I am Ilaria Capua, and I am a full professor and the Director of the One Health Center of Excellence at the University of Florida. Veterinarian by training and virologist by passion, I dedicated most of my professional life to viral infections of animals that can be transmitted to humans, and that cause poverty and food security issues such as Avian influenza (bird flu), Newcastle disease, and Rabies. Prior to joining UF, I was elected as a member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament. I served for two and a half years (2013-2016) as Vice President of the Science, Culture, and Education Commission. During my years in the legislature, I authored Parliamentary resolutions and amendments related to infectious diseases, namely antimicrobial resistance, epidemic threats (Ebola), and emerging pathogens of plants and animals (Xylella spp).
At the peak of the H5N1 bird flu panzootic, I provided global leadership by igniting an international debate on the trans-disciplinary sharing of influenza virus genetic sequences to improve pandemic preparedness. This led to a paradigm shift in the approach to pandemic preparedness, and real-time sharing of genetic data is considered an essential component of the fight against Ebola, Zika, and other infectious disease threats.
In 2007, I was among the awardees of the Scientific American 50 Award for leadership in science policy, and in 2008 I was included among Seed’s Revolutionary Minds series, for my leadership in promoting the sharing of information at an international level. Other international awards include the most prestigious award in veterinary medicine, the Penn Vet World Leadership in Animal Health Award in 2011, and the Gordon Memorial Medal in 2012. In 2014 I was the recipient of the ESCMID Excellence Award for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious diseases. I have authored over 200 publications in peer reviewed journals and have published scientific books on Avian Influenza and Newcastle disease and books on careers in science for the general public. I am active in the field of science communication and in promoting female leadership in the scientific arena.
My vision for One Health is to give for granted that human, animal, plant and environmental health are connected and we must seek novel ways to explore these connections. To do this we need to become permeable to other disciplines. The stakeholder and decision-making perspective gained in Parliament is key to the realization of this multi-disciplinary approach and complements the scientific expertise which is essential in addressing global health issues.
There is a life beyond professional engagements. I love to cook (and would like to set up cooking classes for easy real-Italian–food here in Gainesville). I am also trying to make a Mediterranean garden survive in Gainesville. I enjoy writing nonfiction books. I have written five books (all in Italian for the time being) on my experiences as a veterinarian in research and in public health.