One Health Forward: AAVMC 2014 Conference Summary

View conference Program Book

Veterinarians on the Front Lines of One Health

Conference presentation topics ranged from inter-professional education to One Health competencies and international outreach where veterinarians work on the front lines of One Health in disease control and surveillance, education, herd health, and much more.

Conference Photo Gallery

Imagine a future where veterinarians, physicians and other health professionals work together to solve some of the world’s most perplexing problems using integrated approaches and systems-thinking that seamlessly blend the knowledge and strengths of each scientific discipline. Then imagine the effect of that approach on veterinary medical education.

That vision, called “One Health,” inspired the AAVMC’s recent 2014 Annual Conference on “One Health in Veterinary Medical Education,” which attracted a record number of almost 300 attendees.

“Clearly, it’s a topic that resonates with our community,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe.

See a student’s clear and concise description of One Health on YouTube.

See another student’s depiction of what the future of medical education might look like.

Examples of One Health approaches highlighted throughout the conference included work being done at veterinary schools to control zoonotic infectious diseases (transmissible from animals to humans), improve clinical care for people and animals, and conduct research that enhances the health and wellbeing of both animals and people.

During more than 60 conference presentations from more than 90 presenters, attendees also learned about:
  • Interdisciplinary, often international, educational outreach and partnerships
  • Innovative, interactive, cross-disciplinary teaching methodologies
  • Examples of integrated clinical experiences, research and medical technology
On the first day of the conference, Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, emphasized the need to communicate a One Health message. “I’m so proud of this profession,” she said, “but we always talk to ourselves. We need to help others understand what we do.”

Some recurrent conference themes included the importance of developing One Health competencies related to communication, problem-solving, strategic, “systems” thinking, leadership, and collaboration.

The conference highlighted some examples of inter-professional education where veterinary students work together with students from other health professions, some international in scope. Veterinary students are also involved in internships and externships in federal agencies, such as the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), where they work closely with students from other professions. “It’s thrilling to see veterinary and human medical students working together on One Health,” said the Hon. Catherine Woteki, the USDA’s chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economics.

Both Dr. John Clifford, the chief veterinary officer and deputy administrator for veterinary services at APHIS, and Dr. Juan Lubroth, chief veterinary officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, stressed the importance of food animal veterinary care to meet the world’s increasing need for protein.

Worldwide, there are more than 20 “megacities” that have populations of more than 10 million people, mostly in the developing world, and such cities are continuing to grow, creating tremendous sustainability challenges related to food production, disease transmission, and the environment. This growth in the developing world, where livestock is viewed in very different ways culturally and economically, creates special challenges, said Lubroth, requiring a multicultural, One Health perspective.

On the final day of the conference, a closing workshop and wrap-up summarized conference content and solicited audience feedback for the purpose of assessing next steps.

Dr. Will Hueston, who directs global leadership programs of the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Lonnie King, dean of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, led the workshop, which Hueston framed as an opportunity “…to brainstorm how we can bring our vision for an interdisciplinary, interconnected medical future to fruition.”

“I want to get you pumped up,” Hueston said. “You are some of the finest minds in academic veterinary medicine–so how can we take this forward … Ten years ago, we were just starting conversations and One Health was not a big thing, but at this conference, we’ve heard some great presentations by people doing amazing things … We’ve made a lot of progress, but where should we be in another ten years and how do we ensure progress?”

Then, using electronic polling devices, Hueston and King asked the audience a series of questions, including how to move One Health forward, and how to overcome barriers. View details of the closing workshop.

Answers included identifying a One Health leader or champion at each school, and communicating the benefits of One Health to funders and the public.

But no matter how much progress is made, transformation requires relentless focus and perseverance, said Dr. King. “It’s a new way of thinking that requires new skills and new opportunities,” he said. “It’s about transformation successfully executed via a sense of urgency, a guiding coalition, vision, and whatever communications you think might be required – times ten.”

Another recurrent conference theme was the need for veterinarians to lead the charge for One Health.

A YouTube video titled “The Power of One” emphasized the power of individuals to affect positive change.

Telling the Story of Academic Veterinary Medicine on Advocacy Day

The message that veterinarians do important work that also affects humans and the environment is woven into the AAVMC’s legislative priorities, which CVM deans and their representatives conveyed during 130 legislative visits to Congress on the Thursday preceding the conference.

Award Winners Reflect AAVMC Values, Priorities
Four distinguished educators, researchers and advocates in academic veterinary medicine were recognized during the AAVMC’s 2014 annual conference.

Dr. Matthew Mellema, assistant professor of emergency and critical care at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine received the 2013 AAVMC Distinguished Teacher Award, presented by Zoetis. The award, which is considered the most prestigious national teaching award in veterinary medicine, recognizes excellence in professional veterinary medical education and is presented to an educator whose sustained record of teaching excellence and ability, dedication, character and leadership has contributed significantly to the advancement of the profession. Learn more.

Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor of virology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, received the 2013-2014 AAVMC Excellence in Research Award. Selected by a committee of peers, the honor designates Dr. Kawaoka as the outstanding veterinary medical researcher of the year. The AAVMC Board of Directors established the annual research award in 2010 to recognize outstanding research and scholarly achievements in the field of veterinary medicine. It recognizes an individual who, over the course of his or her career, has demonstrated excellence in original research, leadership in the scientific community, and mentoring of trainees and colleagues in any discipline of veterinary medicine. Learn more.

Dr. John A. Herrmann from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is the recipient of the 2014 Senator John Melcher, DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award. The Senator John Melcher, DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award, established in 2007, is given to current or former faculty, staff, or students at an AAVMC member institution to recognize leadership in public policy that advances veterinary medical education and success in advocating for veterinary medical education on a national or international scale. At the University of Illinois, Dr. Herrmann directs the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/Master of Public Health (DVM/MPH) program as well as the Center for One Health Illinois and serves as a clinical associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine. Learn more.
Dr. Joe Kornegay, a professor of neuroscience in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University (TAMU), delivered the 2014 Recognition Lecture at the AAVMC’s Annual Conference. The Recognition Lecture is an annual honor given by the AAVMC to an individual whose leadership and vision has made a significant contribution to academic veterinary medicine and the veterinary profession. Dr. Kornegay’s lecture on "One Man's View of One Health" focused on his research on a canine model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy and how this relates to the broader concepts of "One Health" and "One Medicine." Learn more.

Wrapping it Up, Building Momentum and a Call to Action

Conference One Health Wordle
The above Wordle illustrates the words that conference participants used most frequently to describe One Health.

The conference was more than an academic exercise. To build and sustain momentum, Drs. Lonnie King and Will Hueston led a closing workshop designed to identify key workshop insights and set the stage for next steps. View details of the closing workshop.

Reaching Out to the Next Generation of Veterinarians at the AAVMC's Career Fair

On the afternoon of the last day, about 250 students attended the AAVMC’s Career Fair to meet with veterinary medical school representatives, learn about veterinary medical careers and learn how to prepare to apply to veterinary medical school.