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Plaque essay of flu virus (using MDCK cells). © INRA, MARC Daniel

One Health: the first European Master’s degree in infectious disease control  

The international Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree in Infectious Diseases and One Health (EMJMD–IDOH), coordinated by the INRA-Université de Tours Joint Research Unit for Infectiology and Public Health, has been selected first among 89 project proposals.

Updated on 06/16/2017
Published on 09/08/2016

Over 60% of new infectious illnesses in humans are of animal origin. This high percentage is the result of changes affecting our planet such as global warming and an increasing demand for animal products.  The intensification of farming practices to feed 9 billion people by 2050 leads to a) a growing degree of proximity between people, livestock and wild animals, and b) overuse of medicines, including antibiotics, to contain pathogens. Effective and sustainable control of infectious diseases calls for a comprehensive view of animal- and human-based pathogens which takes into consideration the impact of environment on the appearance and re-appearance of new diseases, as well as the impact on the environment of the treatment methods used. The “One Health” concept driving this comprehensive view is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which signed a tripartite agreement in 2010.

A global approach to the fight against pathogens also requires close cooperation between partners to provide training on the concept. Three European universities – the Université de Tours, the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the University of Edinburgh (UoE) – via their three internationally renowned partner institutes, specialised in public health and veterinary research (INRA at the Univeristé de Tours, CreSA at UAB and the Roslin Institute at UoE), decided to create an introductory course on pathogen research, based on a One Health approach, for young scientists around the world. Thirty-one academic and private partners, including 17 universities and public research institutes and 14 companies working in animal and/or human health, are also taking part in the IDOH project. Active on every continent, they will notably be involved in promoting the Master’s degree and in selecting the best students from around the globe.
The result of collaboration between very complementary partners, the EMJMD-IDOH International Master’s project was submitted to the European Union in February 2016. The project won first place out of 89 proposals and will receive €2.76 million in funding between September 2016 and September 2020. This sum includes 56 scholarships – 12 of which will go to students from African, Carribean and Pacific countries (for example: Kenya, Cameroon, New Guinea), Asia (Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam) and Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Peru and Uruguay).
After an intense year of preparation, the first class of approximately 20 students will begin their first semester of classes in the IDOH programme at the Université de Tours in September 2017. Instruction is exclusively in English. Students will complete the second semester at the UAB in Barcelona and the third semester in Edinburgh at the UoE. For their last semester, students will complete a research internship in one of 37 research labs run by project partners on different continents.   This programme ensures the prominence of One Health on a crucial level – the preparation of future research and development leaders in academic and private spheres.

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