On January 29, 2011, two hundred participants gathered in UCLA’s Tamkin Auditorium for the first-ever Zoobiquity Conference—a discussion among doctors treating the same diseases in their patients of different species.
The conference combined elements of a traditional academic gathering with a few innovations to allow for maximum collaboration across the “species divide.” During the morning session, UC Davis faculty veterinarians and UCLA faculty physicians presented a series of unique case studies in the fields of neuro-oncology, cardiology, psychiatry and infectious disease. Whether talking about a human being, dog, cat, reptile or other animal, each doctor followed the customary format of describing how the disease manifested and the course of treatment they followed. What came next was a twist distinctive to Zoobiquity. The doctors sat together on the stage and compared the human and veterinary approaches to these shared ailments. The structure allowed for a real-time, bi-directional exchange of ideas and insights. The dialogues then widened to include questions from an eager audience of health care professionals from both fields.
The conversations continued over lunch, as participants picked up boxed meals and boarded buses headed for “Walk Rounds” at the Los Angeles Zoo. Veterinarians, physicians, RNs, professors, biologists and students represented UC Davis, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Francisco, UC Irvine and Western University, as well as the wider medical community. The discussions en route were so enthusiastic that people sometimes had to shout to hear each other.
For the afternoon session, the Los Angeles Zoo’s veterinarians hosted a tour of their health center and four animal exhibits featuring specific cases: condors (lead toxicity), lion (cardiac tamponade), rhino (cancer) and monkey (endocrine issues/diabetes). Again, although the cases were academic, the unusual and interactive setting broke the mold of a traditional medical conference. As the participants walked through the zoo, they could be seen literally comparing notes with their new colleagues.
The day ended with a cocktail reception overlooking the zoo’s new elephant exhibit. Dr. Stephen Ettinger, author of the definitive Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, closed the conference with a speech about the history and future of veterinary/human medicine collaborations.
We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the conference, especially our speakers, presenters and volunteers, and the deans of the two sponsoring universities: Dean A. Eugene Washington of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Dean Bennie Osburn of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. We’re also grateful to Dr. Curtis Eng, Chief Veterinarian of the Los Angeles Zoo for his leadership and participation. The day spanned disciplines, departments and institutions to create new channels of communication. We invite you to browse our photos and media coverage below and visit the links of our partner and related organizations.
For the 2011 Zoobiquity program, please click here.