dcsimg For Our Shared Health - Life on a Sustainable Planet Skip to main content CONTENT

Our Shared Health

One Planet, One Health

Human health and the health of our planet are interconnected. Successful conservation of wildlife and ecosystems benefits health for all of us!

The Smithsonian aims to advance knowledge to protect all aspects of the health of humans, plants, animals, and their shared environment.  This includes the study and prevention of infectious and non-communicable diseases, as well as ecological and environmental degradations impacting the health of living organisms.

Our Approach:

  • We integrate ecology, epidemiology, evolution, and conservation biology as a warranty of good health for humans, animals, and plants across ecosystems, on land and sea.
  • An interdisciplinary group of scientists, practitioners, and educators explores environmental, human, and animal health interconnections.
  • Research efforts are focused on North and Central America and Africa, with the possibility of applying the same model to other countries.

Mosquitoes: A National Resource

The Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit is a unique national resource—a partnership between the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The collaboration focuses on identifying key arthropods like mosquitoes and ticks and understanding their role in disease transmission, using both traditional taxonomy and modern genetics. The U.S. National Mosquito Collection is the world’s largest taxonomically and geographically comprehensive collection of over 1.7 million specimens.

This effort is showcased in the Mosquito Barcoding Initiative, which has compiled DNA data from over 70,000 individuals across 1,400 species, accessible through the Barcode of Life Database.



Protecting from Mosquito-borne Diseases

To address the global health risk associated with mosquito-born illness, scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and educators from the Smithsonian Science Education Center collaborated to create a free educational module—Mosquito!—available via the Smithsonian Learning Lab.



Openly Available Biodiversity Information

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open-access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives.

BHL operates as a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to address this challenge by digitizing the natural history literature in their collections and making it freely available for open access as part of a global “biodiversity community.”