COMOS-Global Health Seed Grant Recipients

Monday, June 10, 2019 - 2:15pm

A large green field viewed from the air, with a windmill and cows down below

The Consortium on One Medicine One Science is pleased to announce the recipients of the COMOS-Global Health Seed Grants to three proposals prioritizing interdisciplinary research.

About COMOS Seed Grants

A partnership between the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility and the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety awards a special subset of seed grants referred to as Consortium on One Medicine One Science (COMOS) Seed Grants. In addition to the goals of encouraging interdisciplinary research and partnerships between U of M faculty and global instutitions, COMOS Seed Grants prioritize projects that:

  • Address complex systems or problems that require a strong interdisciplinary component besides Health Science;
  • Contribute to build international  networks (including individuals and institutions)
  • Use, or explore the use of best practices in health data governance  
  • Include a component of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) or economic or financial analysis of a health-related issue

Grants have been awarded to the following proposals:

A multi-sectoral approach to sustainable aquaculture practices for food safety

PI: Alexander Primus, DVM, PhD, assistant professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota
Co-PI: Victoria Gnazzo, PhD, researcher, Ministerio de Salud de la Nación, Argentina
Co-investigators: Amy Kinsley, DVM, PhD; Sanda Kottawatta, DVM, PhD; Kaushi Kanankege, DVM, PhD

Project overview: The team of researchers will investigate aquaculture production practices on a variety of scales, including small fish farmers in Argentina and medium-to-large shrimp farmers in Sri Lanka, to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between threats to sustainable aquaculture and human health. More specifically, the team will use methods established in complex systems modeling to assess the impact of antimicrobial resistance and pollutants on shrimp and fish production and food safety. By establishing a multi-site investigation, they are able to compare across cultures and aquaculture sectors to gain deeper insight on the role that science can play to bridge the gap between sustainable food production and health. Through this multi-institutional collaboration, the research team will establish a conceptual and quantitative framework for the translation of science into policy, while taking into consideration the unique cultural and industrial practices surrounding these issues.

A community-engaged approach to understanding the role of dogs in One Health within an indigenous reserve in Guyana, South America

PI: Tiffany Wolf, DVM, PhD, assistant professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota
Co-PIs: James Suse, Deputy Toshao, Konashen Village Council; Dominic Travis, DVM, MS, associate professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota; Marissa Milstein, DVM, PhD student, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota; Christopher Shaffer, PhD, assistant professor, Anthropology Department, Grand Valley State Univeristy
Co-investigators: Jennifer Granick, DVM, MS, PhD; Peter Larsen, PhD; Noelle Noyes, DVM, PhD; Thomas Gillespie, PhD

Project overview: The value of dogs to humans across the globe is related to their roles in domestic life. Accordingly, understanding their health in the context of their behavior, ecology and place in the household is critical to One Health. This is particularly true in indigenous communities where the wildlife-human interface is extensive and dogs bridge that interface. Preliminary data from the team’s ongoing research at this interface of the Waiwai, an indigenous community in Amazonia, suggests that dogs are an important pathway for human zoonoses. Waiwai have maintained close social and cultural relationships with dogs, which are highly valued as companions, hunting tools, and trade objects. However, dogs frequently scavenge entrails of bushmeat, are generally infested with many ectoparasites, and rarely, receive veterinary care. Thus, we hypothesize that dogs are a bridge host for wildlife pathogens and a direct source of human zoonoses. The research team seeks to more deeply characterize the cultural context of the human-animal bond and health of dogs in this community through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. This parallels developing research in northern Minnesota tribal communities, laying a foundation for comparative studies into the importance of domestic dogs in cultural sustainability and One Health.

Assessment of aflatoxin-related hepatocellular carcinoma linked to improper handling of cereals in Eastern Kenya

PI: Jeff Bender, DVM, MS, professor, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
Co-investigators: Jose Debes, MD, MS; Alan Lifson, MD, MPH; Michael Wandanje Mahero, DVM, MPH; Joshua Kibera Chege, MBChB, MMed; Shadrack Oyie, PhD;  Anthony Tororitich, BPharm, MSc; Stella Kepha, PhD; Joyce Njoba, PhD

Project overview: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second cause of cancer related mortality globally with developing countries accounting for most of the cases.  Kenya is recognized as an aflatoxin hotspot, a known risk factor for HCC in individuals with hepatitis B (HBV). The research team indicates that to their knowledge, there are no well-conducted studies evaluating aflatoxin exposure and HCC in this region. The objectives of this project are to investigate the crop production and dietary practice, pesticide exposure, and awareness of aflatoxin among agricultural communities in Eastern Kenya and its correlation to HCC development. The results from this study will provide an understanding of the correlation between HCC and exposure to aflatoxin in HBV-infected individuals. The team predicts this to expose potential intervention strategies to mitigate cancer risk.