The University of Tennessee System has announced the creation of the UT One Health Initiative (UTOHI), an effort to enhance research collaborations across the state and region to address rapidly emerging health challenges.
The UTOHI will focus on animal and environmental health issues of particular relevance to Tennessee that may also have broad implications regionally, nationally and globally.
The importance of One Health to society cannot be ignored, and the contributions of agricultural and natural resources research along with studies and advances in veterinary medicine are core to advancing environmental health for the benefit of all living things."
Hongwei Xin, dean of UT AgResearch
UTOHI will consolidate resources from across the UT System to build on the history of leadership and engagement in One Health studies within the UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus. Efforts to coordinate studies began in February 2019, attracting more than 50 interested faculty and scientists representing numerous departments and colleges. The group has been working since their initial meeting to develop a framework for the UTOHI.
Debra Miller, a veterinarian specializing in wildlife pathology who holds a joint appointment in the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and the UTIA Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, and who also serves as director of the UTIA Center for Wildlife Health, has been named as interim director of the UTOHI.
An initial investment of $2.7 million is being jointly provided by multiple sources across the university system, including UT AgResearch, UT Office of the Vice President for Research, UT Knoxville Office of Research and Engagement, UT Knoxville Office of the Provost, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and UT Extension. Also offering a financial investment is the UT-ORNL Joint Institute of Biological Sciences. The UTOHI will draw from the expertise of faculty from across the system and ORNL with diverse backgrounds including agriculture and natural resources; ecology and evolutionary biology; engineering; computational sciences; nursing; social work; law; education, health and human sciences; business; libraries; and both human and veterinary medicine. The UTOHI is expected to create new strategic partnerships among academia, state and federal agencies, industries, non-government organizations and other stakeholders while delivering innovative solutions to amplify the health and well-being of humans, animals, plants and the environment in Tennessee and beyond.