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.
The Allen School and the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine are two of the sponsors for this year’s Zoobiquity Conference to be held Saturday, November 1, in Seattle. The theme is “Environment and Health,” with a focus on health issues that people and animals share. WSU faculty will be some of the featured speakers at this event. The afternoon includes walking rounds at the Woodland Park Zoo with presentations at various exhibits including seasonal affective disorder and geriatrics (gorillas), obesity (bears), BRCA gene breast cancer (jaguars), and zoonotic TB and uterine leiomyoma (elephants). Zoobiquity stems from the idea that although animals and people get many of the same diseases, physicians and veterinarians don’t often consult with one another. It calls for an interdisciplinary approach to health issues shared across species.
Bacteria can do something remarkable. They can share genes. So, if one bacterium is resistant to a particular antibiotic, such as tetracycline, it can pass that resistant gene to another bacterium. That bacterium will become resistant and can pass its resistant gene to another bacterium. And they can keep the resistance for a long time, which allows antibiotic resistance to spread widely.
This highly adaptable behavior, while good for bacterial survival, poses a major risk to human health. Treatments for common infections are becoming ineffective in some parts of the world according to a recent report by the World Health Organization. Globally there are already very high rates of antibiotic resistance for urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
Standard recommendations to reduce antibiotic resistance include using antibiotics only when medically necessary. The FDA recently released guidelines to discontinue the use of antibiotics in food animals who are not showing signs of illness. U.S. prescription guidelines for people are created to help ensure antibiotics are only prescribed when someone has a bacterial infection, not a viral illness. Both will have some impact. But according to researchers at the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, it is unlikely to do enough.
“Treatment guidelines in the United States alone are not sufficient to solve the problem,” said Guy Palmer, director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.