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Who coined the term “One Medicine”? - Monday, June 27, 2011

One Health History Question:


Who coined the term “One Medicine”?


Answer: Dr. Calvin Schwabe coined the “One Medicine” term and crystallized the concept in the 20th century.


*By Bruce Kaplan, DVM and Cheryl Scott, RN, NP, DVM, MPVM



A re-examination of historically valid references appears to verify that the American veterinarian, Calvin W. Schwabe, DVM, MPH, ScD originally coined the term “One Medicine” and represented it to designate the concept associated therewith (4, 5).  Among other reference sources, Dr. Schwabe demonstrated how statements and actions taken by the great 19th century German physician Rudolf Virchow, MD, the father of cellular pathology, bolstered the case for Schwabe’s original “One Medicine concept” proposition (5).  Dr. Virchow said, “between animal and human medicine there are no dividing lines--nor should there be.” (9)


A literature review of Dr. William Osler’s writings (6, 7) plus two prominent biographies (2, 3) found no personal usage of the term “One Medicine”, but his alliance with veterinary medicine and veterinarians is historically unquestioned, at least during his early teaching and medical career in the 19th century.  According to all available documented references, Dr. Osler would have supported Dr. Schwabe’s proposal having been strongly influenced by his teacher and pathology mentor Dr. Virchow (who most certainly would have concurred).


Known as the father of modern medicine and the father of Internal medicine, the great Canadian physician Sir William Osler, was a 19th and early 20th century practitioner of modern day “One Medicine-One Health” collaborative principles.  One example: while teaching at the Montreal Veterinary College, Dr. Osler organized a significant study of parasites in the pork supply of Montreal with one of his most brilliant veterinary students, Albert W. Clement.  The two concluded, correctly, that thorough cooking of pork was the best protection against humans contracting parasitic illnesses when ingesting this meat.  Dr. Clement, a veterinarian, later became a President of the United States Veterinary Medical Association now the American Veterinary Medical Association or AVMA. (1, 2, 3).


Several readers of the One Health Initiative website have asked how the misleading assumption developed that Dr. William Osler coined the term.  It appears that this issue originated from a 2000 publication on page 231 (8) stating “The phrase “One Medicine” is attributed to Sir William Osler who studied with Virchow and worked with other veterinarians and physicians who were involved in both medical branches.”  No reference for this assumption was cited although one other reference was noted relative to Virchow’s appreciation for veterinary medicine (9) vis-à-vis human medicine.  Regrettably, this unsubstantiated comment has been perpetuated since in other One Health publications.


Today, “One Medicine” is commonly referred to as “One Health” worldwide.  This terminology change occurred during the first decade of the 21st century.

“One Health” is the evolution of the earlier used term “One Medicine” which historically implied the crossing over between veterinarians and physicians.


One Health recognizes that humans do not exist in isolation, but are a part of a larger whole, a living ecosystem, and that activities of each member affect the others. Thus, One Health considers health as a whole, the humans, the animals, and the environment they exist on.





1.     Kahn LH, Kaplan B, Steele JH. Confronting zoonoses through closer collaboration between medicine and veterinary medicine (as ‘One Medicine’) Veterinaria Italiana 2007; 43: 5-19. ; and the One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bono team. 

2.    Bliss, Michael. William Osler, A Life in Medicine. Oxford University Press, 1999. 

3.     “The Life of Sir William Osler” by Harvey Cushing, 1925 Ed.  (Courtesy Chris Lyons, MA, Dip. Ed, MLIS, Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University) 

4.     Schwabe, C. Veterinary medicine and human health, 3rd ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins: 1984.  (especially see Chapter 1)

5.     U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), EID Journal, “One Medicine” for Animal and Human Health, Volume 10, Number 12–December 2004.

6.     Personal Communication: Chris Lyons, MA, Dip. Ed, MLIS, Associate Librarian, Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University (March 17, 2011). 

7.       The Evolution of Modern Medicine A series of Lectures delivered at Yale in April, 1913 by William Osler: “immediately turned into the Yale University Press for publication.”

8.       Dukes TW. The other branch of medicine: an historiography of veterinary medicine from a Canadian perspective. Can Bull Med Hist 2000; 17:229-243.

9.       L.Z. Saunders. “Commentary: Virchow’s Contribution to Veterinary Medicine, Celebrated Then, Forgotten now, “Veterinary Pathology, 37, 3 (2000): 199-207.


One Health opinions, comments and verifiable corrections are welcomed by the One Health Initiative website.  Please submit to for consideration.



*Dr. Bruce Kaplan is a member of the One Health Initiative website team along with Laura H. Kahn, MD, MPH, MPP, Thomas P. Monath, MD, and Jack Woodall, PhD.  He also serves as Contributing Editor on the editorial board of the Florida State Department of Health’s Environmental Health Division (USA) One Health Newsletter.


Dr. Cheryl Scott is the program director of the Calvin Schwabe One Health Project at the University of California’s (UC Davis) School of Veterinary Medicine in Davis, California (USA). Contact e-mail:

Australian International One Health Leader Supports One Health Institute of Medicine (IOM) Study - Monday, June 20, 2011

Australian International One Health Leader Supports One Health Institute of Medicine (IOM) Study 


June 17, 2011:


Dr. Martyn Jeggo, veterinarian and international One Health leader from Australia, sent this letter supporting an Institute of Medicine (IOM) One Health study/report on the same day that the National Academies of Practice (NAP) sent a letter of support ( written to Secretaries of Health and Human Services (Kathleen Sebelius) and Homeland Security (Janet Napolitano).  Both letters endorsed the original One Health Proposal letter sent by Drs. Ralph Richardson and Tom Monath to Secretaries Sebelius and Napolitano.


Martyn Jeggo, B.Vet.Med., PhD is the director of CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory.  Dr. Jeggo chaired the Organizing Committee of the first International Congress of One Health held in Melbourne, Australia in February 2011.  By all accounts the meeting was highly successful with an attendance of over 650 delegates worldwide (about 24 countries represented).  See


To date, while representatives from both U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security have expressed strong support for One Health, none have addressed the request to help provide funding for the critically needed One Health IOM study/report.  This relatively modest investment (approximately $1.2 million) is considered essential to help ensure reasonably rapid implementation and institutionalization of the life protecting and life saving One Health concept. 


The One Health Initiative team urges One Health supporters/advocates to write letters of support to the White House and members of their U.S. Congressional delegations, i.e. U.S. Senators and Representatives.  One Health principles are commonsense and non-partisan.

National Academies of Practice (NAP) Supports One Health Institute of Medicine (IOM) Study - Friday, June 17, 2011

National Academies of Practice (NAP) Supports One Health Institute of Medicine (IOM) Study 


June 17, 2011:


The NAP sent a letter of support (see written to Secretaries of Health and Human Services (Kathleen Sebelius) and Homeland Security (Janet Napolitano). The NAP letter was signed by the NAP President and President-elect, Drs. Arthur Hazelwood and John Herbold, respectively. It endorsed the original One Health Proposal letter sent by Drs. Ralph Richardson and Tom Monath to Secretaries Sebelius and Napolitano.


The Academies include Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Optometry, Osteopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, Podiatric Medicine, Psychology, Social Work, and Veterinary Medicine.  This multi-disciplinary group represents the true spirit of the One Health concept.


Important Final Notice: Don’t Miss ... One Border One Health Symposium: June 23-24, 2011 - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Important Final Notice: Don’t Miss ... One Border One Health Symposium (Details below)

June 23 - 24, 2011
San Diego, CA
One Border One Health Symposium

A Regional Symposium Advancing Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration and Border Surveillance for Emerging Infectious Diseases

See more:

Registration for Day 1 extended until Friday June 17, 2011.

Register Now! Seating is limited.

Prominent Maine United States Senator Meets with Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) Representatives - Friday, June 10, 2011

Left to right:  Carol McCarthy, MD, Robert Smith, MD, MPH, Kathleen Gensheimer, MD, MPH, Senator Susan Collins (R ME), Rob Owens, PharmD

Prominent Maine United States Senator Meets with Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) Representatives


Senator Susan Collins (R ME) visited with representatives of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) on Wednesday June 1, 2011.  Physician, Dr. Kathleen Gensheimer, a prominent One Health supporter/advocate briefly discussed with Senator Collins the One Health concept and handed her a copy of a recent letter (please see sent to Secretaries Kathleen Sebelius (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and Janet Napolitano (U.S. Department of Homeland Security) requesting assistance with crucial funding for a comprehensive “One Health” Institute of Medicine (IOM)/National Research Council Study/Report.


In addition Dr. Gensheimer gave the Senator a copy of the response (please see from Alexander G. Garza, MD, MPH, the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer.  Dr. Garza expressed the Department’s strong support for implementation of the One Health concept.


Senator Collins reportedly “was very involved and engaged, well informed on the issues and asked key pertinent questions about all subjects discussed.”  Dr. Gensheimer said, “Drs. McCarthy, Smith, Owens and I primarily discussed antibiotic resistance and animal feeds with Senator Collins along with Methacillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile and hospital acquired infections.  We also reviewed the critical need to sustain public health infrastructure, particularly in regards to laboratory and disease surveillance capacity.  We specifically addressed the vectorborne disease challenges inMaine but also made a plug for continued resources on a global basis, especially for HIV, TB and Malaria. Senator Collins was very supportive of our efforts to inform and educate.  We greatly appreciated her gracious reception and courtesy extended to us.”

Recent Multidisciplinary “One Health” Paper Published by UK Physician and Team - Thursday, June 09, 2011

Recent Multidisciplinary “One Health” Paper Published by UK Physician and Team


“The intensification of livestock production and its impact on zoonotic disease risk”

The Communicable Diseases Policy Research Group from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Tropical Medicine headed by prominent research physician Professor Richard R. Coker, MD recently published an online “One Health” personal view article in the Lancet Journal entitled “Towards a conceptual framework to support one-health research for policy on emerging zoonoses”.  




Dr. Coker told the One Health Initiative website team, “In essence, if we're successful, this interdisciplinary research project will examine the interface between changing modes of livestock production and risk of zoonotic disease emergence. Our hypothesis is that rapidly changing systems for the production of animal-based foods will increase the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks, including pandemics, and their social and economic impacts. Our aim is both to test this hypothesis and create a novel, interdisciplinary theoretical framework and methodological paradigm which can be used to further develop and explore this and other hypotheses about zoonotic disease risk.”  He added, “This project is about zoonotic disease risk and its consequences. We will look at risk in the context of how zoonotic diseases are generated and distributed in livestock systems, how they may emerge from these into human populations, and how different zoonotic disease risk scenarios in human systems may affect public health and national economies.”

Maine Physician Public Health Consultant Strongly Endorses One Health - June 7, 2011 - Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Maine Physician Public Health Consultant Strongly Endorses One Health - June 7, 2011


“The “One Health” initiative, with its goal of improving animal and human health globally is long overdue.  The increasing cadence of emerging infections and the complex inter-relationships that exist between humans, wildlife and the environment demands the simultaneous study of disease in humans and animals.  Without collaboration amongst all health sciences, including human medicine, veterinary medicine, environmental health, wildlife health and public health specialists, we will be unable to meet new global disease challenges.    Building on a common pool of knowledge will enhance integrated surveillance efforts which will translate in a reduction in time needed for the detection of novel or emerging disease threats.  A multidisciplinary strategy will help prevent, control and where possible, eliminate infectious diseases within a larger ecological context that includes humans, animals and plants which interact in a complex, but ever changing natural environment.”



Kathleen F. Gensheimer, MD, MPH, FIDSA

Yarmouth, Maine (USA)


Note: Dr. Gensheimer is currently a public health consultant on infectious diseases in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is an active representative of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).  Prior to this, she was director of medical and scientific affairs at Sanofi Pasteur Biologics in Cambridge, 2009-2010.  Dr. Gensheimer served as state epidemiologist for the Maine Center for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services from 1981- 2009.


One Border One Health Symposium: San Diego, CA - June 23-24, 2011 - Monday, June 06, 2011

Important Notice: Don’t Miss ... One Border One Health Symposium (Details below)

June 23 - 24, 2011
San Diego, CA
One Border One Health Symposium

A Regional Symposium Advancing Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration and Border Surveillance for Emerging Infectious Diseases

Online Registration begins on May 11, 2011, and will continue through June 15, 2011.

 See more:

One Border One Health Symposium Agenda Day 1

Thursday, June 23rd 2011 / University of San Diego, Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice

8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.


8:30 a.m.


9:30 a.m.

Introductions: Suzanne Lindsay, PhD
Executive Director for the Institute for Public Health, SDSU
Assistant Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics,
San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health


Welcoming Remarks: Stanley Maloy, PhD
Dean, College of Sciences
Associate Director, Center for Microbial Sciences
Professor of Biology, San Diego State University



10:00 a.m.

Nathan Wolfe, DSc
Founder and Director, Global Viral Forecasting Initiative
Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor

Stanford University

11:00 a.m.


11:15 a.m.

Lisa Conti, DVM, MPH, Dipl. ACVPM, CPM, CEHP
Director, Division of Environmental Health
Florida State Health Department

12:15 p.m.


12:30 p.m.


1:30 p.m.

Panel 1: One Health Surveillance Strategies

Moderator: Patricia Conrad, DVM, PhD

Co-Director, One Health Center
UC Global Health Institute
Professor, School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California, Davis

Panelist: Scott Wright, PhD
Branch Chief, Disease Investigations
National Wildlife Health Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Panelist: Jonna Mazet, DVM, MPVM, PhD
Director, Wildlife Health Center
Global Director, PREDICT Program
School of Veterinary Medicine

University of California, Davis

Panelist: James M. Wilson, V, MD
Executive Director
Haiti Epidemic Advisory System (HEAS)
Praecipio International

3:00 p.m.

Panel Discussion and Q&A

3:15 p.m.


3:30 p.m.

Panel 2: Operationalizing One Health

Moderator: Francisco Javier Monge Navarro, DVM, MPH, PhD
Main Investigator B
Animal Health Department
Institute for Research in Veterinary Science
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Panelist: TBD

Panelist: Kristine M. Smith, DVM, Dipl. ACZM
Associate Director for Health and Policy
Ecohealth Alliance

Panelist: Nikos Gurfield, DVM, DACVP
San Diego County Veterinarian
Department of Environmental Health
Vector-borne Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory

5:00 p.m.

Panel Discussion and Q&A

5:15 p.m.

Closing Remarks

5:45 p.m.

Reception & Networking
Location: Best Western Hacienda Hotel


Action Planning Meeting Agenda Day 2

Friday, June 24th, 2011, Best Western Hacienda Hotel

8:30 a.m.

Breakfast & Registration

9:00 a.m.

Snapshot of the Border Region

10:15 a.m.

Action Planning - Group Discussion
Facilitator: Luke Entrup, MSW, MPH
Senior Evaluation Specialist
Institute for Public Health
San Diego State University

12:00 p.m.

Working Lunch

Prominent Netherlands Physician Appointed First One Health Professor for Utrecht Life Sciences Faculty of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine - Sunday, June 05, 2011

Prominent Netherlands Physician Appointed  First One Health Professor for Utrecht Life Sciences Faculty of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine




Roel Coutinho the first Professor for Utrecht Life Sciences


“Zoonoses form the new threat to public health”


Roel Coutinho has been appointed Professor for Utrecht Life Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, with effect from 1 May. He intends to focus on the epidemiology and prevention of infectious diseases being at the interface between humans and animals. With the double appointment of Coutinho, Utrecht life Sciences is providing a significant stimulus to the ULS theme of ‘Public Health – One Health’.


The Executive Board of the University of Utrecht has appointed Dr Roel Coutinho as ULS Profiling Professor of ‘Epidemiology and the prevention of infectious diseases in the veterinary-human domain’, with effect from 1 May 2011. Professor Coutinho will collaborate with the Julius Center at the UMC Utrecht to explore new lines of research in the field of epidemiology and the dynamics of infectious diseases. In particular, he is planning to focus on the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the interface between humans and animals, the so-called zoonoses.


Humans and animals

In the wake of the Second World War, morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases started to decline more markedly in industrialised nations, due to the availability of effective vaccines and anti-microbial agents. “The result was great optimism. Many people assumed that infectious diseases had been suppressed”, comments Coutinho. “In the 1980s, HIV and AIDS forced a reversal in how people viewed infectious diseases. We realised that new infectious diseases are always appearing. Many of the new infectious diseases, and others appearing hither and thither, seemed to originate in the animal kingdom, from wild animals and also from domesticated livestock.” The latter source was more prominent in the Netherlands, with Bird Flu and Q fever, for instance. Professor Coutinho is concerned: “Zoonoses form the new threat to public health.”



In addition to his research, Professor Coutinho will also be involved in teaching medical and veterinary students in the final stages of their training. He says “Collaboration between veterinarians and doctors is generally regarded as being essential in order to improve our chances of combating any zoonoses that might appear. This is why it is so important to maintain a focus of our concentration on this notion of ‘One Health’ during the students’ education.”



Professor Coutinho is a physician and a microbiologist, and Director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Control (CIb) at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). He was previously the director of the GGD (Municipal Health Service) Amsterdam and a professor at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam. He will combine his professorial duties at ULS with his present responsibilities at the RIVM.


Note to editorial staff:

For more information, please contact Saskia Ebeling via +31 30 253 8756 or

Utrecht Life Sciences

Utrecht Life Sciences is a strategic partnership of academic, public and commercial players in the fields of education, research and innovation in life sciences. ULS acts as a driving force by generating collaboration among partners to promote healthcare for humans and animals. The ULS target programmes are ‘Public Health – One Health’ and ‘Cancer, Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cells’.


Utrecht Life Sciences is an initiative by the University of Utrecht, the Utrecht University Medical Center, the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and Danone. The other partners are the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research (of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), Genmab, GlaxoSmithKline, Immuno Valley, TNO and Utrecht Holdings. ULS is supported by the Province of Utrecht, the Municipality of Utrecht and the Utrecht Region Innovation Taskforce. The strategic partners in education, research and entrepreneurship are all based at the Utrecht Science Park.

Visionary Canadian Medical and Veterinary Medical College Deans Jointly Discuss One Health - Thursday, June 02, 2011

Visionary Canadian Medical and Veterinary Medical College Deans Jointly Discuss One Health


A visionary joint meeting of Deans from the Canadian medical and veterinary medical colleges was held in conjunction with the Canadian Conference on Medical Education in Toronto, Canada, in May 2011.  The theme of the meeting, jointly organized by Elizabeth Stone (Dean, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph) and William Albritton (Dean, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan), was “People and Animals Sharing Disease: Medicine and Veterinary Medicine Perspectives”.  In addition to medical and veterinary medical Deans, meeting participants included representatives from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion.  The event featured presentations on One Health and zoonotic disease prioritization by David Fisman (Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto) and Jan Sargeant (Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, University of Guelph), integration of veterinary medicine and human health in the community (Kate Hodgson, University of Toronto), and Rabies as a model for best practices for zoonotic disease prevention (Cathleen Hanlon, Kansas State University). 




The meeting provided a forum for active discussion of zoonotic disease initiatives from both human health and animal health perspectives.  Topics discussed included the potential for novel initiatives in joint undergraduate and postgraduate medical and veterinary teaching; the possibility of developing or identifying collaborative funding streams for joint medical and veterinary research in a climate of fiscal restraint, and the degree to which One Health efforts should be embedded in a broader emerging focus on “ecohealth”, which considers the health of humans and animals in the context of broader environmental health.  A concept that generated considerable discussion was that of “zooeyia”, or health benefits of animal ownership, and it was argued that medical-veterinary education should stress this in addition to a more traditional focus on zoonotic disease risk.  It is anticipated that this will become an annual event, resulting in stronger networks between the medical and veterinary medical colleges. 



Information provided by:


David, Fisman, MD, MPH

Dalla Lana School of Public Health

University of Toronto and Department of Medicine

North York General Hospital (Canada)




Jan M. Sargeant, DVM, MSc, PhD

Director, Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses (CPHAZ) and

Professor, Department of Population Medicine

Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph

Guelph, Ontario, Canada



Dr. Fisman is a member of the One Health Initiative Team’s Honorary Advisory Board and on the editorial Board of the Florida (USA) State Health Department’s One Health Newsletter


Drs. William Albritton and Fisman are physicians.  Drs. Elizabeth Stone, Jan Sargeant, Kate Hodgson, and Cathleen Hanlon are veterinarians.

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