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Acad Med. 2015 Jul;90(7):866-71. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000639.

Academic Institutions and One Health: Building Capacity for Transdisciplinary Research Approaches to Address Complex Health Issues at the Animal-Human-Ecosystem Interface.

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L.K. Allen-Scott is a graduate student, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. B. Buntain is professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. J.M. Hatfield is associate professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, and associate dean of global health and international partnerships, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A. Meisser is research associate, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Human and Animal Health Unit, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland. C.J. Thomas is university pro-vice chancellor for research, professor of zoology, and Center for Integrated Research in the Rural Environment (CIRRE) chair in ecological modeling, Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom.


To improve health at the human, animal, and ecosystem interface, defined as One Health, training of researchers must transcend individual disciplines to develop a new process of collaboration. The transdisciplinary research approach integrates frameworks and methodologies beyond academic disciplines and includes involvement of and input from policy makers and members of the community. The authors argue that there should be a significant shift in academic institutions' research capacity to achieve the added value of a transdisciplinary approach for addressing One Health problems. This Perspective is a call to action for academic institutions to provide the foundations for this salient shift. The authors begin by describing the transdisciplinary approach, propose methods for building transdisciplinary research capacity, and highlight three value propositions that support the case. Examples are provided to illustrate how the transdisciplinary approach to research adds value through improved sustainability of impact, increased cost-effectiveness, and enhanced abilities to mitigate potentially harmful unintended consequences. The authors conclude with three key recommendations for academic institutions: (1) a focus on creating enabling environments for One Health and transdisciplinary research, (2) the development of novel funding structures for transdisciplinary research, and (3) training of "transmitters" using real-world-oriented educational programs that break down research silos through collaboration across disciplines.

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