At a meeting of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) One Health Committee (OHC) held at the National Institutes for Health (NIH) in Washington DC in December, members discussed how comparative and translational research into spontaneously arising small companion animal diseases can lead to advances in human health.
As the meeting was the last in the OHC’s initial three year programme, they also discussed projects they hope to pursue in its second phase, commencing in 2013. The meeting was hosted by Dr Chand Khanna, Director of the Comparative Oncology Program at the Center for Cancer Research in the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
An umbrella organisation focused on enhancing the clinical care of companion animals, the WSAVA represents 180,000 veterinarians globally through 92 member associations. Its OHC aims to drive forward One Health-related programmes and research at a global level. It works in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
During the meeting Dr Khanna briefed OHC members on developments in the understanding of osteosarcoma metastasis brought about by comparative human and canine studies. Dr Elaine Ostrander, Head of the Comparative Genetics Section of the NCI discussed her research into the genetic basis of body size and chondrodysplasia in the dog and recent studies of breed-associated digital squamous cell carcinoma.
Other contributors included Dr Mark Simpson, who heads the Comparative Biomedical Science Training Programme, a partnership between the NIH and several American veterinary schools and Dr Melissa Paoloni, who runs the Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium (COTC), linking the NIH with a network of 19 veterinary teaching hospitals in the US and Canada.
Finally, the OHC discussed the need to increase the number of veterinary students applying for the one-year NIH Medical Research Scholars Programme, which is open to dental, medical and veterinary students. There are challenges faced by veterinary students intercalating into such programmes, but the OHC is strongly supportive of these unique training opportunities in One Health.
Commenting on the meeting, Professor Michael Day, Professor of Veterinary Pathology in the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol and Chair of the OHC, said: “The OHC has come a long way in three years and through our meetings, presentations and publications has made the global One Health community appreciate the significant role of small companion animals in this rapidly moving field.
We could not do our work without the support of a consortium of industry sponsors who supply funding via the WSAVA Foundation. I’d like to express our gratitude to them as we plan for our next three years.”
The WSAVA OHC Mission Statement:
To ensure the prominence of the small companion animal-human interface in the global
One Health agenda