Posted by: glamielle | October 23, 2012

Zoobiquity Conference Report – September 29th, 2012, Los Angeles CA, USA

One Health refers to the relationship between human, animal and environmental health. In order to truly appreciate how each of these components interacts with one another, we have to understand where human health parallels animal health, and where they are different.

(Image source)

I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Zoobiquity Conference a few weeks ago, held at the UCLA Ronald Reagan University Medical Center. The main driving force behind this conference was Dr. Natterson-Horowitz M.D., who co-wrote the book Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach us About Health and the Science of Healing. In the book, the authors outline some of the fundamental similarities between human and animal health and what we can learn about medicine as a whole by broadening our perspectives to include all species.

The conference remained true to the subject of the book and brought veterinarians and physicians together to discuss health issues as they relate to each profession. The morning session was in the format of case discussions about various themes, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and even bullying. Each panel had a representative from the veterinary as well as the human medical field, who presented their approach and challenges about the specific cases. Afterwards, presenters had a chance to sit down and foster a discussion on how this particular disease differs from species to species, or relates, and audience participation was encouraged.

One such example of this was evident during the discussion about osteosarcomas, from both a human veterinary perspectives. As I learned at the conference, human osteosarcomas can affect younger individuals and seldom metastasizes to the lungs. On the contrary, in the veterinary field, these bone tumors in dogs develop later in life and by the time a radiologic diagnosis has been made, the tumor has generally already spread to the lungs. Learning from these differences, physicians can look to veterinarians in order to understand better the pathogenesis involved in metastatic osteosarcomas. The Zoobiquity Conference moved beyond physical ailments and looked and mental wellbeing as well. It was eye-opening to see some of the striking similarities between bullying in children and aggressive behaviors between household cats. In both species, the victim is often an individual exhibiting submissive behaviors that are evident to the perpetrator.

The afternoon portion of the conference consisted of a guided visit to the Los Angeles Zoo where stations were set up demonstrating some of the concepts put forth by zoobiquity. These stations included comparison of echocardiographic appearance of heart diseases between gorillas and humans or lead ingestion in children and California condors.

Thanks to all the organizers of the 2nd Zoobiquity Conference, this was a great experience. (Image source)

It was incredible to see an audience filled with medical professionals from both the human and veterinary fields and the presentations did an excellent job at looking at medicine from a comparative perspective. So where does zoobiquity fit in relation to One Health? In my mind, zoobiquity refers to the similarities between medicines across species, whereas One Health is about how the health of different species and the environment can affect one another. The first step in promoting One Health is recognizing that health professionals can learn a lot by bridging the divide between species and by allowing veterinarians and physicians to sit down together and discuss similar cases, and the Zoobiquity Conference did just that.

For more information about Zoobiquity:

Zoobiquity website


  1. I’m so jealous!! I got the time off from our ICU shifts, but by the time the conference coordinator emailed me back there was less than 24 hours to register as a student. It was too much of a push for me to make it, but I hope to go in the future.

  2. I would have loved to attend as well! Very cool that it was a local event for you. Did you make any connections that you think will turn into ongoing relationships?

    I’ve recently started my own little effort to promote non-traditional veterinary careers, especially those in the global health / onehealth realm. I would love your thoughts if you get a chance to check it out:

    • Hi Elliot,

      Zoobiquity was definitely a great place to meet people from all aspects of medicine, one of the most interesting things out of this conference was to see medical and veterinary health professionals realize that our jobs aren’t so different. I think it’s the 1st step to bridge the divide between our professions. I like your website as well, it looks like you’ve had some amazing experiences as a vet. I will definitely put your blog in my list of links. I hope for great holidays for you and your family.


      • Thanks Glamielle! I haven’t started a list of links yet but it’s in the works and you will definitely be on there. Would love to hear more about some of your experiences also.

  3. Whoops, just realized I got your name wrong, Gaël!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: