Tag: One Health

Fall Faculty Reception: Celebrating our Past, Honoring Excellence, and Welcoming New Faculty

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

New faculty members Drs. Blythe Jurewicz and Ilana Halperin

During our Fall Faculty Reception, we welcome new faculty, honor current faculty achievements and recognize those that provide exception service to our school. In doing so, it is a good time for us to reflect upon how our school has obtained its international reputation as a leader in veterinary medical education and scientific discovery. While we recognize only a few deserving individuals during these events, we are reminded that the creativity and energy of our faculty and volunteers drives us to address societal issues, create new and fundamental knowledge, and educate the next generation of veterinarians and scientists.

Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe (left), Chief Executive Officer of the AAVMC, visits with Drs. John Pascoe and Isaac Pessah.

Dr. Helen Raybould is honored this year as the Zoetis Excellence in Research Awardee for her outstanding research clarifying the relationship between diet and the gut microbiome, interactions that have been shown to influence obesity and inflammatory responses. Her research has advanced the understanding of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic disorders, as well as led to the identification of new targets to treat and prevent obesity.

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Addressing Societal Needs by Combating Antimicrobial Resistance

“Infectious disease exists at this intersection between real science, medicine, public health, social policy, and human conflict.” – Andrea Barrett

As part of our school’s vision, we seek to address societal needs. In challenging ourselves to this daunting task of working to solve the most vexing problems our world faces, we find our people and programs drawn toward the interface of science, public health, and policy. In opening remarks at the recent G20 Conference, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, praised Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel for recognizing that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major threat to the health of the world’s populations and the future of economies of the many countries.

He indicated that as many as 700,000 people worldwide are already dying each year because of drug-resistant infections and that the cumulative economic cost of AMR will reach 100 trillion dollars by 2050, a cost primarily borne by low and middle income countries. The Secretary-General went on to suggest that “by implementing existing international commitments and recommendations of the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Organization for Animal Health, countries can promote a more appropriate use of antimicrobials in a true ‘One Health’ framework.”

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Passion is the Secret to Success

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” – Swami Sivananda

Our school’s recent #1 rating in the QS World University Rankings for the third year in a row is a reason to celebrate. This honor is a form of validation that brings us praise from around the world and a much-deserved chance to highlight our excellence. We must remind ourselves also that rankings have little to do with our daily motivation or our work habits. These rankings do offer us the chance to shine a light on our achievements and lend us an opportunity to acknowledge those that set the stage for this lofty honor.

So how are these rankings determined and how did we obtain such recognition? Certainly, these types of rankings are based on both subjective and objective data. The scholarly output by our people documents the impact that our discoveries have in the world of veterinary sciences, as well as agricultural and biomedical sciences. Our faculty are driven to produce new knowledge, change paradigms, and challenge dogma. The result of their work opens new doors to basic mechanisms of life’s processes, produces new standards of care for our animal patients, and creates novel findings that build on the foundation of scientific knowledge to advance the health of our world. 

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Scientific Questioning Shines Light in the Darkness

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” –– Albert Einstein

We are privileged to work in an academic environment that promotes questioning of dogma and promotes scientific investigations to create new knowledge to benefit society. We also find ourselves in a time in our nation’s history in which the scientific method may be in disrepute by some of our political leaders. Ideology and “alternative facts” have captured headlines and represent a direct challenge to the role of science as a driver of policy making. As a scientific community, we must now more than ever, focus our attention on how we can contribute evidence-based facts to guide our nation’s direction if we are to contribute to solving the problems in our world. We must lead by example and create new knowledge to serve society and advance the health of animals, people, and the planet we all share.

A good example was the recent UC Davis conference to discuss how academic institutions can help African nations meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of access to clean energy and water, sustainable food production, and healthy lives and well-being. The conference brought together speakers that included Madame Mathilde Mukantabana, ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States, and Ms. Genevieve Maricle, former senior policy advisor to the U.S. ambassador at the U.S. Mission to the U.N.  The conference featured our faculty throughout the day, including Dr. Woutrina Smith, who discussed “Linking Sustainable Development Goals Health Research and Livelihood Improvement: The HALI Project in Tanzania.”

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Global Learning Through Experience

“The world is the true classroom. The most rewarding and important type of learning is through experience, seeing something with our own eyes.” Jack Hanna

Students from Nanjing Agricultural University in China visit UC Davis.

Students from Nanjing Agricultural University in China visit UC Davis.

Our school has a global influence because we engage the world. We have become an institution with broad impact by promoting programs that reach out to address our societal needs across the globe. Our Office for Global Programs, led by Drs. Pat Conrad and Paulina Zielinska, was established to promote, facilitate and support global programs that align with our mission and enhance discovery, while educating future generations of global health leaders. Through our people and programs, ample evidence is accumulating that we are accomplishing these goals.

Just within the past year, joint conferences with our international partners have been supported that link our faculty, staff, and students to academic partners in multiple countries. A recent example included a workshop between the University of Sydney and UC Davis held September 17th to 19th at Lake Tahoe. Through faculty discussions and brainstorming, these types of conferences help align and stimulate ideas that go beyond a single institution and expand educational opportunities for our students.

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Investing in Future Science Stars

“Investing in science education and curiosity-driven research is investing in the future.” – Ahmed Zewail

Last week we held our 11th annual “Stars in Science Day,” highlighting students who have performed research over the past year.  The STAR (Students Training in Advanced Research) program is coordinated through our Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Picture2The program offers funding opportunities on a competitive basis to veterinary students to experience veterinary and biomedical research during the summer months. Research experiences are available at UC Davis and in San Diego through the UC Veterinary Medical Center partnership. For some of the students who attended the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium at The Ohio State University early in August and the California Veterinary Medical Association Pacific Veterinary Conference in June, this was the third time they presented projects. The objective of the STAR program is to identify, nurture, and support veterinary students to experience biomedical, basic, applied and translational research in all its many facets. With guidance from their faculty mentors, students gaining these experiences are becoming leaders that will advance both veterinary medicine and biomedical science to address fundamental issues facing our society.

Picture1Veterinarians trained in research are unique in their comparative understanding of animals and biology, and form a critical bridge between multiple disciplines through their One Health approach to scientific investigations. As the current Zika virus outbreak demonstrates, animal and human diseases do not respect boundaries and can move with vectors, animals, or people across the world in a matter of hours. A comprehensive approach to health must involve highly trained veterinarians who are comfortable interacting with physicians, public health officials, and the many other disciplines important to form an effective approach to prevent or control diseases.

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One Health Approach Needed to Advance Society’s Health

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Researchers with the PREDICT program in Tanzania, testing bats for disease that could spread to humans.

Researchers with the PREDICT program in Tanzania, testing bats for disease that could spread to humans.

Almost daily, as a society, we experience the connection and consequences between the health of humans, animals and the environment. The Zika virus — carried by mosquitoes and spreading in many regions of the world — is suspected of causing thousands of human birth defects in Brazil and was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. As much as 75 percent of new or re-emerging diseases affecting humans are of animal origin.

New infectious diseases, climate change, and a moving political landscape are some of the changes that veterinarians, physicians, scientists and other health and environmental professionals must adapt to in meeting these global challenges. That’s where we know the emerging approach known as “One Health” comes in, uniting these professionals in many parts of the world to address complex problems that recognize the vast interrelationships between human, animal and environmental health.

Dr. Brian Bird (Ph.D. '08, DVM '09) outside an Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone, with a group of kids who had recovered from the virus and were celebrating their discharge.

Dr. Brian Bird (Ph.D. ’08, DVM ’09) outside an Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone, with a group of kids who had recovered from the virus and were celebrating their discharge.

One Health harnesses the power of collaborative expertise to solve the pressing issues we face in our mobile society. For example, early detection and prevention of the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa in 2014 was aided by a team of UC Davis investigators, including veterinarians. This was not the case in a later African outbreak, where a less timely response allowed the virus to spread in other parts of the world. In the 1990s, the first cases of mad cow disease in cattle in the United Kingdom and West Nile virus in birds were first detected or confirmed by astute veterinary pathologists who understood the One Health approach.

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A Vision for our Future

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare

Dean Michael Lairmore listens to a speaker at this year's commencement ceremony.

Dean Michael Lairmore listens to a speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony.

As I begin my second term as dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, I am humbled and honored to continue to lead an institution that is the global leader in veterinary medicine. Our vision over the next five years will undoubtedly continue to be guided by the desire to lead veterinary medicine and address societal needs. As we advance the health of animals, people, and the environment, we must continue to examine how we can refine our goals and tactics if we are to remain a world leader.

Blanca Camacho, a 2016 graduate, checks on a dog prepared for treatment with the linear accelerator.

Blanca Camacho, a 2016 graduate, checks on a dog prepared for treatment with the linear accelerator.

To continue to educate leaders in veterinary medicine in all its many facets, we will need to seek out ways to diversify our faculty, staff, and students to fully reflect our society. We must continue to expand our innovative programs to recruit students who are both academically strong, but also reflect the demographics of the society they seek to serve. They cannot all be focused on one career path, but be trained in and willing to serve in the vast array of careers offered to veterinarians and scientists with unique biomedical knowledge and skills. Our faculty must be leaders in their fields, to maintain our leadership position in research, education, and service, but also reflect the diversity of our society.

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Era of Change for Veterinary Medicine

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” – Napoleon Hill

STAR postersWe live in a world that constantly changes, challenging us to evolve with it. Our school is undergoing such a transformation, reflected in improvements in our medicine and science, new educational models, and students challenging learning paradigms. In our daily lives outside of work we observe economic, environmental, and societal forces seemingly beyond our control. New infectious diseases, climate change, and a moving political landscape are a few examples of change to which we must adapt, today and in the future.

A recent report from the University of California, Office of the President (UCOP), is focused on the future of veterinary medicine, and projects an “Era of Change.” I would encourage all of you to read the report and reflect on its findings and recommendations. Veterinary medicine, biomedical and agricultural sciences are in a dynamic period of change that will bring new opportunities and challenges to all of us. The UCOP report illustrates current veterinary workforce data and future opportunities that will help guide the University of California forward to enhance the health sciences workforce. The report illustrates the critical role that veterinarians have in addressing the health needs in our society as well as the leadership position of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

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