Duke Hosts 42 Scholars for Second Annual One Health Training Program

July 05, 2016
The One Health Training Program scholars learn about food safety procedures at North Carolina State University’s dairy farm. Photo by Gregory Gray.

Scientists are beginning to embrace the notion that addressing public health problems sometimes requires looking beyond humans to animals and the environment. Researchers at Duke, in collaboration with experts at North Carolina State University, are helping scholars across the world learn more about this approach. 

This summer, Duke hosted its second annual One Health Training Program, led by Greg Gray, professor of global health, medicine and the environment. 

What is One Health? 

One Health is an emerging public health framework that explores how the health of the environment, animals and humans are all connected, and it asserts that an integrated approach is necessary to address major global health challenges. One Health encourages collaboration between countries, disciplines, governments and industries to create a robust ecosystem that will improve global health. 

About the Program

The One Health Training Program is a nine-credit, three-week certification program, incorporating four courses: 

  • Introduction to the One Health Approach
  • Public Health Laboratory Techniques
  • Introduction to Entomology, Zoonotic Diseases and Food Safety
  • Introduction to Environmental Health. 

To participate in the program, students are nominated by representatives from sponsoring organizations worldwide in the fall and then invited to submit an application. 

This year 42 scholars, including four global health graduate students from DGHI and four from Duke Kunshan University, were enrolled in the program. Scholars came from nine countries—China, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Mongolia, Morocco, Pakistan, South Korea and the United States—and for many, this was their first introduction to the United States and our way of life.

A Unique and Diverse Experience

The trainees engaged in a variety of unique, One Health-related learning experiences, such as two days of intensive study of mosquitoes and ticks and receiving a behind-the-scenes, food safety tour of a North Carolina beef processing plant. 

“One of the most valuable takeaways for me was to be able to put into perspective what people are doing in the field to implement the One Health framework into their work setting,” said Laura Pulscher, Duke MScGH candidate, referencing a tour of the NC State University Dairy Education Unit, where she learned about the safety precautions the facility takes for both animal and human health. 

The different backgrounds of the participants provides an enriching training experience for all the participants and fosters new friendships across disciplines and borders.

“The most exciting aspect of One Health Training Program is the interaction between participants from different countries, cultural backgrounds and disciplines,” said participant Muhammad Murtada, a master’s degree candidate in poultry science at the American University of Beirut who described the program as a “diverse scientific think tank with one common goal of using One Health to improve world health.” He added that the experience will be a milestone in his career.

What’s Next

In the past, relatively few resources have been available to train professionals in One Health problem solving skills, and Gray is excited by the increasing recognition of One Health. 

“This year, we received exceptional support from the United States government, Duke Kunshan University, and DGHI administrators who recognize the need to seek One Health solutions to modern complex public health and veterinary health problems,” said Gray.

As preparations begin in the next couple of months for next year’s program and with such positive feedback for the program, Gray is looking to see how the program will grow and how he can engage DGHI undergraduates. 

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The One Health Training Program scholars prepare tick collecting traps in Duke Forest in their study of tick-borne diseases. Photo by Gregory Gray.

One of the most valuable takeaways for me was to be able to put into perspective what people are doing in the field to implement the One Health framework into their work setting.

Laura Pulscher, MSc-GH candidate

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