Preventing pandemics

Dr Suzan Murray, Smithsonian National Zoo Chief Veterinarian

Endangered wildlife is being threatened by new diseases, but so are humans…

  • Suzan Murray created the Smithsonian's Global Health Program after her team of veterinarians experienced a growing demand to address issues related to the survival of endangered wild species.
  • Since 75% of human infectious diseases come from wildlife, they realized they could save people and animals with the same methods: wildlife health surveillance; training professionals; and developing local skills and lab capacity.
  • Suzan works with other specialists to deploy to global hotspots as a 'rapid-response team' to address urgent wildlife needs while deepening partnerships with local communities, such as a girls' literacy program in Kenya.
  • Successes so far include the discovery of two new Corona viruses in bats; building a Giant Panda health care facility in China; and diagnosing a novel pathogen in east Africa.
  • Suzan knew she wanted to be a wildlife veterinarian at the age of five when she saw Jane Goodall on the television.

The Smithsonian Global Health Program works towards these UN Sustainable Development Goals:



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