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Human animal interactions

Understanding our connection with animals to improve human health

Our work explores the wide-ranging ways humans live with other species. We’re studying the significance of these human-animal interactions to improve our understanding of human health and disease.

We consume animals, use them in farming and transport, train them for security and assistance, and keep them for companionship and exercise. The diversity of these interactions and the broad range of academic disciplines in which they fall, means that researching other species in the environment that determines human health has been neglected until now.

Our research in human-animal interactions aims to:

  • integrate best-practice in human and animal medicine
  • measure the health benefits of pet ownership
  • investigate the environmental factors that drive the connection between obesity in pets and their owners
  • critically assess the practice of animal-based research into human health
  • examine the ethics of using other species for our own health benefit.

We tend to think of ourselves as living quite separately from animals. However, throughout history we’ve not only coexisted alongside other species, but depended on them for our own health and wellbeing. Our work expands the traditional model of human health to encompass our interactions with other species and explore the effects these have on our health.

Our collaborative approach will help to solve a range of problems, from conservation of endangered species to optimising diets for healthy ageing and addressing human obesity and cardiovascular disease. We’ll also train our current generation of students to embrace cross-disciplinary research.

  • Dr Gabriel Machovsky-Capuska, Veterinary Science, University of Sydney [Project lead]
  • Professor David Raubenheimer, Veterinary Science, University of Sydney
  • Dr Meredith Basha
  • Dr Arianne Cease
  • Ximonie Clark
  • Dr Fiona Clissold
  • Dr James Gilbert
  • Alison Gosby
  • Dr Robert Graham
  • Lindsey Gray, Science, University of Sydney
  • Matthew Hansen
  • Jesse Hawley
  • Dr Mathieu Lihoreau
  • Claire MacAlpine
  • Rosie Martin
  • Dr Vicky Melfi
  • Dr Lise Mellor, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney
  • Dr Cecily Oakley
  • Dr Fleur Ponton
  • Tamara Pulpitel
  • Katie Robinson
  • Dr Karrie Rose, Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University
  • Professor Stephen Simpson, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney
  • Dr David Slip, Taronga Zoo
  • Dr Samantha Solon, Science, University of Sydney
  • Dr Rebecca Spindler, Veterinary Science, University of Sydney
  • Dr Charmaine Tam, Science, University of Sydney
  • Pedro Telleria
  • Dr Monique Van Sluys, Taronga Zoo
  • Dr Shawn Wilder
  • Dr Jo Wiszniewski, Biological Sciences, Flinders University


  • Society and environment