Mon, 2020/12/07 - 2:01pm
What is One Health, and how might an education or career in human and veterinary medicine, engineering or social sciences lead to it?
The One Health approach applies the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health by bringing experts from many sectors and fields to work together to solve complex health problems.
The integration of veterinary medicine into human health and safety is an important element of One Health, as well as a major focus for Dr. Deb Stark, Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) class of 1982, and former Deputy Minister in the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Stark was one of the panelists in a recent webinar highlighting professional and research opportunities in One Health, part of the University of Guelph’s “A Place to Grow” exhibit at the 2020 Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience.
Throughout her career, Stark applied her veterinary expertise to address complex human health issues, especially during her time working for the Ontario government. Through this experience, Stark shared, “I learned that if you have a big, complicated problem, the best thing you can do is bring a whole group of experts to the table and try to sort it out.” This speaks to the importance of the One Health approach and its ability to address some of the most wicked, real-world challenges we face today.
Panelists also emphasized the flexibility of a degree within the One Health sphere, as the multifaceted nature of One Health provides a wide range of career opportunities.
Prof. Heather Murphy, in OVC’s Department of Pathobiology, began her career as a water treatment engineer and is embarking on a different stream of research to examine the impact of agricultural practices on animal, environment and human health.
Murphy believes that this change in direction for her career was due to the incredible flexibility of education and professional pathways within the scope of One Health, and she advises students that it is nearly impossible to choose the wrong field of study as long as you are passionate about the field.
Similarly, One Health research opportunities are widely available and quite versatile. Prof. Travis Steffens, in U of G’s College of Social and Applied Human Sciences Department of Sociology and Anthropology, is currently researching primate conservation biogeography and its linkage to human activity.
Steffens believes that research opportunities in One Health are expansive. He suggests that projects only focusing on one or two areas of study can build towards a One Health approach that holistically considers all the possible human, animal, and environmental health implications of a research project.
This sentiment is similarly held by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre microbiologist, Dr. Samira Mubareka.
As a medical doctor, Mubareka recognizes the importance of animal and environmental health to her field of study. She has worked on SARS-CoV-2 research since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and believes that a One Health approach will be vital to human health and recovery in this challenging time.
SARS-CoV-2 research is just one example of a real-world problem that is currently being addressed using a One Health research approach. Mubareka emphasizes that the scope of research projects and careers available to a One Health practitioner is massive, and that working with someone from outside your field of study can be one of the most interesting learning experiences possible.
The “Plants, and Animals, and Humans, Oh My!” panel, was moderated by Prof. Jeff Wichtel, Dean of the U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College, as part of the University of Guelph’s “A Place to Grow” exhibit at the 2020 Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience.
To learn more about careers in One Health, watch a recording of the panel.
U of G’s exhibit includes seven booths featuring themes including One Health, healthy animals and productive farms, a secure and healthy food supply, and science for a sustainable future.
Learn about research and new educational opportunities in One Health through the One Health area in the exhibit and on the University of Guelph’s One Health website.
The Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience is free and open to everyone. Register on the Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience registration page.