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Fulfilling the Mission
Alumna Deborah Thomson V12 creates a more sustainable planet through One Health Lessons
March 2, 2022
Deborah Thomson V12, president and founder of One Health Lessons

“It all started sitting in Cummings School’s Tufts Wildlife Clinic when I first heard the term ‘One Health,’” explains Deborah Thomson V12, founder and president of One Health Lessons. “That moment changed my life.” 


Thomson was inspired by Cummings School’s mission: to improve and promote the health and well-being of animals, people, and ecosystems we share, which it accomplishes through the advancement of One Health initiatives. 


For years, after working 10 to 12 hours each day in the clinic, Thomson created lessons about One Health from home and then visited classrooms to teach children and adults about this global initiative of care. Today, the lessons she created are being translated into 88 languages and are taught by hundreds of people around the world through her organization, which inspires individuals worldwide to value the interconnection between the health of people, animals, plants, and the environment with a vision to change societies to create a more sustainable planet. 


In addition to One Health Lessons, Thomson chairs the World Veterinary Association’s One Health Education Subgroup, which provides guidance to improve One Health educational efforts in every veterinary school on the planet. After working in the United States Senate as the 2019–20 AVMA Science and Engineering Policy Fellow, she authored and self-published The Art of Science Communication: Sharing knowledge with students, the public, and policymakers. The book aims to improve science communication skills for veterinarians and other STEM advocates to motivate influencers to support science and medicine. 


Prior to attending Cummings School, Thomson taught music in a primary school and was a full-time instructor of English language learners between the ages of 11 and 65. At Cummings School, she earned a post-graduate certificate in International Veterinary Medicine and was mentored by Dr. Robin Alders.  


Deborah Thomson V12, president and founder of One Health Lessons, in Africa treating a chicken with colleagues.

Deborah Thomson V12, president and founder of One Health Lessons, in Africa treating a chicken with colleagues.

Thomson completed two One Health research projects abroad, working with water buffalo in Nepal and with village chickens in Tanzania. “I remember those summers very fondly and have maintained friendships to this day from those experiences,” Thomson remarks. “In retrospect, those One Health projects changed my life. I wanted to do more in One Health. Ultimately, that led me to create One Health Lessons.” 


Since then, Thomson has mentored more than 40 individuals from countries across the globe. “Staying in touch with my mentor, Dr. Alders, has been quite meaningful and impactful,” Thomson contends. “It made me want to pay it forward and help others.” 


Currently mentoring 12 interns and serving with four other members on the Board of Directors for One Health Lessons, Thomson feels fulfilled by her work and eager to spread the One Health message. “One Health Lessons is still in its infancy, so we are building the program and we are partnering with individuals and organizations on every continent,” says Thomson. Its internship program is available to anyone over 18 and accessible remotely.  


An active graduate, Thomson has spoken at a Tufts One Health Club event and will host an Art Showcase on March 5. There, individuals share their artistic creation which demonstrates what One Health means to them. “An art scout from the World Health Organization (WHO) will attend and if they are impressed, an artist may be selected to present their work at a future WHO art showcase,” Thomson shares. 


On March 7, Thomson will moderate an alumni panel discussion, One Health in the Veterinary Field and Beyond, where a diverse group of Cummings School graduates will share how they use the One Health approach to solve problems in their field. And on March 9, she will speak at an at an online seminar event focused in India. 


As someone who embodies the Cummings School mission, both personally and professionally, it is not surprising to learn that Thomson could see herself lecturing or teaching on campus in the future. “I’d love to do that, particularly in the One Health space,” Thomson beams. 

Posted in: Alumni, One Health
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