Zoobiquity 2: A Species Spanning Approach to Medicine
Bullying, infertility, cancer, obesity…tooth decay, aortic dissection, painful periods, and contraception. These important health issues confront doctors every day. And that’s true whether the patient is a human being or a horse…a child or a cheetah…or a person, a panda, St. Bernard, wallaby, bear, gorilla, orangutan, or elephant.
The second Zoobiquity conference, held September 29, 2012, brought together some two-hundred clinicians, researchers, and students to discuss these shared diseases of patients of many species.
Like the first Zoobiquity conference in January 2011, “Zoobiquity 2” generated a tremendous response. The sold-out, one-day event attracted prominent veterinarians and physicians from around the country, as well as experts in global health, psychotherapy, nutrition, evolutionary biology, and wildlife biology.
Zoobiquity conferences are distinguished by a unique format: a “living laboratory” in which presenters don’t just talk about interdisciplinary collaboration, they actually engage in it. The morning consists of academic sessions held at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan University Medical Center; the afternoon takes place at the Los Angeles Zoo, where physicians and veterinarians go on “walk-rounds” together.
After welcoming remarks from UCLA Vice-Chancellor for Research, Dr. James Economou, and Dean Philip Nelson from Western University School of Veterinary Medicine, Zoobiquity 2 began with a rousing keynote speech by veterinarian and pathologist Dr. Tracey McNamara. McNamara, who played a key role diagnosing the 1999 West Nile outbreak in New York, discussed what has happened—and what hasn’t—with vet/physician collaboration in the decade-plus since the mosquito-borne pathogen first emerged in North America. Next, faculty veterinarians from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the Smithsonian National Zoo, and Western University School of Veterinary Medicine presented cases of animal infertility, cancer, bullying, self-injury, and obesity. Their human medicine counterparts from UCLA’s School of Medicine presented human correlates to the animal cases. After each presentation, the doctors sat together on the stage and compared the human and veterinary approaches to these shared ailments. The audience participated in the interdisciplinary conversation with questions and comments.
At the close of the morning session, the participants picked up boxed lunches to eat aboard buses headed for the Los Angeles Zoo.
There, the zoo’s veterinarians and faculty vets from UC Davis presented animal cases: wallabies (contraception), condors (microtrash), hunting dogs and bears (tooth decay), gorilla (aortic dissection) and orangutan (painful periods).
Dr. Michael Lairmore, Dean of UC Davis’s school of Veterinary Medicine, closed the conference with comments at a reception overlooking the zoo’s new reptile and amphibian exhibit, The Lair.
The day spanned disciplines, departments and institutions to create new channels of communication. This year’s conference included also included a poster session, presented by veterinary and medical students from the Zoobiquity Research Initiative (ZRI).
Zoobiquity Research Initiative
Following the first Zoobiquity Conference in January 2011, we formed the Zoobiquity Research Initiative (ZRI), a collaboration which brings together students and faculty members at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. These cross-disciplinary, inter-campus research projects explore and compare medical conditions that affect humans and other animals. The past year was productive: over 20 veterinary and medical students participated, and their research was featured in a poster session held during the Zoobiquity Conference. The inaugural ZRI projects included:
“Death by Stress: Interspecies Comparison of Fear-Induced Death and Potential Clinical Applications Using Evolutionary Insights” (click here to view poster)
“Veterinarian and Physician Practice Habits and Attitudes Toward Collaboration in the Management of Zoonoses in Immunocompromised Patients” (click here to view poster)
“A Comparative Review: Chiari Malformation Type 1 (CM-1), Caudal Occipital Malformation Syndrome (COMS) and Syringomyelia” (click here to view poster)
We’d like to thank everyone who participated in Zoobiquity 2, especially the speakers, presenters and volunteers. We’re also grateful to Dr. Curtis Eng, Chief Veterinarian of the Los Angeles Zoo for his leadership and participation.
For questions about the conference program content, please contact Zoobiquity Research Initiative Executive Director, Susan Kwan at [email protected]