California global health institute established

UC-Davis veterinary school part of $4 million initiative
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Global health outreach efforts have received another boost, this time in California, where a new institute has been established.

The University of California announced the launch of its Global Health Institute Nov. 9, 2009. It will focus the combined expertise of the university's 10 campuses on solving increasingly complex global health problems.

Dr. Conrad with livestock
Dr. Patricia A. Conrad, a professor at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, will lead the school's center of expertise in one health. She is currently in Uganda developing a related project while on sabbatical.

UC-San Francisco's Global Health Sciences will administer a $3.99 million, two-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to plan the institute, which is intended to become self-supporting through gifts, grants, and revenue from enrollment fees. Center leaders will work during the current academic year with the institute's administrative core to map out education, research, and partnership programs and intervention activities.

The institute initially will offer a one-year master's degree, enrolling its first students in fall 2011. Eventually, it also will offer two-year master's and doctoral degree programs, granted by the UC campuses where the students will conduct their work.

The new institute will include three multicampus, multidisciplinary centers of expertise: One Health: Water, Animals, Food and Society; Migration and Health; and Women's Health and Empowerment. The first two centers will respectively be directed by faculty members from UC-Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Medicine. The third center will be led by faculty members at UC-San Francisco and UCLA.

"With experience in wildlife health issues and diseases that spread from animals to people, our veterinary faculty will make a significant contribution to the development of practical solutions to complex health problems involving people, animals, and environmental quality," said Dr. Bennie I. Osburn, dean of the UC-Davis veterinary school, in a UC-Davis press release. "Working in this multi-campus effort will also help us provide unique opportunities for education and training in holistic health principles and practice."

The One Health: Water, Animals, Food and Society center will be led by Dr. Patricia A. Conrad, a professor at the UC-Davis veterinary school, in collaboration with Anil B. Deolalikar, PhD, an economics professor. Also participating in this center will be the Berkeley, Irvine, UCLA, San Diego, UCSF, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz campuses.

"It is becoming very clear that we in the United States both receive and contribute to global health problems," Dr. Conrad said in the release. "This year we saw how new diseases like H1N1 influenza are only a short flight away from us in California and how, within days, they can spread worldwide. We also are seeing how financial decisions made in the United States can profoundly impact the entire world's economy, just as our carbon use can alter the world's climate.

"Our students see this clearly, and they want the practical skills, relevant knowledge and opportunities to help solve the resulting health problems that impact vulnerable people in California and globally," she said.

Dr. Conrad noted that the new One Health center will capitalize on the success of a new international effort based at UC-Davis named PREDICT, which is aimed at detecting and controlling diseases that move between wildlife and people. That global early warning system was established in October 2009 with a $75 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (see JAVMA, Dec. 1, 2009).