Environmental Factor, December 2009, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Dearry Speaks at One Health Summit
By Thaddeus Schug
The newly formed One Health Commission - a collaborative group of health science experts representing human, animal and ecosystem disciplines - held a groundbreaking summit on November 17 at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, D.C. Allen Dearry, Ph.D. (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/od/deputy/osim/index.cfm), a senior advisor at NIEHS, gave an oral presentation at the summit that was designed to raise awareness of the importance of transcending institutional and disciplinary boundaries to improve health outcomes for all species. Dearry's presentation, "NIEHS Perspective on One Health," emphasized a need to bridge the gap between scientific disciplines and institutions to monitor, diagnose, treat, prevent and control the spread of disease.
Dearry illustrated how environmental events, such as habitat destruction, pollution and climate change, can alter biological systems and heighten the risks of emerging transmittable diseases between animal and human populations. He noted that collaborative efforts between NIEHS and the National Science Foundation (NSF) (http://www.nsf.gov/) have been successful in understanding and forecasting potential public health problems. "For example," Dearry said, "using in-water sensors, genomics and modeling systems, researchers were able to predict development of red tide outbreaks on the Massachusetts coast and alert health officials, thereby reducing economic and health-related impacts."
Dearry concluded his presentation by outlining the challenges and opportunities facing the One Health Commission (http://www.onehealthcommission.org/) . He said it was important to overcome institutional and disciplinary barriers and to improve communication between the public and medical health communities. He also mentioned that the One Health Commission should aim to develop a concrete research agenda, but pointed out that One Health offers opportunities to provide more holistic approaches to health programs and the potential to integrate institutional resources to solve health issues.
Other presenters included Doug O'Brien, J.D., senior advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Roger Mahr, D.V.M., chief executive officer of the One Health Commission; Rear Admiral Ali Khan, M.D., acting director of the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne and Enteric Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., principal deputy commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Angela Kreps, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Bioscience Organization. Rear Admiral Bill Stokes, D.V.M., director of the NIEHS National Toxicology Program (NTP) Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM) (http://iccvam.niehs.nih.gov/about/about_NICEATM.htm), also attended the summit as a representative of NIEHS.
An audio webcast and photos of Dearry's presentation and panel participation are available at the NAS Office of News and Public Information (http://www.nationalacademies.org/newsroom/) .
(Thaddeus Schug, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research fellow in the NIEHS Laboratory of Signal Transduction.)