In Memoriam: Professor Charles Thoen, DVM (1936-2017)

In Memoriam: Professor Charles Thoen, DVM (1936-2017)

The Union is saddened to announce the passing of Dr Charles Thoen, long-time Union member and past chair of the Zoonotic TB sub-section. Dr Thoen was an expert on veterinary medicine and a leading researcher in the field of zoonotic tuberculosis (TB), an often overlooked and under-reported strain of the disease. During his distinguished 50-year career, he chaired the department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine at Iowa State University, and served as a consultant and held leadership positions in key organisations, including the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the Smithsonian Institution, American Veterinary Epidemiology Society, as well as working with Ministries of Agriculture around the world.

Dr Thoen authored and co-authored over 130 publications and textbooks in infectious diseases. He spearheaded pioneering work for 20 years on TB in elephants, working with the US Department of Agriculture and an association of elephant owners to develop diagnostic, treatment and monitoring procedures for the disease. His influence and dedication were essential to keeping The Union’s Zoonotic TB sub-section active and engaged at a time when the topic had troubling garnering attention.

He was integral in the development of and push for the ‘One Health’ model, which calls for a unified and collaborative human medical, veterinary and environmental approach to zoonoses – infectious diseases which can pass between humans and animals – most particularly in its application to TB. He helped develop better collaboration across medical fields and other disciplines, building a global network of veterinarians, physicians, social anthropologists, researchers and economists. To this effect, he contributed to The Union’s efforts to emphasise zoonotic TB through various partnerships between public health and veterinary research organisations.

The Union and the motivated and hardworking members of the Zoonotic TB sub-section remain inspired by his legacy to push for better collaboration between medical and veterinary professionals and increased recognition and awareness of zoonotic TB.

As Dr Thoen himself put it:

“Tuberculosis doesn’t know if it’s in an animal or a human and doesn’t care who it infects next. We need better diagnostic tests and procedures.”