Collaborating on One Health

When Dr. Claire Andreasen stepped down as the associate dean of academic and student affairs in the College of Veterinary Medicine she began life away from one of the most time-demanding jobs in the college.

Her new position will return Dr. Andreasen to a focus area that also continues to impact the future of the college and veterinary medicine in general.

As the director of the college’s One Health initiative, Andreasen’s focus has changed from working with academic and student issues on a daily basis to prioritizing her time to the enhancement of the health and well-being of animals and human beings.

“One Health has been a priority for the college for a long time and the college has a good foundation already built,” said Andreasen, a professor of veterinary pathology. “My goal is to further the networking and collaboration between faculty and staff in our college with our colleagues not only at Iowa State University but at other universities and industry partners across the globe.”

The College of Veterinary Medicine has a long history of engagement with One Health. The annual One Health Lecture, presented in honor of Dr. Roger Mahr (’71) is held annually on campus each spring.

The college’s curriculum supports the One Health initiative and the college has long standing collaborations to improve animal and human health.

But Andreasen says much more needs to be done in this area and she is working to bring researchers and investigators together.

“There are grand challenges ahead for us,” she said. “We, as veterinarians or physicians or medical researchers, can’t solve problems with just one discipline. We have to work to bring people together and help people make more connections.

“That is how the health and well-being of both animals and humans will be improved and enhanced.”

Andreasen also is planning to assist and facilitate research teams who are applying for major grants including those from the National Institutes of Health.

The challenge of connecting College of Veterinary Medicine faculty with Iowa State researchers is more evident because of the increased number of new faculty members both in the college and at the university. “We have to attempt to get people to talk and engage in common interests,” Andreasen said.

Another challenge Andreasen and One Health faces is the visibility One Health gets among human medicine and medical researchers. While the initiative has been a priority of veterinary colleges across the globe, human medicine colleges have been slower to react.

“One Health just hasn’t been emphasized as much in the human medicine curriculum as we have done in veterinary schools,” Andreasen said. “But that’s beginning to change as emerging diseases such as the Zika virus and West Nile have become more prevalent.

“The increased levels of transportation has changed the ability of these, and other diseases to move rapidly across the globe.”

Andreasen believes great things can be accomplished with One Health at Iowa State.

“Every week there is something new happening in the area of One Health,” she said. “We hope to build on our strengths and continue to move forward.”