William Sischo has been awarded a USDA-NIFA grant of $2.2 million for his project “Integrating Biology, Psychology, and Ecology to Mitigate Antibiotic Resistance in Food Animal Production Systems.” Drs. Douglas Call, Margaret Davis and Dale Moore are co-PIs on the project.
Douglas Call was named a fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Matt Sammons (’16 DVM) won first place in the 2014 Zoobiquity Conference student poster competition held November 1 in Seattle. Sammons’s poster was titled “One House-One Health approach to childhood growth and development: Identifying and resetting high-risk household gut microbiomes.” He is a student in the Global Animal Health Professional Certificate Program and is mentored by Dr. Douglas Call.
In rural Kenyan villages where few families have electricity or indoor plumbing, a surprising technology helps researchers study the health of animals and people: the cell phone.
Families who are part of the population-based animal syndromic surveillance project, or PBASS, use their cell phones to call a veterinarian toll free when an animal is sick. More than 70 percent of families participating in the survey have cell phones; only three percent are connected to the electricity grid.
“Mobile telephony is actually very well developed in most of Africa, especially in Kenya,” says Thumbi Mwangi, clinical assistant professor in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, who has been collecting data since the survey began in February 2013.
The Ebola virus outbreak in west Africa has been a painful reminder about the importance of investing in infectious disease prevention, early detection, and prompt control—three areas central to the Allen School mission. The outbreak shows the need to better understand not only the virus itself, but also the inadequate disease detection and response capacity in vulnerable regions, and a lack of trust in health interventions within the affected communities. The virus, named for the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is zoonotic (meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans). In this case, bats were most likely the animal source of the virus. Understanding its origin and how it spread to humans in the first place will be essential for targeting early detection. But the inadequate human resources and infrastructure for detection and response are not disease specific. Investment in detection and response will be effective across the board and allow early control of any emerging or reemerging disease, including the Ebola virus, before it can spread to neighboring countries and then globally.
The Allen School is already working to improve disease detection in Africa. Dr. Terry McElwain is an international expert in zoonotic disease detection systems and has devoted much of the last year to developing a capacity-strengthening plan in east Africa. We are also working to create positive relationships between public health scientists and communities. This requires engagement in their day-to-day challenges, not just when a new disease outbreak occurs. The article you will read in this issue by Dr. Thumbi Mwangi, an Allen School professor based in Kenya, illustrates the level of engagement and the trust it develops. On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the Allen School—across the globe—I thank you for your continued support.
Guy Palmer Creighton Endowed Chair and Director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health
Dr. Michelle (Shelley) McGuire, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, is a new affiliate faculty member in the Allen School. Shelley’s expertise is related to human nutrition during the lifecycle, especially during lactation and infancy.
Dr. Mohammad Obaidat, professor of food safety and zoonotic diseases at Jordan University of Science and Technology, visited Dr. Margaret Davis’s lab to learn techniques for genotyping bacterial pathogens. Dr. Obaidat is conducting field studies in Jordan to assess antimicrobial resistance in dairy cattle and small ruminants.
Congratulations to doctoral students Quan Liu and Jackie Stone who were each awarded a one-year, $24,780 Poncin Scholarship to study the Nipah virus. Liu and Stone work with Dr. Hector Aguilar-Carreno, assistant professor in the Allen School.
Paul Ervin, a graduate student in the School of Economic Sciences, was awarded a $15,000 grant with the United Nations Development Programme. Ervin, who works with Dr. Jon Yoder, will research the economics consequences of dengue fever in Paraguay.
It’s the last Thursday in August and today I am having the Kisumu County medical epidemiologist, Dr. Dickens Onyango, accompany me for a field visit to the Allen School research projects in the Lwak area, by the shores of Lake Victoria. At about 8 a.m., Dickens and I meet up at the West mall, the newest mall in Kisumu, where we quickly grab coffee and set off in one of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) field trucks. Our first stop is 14 kilometers north at the KEMRI Kisian Campus, a beautiful campus with neatly-manicured lawns and rows of well-aligned and mature umbrella trees providing a welcoming cool calm of shade.
Here we only get to exchange a few morning greetings with colleagues, before being joined by Dr. Elkanah Otiang, a young energetic field veterinarian who will often be heard belting a hearty often loud, but pleasant laugh. Elkanah doesn’t like to spend time at his desk, and will find every reason to be in the field talking with farmers and treating their animals. He has a team of 15 animal health assistants and community interviewers that work directly under him in the field, and who are involved in the collection of invaluable surveillance data for the Allen School and its partners.
Meeting the global health mission of the Allen School—one that extends from basic science discovery to assessing the health and socioeconomic outcomes of interventions—requires continual strategic evaluation of our project portfolio. How can we best focus our resources to achieve and sustain global impact? Fortunately, we have been able to call on a wealth of talent and experience to provide us with perspective and advice. An important aspect of this guidance has been those individuals who have dedicated their time and expense to observe and review our global programs. In addition to the program officers at the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, notably Dr. Kathy Richmond, College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Bryan Slinker, practicing veterinarian and WSU Trustee Dr. Kyle Frandle, and WSU Vice President for Government Relations Colleen Kerr, have traveled to Africa to meet with key partners, review programs on the ground, and provide forward guidance. Most recently, the immediate past-chair of the Board of Regents, Constance (Connie) Niva, joined Allen School faculty in Kenya and Tanzania to help assess ongoing programs as diverse as rabies vaccination and elimination strategies as part of the Serengeti Health Initiative, the impact of livestock health on availability of protein to improve maternal and child nutrition in western Kenya, and the role of the environment as a reservoir and transmission pathway for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Connie’s experience and strategic thinking in higher education were especially valuable to strengthen and extend the current partnerships between WSU (both the Allen School and the WSU Carson College of Business) and the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology. Her visit and engagement clearly signaled WSU’s commitment to improving the role of the Mandela Institution in addressing societal priorities and helping prepare the next generation of east African scientists to meet those challenges. On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the Allen School, I thank you for your support and advice and look forward to further input and engagement by our friends and stakeholders.
Guy Palmer Creighton Endowed Chair and Director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health
Drs. Terry McElwain, Felix Lankester, Barb Martin, and Tim Baszler are working on a project funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to develop a disease surveillance system plan in Tanzania. Improved surveillance can reduce the spread of emerging and existing diseases, benefitting animal and human health.
Allen School faculty members Drs. Jon Yoder and Felix Lankester will collaborate on a project in northern Tanzania led by Dr. Sarah Cleaveland of the University of Glasgow, titled “Social, Economic and Environmental Drivers of Zoonoses.” Researchers will collect information from peri-urban and pastoral communities that have very different livestock systems. The project will assess how zoonotic diseases (such as brucellosis, Q fever and Rift valley fever that affect human and livestock health), impact people’s health, livelihoods, and economic well-being. The goals of the project are to identify ways to reduce the transmission of zoonotic pathogens from livestock to people and to improve the well-being of household and communities.
Representing the Allen School, Dr. Guy Palmer attended the Queen’s Anniversary Prize dinner at Guildhall in February at the request of the principal of the University of Glasgow, Professor Anton Muscatelli. The University of Glasgow was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for the achievements of researchers at its Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health. The Allen School is collaborating on several projects with the Boyd Orr Centre addressing the health of ecosystems, humans, domestic animals, and wildlife.
Congratulations to Drs. Tomasina Lucia (’14 DVM), Aja Senestraro (’14 DVM), Shawna Wedde (’14 DVM), and Brittany Beavis (’14 DVM), who all earned a DVM from the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine and a professional certificate in global animal health from the WSU Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.
Kudos to Carson Sakamoto (’17 DVM), Matt Sammons (’16 DVM), and Claire Jackson (’17 DVM) who have each been awarded a WSU College of Veterinary Medicine Summer 2014 Research Fellowship! The funds will be used to support their work with Allen School faculty members. Carson will be conducting research with Dr. Jean Celli on Brucella, a bacteria found in cattle that causes the zoonotic disease brucellosis. Matt will be traveling to Kenya to work with Dr. Douglas Call on antimicrobial resistance. Claire will work with Dr. Margaret Davis on E. coli bacterial resistance.
Congratulations to Matt Sammons (’16 DVM) and Carolynn Fitterer (’16 DVM) who were accepted to the Global Animal Health Pathway program! Matt will be conducting research on antimicrobial resistance with Dr. Douglas Call and Carolynn will be working with Dr. Gretchen Kaufman to evaluate the effect of goat health on community health in Indonesia.