National One Health Awareness Month underscores university's efforts in human, animal, environmental health

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020

OLATHE — January is National One Health Awareness Month, an initiative that Kansas State University and its Olathe campus are working to advance.

One Health describes the complex interrelationships between human, animal and environmental health.

On Dec. 19, 2019, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Senate Resolution 462, which designated January 2020 as "National One Health Awareness Month" in the nation. The goal is to promote collaboration between public, animal and environmental health scientists to advance medical solutions.

"By using the 'One Health' approach, global health problems, including antibiotic resistance and the spread of infectious diseases, can be more easily addressed," said Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat-California), who introduced the resolution with Senator Martha McSally (Republican-Arizona). "Our resolution will hopefully draw attention to the need for holistic approaches to addressing human health that take into account changes in environmental and animal health. With diminishing resources and a growing human population, fighting problems with a 'One Health' approach must be encouraged now more than ever."

Kansas State University and its Olathe campus are involved in various aspects of the One Health initiative. These include providing animal health-centric graduate degrees that have an interdisciplinary curriculum, a One Health online summer course for high school juniors and seniors and classroom activities for K-12 students.

Additionally, many of Kansas State University faculty, staff and students are conducting research that advances knowledge and technologies to human, animal and environmental health issues, such as antimicrobial resistance, nutrition, soil health, climate change, zoonotic diseases, regenerative medicine and cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Kansas State University also is one of the founders of Kansas City One Health Day, an annual community event that spotlights a complex issue affecting humans and how a One Health approach is leading to new ideas, knowledge and potential solutions. Previous topics include climate change and extreme weather events, antimicrobial resistance and cancer treatment and research. The Kansas City event is a collaboration by Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Olathe campus, BioNexus KC, BioKansas, the KU Edwards Campus and KU's Frontiers Program. The event is part of a larger, international day that informs the public about One Health through similar events and activities.

One Health also is at the heart of the 1Data collaboration by researchers at Kansas State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who are turning big data about human and animal health into a means of saving lives and improving the quality of life for people and their companion animals. The project cleans and standardizes preclinical human and animal health data so that researchers from around the world can use the data to rapidly develop and test new therapeutics, drugs and medical technologies for people and companion animals. Researchers also can analyze and compare data across animal species or even look at how the genetic information from a specific animal compares to a human. This could help scientists easily identify similarities in diseases that affect people and pets, such as cancers, chronic mitral valve disease and other illnesses.

"One Health is really a movement tackling the world's biggest health issues that are at the intersection of human and animal health and the environment they share," said Gary Anderson, director of the Animal Health and Food Safety Institute at K-State Olathe. "Because of these close-knit intersections and their impact on health, new health-related partnerships and discoveries have to be forged by the leaders in science, business and education. Because Kansas State University is a proven leader in all three of these arenas, it makes sense for the university to be involved in charting this new discipline."

Anderson and Tracy Webb, who is from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University, are co-principal investigators on a grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Award One Health Alliance, or COHA, that supports messaging efforts about One Health. The messaging is directed toward physicians, veterinarians, medical researchers, public health professionals and the public. These efforts are being led by the COHA Communication and Collaboration Subcommittee, of which Anderson and Webb are members.

Learn more about these One Health initiatives at