Ocean, Animal, and Human Health ACT

ACT Goals

The OSU Marine Council Ocean, Animal and Human Health Action Coordination Team (ACT) was established to promote collaboration and to strengthen University activities involving the effects of ocean health on human and animal health.  The mission of this multi-disciplinary group is to explore opportunities to contribute, in an innovative way, to the knowledge and to the creation of potential solutions to the complex relationship between the ocean, animals and humans. The existence of such a broad spectrum of skills and interests, will not only allow for the beginning of innovative research with potential for significant impact downstream, but also to develop a level of preparedness to respond to future challenges and crises.

Team Lead:

Dr. Luiz Bermudez



The health of humans and animals are strongly connected to the health of the ocean. In addition to being the home to organisms that live within it, the ocean provides many benefits to humans including seafood, pharmaceuticals, oxygen production, nutrient cycling, climate moderation, and recreational opportunities. 

The marine environment is under unprecedented stress, which can result in significant alterations of the ecosystem, leading to unknown but serious consequences to animal and human health.  Diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, may impact human health directly by infecting the human host, or indirectly, by infecting the food chain. The same can be said with regards to toxic products such as mercury.  The recent discovery of methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus  (a human pathogen) in both fresh and seawater is an evidence that human behavior is a main contributor among the factors impacting the equilibrium of the ocean ecosystem and that the three components (ocean, humans and animals) are inter-connected.

In addition to the components mentioned above, the environmental consequences of climate change will certainly affect ocean, human and animal health, both directly and indirectly. Sound science will be needed to better understand the issues involved.



This ACT is comprised of a group of faculty with diverse areas of interest.  We have identified core areas of alignment and strength among our multidisciplinary members. Other interested faculty will be welcome and potentially complementary.


Initial conversations identified a number of multidisciplinary topics that will be of potential interest for future research development. This list will be expanded upon as we gather more information on the expertise and available facilities of our members.

  1. Comparative biology and medicine involving marine mammals, humans and fish, with particular emphasis on immunology (genomic expression, innate immunity) and pharmacogenomics/ toxicogenomics.
  2. Development of environmental sensors, and correlation with marine life health and serve as an early warning against development of conditions that affect the safety of ocean food products.
  3. Antibiotic resistance, spreading, impacts on ocean life, and potential consequences for human food.
  4. Disease detection, transmission, monitoring, and response, including vectorborne and zoonotic diseases.  Research organisms: Marine mammals, humans, and other marine animals.
Funding and Grant Opportunities

A number of Federal Agencies and Foundations are beginning to shift some of their focus to the environmental effects on human and animal health, as well as climate change and impact on health.

NSF, USDA, NIH, NOAA, and private foundations will certainly be the obvious source of funding. A process will be put in place to identify opportunities, which bring many participants in the group together.



Luiz Bermudez, Team Lead and Head, Biomedical Sciences Dept., luiz.bermudez@oregonstate.edu

Bruce Mate, Director, Marine Mammal Institute, bruce.mate@oregonstate.edu

Tim Miller-Morgan, Oregon Sea Grant Extension Veternatian, tim.miller-morgan@oregonstate.edu

Scott Baker, Associate Director, Marine Mammal Institute, scott.baker@oregonstate.edu

Jerri Bartholomew, Dept of Microbiology, jerri.bartholomew@oregonstate.edu

Rob Bildfell, College of Veterinary Medicine, rob.bildfell@oregonstate.edu

Julia Burco, Oregon Dept. of Fisheries & Wildlife, and Biomedical Sciences Dept., julia.d.burco@state.or.us

Patrick Chappell, College of Veterinary Medicine, patrick.chappell@oregonstate.edu  

Cyril Clarke, Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, cyril.clarke@oregonstate.edu           

Theo Dreher, Dept of Microbiology, theo.dreher@oregonstate.edu              

Kate Field, Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, kate.field@oregonstate.edu            

Stephen Giovannoni, Dept of Microbiology, steve.giovannoni@oregonstate.edu

Claudia Häse, College of Veterinary Medicine, hasec@science.oregonstate.edu

Jerry Heidel, College of Veterinary Medicine, jerry.heidel@oregonstate.edu

Markus Horning, Marine Mammal Institute, markus.horning@oregonstate.edu

Ling Jin, College of Veterinary Medicine, ling.jin@oregonstate.edu

Anna Jolles, College of Veterinary Medicine, anna.jolles@oregonstate.edu

Michael Kent, Dept of Microbiology, michael.kent@oregonstate.edu

Kathy Magnusson, College of Veterinary Medicine, kathy.magnusson@oregonstate.edu

Ron Mandsager, College of Veterinary Medicine, ron.mandsager@oregonstate.edu 

Kerry McPhail, College of Pharmacy, kerry.mcphail@oregonstate.edu

Vincent Remcho, Dept of Chemistry, vincent.remcho@oregonstate.edu

Jim Rice, Marine Mammal Institute, jim.rice@oregonstate.edu

Mahfuz Sarker, Center for Genome Research & Biocomputing, College of Veterinary Medicine, Dept of Microbiology, sarker@oregonstate.edu

Martin Schuster, Dept of Microbiology, martin.schuster@oregonstate.edu

Robert Tanguay, Environmental & Molecular Toxicology, robert.tanguay@oregonstate.edu

Janine Trempy, Dept of Microbiology, trempyj@oregonstate.edu

Mark Zabriskie, College of Pharmacy, mark.zabriskie@oregonstate.edu