June 18, 2008, Guelph, Ont. – The University of Guelph is poised to play a greater role in public
health thanks to a research chair worth nearly $1 million awarded by
the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Prof. Jan Sargeant, director of the Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses and a faculty member in the Department of Population Medicine in the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), received one of 14 Applied Public Health Chairs awarded nationwide.
"We were the only veterinary college awarded funding, which was quite exciting," Sargeant said. "Most emerging diseases that pose a threat to human health originate in animal populations, whether it's avian flue or new strains of antibiotic-resistant 'superbugs.' Veterinarians are therefore uniquely equipped to investigate and come up with solutions to some of the critical health issues of today.”
Sargeant's chair, worth $185,000 a year for five years, is supported by CIHR, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Centre de recherche en prévention de l'obésité. The three agencies created the program to stimulate innovation in public health intervention research, to educate and mentor the next generation of public health researchers, and to support research of national relevance.
"Our secret is finally out: veterinarians are public health professionals," said OVC dean Elizabeth Stone. "The Ontario Veterinary College has been helping to protect human health and well-being for nearly 150 years. Part of OVC's overall vision is to respond to the changing demands on the profession and help change how society values veterinarians and the work we do, and this type of recognition is key to helping bring about this mind shift."
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