THE University of Arizona has established a new School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences that will bring together teaching, research and extension resources from across the university's College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.
The school will focus on animal health, growth, nutrition and disease and human health challenges facing Arizona and the global community.
The University of Arizona Faculty Senate approved the creation of the new school on March 4, and it was formally dedicated during a ceremony the first week of April.
The school, which is being developed from the existing department of animal sciences and department of veterinary science and microbiology, will welcome its first undergraduate and graduate class in the fall 2013 semester. Faculty of both departments unanimously voted in favor of its creation.
The two departments currently offer undergraduate degree programs designed to prepare many students for medical or veterinary careers. Beginning this fall, students who join the school will be able to take advantage of a streamlined pre-professional track with access to additional upper-division electives.
The School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences is expected to provide improved degree opportunities and expanded options for interdisciplinary collaboration in the growing fields of animal production, food safety, integrated biomedicine and bioinformatics, the university explained. Students enrolled in the school will have access to stronger advising services and a range of innovative research facilities and programs.
"The School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences will create new opportunities for our students to engage in internships, research and varied laboratory and field experiences as undergraduates and as graduate students," Joy Winzerling, the Bart Cardon associate dean of academic programs and career development, said.
Additionally, the new school likely will host the proposed Arizona Veterinary Medical Education program. The university has petitioned the Arizona legislature for a $250,000 state appropriation to conduct an initial feasibility study of the program.
The proposed program would address rural shortages of large-animal veterinarians and other veterinarians needed in the public health, disease research and food safety industries, the announcement said.
Four teams conducted a planning process for the new school.
"In comparative biomedical sciences, we are looking at animal health in a very broad manner," Chuck Sterling, head of the department of veterinary science and microbiology and interim head of the department of animal sciences, explained. "We ask, How does animal health and disease relate to human health and disease?"
According to the National Center for Emerging & Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, approximately 75% of emerging diseases are zoonotic or have an animal vector in the chain of infection.
Comparative biomedical research is based on animal and microbiological models and aims to protect companion animal health, increase animal production, achieve biosecurity through a safe and ample food supply and protect human health from diseases that affect all creatures.
The school also will have a strong emphasis on industry partnerships to ensure that students who focus on subjects as diverse as beef production, biotechnology, food microbiology and recreational equine husbandry will be better prepared to compete for jobs, the announcement said.
The veterinary industry generates $7.5 billion nationwide, and animal agriculture contributes some $102 billion each year to the U.S. economy.