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Novel conference teams docs, vets to seek cures


Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, Director of Imaging for UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, Chair of Zoobiquity Conference:

The Zoobiquity Conference brought together field leaders from veterinary medicine and human medicine to discuss the same diseases in different species.  So we had cases presented both veteranians and human doctors and they engaged and talked about treatment strategies and investigational ideas and novel hypotheses. And the veterinarians at the LA Zoo, led by Dr. Curtis Eng, who is the Chief Veterinarian there and they had created the walk-rounds for our doctors.  So shoulder-to-shoulder, DVMs and MDs, chatting about morning cases, went first toward the health center. There, Dr. Eng and the vets had put out some fascinating displays.  You know, as a human doc, it's interesting to see you know, that even the tools that are used to do surgery on a large animal -- it was just a great tour.

Bennie Osburn, Dean of School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis:  This is the first of this type of conference ever and that's what's very exciting about it. This opens up, I think, a new way in which we can share information, particularly with infectious diseases and even some of the cancers.

Patricia Conrad, Veterinarian, UC Davis: We draw on the human literature to make comparisons to what's happening with our animal patients and we've had examples where it works the other way...that what we can learn about conditions like cancer, skin disease, infectious disease, metabolic problems in animals, can be very beneficial in human medicine and treating human patients.

Cheryl Scott, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis:  Having conversations between veterinarians and physicians is just not a common thing. You would think that through the years, the two fields would merge more often and discuss health care since we're both interested in public health and human health issues, as well as animal health issues. But it just doesn't happen. We kind of sequestered ourselves in different areas. In many good ways that brings out specialties and really enhanced focus on small esoteric problems with our species. But I think it's time that we come together with our global problems and look at how we're a unit again.

Natterson-Horowitz:    I think the most exciting thing to emerge from this is the continued conversation.  But even more importantly is the beginning of a new kind of translational research, which is cross-disciplinary and cross-species.  And we have here at UCLA -- I mean we are part of the UC system and we have UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine as -- I mean we're part of the same university.  And so here's this opportunity to do research together.  We would very much like to have a second Zoobiquity Conference.  And it'd be very thrilling if we could present even preliminary demonstration of what can happen with collaborative investigation.  So that's the Zoobiquity Research Initiative, which we are hoping to start very soon.

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Please visit the UC Research site for a more indepth feature about the Zoobiquity conference.