AGNR Showcases Leadership and Innovation Across Human, Animal, and Environmental Health, or One Health

Dr. Cheryl Stroud, executive director of the One Health Commission, and Boris Lushniak, dean of UMD’s School of Public Health headline AGNR’s 3rd Annual Cornerstone Event

November 23, 2020 Graham Binder

As the world copes with the resurgence of high infection rates of COVID-19, the academic and scientific communities have renewed their focus on public education geared towards mental health, animal to human disease transmission, water quality, nutrition, climate change, and much more. Despite these troubled and unpredictable times, there is a silver lining. We are in the midst of an extraordinarily potent time for public awareness as we all sharpen our safety, preparedness, and collaboration skills to combat the pandemic and try to mitigate any future threats of disease. 

While we have made some significant strides over the last nine months and understand at a base level that society must rethink its long term approach to public health, there is much work to be done. The One Health movement, a platform for highlighting the linkages between human, animal, and environmental health, is growing in popularity, with renewed recognition and relevance as we strive for innovative ideas and multidisciplinary approaches. The One Health approach helps us understand that we cannot solve these emerging issues with a singular focus; we must instead embrace that humans, animals, and the environment are all inextricably connected, with each population affecting the next. 

The state of Maryland provides a unique living ecosystem for the study of human-animal-environmental interactions, with an abundance of rural and urban interfaces, a diverse animal industry, an international air and seaport, and proximity to the Chesapeake Bay. As the cornerstone college of UMD with a dedication to the land-grant mission and strong service to the community, AGNR is well-positioned to become a global leader in several areas related to human, animal, and environmental health, including reducing disease transmission between animals and humans; advancing community health in a changing world; reducing chronic diseases in animals and humans; analysis of environmental, agricultural, and health policy; and promotion and support for healthy and livable communities through education of all ages.

To demonstrate AGNR’s support for One Health and to showcase leadership and expertise in the aforementioned areas, the college recently hosted its signature “Cornerstone” Event, a virtual gathering throughout the week of November 9. We were thrilled to host Dr. Cheryl Stroud as our keynote speaker, executive director of the One Health Commission. Since 2010, Dr. Stroud has been educating nationally and internationally about One Health. She seeks to coordinate One Health stakeholders into action teams, strategic networks, and partnerships that can educate about the full scope of and critical need for One Health thinking and acting at all levels of academia, research, clinical practice, government, and policy. In a quote from her keynote presentation, Dr. Stroud offers this profound commentary.

“In our current systems, all of the collaborations that we need to really fulfill and implement this One Health approach are not naturally going to happen. They’re really going to start with relationships, and even those relationships are not naturally occurring unless we go out of our way to create opportunities to come together and find our synergies. None of us in our own silo, our own discipline, can know everything.” 

Dr. Stroud’s entire keynote presentation is available here.

We were also honored to host Dr. Boris Lushniak, dean of UMD’s School of Public Health, as our closing speaker. Dr. Lushniak has had a distinguished career in federal service, culminating in leadership roles as U.S. deputy surgeon general (2010–15) and acting surgeon general (2013–14). He has been the leading voice at UMD throughout the pandemic, emerging as a trusted adviser and resource for personal and public health best practices. Dr. Lushniak shared this guidance from his closing remarks at the Cornerstone Event. 

“Public health is about preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health, but ultimately it also describes to us that it takes a village to do this. This isn’t just in the hands of public health professionals, or in the hands of medical folks. When we talk about public health, it’s organized efforts and informed choices of society, public, and private organizations, communities, and individuals. The fact that it takes a village is a major component of public health.”

Dr. Lushniak’s full remarks are available here.

Eight breakout sessions were hosted in between both keynotes, all of which were recorded and are available on AGNR’s website. The site also includes several innovative and engaging posters and recorded presentations from our students and faculty, many related to One Health, but not exclusively so. 

We look forward to the 2021 Cornerstone Event, with a focus on the college’s strategic initiative, Optimize Urban Environments Through Design, Green Technology, and Community Engagement.