New PhD program to train graduate researchers in One Health approach

The One Health PhD Program will provide graduate researchers with a training and support framework to develop the skills to apply an interdisciplinary focus to solve issues affecting health of humans, other species and the environment.

The One Health concept recognises that the quality and health of water, soil, plants, animals and humans are interdependent. It is a collaborative approach to tackling challenges on the interface of human, animal, plant and environmental health, at local, regional, national, and global scales.

The One Health concept recognises the interdependency of water, soil, plants, animals and humans, represented in the One Health PhD Program logo above.
The One Health concept recognises the interdependency of water, soil, plants, animals and humans, represented in the One Health PhD Program logo above.

Examples of the One Health approach include monitoring wild animal populations for diseases that can spread to humans like influenza to inform health policy, monitoring and maintaining soil health to safeguard food security into the future or confirming wild species that are reintroduced to environments are free of diseases that could threaten other populations.

Graduate researchers completing a PhD at the University of Melbourne within the One Health disciplines of water, soil, plant, animal or human health are eligible; more information is available on the One Health PhD Program website.

The program is hosted by the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, in collaboration with the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the School of BioSciences

Participants in the program will be able to:

  • Attend One Health-focussed seminars by senior academics, esteemed visiting academics and industry representatives
  • Build technical capabilities in epidemiology, bioinformatics and other disciplines through workshops by training partners across University campuses
  • Develop valuable professional skills like leadership, communication and adaptability, making them valued collaborators on interdisciplinary projects
  • Form scientific and professional networks through a mentoring program
  • Enjoy a broader cohort experience with people completing PhD research in complementary areas.

Professor John Fazakerley, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, said the One Health approach is key to sustaining and augmenting our environmental ecosystems, agricultural productivity, food security and public health and wellbeing, as well as to training a resilient and interdisciplinary generation of graduate researchers.

“Students in the Program will retain their focus in their main area of research, but we aim to make them think more broadly about health, and how they can improve the outcomes of their research through a One Health approach,” he said.

“By sharing and understanding the different perspectives we have as health practitioners, policy experts, natural scientists and social scientists, we can deliver effective solutions to health issues and help to ensure a healthy future for our planet.”

Professor Glenn Browning, One Health PhD Program Lead, said the program was designed to prepare graduate researchers to apply a One Health approach in their careers.

“It’s well-acknowledged that a One Health approach is needed to tackle many future health and wellbeing issues across a wide range of different sectors, and there’s increasing national and global need for interdisciplinary researchers who can address those needs,” he said.

“This program is aimed at producing those researchers.”

Professor Browning said an excellent cohort experience would be the key to the Program’s aim of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration.

Professor Glenn Browning said the One Health PhD Program would give graduate researchers access to interdisciplinary seminars, workshops, mentoring opportunities and engagement with industry.
Professor Glenn Browning said the One Health PhD Program would give graduate researchers access to interdisciplinary seminars, workshops, mentoring opportunities and engagement with industry.

“The One Health PhD Program seeks to offer students an extension to their thesis studies, through optional attendance at workshops and seminars, access to mentoring programs, and engagement with relevant industry stakeholders,” he said.

“Seminars will be delivered by the University’s One Health academics, prominent visiting researchers and industry guests. These will be accessible to graduate researchers regardless of background, and will focus on challenges facing modern researchers. We will seek to expose graduate researchers to the cutting-edge One Health research sector, and conceptualise the problems facing researchers in the future.

“In addition to research seminars, One Health PhD Program skills workshops will be offered, which will equip graduate researchers with broad professional characteristics, including communication and leadership skills.

“We know One Health graduate researchers will need to apply scientific findings to real-life situations, and will be instituting partnering opportunities to help them develop their ability to do this.”

To express interest in joining the program, please email onehealth-phd@unimelb.edu.au from your University of Melbourne student account with your student username.

Banner image: Professor John Fazakerley addresses graduate researchers, academic and professional staff of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, School of BioSciences and Peter Doherty Institute at the One Health PhD Program launch. Story and photos by Stuart Winthrope.