A new project, the Zoobiquity Research Initiative, was launched in February in an effort to help University of California Davis veterinary students and University of California Los Angeles medical students work together on projects that affect both animal and human health. Areas of topics will include obesity, geriatrics and environmental toxic exposure.
The conference was attended by more than 200 veterinarians and human physicians to better understand the global and species-spanning nature of illness. The conference was also designed to help forge ways that both veterinary and human medical fields can work together to further medicine, science and research.
“The Zoobiquity conference and the initiative focus on the many similarities, both genetic and physiological, between species, which are vast and often underappreciated,” said Patricia Conrad, DVM, Ph.D., co-director of the U.C. Global Health Institute’s One Health Center and a professor of parasitology at the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Zoobiquity describes “a species-spanning approach to health that draws expertise from veterinary and human medicine—to the advantage of both,” according to Barbara Natterson Horowitz, MD, and Kathryn Bowers, who coined the term.
Dr. Natterson Horowitz is the director of imaging at the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center and associate clinical professor of medicine in the division of cardiology. Bowers is a medical author.
U.C. Davis noted that the conference was part of a university-wide One Health Initiative.
“Veterinary medicine has been at the forefront of comparative medicine, addressing diseases in all species, from aquatic animals to primates,” said Bennie Osburn, DVM, Ph.D., dean of the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
“Our approaches to disease and well-being are similar to those in human medicine. Animals are excellent models for many diseases. Our strategies for the prevention and control of health threats in animals also contribute to human health and food safety, and we also look at disease processes at the environmental-animal-human interfaces.
“The Zoobiquity conference was an important first for highlighting the teamwork of veterinary medicine and human medicine in the overall improvement of health care delivery and solutions to animal and human diseases.”
Case studies illustrated similarities between species such as obsessive-compulsive disorder in a bull terrier and a video store employee; lead poisoning in a California condor and toddlers; a brain tumor in a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog and a retired school guidance counselor; Lyme disease in a thoroughbred horse and mother of three; and salmonella in a farm dog and a reptile collector.
“Solving these problems on an animal level may help prevent the spread of disease, as well as lead to treatments for animals,” Natterson Horowitz said.