One Health leader presents prestigious Schofield Lecture

Dr. Ilaria Capua presents Schofield Lecture at OVC.

From left to right are Dr. Gordon Kirby, associate dean of research and innovation at OVC, Natalie Chow, president of the Central Veterinary Students’ Association at OVC, Dr. Ilaria Capua, holding the Schofield Medal, and OVC Dean Dr. Jeffrey Wichtel. (Photo courtesy of OVC)

Dr. Ilaria Capua, director of UF’s One Health Center of Excellence for Research and Training and an avian influenza expert, was invited to present the prestigious Schofield Memorial Lecture at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, on Nov. 14.

The Schofield Lecture is one of the highlights of OVC’s academic year and honors one of Canada’s great veterinary scientists, Dr. Francis Schofield.

Capua spoke on the importance of resilience in weathering research-related controversies and provided an overview of her own career, which included a stint in the Italian Parliament. She also spoke about her goal of using her Parliamentary experience to contribute to the understanding and vision of One Health as part of sustainable development goals, among those reducing poverty, reducing hunger and promoting gender equality.

Prior to her three of years of service in the Italian Parliament, she directed the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Legnaro, in Padova, Italy. The department provides diagnostic assistance at both the national and international levels, and performs cutting-edge research on influenza viruses and viral zoonoses. The group collaborates with major research institutes worldwide and has developed international collaborative projects aiming to capitalize on investments for capacity building in developing countries.

She rose to the international stage in 1999 due to her efforts to quell the 1999-2000 avian influenza outbreak, then the largest outbreak of avian flu ever recorded. Her team developed novel diagnostic and interventional strategies, including the first ever to combat avian influenza by vaccination. The strategy is now included in European Union legislation to compat avian influenza infectious in poultry.

In 2006, she drew international attention from media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the New  York Times, for her advocacy of increased openness in sharing genetic information from panzootic H5N1 virus strains across disciplines. Her advocacy for the sharing of virus sequences has resulted in a better understanding of animal and human infectious diseases and has become a core part of pandemic preparedness plans. In 2007, her efforts led to being named one of the winners of the Scientific American 50 award honoring visionaries from the worlds of research, industry and politics.

Capua holds an appointment in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of infectious diseases and immunology. She presented the keynote lecture at the college’s Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day this past year, and more recently, gave the keynote address at the UF Grand Guard Society’s 2017 reunion event, hosted in November by the college.







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