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The two sides of the One Health coin: research and pedagogy

Dr. Katie Clow

Headshot of Prof. Katie Clow.

“I want to use research to understand systems from a broader perspective because, ultimately, this allows you to implement more successful solutions.”

– Dr. Clow

If you want to know more about the expanding discipline of One Health, take a look at one of the first professors to be hired at the University of Guelph as a One Health researcher and educator.

An Assistant Professor in One Health and Graduate Coordinator for the Collaborative Specialization in One Health, Dr. Katie Clow is part of the pioneering One Health team working to develop education and research practices that facilitate big picture thinking and collaboration in the realm of human, animal, and environmental health. To the One Health team, she contributes her expertise in veterinary medicine, epidemiology, and disease ecology along with her passion for complex problems and solutions.

“I want to use research and education to be able to understand different interconnections within systems,” Clow says, “whether it’s a disease system or a cultural system in a community, I want to be able to see it from a broader perspective.”

Image if a brown tick on the left and a larger brown tick on the right.

Clow is fascinated by ticks and tick-borne disease, and you would be too if you spent a day in her shoes. She’s not just looking at the ticks or individual pathogens, she’s looking at entire disease systems. This includes environmental factors, surveillance, prevention, education, and much more. She works with the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network – a confluence of more than one hundred veterinarians, physicians, epidemiologists, entomologists (insect specialists), diagnostic testing specialists, social scientists, knowledge mobilization specialists and patient participants – to build capacity through collaboration. This big One Health team pools together resources, perspectives, and expertise to address the global consequences of Lyme disease.

Another current research project of Clow’s applies One Health at the community level. Clow and her colleagues are collaborating with Indigenous community members in areas of northern Ontario where there is limited to no access to veterinary care. Their goal is to develop community-based veterinary care that goes beyond just medicine by addressing community-identified needs and priorities for animal health.

As the Graduate Coordinator for the Collaborative Specialization in One Health, Dr. Clow is passionate about One Health pedagogy. Clow teaches ‘One Health Approaches to Research’ – one of the first One Health graduate courses offered on campus. She and her students have big picture conversations centred on tough and complex health questions. At the same time, Clow’s research related to One Health pedagogy is looking at One Health core competencies – how to develop them in education and understanding whether students are being adequately prepared to apply One Health approaches and principles.

“The ability to teach students to think differently, pull in other perspectives, look at big systems, I think that that really enhances research,” Clow says.

Image of two people in white gear in a forest.

Clow is passionate about finding new perspectives, new variables, and new complexities in her research. This passion she shares with other One Health researchers is forging a new era of One Health research at the University of Guelph and is propelling the university to the forefront of global One Health research and teaching.

By Marilyn Sheen

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Listen to Dr. Clow discuss how much can be learned by collaborating with others in a One Health context:

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