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New Institute at U of G will Focus on One Health

Photo of hands holding the earth (Istock image credit:ipopba)From heading off the next global pandemic to improving food security in Canada’s North, tackling some of humanity’s most pressing health problems is the purpose of a new research and teaching institute being launched at the University of Guelph.

The new One Health Institute (OHI) approved this week by the U of G Senate will bring together researchers from across campus along with external partners to address key multidisciplinary challenges and inform public policy involving the health of humans, animals and the environment.

Long promoted at U of G as an interdisciplinary approach to promoting health and curbing infectious diseases, One Health aims to tackle problems at what Jeff Wichtel, dean of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), calls the intersection of people, animals and the environment.

Looking at how those three components interact is key to stemming many emerging vector-borne ailments such as Lyme disease or combatting the growing health threat posed by drug-resistant microbes, said Wichtel, who will chair a planned OHI advisory board.

“We cannot solve problems in antimicrobial resistance without professionals working together, bringing their perspectives on animals, humans and environmental aspects.”

OHI researchers may help in understanding how northern permafrost thaw under climate change may threaten water quality, alter wildlife habitat and disrupt food access – elements that influence food security, disease prevalence and northern ways of living, he added.

“This institute offers a new research and academic platform to promote One Health as an important vehicle to solve intractable problems. It will help us solve complex problems at the intersection that cannot be solved by one discipline alone. Society needs people thinking across disciplines.”

Charlotte Yates, provost and vice-president (academic), said, “The One Health Institute will provide a platform to spur collaboration among many of our most successful researchers and will create synergies among existing centres and initiatives, including the Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, the Guelph Institute for Development Studies and the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance.”

She said “the mission of the One Health Institute is to enhance and promote academic, research and outreach programs to propel the University of Guelph to the forefront of One Health scholarship internationally.”

The institute will involve researchers from all U of G colleges, with new programming under way in OVC, the College of Biological Science (CBS) and the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences (CSAHS).

The OHI will strengthen connections across disciplines and connect experts in varied fields in new collaborations, said Cate Dewey, associate vice-president (academic).

“This community of practice will bring together faculty from across campus interested in doing One Health research and teaching,” said Dewey, appointed as the institute’s interim director for three years.

Read the entire news release on the University of Guelph website

(Image - Istock credit: ipopba)