While it’s second nature for vets, most doctors never consider the human animal cross-over of diseases and conditions. While they may explore this when their own pets gets sick, few will go beyond this to ponder that a whale might get breast cancer, or a marmoset might get heart disease. Or, expanding the commonality in comparative medicine, that conditions seen in human athletes might also be seen a cheetah, a greyhound or an antelope.

Curiosity leads to opportunity

Barbara Natterson Horowitz is first and foremost a doctor. Then, after 25 years as a cardiology specialist the UCLA Medical Centre, an unexpected turn of events took her to the L.A. Zoo. From there she authored a New York Times best-selling book, Zoobiquity. Her TED talk has been watched by over 300,000 people. At the time of this interview, we find her at Harvard, where she is on a year-long tenure as Professor of Evolutionary Medicine. Barbara is interested in the links between human and veterinary medicine, and how what we know about one species can affect our diagnosis and treatment of others. This comparative medicine, she says, has radically changed the way she looks at her human patients and thinks about their care. This is one health at the patient level.

Barbara tells us how she frames the questions she wants answered by comparing the human and animal kingdoms. She talks about how her experiences as a consultant cardiologist at the L.A. Zoo shaped the way she viewed and treated her human patients. Consequently, how it came about that she wrote a best-selling book on the subject

Plus, that ever recurring theme of women in medicine and the pressures on family life that a busy career brings.

Find out more about Zoobiquity; the nature of human nature.

Listen to our related podcast from mum and trauma surgeon, Jamie Coleman.