by Bryan Slinker, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine
Just last year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health. What an achievement to have built this program. With superb support from donors, the WSU administration and many in the college during very difficult budget times, it went from an idea to a maturing academic program that is making good on its promise and aspirations. It continues to be a point of pride for our college.
Its aspirational mission is to improve the health and economic security of the world’s poorest people, but that is not the whole of its aspirations. The Allen School faculty and staff work in Pullman and in other countries to achieve its mission, and the work they do truly has global benefit, including here at home. It at times is easy to lose sight of the fact that when we speak of “global health,” we include the United States, not just the rest of the globe.
We are part of an increasingly interconnected global community and all of the Allen School programs ultimately benefit our domestic stakeholders too. Improving livestock health, for example, improves social stability in low and middle-income countries because it leads to higher family income that then leads to increased educational achievement, especially for girls. Greater education in a society can help promote regional and international stability. Similarly, combating antimicrobial resistance in sub-Saharan Africa improves not only the lives of those people and animals, but is also necessary for effective control of antimicrobial resistance in the United States. Acting globally is in such ways necessary to achieve many of our important domestic goals.
What we do in the research laboratories here in Pullman, and the disease surveillance conducted by our Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, also helps us solve global issues. Take for example, the work of Dr. Jean Celli, who studies the bacterium that causes the zoonotic disease brucellosis. His research connects to programs to control the disease on the ground in Kenya, and other countries where it remains an important pathogen that causes illness in livestock and humans to a far greater extent than in the United States, where it has been substantially controlled. But the control of Brucellosis in our region depends on surveillance by our Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, which in turn provides guidance and education for developing effective control strategies in other parts of the world.
There are many other examples of work here that impact the lives of people everywhere. In the Pullman-based research laboratory of Dr. Viveka Vadyvaloo, her group studies the plague, another zoonotic disease affecting animals and humans around the world. Similarly, Dr. Leigh Knodler’s lab studies the globally impactful food- and water-borne disease caused by Salmonella. Dr. Jenni Zambriski’s lab conducts research to identify effective treatments for the microscopic parasite Cryptosporidium, which causes diarrheal disease in livestock and people all over the world.
It was because of our college’s outstanding track record in the study of globally important infectious disease that we could credibly aspire to build the Allen School. Most of our infectious disease scientists in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, the School of Molecular Biosciences, and in our long-time USDA Agricultural Research Service collaborator also study globally important pathogens of livestock and people. Your College of Veterinary Medicine, across these many programs working both in Pullman and abroad, continues to make a huge difference. Thank you for your support. Go Cougs!
Dr. Bryan Slinker
Dean WSU College of Veterinary Medicine