One Health research focus area

HOH Helsinki One Health is a network organization launched in 2018 to coordinate research actions within the area of One Health at University of Helsinki. University of Helsinki has directed funds to Helsinki One Health research, as this area is one of the university's key strategic research areas. In addition to other profiling actions, Helsinki One Health will join forces with five University of Helsinki faculties to host several tenure-track professorships with their established research groups in years 2018 - 2022.

Helsinki One Health is aiming to utilize health records and data banks related to spontaneous diseases, including those related to food safety, in order to discover and transfer research findings between the study of different species. Helsinki One Health network, together with its key partners within and outside academia, is committed to excellence in research with the goal of making University of Helsinki one of the top One Health universities in the world by 2025.

One Health is the research focus for veterinary medicine.

Domestic animals and humans share much of their genomes – humans and dogs, for example, share 96% of their DNA. This provides a basis for future veterinary research into genetic illnesses and health as well as physiology, behaviour, individual characteristics and life itself.

The similarities in the metabolism and microbiomes of animals and humans have relevance in our daily lives: bacteria, viruses and parasites can spread from humans to animals and food products, and vice versa. Diabetes is a problem shared by animals and humans – our metabolic models are so similar.  Examples of shared disease vectors include parasites in the family Trichinella which are transmitted through eating meat; the Microsporum canis, an organism which causes skin infections in dogs and humans; and respiratory diseases caused by the influenza virus (e.g., A(H1N1)). The epidemiology of such diseases as well as epigenetics, or how hereditary information is transmitted outside the DNA and RNA, are at the core of the One Health concept.

The transmission of microbes that are resistant to drugs, typically antibiotics, between animals and humans is a central issue in the study of microbe resistance and its increase (e.g. ESBL bacteria).

Animal-derived foods and the diseases they may help to spread from animals to humans are a key aspect of veterinary research. Farm-to-table thinking has become fully established, and food, food production and food hygiene researchers will in the coming years plan their most successful and impactful research projects together.

The toxic elements – generated through interaction between humans, other life and the Earth – in the environment shared by animals and humans threaten the health and welfare of both humans and animals.  Climate change has universal biological impacts. 

This is why One Health has been chosen as the focus area for the Faculty. This way the previous focus areas, animal and human health welfare and translational veterinary medicine, can merge into one strong research effort.