SFI Colloquium Explores Animal-Human Correlation

Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, left, and Kathryn Bowers. Courtesy photo

SFI Colloquium

Zoobiquity: How Jaguar Breast Cancer, Dolphin Diabetes, and Flamingo Heart Attacks will Transform Human Medicine

Tuesday, Nov. 27 • 3:30 p.m. • Noyce Conference Room, 1399 Hyde Park Road in Santa Fe.

Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCLA Division of Cardiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Kathryn Bowers University of California, Los Angeles.

Abstract: Dinosaurs suffered from brain cancer, arthritis and gout. Koalas catch Chlamydia. Reindeer seek out narcotic escape in hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Stallions self-harm in ways psychiatrists call “cutting” when they see it in human patients. Gorillas experience clinical depression.

Non-human animals get breast cancer, anxiety-induced fainting spells and sexually transmitted diseases; they suffer from diabetes, OCD, bulimia and addiction.

Zoobiquity springs from this simple but revelatory fact: Animals and humans get the same diseases, yet physicians and veterinarians rarely consult with one another.

Drawing on the latest in medical and veterinary science—as well as evolutionary and molecular biology—we propose an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to physical and behavioral health, including cardiology, gastroenterology, pediatrics and many other sub-specialties, including, significantly, psychiatry.

Our talk will explore animal-human correlates in cancer, heart disease, obesity and infection … as well as psychiatric conditions such as self-injuring syndromes in mustangs, parrots and dogs, compulsive grooming in cats, birds and reptiles, sexual dysfunction in stallions, and substance-seeking in wallabies, waxwing birds, bighorn sheep and many other animals.

We present comparative medicine as a new translational science, bringing knowledge from veterinary and evolutionary medicine to the human bedside.

Zoobiquity’s “species-spanning” approach to common clinical concerns expands how physicians understand disease in human patients, and holds hypothesis-generating and translational potential for doctors treating patients of all species.

SFI Host: Jennifer Dunne


The Santa Fe Institute is a nonprofit research center located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Its scientists collaborate across disciplines to understand the complex systems that underlie critical questions for science and humanity. The Institute is supported by philanthropic individuals and foundations, forward-thinking partner companies, and government science agencies.




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