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Message from the Director | Spring 2015

Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School and Creighton Chair
Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School and Creighton Chair

Dr. Thumbi Mwangi’s work into connecting livestock health with the health of mothers and their children is at the center of the Allen School’s efforts to reduce the high level of physical and cognitive stunting in African children.  This research will not only identify which interventions are most effective, but the data collected will create the evidence base for broader intervention at community and national levels.  At the Allen School, we believe an interdisciplinary approach is key to solving global issues.  When a major global health priority, such as reducing physical and cognitive stunting, is the goal, a dynamic team of medical anthropologists, epidemiologists, nutritionists, and information technologists, as well as physicians and veterinarians comes together to work toward a common solution.  This type of collaborative work and helping people around the world is the original vision of what the Allen School was created to do.

Guy Palmer
Creighton Endowed Chair and Director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health

Message from the Director | Fall 2014

Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School and Creighton Chair

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

Message from the Director | Summer 2014

http://globalhealth.wsu.edu/images/librariesprovider4/newsletters/Public/summer-2014/connie-niva-w-vaxteam.jpg
Rabies vaccination team in Rebanda, Tanzania. From left, Machunde Bigambo, assistant project manager; Constance Niva, WSU Regent; Dr. Imam Mzimbiri, project manager and veterinarian; and Paulo Tembo, field assistant and mechanic.
Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School and Creighton Chair

 

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

 

Message from the Director | Spring 2014

Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School and Creighton Chair
Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School and Creighton Chair

A global approach to improving health and human opportunity is embedded in the mission of the Allen School. Certainly this underlies our research agenda, which has a major focus on detecting and stopping the global spread of pathogens and antibiotic resistance. This effort is designed to protect health here at home as well as in other countries, where pathogens or resistance traits can arise as a result of close human and animal interaction. There is also a second global approach and that is in our educational mission. Our 57 graduate students, who are earning their master’s or doctoral degrees with an Allen School mentor, come from 22 different countries. The result is a dynamic educational environment that tests previously conceived assumptions about disease transmission and the economic, ecological, and sociological factors that affect the spread of infection. Equally, the unique perspectives of our students, and our faculty, which is also highly international, can provide new approaches to control—evident in one country’s setting but hidden from view in another. My hope, one that I believe is shared by our students, staff, and faculty, is that our “global learning environment” will also create a cohort of young scientists who will continue to work together in the future, perhaps living and working in different countries but united by perspectives and friendships launched in Pullman.

Message from the Director | Fall 2013

Guy Palmer, director of the Allen School and Creighton Chair

The impact of the Allen School and success in meeting its mission will depend on our ability to develop the next generation of leaders in discovery, development, and implementation of innovative global health solutions. As noted in this newsletter, we have taken some key steps towards this goal. The awarding of the first certificates in global animal health at the 2013 WSU College

of Veterinary Medicine commencement reflects the commitment of our staff to achieve formal recognition for the Global Animal Health Pathway and the efforts of the faculty and students to bring it to fruition. This first-of-a-kind program will not only serve our students, but will serve as a model for the development of similar programs globally. Our graduate program continues to grow—over 50 master’s and doctoral students are currently doing research under the mentorship of Allen School faculty members. The demand to enter the program has grown dramatically and the quality of the entering students is unsurpassed. Graduate student achievement continues to be highly recognized—the top three awards in the college’s 2013 Student Research Symposium were awarded to Allen School doctoral students. Similarly, our students and fellows are having an impact nationally with appointments as representatives in leading global health organizations and participation in broad policy forums. All these achievements reflect positively on the support we have received from within and outside the university. Your continued support is deeply appreciated and reinforces our commitment to make a difference.

Guy Palmer Creighton Endowed Chair and Director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health