News

20th Century Public Health Leader and unheralded early One Health Practitioner Dies

 

June 23, 2010

 

The One Health Initiative website recently became aware of the death of Oscar Sussman, DVM, MPH, JD on March 25, 2010.  He was 92 years old.

 

In an obituary published online, Dr. Sussman was noted for his “colorful career in public health with the state of New Jersey.  He believed in the public’s right to know and the government’s role to protect the public.  An award for service described him a having “a rare combination of unusual traits.”  He was also described as controversial, forceful, learned, articulate and a champion of the underdog. He was an early advocate of preventive health care. [those of us who knew him recognized and appreciated the validity of these words in a positive sense] In 1962, he went to Egypt on a Fulbright professorship.  In 1966, he was a World Health Organization (WHO) consultant to Brazil.  He retired in 1978, as Director of Consumer Health Services for NJ. …”

Dr. Sussman was a masterful inspiring model in his use of collaborative interdisciplinary “One Health” principles (formerly referred to as “One Medicine”).  He successfully collaborated with numerous outstanding historic public health and research figures including Richard Shope, MD of ‘Shope papilloma virus fame’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shope_papilloma_virus, James H. Steele, DVM, MPH, the founder of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) veterinary public health division http://www.amazon.com/One-Man-Medicine-Health-Steele/dp/1439240043, and Martin Goldfield, MD, the former director of laboratories for the New Jersey State Department of Health.   Drs. Goldfield and Sussman did landmark research on the epidemiology of arboviruses (e.g., eastern and western encephalitis) in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s).  Dr. Sussman participated in many other public health issues of the era http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=search&db=pubmed&term=SUSSMAN%20O%5Bau%5D&dispmax=50. 

 

Notably, Dr. Sussman and his family were close personal friends with Calvin Schwabe, DVM, ScD, the public health expert and parasitologist who championed and coined the term “one medicine” http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/onehealth/about/schwabe.cfm.   Dr. Schwabe was a member of the faculty of the University of California, Davis, Ca School of Veterinary Medicine and also was one of eight founding faculty of the School of Medicine (USA). The Calvin Schwabe One Health Project is a significant part of the UC Davis One Health Institute http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ohi/.