Health was identified as the number one grand challenge Tufts should and could address. Addressing challenges under this theme requires interdisciplinary approaches beyond those currently used. One Health recognizes the importance of the evolutionary and ecological links and interdependencies among humans, animals, and the environment, and creates a research and learning enterprise that integrates human and veterinary medicine in an interactive dynamic of discovery and application.
The rise and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in microbes threatens a return to the preantibiotic era when common infections were untreatable and life-threatening. Indeed, approximately 700,000 human deaths are attributable to AMR each year globally. If trends continue, by 2050, 350 million cumulative deaths may be caused by AMR infections. This rise is fueled by microbiological, evolutionary, environmental and societal factors and can only be counteracted successfully by a multidisciplinary approach that addresses each of these aspects.
Rates of obesity continue to increase in every country worldwide, and nearly 40% of adults and 20% of children in the US are now obese. This is a global crisis not only because obesity causes premature death and serious health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke, but because obesity is an underlying driver of an even broader set of societal problems that include high rates of disability, inefficiency in the workforce, absenteeism, and bullying in school.
Harness strengths in basic and translational sciences, social sciences, medicine, data science, economics, nutrition, engineering, behavioral psychology, and veterinary and dental sciences to define common aspirations, and identify ways to create collaborative, high impact projects that generate research, scholarship, and training support to solve the global obesity crisis. In particular our existing strengths in intervention research, active citizenship, strategy, and global connections are critical components to build a unique obesity collaborative.
By 2050, the number of people over the age of 60 will increase to 2 billion, exceeding for the first time in the history of the world the number of children under the age of 14. Advances in science have greatly increased the human lifespan; however, at the same time non-communicable diseases such as sarcopenia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, macular degeneration, and cataracts are on the rise. Strategies will need to be developed to address the economic and social costs associated with a growing population of older adults and their impact on the economic survival of every nation.
Given the disease burden placed on our aging population, there are tremendous opportunities for advances in discovery and translational research to ameliorate age-related deleterious health effects. For example, although no treatment or cure exists for Alzheimer’s-related dementia, important lifestyles factors have been identified as key mediators of this disease. In addition, there has been an emergence of work identifying the cellular basis for aging (senescence) and the potential development of therapeutics targeting this process (senolytics). This work has the potential to preserve the functioning of multiple organs throughout the lifespan.