An Interview with... Drs. Jerry and Nancy Jaax - Veterinary Medicine
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An Interview with... Drs. Jerry and Nancy Jaax

VETERINARY MEDICINE


What is your favorite film and why?

Jerry: The Man with Two Brains, a comedy about a renowned brain surgeon (Steve Martin) with spouse problems. It really pokes fun at the medical profession in general, with much of it revolving around egos and the infallibility of doctors. I think this issue applies to all medical professionals, including veterinarians. We can all take ourselves too seriously at times.

What part of your work do you enjoy most?

Jerry and Nancy: Because of the visibility we received from the book The Hot Zone, we have had the opportunity to speak to many people about the roles of veterinarians in public health, infectious disease, bioterrorism, and national defense. We repeatedly find that even within our own profession, there is limited awareness and appreciation of the important contributions of veterinarians in many of these critical areas.

What do you consider the greatest threat to the profession?

Jerry and Nancy: Salaries that are not competitive with those of other healthcare professionals. Salary disparity has the potential to eventually compromise the profession's ability to attract high-quality applicants to schools.

Which animal health needs are currently unmet?

Jerry and Nancy: Countermeasures for diseases of animal and public health significance, especially those diseases that could be used for biowarfare, bioterrorism, or agroterrorism.

What direction should future research on bioterrorism agents take?

Jerry and Nancy: If the answer to this were easy, we would not be so concerned. Biotechnology is in many ways our most important asset in developing countermeasures (e.g. vaccines, treatments, detectors, novel immunity enhancements, decontamination) to bioterrorism. But biotechnology can be misused to enhance the weapons potential of existing microbes or to create new classes of weapons that we cannot readily counter. Ironically, rapid advances in biotechnology pose perhaps our greatest biodefense challenges and are among our best tools to counter existing and emerging potential threats.

Does the prospect of a bioterrorist attack ever keep you awake at night?

Jerry and Nancy: Well, the bioterrorist genie is out of the bottle, and we feel that it is virtually inevitable that there will be additional bioterrorist attacks in this country targeting either people or our agricultural or economic infrastructure. However, we also believe that individual health risk is exceptionally low. On the issue of worrying about our personal safety, we sleep just fine.


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Source: VETERINARY MEDICINE,
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