Comparative medicine once occupied a primary position in medical thought and education. Today, although the spectrum of clinical illness in animals and humans overlaps tremendously, veterinary and human clinical medicine operate in largely separate professional silos. Our fields come together episodically around concerns such as food safety, emerging infections and zoonoses. But the connections between human and veterinary health and clinical practice extend far beyond these issues—a reality well known to veterinarians but less recognized by physicians. One step to facilitate understanding of the global and species-spanning nature of illness and health is to literally facilitate introductions between clinicians and researchers on both sides of this “species-divide.”
The Zoobiquity Conference is designed to bring together leading clinicians and scientists in both human and veterinary medicine to discuss the same diseases in a wide spectrum of animal species and human beings. The intention of this cross-disciplinary conference is to create conversations and relationships between human and veterinary colleagues confronted with similar clinical challenges. By crossing disciplines in this way, we can significantly expand the perspective of clinicians, scientists and patients about these shared disorders and broader health concerns.
The one-day conference begins with morning sessions at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center followed by “Walk Rounds” at the Los Angeles Zoo in the afternoon. Veterinary and human subspecialists discuss cases of acute, chronic, infectious and psychiatric/behavioral disorders that occur in both humans and non-human animals.
The goal of the conference is to facilitate understanding of the global and species-spanning nature of health. Our intent is that this conference provides a structure and program through which relationships can develop bridges across the “species divide” and from which a broader understanding of disease may emerge.
We hope that the development of these relationships around shared clinical challenges will lead to:
- Broader consideration of the epidemiology of disease (with implications for shared environmental triggers/exposures);
- Potential for new approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of disease in both animals and humans;
- New collaborations and novel hypotheses for investigation and
- Greater appreciation for the shared biology and pathophysiology of humans and animals.
By extension, this points to the shared vulnerability of many species (including humans) to the same basic health threats—a message which speaks directly to the need for a global and species-spanning approach.