Department: Production and Population Health

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Groups: Ecosystems Health, Safe and Sustainable Food

Research Centres: Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health

Katharina is Professor of Veterinary Public Health Policy

Katharina was born in Frauenfeld, Switzerland and graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Zürich in 1988. Her Doctoral thesis on the Risk factors for Enzootic Pneumonia Re-infection in SPF Pig Breeding Herds undertaken between 1989 and 1991 was honoured with the Karl-Pfizer-Award in 1992.

Between 1995 and 1998 Katharina undertook a PhD programme at Massey University in New Zealand in information systems for the prevention and control of infectious diseases in pigs. Following this Katharina then worked for 2 years in Denmark as a research officer for the Danish Bacon and Meat Council. She then took a post as a Head of Section of Monitoring, at the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office which she held for 7 years. Parallel to this Katharina worked as part-time lecturer in Epidemiology and Veterinary Public Health at the University of Bern in 2000. From 2002-2006 Katharina was also a Member of the Executive Board at the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office, Bern, with responsibility for 30 staff.

In 2005, Katharina spent 4 months as a Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Agricultural Life Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan. She joined the Royal Veterinary College in January 2007. Katharina has an international role as President of the European College for Veterinary Public Health (ECVPH Website).

Since 2010, Katharina is a part-time senior VPH consultant with Safoso, Bern, Switzerland.

The continuing theme of Katharina Stärk’s research is the focus on the design of monitoring and surveillance programmes as part of national disease control efforts. While she was initially conducting projects in the context of respiratory diseases in pigs, the scope was later broadened to infectious diseases in general, including zoonoses and foodborne infections.

A highlight of her early research work was the contribution to the epidemiological understanding of infectious respiratory diseases in pigs and the risk of airborne transmission. This led to the design, pilot testing and eventually implementation of the area-wide eradication of these diseases in the whole of Switzerland. As one of the first countries world-wide, Switzerland achieved this goal and continues to maintain an exceptionally high health status in pigs (Stärk et al., 2007).

Katharina Stärk was later pioneering the use of risk assessment in the context of animal health through applied examples as well as international capacity building. She integrated methods of risk assessment in the design of surveillance programmes providing a methodological basis for risk-based priority setting and resource allocation (Stärk et al., 2006). This method is currently being applied by the Swiss Veterinary Service in a number of programmes, including avian influenza and bluetongue surveillance. There is considerable international interest in courses on this topic.

In her current position, Katharina Stärk is continuing to work on the optimisation of surveillance and disease control methods. She has a strong interest in understanding factors preventing or promoting the change of practice in health systems, specifically in the context of antimicrobial usage. She aims to develop a portfolio of multidisciplinary research focusing on the interface of human and animal populations and its relation to public health. She coordinated the project PILGRIM, which focused on an emerging strain of MRSA in pigs. Currently, she coordinates the MINAPIG project, funded by the Era-Net EMIDA programme.

Hoinville LJ Alban L, Drewe, JA, Gibbens JC, Gustafson L, Häsler B, Saegerman C, Salman M, Stärk KDC (2013) Proposed terms and concepts for describing and evaluating animal-health surveillance systems. Preventive Veterinary Medicine.

Isoda MN., Kadohira M, Sekiguchi S, Schuppers M, Stärk KDC (2013). Review: Evaluation of foot-and-mouth disease control using fault tree analysis. Transb Emerg Disease.

Oidtmann B, Peeler E, Lyngstad T, Brun E, Bang Jensen B, Stärk KDC (2013) Risk-based methods for fish and terrestrial animal disease surveillance. Preventive Veterinary Medicine.

Drewe JA, Häsler B, Rushton J, Stärk KDC (2013) Assessing the expenditure distribution of animal health surveillance: the case of Great Britain. Vet Rec.

REIST M, JEMMI T, STARK KDC (2012) Policy constraints and promoters of efficient surveillance strategies. Prev Vet Med.

HASLER B, HOWE K, STARK KDC (2011) Con-ceptualising the technical relationship of animal disease surveillance to intervention and mitigation as a basis for economic analysis. BMC Health Services Research

DREWE JA, HOINVILLE LJ, COOK AJC, FLOYD T, STARK KDC (2011). Systematic review of animal and public health surveillance systems. Epidemiology & Infection

STARK KDC (2010). Risks of animal-derived food in a global market - are we ready for the challenges? Veterinary Journal 184:121-123.

Globig, A., Baumer A, Revilla-Fernández S, Beer M, Wodak E, Fink M, Greber N, Harder TC, Wilking H, Brunhart I, Matthes D, Kraatz U, Strunk P, Fiedler W, Fereidouni SR, Staubach C, Conraths FJ, Griot C, Mettenleiter TC, Stärk KDC (2009). Sentinel Ducks as an Effective Tool for Active Avian Influenza Surveillance in Wild Birds. Emerging Infectious Diseases 15(10).

HADORN D, STARK K.D.C. (2008). Evaluation and Optimization of Surveillance Systems for Rare and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Veterinary Research 39:57.

HAPPOLD, J. R., BRUNHART, I., SCHWERMER, H. & STARK, K. D. (2008) Surveillance of H5 avian influenza virus in wild birds found dead. Avian Dis 52, 100-105. PubMed ID 18459304

STARK, K. D., REGULA, G., HERNANDEZ, J., KNOPF, L., FUCHS, K., MORRIS, R. S. & DAVIES, P. (2006) Concepts for risk-based surveillance in the field of veterinary medicine and veterinary public health: review of current approaches. BMC Health Serv Res 6, 20. PubMed ID 16507106

RACLOZ, V., GRIOT, C. & STARK, K. D. (2006) Sentinel surveillance systems with special focus on vector-borne diseases. Anim Health Res Rev 7, 71-79. PubMed ID 17389055

Katharina coordinated a major revision of all Veterinary Public Health teaching at the college until 2010. She has since reduced her teaching activities and focuses on post-graduate and specialist veterinary public health training as well as veterinary public health capacity building.

Katherina has been interviewed on AcademiaNet, a website which promotes the work of female research scientists. See what she said about Curbing the Spread of Disease.

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