Wildlife Health: new faculty to focus on Planetary Health at Cornell CVM

Image from Dr. Osofsky’s “Explaining Planetary Health” article, One-Health Cornell Blog.

The CUCVM student community would like to extend a warm welcome to a number of phenomenal new hires in the wildlife health realm. Recently, the CVM has brought-on seven faculty and staff, with the goal of growing Wildlife Health / One Health / Planetary Health programs at a critical time in the College’s strategic planning.  The group strives to develop and apply science-based, multidisciplinary approaches to conservation, including through a focus on Planetary Health. In short, Planetary Health is a field focused on improving our understanding and applying appropriate metrics regarding the public health impacts of anthropogenic environmental change, so as to be able to inform decision-making in the land-use planning, environmental conservation, and public health policy realms. Planetary Health also provides a lens for the new CVM-led Master of Public Health program, with its first class starting in September of 2017. There have already been numerous excellent discussions and many new initiatives are underway, not only within the CVM, but throughout the University. Hopefully, new collaborative efforts will arise and continue to foster future discussions and cross-disciplinary action!

We look forward to the incredible things that will come from these new appointments, not only for Wildlife Health and Environmental Conservation at our University, but for conservation initiatives worldwide.

Please join me in welcoming:

Dr. Steven A. Osofsky, Jay Hyman Professor of Wildlife Health & Health Policy

Dr. Martin Gilbert, Senior Research Associate in Wildlife Health

Ms. Helen Lee, Wildlife Health & Health Policy – planning and operations

Ms. Shirley Atkinson, Wildlife Health & Health Policy – Southern Africa, AHEAD Program

Dr. Montira Pongsiri, Planetary Health Alliance Science Policy Advisor

Dr. María Forzán, Senior Research Associate in Wildlife Pathology

Dr. Mani Lejeune, Director of Clinical Parasitology and Senior Extension Associate at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Zack Dvornicky-Raymond is a current second-year vet student interested in wildlife conservation and One Health, and hopes to pursue a career focused on reproduction and population management in endangered/threatened wild species.

Canine Distemper in the Amur Tiger

Dr. Martin Gilbert came to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016 as a Senior Research Associate with the Wildlife Health and Health Policy Group.

From Dr. Gilbert’s LinkedIn:

I am interested in pursuing health-related research that has direct relevance to the conservation of wildlife, particularly carnivores and scavengers. This includes approaches to understand how endangered species are impacted at a population level by infectious disease (such as canine distemper virus in free-ranging Amur tigers), as well non-infectious agents (such as the pharmaceutical diclofenac in Asian vultures). Health processes can also impact predator populations indirectly, in circumstances where disease influences the availability of prey resources. In each of these situations disease processes must be understood at a landscape scale, whether through the epidemiology of multi-host pathogens operating across the domestic-wild interface, or through the social drivers that influence the use of toxic compounds in the environment. The road to addressing these issues begins in the field, and requires a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on a diversity of skills that includes (but is not limited to): ecology, pathology, clinical medicine, molecular biology, microbiology, toxicology, population modelling, spatial analytics, sociology and ultimately policy. By fostering such collaborative partnerships we gain a more complete understanding of wildlife health issues, creating a platform to identify practical measures to mitigate the conservation impact on species in the wild.