UCD Squared meeting builds trans-Atlantic links

At the end of June the ‘UCD Squared – Connected One Health’ conference brought together experts from University College Dublin (UCD) Veterinary School, The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Veterinary School, the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and Zoetis. 

The meeting was held in UCD and focussed on a topic of global significance – ‘One Health’, which encapsulates the idea that animal, human and environmental health are inextricably linked and must all be considered and understood in our efforts to improve global health. Led by the Deans of the UCD and UC Davis Schools of Veterinary Medicine, Professor Grace Mulcahy (UCD) and Professor Michael Lairmore (UC Davis), the goal of the meeting was to initiate a conversation around national and global issues and importantly to stimulate cross country collaborations that will speed up the impact of potential research breakthroughs in the One Health area.

The global threat of viruses to both animals and humans, similarities between human and animal surgery and health and the increase of antimicrobial resistance and how wild birds are impacting on this were among some of the topics discussed. A particular highlight was a panel discussion involving Professor Grace Mulcahy, Professor Michael Lairmore, Mr Roy Geary (General manager of Zoetis in Ireland) and Professor Colm Gaynor (Veterinarian, barrister - at – law and Adjunct professor in UCD). This session was chaired by a final year vet student from UCD, Rebecca Rennick. Professor Lairmore and Professor Mulcahy both advocated an ethos of openness and collaboration between research disciplines. They promoted the idea of ‘enlarging the audience’ involved in solving global issues and explained how the idea of One Health should be embedded into teaching and work practices across multiple disciplines. Professor Gaynor gave us an interesting insight into the political side of dealing with global issues. At a European government level, tackling problems can be challenging when dealing with differing opinions but collective responsibility and collaboration between academic, industrial and political bodies can advance policy that will ultimately improve lives.

Finally Roy Geary gave us an industrial perspective and again collaboration was key. Zoetis, the largest animal health company in the world, is actively building relationships with academic research institutes in order to enhance cross-talk between academia and industry and ultimately produce more advanced and more effective therapies to combat disease.

This meeting was both productive and enjoyable and it allowed the building of strong relationships around project ideas that will utilise expertise and resources from both sides of the Atlantic in an effort to combat important and growing global problems.

Finally, this meeting would not have been possible without the generous support of UC Davis, UCD and Science Foundation Ireland.