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New director takes reins with Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses

Prof. Jan Sargeant, Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, Univerity of GuelphFocus and leadership around public health at the animal-human-interface has defined the University of Guelph’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses (CPHAZ) since its inception in 2006.

Under the leadership of founding director Dr. Jan Sargeant, CPHAZ has grown from the concept stage to the collaborative centre it is today.
 
After 11 years leading the Centre, Sargeant, an epidemiologist in OVC’s Department of Population Medicine, concludes her tenure as CPHAZ director at the end of March. 
 
OVC Pathobiology professor Scott Weese, an infectious disease expert and Canada Research Chair in Zoonotic Disease, will begin a five-year term as director on April 1.
 
Created in recognition of existing strengths at the Ontario Veterinary College and the University of Guelph in animal-related aspects of public health, the goals and strategic directions of CPHAZ are focused around three broad areas - research, education, and knowledge dissemination. A key strength are the extensive collaborations of CPHAZ members with external researchers and partners.
 
A yearly symposium brings together individuals with an interest in one or many pillars of public health and zoonotic disease through presentations and posters on new research, emerging diseases, technology developments and more.
 
Prof. Scott Weese, Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph.“CPHAZ supports a collaborative and multidisciplinary One Health approach to address public health challenges at the human-animal-environmental interface,” says OVC Dean Jeff Wichtel. “Jan has done a tremendous job establishing CPHAZ and building strategic collaborations and initiatives. I look forward to continuing this important work with Scott as he steps into this role.”
 
Sargeant brought expertise as a veterinary scientist, epidemiologist and food safety expert to her role as director. Her main areas of work, zoonoses and microbial food safety, both fit under the concept of One Health. She is also recognized as a global leader of systematic reviews and of reporting guidelines in animal health, animal welfare and food safety.
 
"I have really enjoyed my time as CPHAZ director, working with an amazing group of dedicated scientists with a broad range of interests in animal-related aspects of public health. I look forward to continuing to be involved in CPHAZ as it moves forward under Scott's leadership,” says Sargeant.
 
Weese has been a part of CPHAZ since its inception of CPHAZ and has seen it evolve from “Do we need a centre?” discussions to where CPHAZ is today. He is a leading researcher on two important zoonotic pathogens— methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as “MRSA,” and Clostridium difficile—as well as other established and emerging pathogens. By simultaneously studying people, animals and food, Weese’s research team is learning about the frequency of and factors associated with transmissions of infectious diseases from animals to humans.
 
“It’s an exciting time in the public health and zoonoses realm, and CPHAZ is well positioned to be an important contributor,” says Weese. “We have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in important and prominent subject areas, and we can continue to have an impact in scientific education, communication with partners and fostering scientific literacy in the general public.”
 
Learn more about the CPHAZ Annual Symposium being held May 30, 2019 at the University of Guelph. Topics include One Health, food safety, antimicrobial resistance, Lyme disease, public health and much more.
 
(Top photo: Prof. Jan Sargeant, Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph)
(Bottom photo: Prof. Scott Weese, Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph)