Population Medicine Open House - Mikayla Ringelberg

On July 8, 2020, I attended the Population Medicine Department’s Open House virtually where Dr. Stephen LeBlanc, Dr. Jane Parmley, and Dr. Charlotte Winder spoke about their research. Dr. Stephen LeBlanc mentioned unlike other departments have a greater focused on specific areas like biology, the population medicine department has a greater scope of research projects that applies epidemiology tools t o collaborate on projects.

Dr. Stephen LeBlanc discussed his research on reproductive health of dairy cows. This was a very interesting and applicable topic for me as I live on a dairy farm. His research focus is understanding how nutrition, metabolism, behaviour and environment plays a role in the dairy cow’s ability to regulate their immune response. He gave a particularly interesting perspective to understand just how hard cows work – it is equivalent to running two marathons every day. Not surprisingly, after calving all cows have a heightened non-specific inflammatory response, but cows that have reproductive diseases showed elevated inflammation days, weeks, and even up to a month before disease was even detected. One of the key take home messages and a good reminder is that as much as we know about a topic such as reproductive health, there is always more to learn, and outcomes will not always go as expected.

Dr. Jane Parmley discussed the topic of One Health ranging from antimicrobial resistance, emerging zoonotic diseases, the drivers that influence health, and the interconnections between humans, animals, and the environment. Although there are many definitions, One Health is both a concept and an approach and needs a broad view along with collaborative effort of many disciplines to reach effective resolutions. She discussed how students, either as undergraduates or graduates, can get involved in One Health programs.

Lastly, Dr. Charlotte Winder does epidemiology research on calves, animal welfare research with a focus on positive aspects/well-being of animals, and pain control in cattle. An interesting point was made about the need for veterinarians, physicians, and producers to have solid evidence when making clinical and management decisions. The example was an article discussing children with respiratory tract infections and the role of clinician’s gut feeling when prescribing antibiotic in response to the perceived severity of the child’s condition. Antibiotics or stronger antibiotics were more likely to be prescribed when there was a bad gut feeling about infection, but it was found that this was not associated with the outcome or development of a more severe illness.

A big thank you to the OVC Summer CORE program for hosting all of these virtual activities.