Zoobiquity Event at Karolinska Institutet

Leading physicians, veterinarians, clinical and experimental researchers gathered at Biomedicum for the Zoobiquity event in September, 2019. It offered a collaborative and interactive atmosphere for all attendees to immerse in bio-inspired research focused on two challenges in women’s health: Cardiovascular Disease and Reproductive health, including fertility Preservation.

Zoobiquity event at KI
Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Londa Schiebinger

The event was organized in collaboration with the DevReg Doctoral Programme and moderated by Karolina Kublickiene, founder of the KI Gendered Innovation Alliance.

The potential for biomedical innovation emerging from scientific and clinical collaborations between human and veterinary medicine is great but gaps between the two fields has so far been a limiting factor. Exposing clinical investigators to experts in animal health and the natural world and vice versa at meeting like this helps to close the gap and move beyond the anthropocentric perspective. By using the natural world as a source of insights we can accelerate bio-inspired inter-species research as well as human and animal health innovation. For all our vast differences, human and animal DNA is more alike than different.

Keynote presenter Londa Schiebinger (Professor of History and director of Gendered Innovations, Stanford University) provided some fascinating examples of the importance of gender analysis in scientific research. Did you know for instance that lab rats show less pain when male scientists are present due to excretion of pheromones? Imagine the implications for understanding human pain. She also highlighted gender problems with modern machine translation software (Google Translate etc). There is typically a male default in machine translation that programmers need to be more aware of.

Using natural animal models is a source of insights for issues in women's health. Tobias Wang, Professor, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, presented compelling findings regarding the cardiovascular physiology of giraffes - the masters of hypertension with an extraordinary tolerance to high blood pressures. The model could be used to study the pathology of heart failure in men and women.

Zoobiquity event at KI Biomedicum

Comprehensive research on human fertility has presented a clear picture of its dramatic decline in most parts of the world. Can we see any parallels between human and animal fertility, and why it varies between and within populations? Those were the topics raised and discuss intensively, where interdisciplinary approach seems to be crucial to tackle those challenges. The panel discussion also stressed the importance of endocrine system and chemicals in the environment in relation in the course and/ fertility preservation.

During this multi-faceted and energizing day, the presenters and audience shared and aligned knowledge, approaches and findings. We look forward to even more ingenious interdisciplinary solutions!

The organizing committee: Associated Professor Karolina Kublickiene - Division of Renal Medicine, CLINTEC & DEVREG Doctoral Programme, Professor Peter Stenvinkel Renal Medicine, CLINTEC in collaboration with Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, M.D, visiting Professor, Harvard University and Johanna Painer, PhD, DVM, Wildlife-Veterinarian, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.