Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health
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Heart failure, diabetes, breast cancer, obesity, fainting spells, depression… these serious health issues face doctors and their patients everyday… whether the patient is a human or a horse, a panda, a cheetah, a dolphin, an elephant. When cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz found during a consultation at the Los Angeles Zoo that a monkey experienced the same symptoms of heart failure as her human patients, she started on a path that significantly changed how she practiced medicine. She began researching to see if every condition she found in humans happened with animals, too. And usually, it did. According to Dr. Natterson-Horowitz’s findings, dinosaurs suffered from brain cancer, koalas can catch Chlamydia, jaguars develop breast cancer, dolphins can suffer from diabetes, stallions suffer from sexual dysfunction, dogs have PTSD, gorillas experience clinical depression - the list doesn’t stop there.
She started asking the question - can we better understand human health and illness if we learn from veterinarians and the animals they treat? Dr. Natterson-Horowitz thinks the answer is yes, and she brings to the human bedside this species-spanning approach from veterinary and evolutionary medicine. Zoobiquity is the name she and science writer Kathryn Bowers have given to this pan-species approach, a method that uses key connections between animals and humans to diagnose and treat patients of all species. On Wednesday, June 26 we learned more about Zoobiquity from Dr. Natterson-Horowitz and Ms. Bowers with KPCC’s Sanden Totten as the moderator at the Crawford Family Forum. Do you think your problems are uniquely human? Think again.
Sanden Totten, KPCC’s reporter on all things science
Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, M.D.: co-author, Zoobiquity; cardiac consultant for the Los Angeles Zoo; member of the Zoo’s Medical Advisory Board; Director of Imaging at the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center; professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, where she lectures about cardiovascular physiology.
Kathryn Bowers: co-author, Zoobiquity; science writer and editor. She has taught writing at UCLA.