On One Health Day, CSU imagines the future of One Health
One Health Day falls on November 3rd each year. This year, Colorado State University is celebrating the renewed efforts of the One Health Institute. Dr. Sue VandeWoude, a University Distinguished Professor and member of the National Academy of Sciences, assumed the position of One Health Institute Director full-time in July 2020. Since then, VandeWoude has been actively developing a new vision for One Health at CSU.
One Health is the idea that the health of animals, people, and the environment is interwoven. Solving complex problems at the intersection of these three health sectors requires systems-thinking organization and transdisciplinary, collaborative action. Taking a One Health approach therefore means creation of collaborative, inclusive teams and processes that connect expertise in human, animal, and environmental issues in order to conduct research in, and find solutions for, One Health problems.
“There has never been a more important time to work in One Health,” notes Vandewoude. “Our world is facing incredibly intricate and immense problems. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unfortunate example of an issue that we think of as affecting human health, but it emerged from human contact with animals associated with specific social and environmental factors, and animals can be infected following contact with humans in certain environments. Specific environmental factors promote viral transmission, and a range of complex social, political, economic, and cultural factors has resulted in enormous diversity in disease expression in different regions. Preventative measures and long-term solutions should be designed with that complexity in mind.”
The One Health Institute wlll be reorganized around two pillars: (1) One Health, One Medicine and (2) Health at the Intersection of Animals, People, and the Environment. These areas reflect the tremendous depth at CSU, engaging expertise across all eight CSU colleges, as well as centers and institutes. The mission of CSU OHI will be to bring together transdisciplinary teams to develop action-oriented solutions to One Health problems in both of these areas, and take advantage of funding and leadership opportunities in a multitude of sectors.
The One Health, One Medicine pillar aims to accelerate translational science by inclusion of natural animal models as a tool for medical and surgical advances. As one of the leading academic veterinary medical centers in the world, and a participant in the CCTSI and CTSA One Health Alliance, CSU is on the forefront of developing “One Medicine” Clinical Trials to evaluate therapies for naturally occurring diseases in veterinary patients that have human analogues – work that proceeds in partnership with human medical doctors and biomedical researchers.
On the other side, the One Health Animals, People, and Environmental pillar tackles critical issues at the intersection of human, animal, and environmental health. Zoonotic disease emergence, food security and antimicrobial resistance, health in indigenous and underserved communities related to relationships to companion, agricultural, or wildlife species, climate change and health, environmental health impacting humans and animals, and human-animal interactions are all addressed via collaborative transdisciplinary teams across CSU and the community.
VandeWoude has started to assemble a new team committed to the growth and success of OHI at CSU. Dr. Lorann Stallones, involved in OHI management prior to VandeWoude’s tenure, is guiding activities within in the Institute, with a particular focus on human-animal interactions. Dr. Claire Tucker, once a graduate research assistant with One Health, has returned as a post-doctoral fellow, organizing work in the One Health, One Medicine space. Three graduate students – Katrina Oselinksy, Leah Sauerwein, and Luke Whitcomb, have recently joined the Institute as student coordinators.
Four faculty-organized research teams launched via OHI pilot grants are nearing the end of their grant period with exciting success:
- Community Engagement Concerning Abandon Mines on the Navajo Nation (Primary Investigator: Gilbert John – College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences)
- Cow as Canaries: Impact of Regional Air Quality on Health (Primary Investigator: Sheryl Magzamen – Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences)
- Colorado Food Project (Primary Investigator: Amanda McQuade – Horticulture and Landscape Architecture)
- Assessing Vector-Borne Disease Risk in an Agricultural Community in Guatemala (Primary Investigator: Gregory Ebel, Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology)
OHI staff completed an outcomes assessment of 2015 and 2019 pilot funding that will be used to inform future pilot opportunities administered through the institute.
Other projects within the Institute span a variety of programmatic areas. The team is working with the City of Fort Collins to design a case-based student competition around affordable housing and urbanization. Communications efforts are focused on telling One Health stories across the university and around the world. The Institute also leads One Health advocacy efforts at the local, state, and national levels.
The One Health Strategic Advisory Committee (OHSAC), comprised of representatives from each college and other stakeholder groups, has been meeting approximately every two months as an advisory board, and an external advisory committee is being populated.
As for the future of the Institute, VandeWoude is excited. “CSU has tremendous depth within the One Health space. We hope to elevate this work and connect it to resources outside of the Institute. As our world faces more complex problems every day, One Health is framework that can shape effective solutions.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Claire Tucker, MPH, DVM