step to better understand how CSU investigators in a variety of disciplines across campus can join forces to launch an ongoing CSU One Health initiative.

Frank challenged invited guests at a colloquium dinner to take action on the One Health promise of providing an integrated approach to public health.

“We need to move beyond thinking and talking to the One Health battlefield,” he said. “How do we move forward from here and build action on the foundation of good intentions?”

CSU's role in Global One Health

The International Colloquium on Global One Health was the fourth such campus meeting sponsored by the CSU Office of International Programs. Other sponsors were the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

College Dean Mark Stetter has taken a lead in pursuing One Health opportunities at CSU, Frank noted.

“The great success of the International Colloquium on Global One Health was that it served as a major step forward for our campus-wide discussion about the role of the One Health concept at CSU,” said Jim Cooney, vice provost for International Affairs.