Neurological disorders constitute a major health and economic challenge for Western societies. In addition, advanced parental age, typical in developed societies, is associated with adverse effects on children. Novel treatments and preventive strategies are urgently needed.
Domesticated animals have been exposed to similar environmental factors as humans, and have experienced similar social evolution. This has resulted in highly uniform genomes which are ideal for mapping complex traits with a strong genetic disposition, such as behavioral disorders and reproductive and metabolic diseases.
A threat is also posed by (re-)emerging infections due to globalization and associated environmental changes, including climate change and changes in animal husbandry. Most emerging human infections are caused by zoonotic and vector-borne pathogens, such as the public health emergencies caused by SARS and Zika. Several food-borne zoonotic and veterinary pathogens are also of concern.
Helsinki One Health initiative will utilize the well-documented genetic background of domesticated animals combined with their rigorously controlled health to understand the link between genetic background and disposition to disease and test the causality between the two by using state-of-the-art molecular biological and imaging approaches applied in in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro animal models. The research will also employ cutting-edge tools such as metagenomic pathogen discovery to enable rapid detection and control of emerging infections.