The first International Conference on One Medicine, One Science (iComos) was held at the University of Minnesota from April 27-29, 2014. The conference just wrapped up, so I wanted to re-cap on what I think was an excellent conference.
The goal of the conference was to “explore the science of animal health in complex environments from molecular/cellular interactions to ecosystem/landscape levels.” Unlike most science conferences that I have attended where there is a specific disciplinary focus (i.e., microbiology, genomics, avian disease, etc.), this conference brought together a huge range of disciplines centering around the science behind the concept of one health. A few notable speakers included Nobel Laureate Peter Agre talking about aquaporins, Samuel Thevasagayam from the Gates Foundation speaking about Gates’ vision of One Health, James Lloyd-Smith from UCLA talking about smallpox/monkeypox, Sonny Ramaswamy from USDA-NIFA talking about food animal domestication, Mehmood Khan of PepsiCo talking about beverage challenges and opportunities, Jonathan Foley from UMN talking about global food production, Marla Spivak from UMN talking about the bee crisis, Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel talking about food across the world, and Stanley Maloy from SDSU talking about the evolution of pathogens. So, from the list you can see that it spanned a range of disciplines and brought together a lot of people that would not normally congregate.
Did the conference accomplish its goals? I would say it did for an inaugural conference. The key emphasis of the conference really moved towards defining and addressing one health from many different perspectives. Different opinions were presented and challenged, which is a very good thing in a collegial atmosphere. Moving forward, I think it became evident that science-based decision making needs to be a priority related to one health. Multiple times, it was stressed that public perception often overrides science-based decision making in our government. One of the best points presented throughout the conference is that we (as scientists) need to do a better job of outreach through social media. With that said, I was delighted to see an active twitter feed throughout the conference (pasted below). So, there is hope for us as scientists to continue to become more active in this arena. This needs to be better supported by the institutions that employ us as a part of our job, because it is exactly that.
Overall, iComos was a success and I look forward to many more in the future!