One Medicine?

Speaker: Dr Angela Cassidy # King's College London

28th Oct 2013

15:30 - 17:00

Conference Room, David Hume Tower


The past twenty years have seen a series of disease crises, both acute and chronic, which have highlighted the entangled nature of relations between humans, nonhumans and their shared environments.  Such incidents have included outbreaks of ‘emerging infectious diseases’ such as SARS; the potential for new strains of pandemic influenza; and the return of older chronic disease problems such as tuberculosis.  In response to these events, some veterinarians, medics and scientists across a range of disciplines have advocated a ‘One Health’ approach: co-ordinating, collaborating or breaking down disciplinary barriers between human and animal health research, policy and practice. 

This paper will discuss research tracing the recent appearance, uptake and interpretation of One Health (OH) as the latest episode in a long history of the convergence and divergence of human and animal health.  ‘Health’, ‘disease’ and ‘medicine’ can take on very different meanings and implications for action when framed in terms of humans, animals or ecosystems, and OH advocates aim to reshape, define and sometimes breach the boundaries constructed between these domains. OH has been enthusiastically adopted by some actors and disciplines but not others: it has also been increasingly taken up by institutions such as international agencies, governments and funding bodies.  However, it is less clear how OH will engage with the range of research, clinical, and communication practices, nor the varying understandings of ‘health’ and ‘disease’ involved in the many disciplines it addresses.  Why has OH come to the fore now and what events, agendas and actors have driven this? In common with other agendas in the biomedical and environmental sciences such as ‘food security’ ‘biosecurity’, ‘translational medicine’, and ‘sustainability’, OH advocates interdisciplinarity, applied research and inter-agency co-operation. This paper will further discuss whether OH provides an example of a successful boundary-object enabling such goals, or a bandwagon in which particular aims and agendas tend to be foregrounded.

Speaker Biography

Angela Cassidy completed a PhD in Science Studies at the University of Edinburgh and now works at King's College London. Her research investigates the relationship between human and animal disease.


For more information, please contact Alyson Macdonald (tel. 0131 650 9113).