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PAWSitive InterAction Background
About the Human-Animal Bond
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PAWSitive InterAction Advisory Board


Dr. Sandra Barker
Director, Center for Human-Animal InterAction
Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Sandra Barker is Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She currently serves as Associate Director for five inpatient psychiatry programs and Director of the VCU Center for Human-Animal Interaction, a Center she established in the School of Medicine. She has incorporated evidence of the health benefits of interacting with companion animals into her teaching of psychiatry residents and doctoral psychology interns and incorporates animal-assisted therapy (AAT) into her clinical work. Dr. Barker is also an Adjunct Professor of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. Dr. Barker has been actively involved in research on human-companion animal interaction, and has published numerous articles and given talks around the world on the subject. She has received numerous awards including the 2002 Friends of Veterinary Medicine Award from the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, the 2001 Community Achievement Award from the American Kennel Club, and the 2001 Distinguished Alumni Award from Florida State University.


Dr. Alan Beck
Director, Center for the Human-Animal Bond

School of Veterinary Medicine
Purdue University

Since 1990, Dr. Beck has served as the Dorothy N. McAllister Professor of Animal Ecology and Director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond in the School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. The Center was established to develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between people and their companion animals. Dr. Beck has studied the ecological and public health implications of dogs in Baltimore, St. Louis, New York and along the Unites States-Mexican border. His book, The Ecology of Stray Dogs: A Study of Free-Ranging Urban Animals, is considered a classic in the field of urban ecology; it was republished in 2001 by Purdue University Press. This book is touted as being of considerable interest to all ecologists, behaviorists and biologists. Dr. Beck co-edited the book, New Perspectives on Our lives with Companion Animals and coauthored the popular book, Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship.


Dr. Marty Becker
Veterinary correspondent for ABC-TV’s Good Morning America

Author, The Healing Power of Pets

Dr. Becker is the resident veterinarian on ABC-TV's Good Morning America, and he stars in segments for the Walt Disney Television Series Petsburgh, U.S.A., airing nationally on Animal Planet. His highly acclaimed weekly newspaper column, The Bond, is distributed internationally by Knight Ridder Tribune Services. He is the co-author of the bestseller Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul, and Chicken Soup for the Dog and Cat Lover's Soul, Chief Veterinary Correspondent for Amazon.com, as well as contributing editor to Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy magazines. He is also the author of the popular new book, The Healing Power of Pets. Dr. Becker has lectured at the Smithsonian Institute, at veterinary schools across North America, and in over 60 countries, serving as a catalyst for change in the way we interact with and take responsibility for our pets. As a veterinarian, author, educator and media personality, Dr. Marty Becker was selected for Veterinarian of the Year 2000 by the MSPCA (Massachusettes Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Animals).


Dr. Edward Creagan
Professor, Mayo Clinic Medical School

American Cancer Society Professor of Clinical Oncology
The John and Roma Rouse Professor of Humanism in Medicine

As a Mayo Clinic cancer specialist, Dr. Edward Creagan has written extensively about the secrets of successful aging. According to Dr. Creagan, quality of life is determined more by lifestyle choices than by genetics. He has authored 400 scientific papers and given speeches throughout the world, presenting his "seven proven strategies for living longer," advocating the healing power of pets, not pills. His columns on health and wellness in the Minneapolis Tribune and Cedar Rapids Gazette are widely acclaimed. He has been at the Mayo Clinic for 29 years, recently completing his term as President of the Mayo Clinic Staff. Dr. Creagan is the medical editor of Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging and the authour of a book in progress, Don't Bet on Your Life. A Guide for Cancer Patients. He is an associate medical editor of MayoClinic.com, Mayo's internet site for health information. He is also on the editorial board of Healthquest, a wellness publication for Corporate America.


Dr. Rebecca Johnson
Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing and Public Policy

Director of the Center on Aging, Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri - Columbia

Dr. Rebecca Johnson is the Associate Director for Research with the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) College of veterinary medicine Center for the Study of Animal Wellness. As the author of over 30 publications in peer reviewed journals and books, Dr. Johnson combines her research and clinical interest in fostering wellness and independence among older adults with her belief in the importance of the human-animal bond. She is currently conducting a 5-year study investigating the relocation and decision-making process among elderly people from diverse ethnic backgrounds as they transition to nursing homes. Her research explores the important role of the human animal bond in mediating the stress and negative outcomes of relocation, while studying the benefits of animals as a unique source of social support. At the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, she serves as the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing and the Public Policy Director of the Center on Aging, a virtual Center dedicated to facilitating interdisciplinary research on aging among MU's faculty.


Dr. Joseph Ouslander
Director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Emory University

Joseph G. Ouslander, M.D., is a Professor of Medicine and Nursing, and serves as the Director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at Emory University. He is also Director of the Emory Center for Health in Aging and the Chief Medical Officer at Wesley Woods Center of Emory University. Dr. Ouslander is widely recognized as an expert especially in the fields of geriatric urinary incontinence and long-term care for the aging - he has published over 100 original research articles and book chapters, as well as edited special volumes for journals. He is co-author of Essentials of Clinical Geriatrics, Medical Care in the Nursing Home, and an editor of Principles of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. Previously, Dr. Ouslander was on the faculty of the UCLA School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Geriatrics Society for ten years, was the Society's President in 1999-2000 and its Board Chair in 2000-2001.

Dr. Nalini Saligram
Past Board Chair, PAWsitive Interaction

Nalini served as Board Chair for PAWSitive InterAction from its inception in 2001 to Sep 2003. She was a prinicpal founder member of the board and was responsible for guiding the group's strategic direction. She is now an advisory board member. Until most recently, she served as director of corporate communications for Merial in North America, where she was responsible for communications and public relations initiatives, and for raising Merial's corporate profile both internally and externally. Previously she worked at GlaxoSmithKline in a global communications role. Passionate about giving back to the community Nalini has been a member of numerous non-profit boards and community efforts. She was a founder of Women's Initiative Next Generation, WINGs, a program under the Women's Legacy group of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. She serves on the Dean's Council of Emory's Rollins School of Public Health and is a member of the Society of International Business Fellows.




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