Remembering Dr Mike Nunn, a pioneering One Health advocate and mentor

Dr Mike Nunn sitting, smiling at camera and holding a mug.

Dr Andrea Britton, PHAA One Health Special Interest Group co-convenor

It is with much loss and gratitude that we reflect on the One Health Special Interest Group founding member, Dr Mike Nunn. Sadly, he passed away in late May 2023. Co-founder of the SIG, Professor Martyn Jeggo, has shared his sadness at the passing of a close friend and colleague and acknowledged his many contributions to animal health and the One Health movement. Professor Robyn Alders AO has highlighted how Mike “was a great proponent of participatory methodologies to ensure that ideas and approaches were as inclusive as possible”. For me, he was a leader in the advancement of operationalising the One Health approach including most recently providing input into the stakeholder consultation submissions for the design and function of the proposed Australian CDC. Additionally, he raised awareness of climate change impacts across human, animal, plant, and environmental health.

I first worked with Mike in 2007 during the Equine Influenza outbreak. I recall scoping out possible pathways of virus entry into Australia and transmission out of the quarantine station – what a privilege to have worked with him. He worked across many One Health fronts and developed cross-sectoral networks, readily sharing contacts especially from Papua New Guinea (PNG). He worked long days and always sought to validate information and scientific evidence.

Mike worked in PNG as a new veterinary graduate shortly after PNG gained independence. He worked for 13 years in field, laboratory, and administration as the Department of Agriculture and Livestock’s Director of Animal and Plant Health. Dr Nime Kapo (past Chief Veterinary Officer of PNG) described Mike as having “a deep connection to Papua New Guinea… , the place, the people, culture and its veterinary services”.

Mike worked in the Department of Agriculture (Federal) for 22 years in roles in the Bureau of Rural Sciences, the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer and Biosecurity Australia. From 2012 to 2017, he was Principal Advisor (Health and Biosecurity) for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, where he led a program of research to improve animal health, human health, and animal production overseas.

Mike had an outstanding influence on animal health, One Health, emerging infectious disease research, international development, strategic foresight, and education. On a personal note, I thank Mike for introducing me to the PHAA and One Health SIG and for the mentorship provided over many years.


Image: Republished with permission of family member of Dr Mike Nunn


Note: Image updated 30/5/23.

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