Group on the Integration of the Relationship between Animals, Public Health & Ethics
The focus on animals, public health, and ethics derives from the fact that the lives of humans and animals have been inextricably linked for millennia. These relationships arose when humans first domesticated livestock for agricultural purposes, influenced the evolution of dogs and cats to their current status as companion animals, and began using animal models to understand human anatomy and physiology.
Animals, Public Health & Ethics and Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins University, which has been consistently recognized for cutting-edge basic and public health research and clinical care, presents a unique venue to integrate the expertise of a core group of investigators, scholars and policy authorities in order to explore the intersection of animal, human and environmental health. Initially, GIRAPHE will comprise faculty from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, School of Medicine and Berman Institute of Bioethics, with provision to expand the scope of collaboration incrementally, e.g. to the School of Nursing, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and to allied institutions with Schools of Veterinary Medicine.
Specifically, GIRAPHE will address One Health issues with respect to laboratory, companion and farm animals. The initial research components will focus on areas of ongoing interest at JHU:
(1) ensuring that our animal models are scientifically optimal and ethically acceptable;
(2) studying naturally-occurring disease in animals using new therapies with the goal of expediting clinical trials and using animal models optimally; and
(3) determining the impact of factory farming and other agricultural practices on animal welfare, and the occurrence and spread of zoonotic agents as well as addressing global health issues related to potential pandemics resulting from zoonotic agents.
GIRAPHE will use the expert working group model to address critically important ethics and policy issues related to the research areas, for example to critically evaluate the necessity and effectiveness of current animal models for biomedical research, drawing on the approach used in the IOM study of the necessity of using chimpanzees in research.