Since 1960, when the University of Illinois Board of Trustees established the Center for Zoonoses Research, the College of Veterinary Medicine has maintained a focus at the intersection of animal and human health and disease. The Center’s purview grew to include “infectious diseases; food-borne pathogens; food safety and antibiotic resistance; biodefense and bioterrorism; and emergency preparedness.”
In 2007, the College hosted a colloquium entitled “One Medicine: The Interface of Human, Animal and Public Health.” Participants represented a variety of institutions, including the School of Public Health at University of Illinois-Chicago Food and Drug Administration, The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, the University of California-Davis, the University of Pennsylvania, the American Veterinary Medical Association and members of federal legislative staffs.
Faculty members from a number of departments on the Chicago and Urbana campuses attended. University President B. Joseph White delivered the keynote address, and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin participated via videoconference from Washington, D.C. This colloquium laid the foundation for the Center.
Later that same year, the College identified establishment of “the University of Illinois Center for One Medicine“ as one of its top five priorities. In particular, the goal sought to “build capacity in environmental health, conservation medicine, and infectious diseases with a focus on direct application to public policy and public health.”
Federal funds totaling $220,000 and $465,000 were authorized in 2009 and 2010 to assist in launching the Center for One Health Illinois.
The Center focuses on research, training, and outreach efforts in three related areas:
- improving preparedness and response to natural and intentional exposures of biological, chemical, and physical agents; ensuring safe and sustainable food production systems
- understanding disease processes that occur at the interface of human and animal activities and their effects on the environment; and
- educating a new cadre of health professionals who understand the determinants and contributing factors for human, animal and ecosystem health, how public health policy is developed, and how it affects the health of all three.
To meet each of these objectives, COHI proposes specific and measurable activities that will support the objectives of education, research, and public outreach. The Center for One Health Illinois extends previous educational and research efforts at the College of Veterinary Medicine, specifically the teaching, research, and public outreach activities of the its predecessor (Section of Community Health and Preventive Medicine), the Center for Zoonoses Research, and the Envirovet program as well as collaborative programs with the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois-Chicago and other academic units. All of these academic programs have developed a record of accomplishments over the past years with cutting-edge research, educational programs, and public outreach on issues of human, animal, and ecosystem health. The coursework developed by these programs has already been emulated by other academic institutions. The Center for One Health Illinois will allow each to expand these activities to better serve the people of our state and nation.
The first "One Health Illinois" summit was held in February 2010 and convened invited experts from academia, government, and the private sector to assess the health of Illinois' human, animal, and ecosystem communities and to direct the future plans of the Center.
In August, 2011, The Center for One Health hosted a workshop entitled, "Tools for Integrated One Health Surveillance". This one day workshop brought together experts from academia, state public health agencies and private industry to discuss tools for an integrated surveillance system in Illinois. Invited experts presented seed concepts to underscore the need for integrated surveillance, expected successes and potential impediments to the process.