This application proposes to continue a series of annual conferences to promote biomedical research careers by an inclusive set of veterinarians, focusing on the themes of comparative and translational medicine, and zoonotic diseases and global health. The proposed conferences will build on the success of conferences carried out since 2000, initially as Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholar Symposia, and more recently as NIH-Merial Veterinary Scholar Symposia. These conferences will provide national forums for veterinary students and post- graduate veterinarians engaged in biomedical research. Veterinary scientists-in-training will have an opportunity present their research alongside peers, and attend state-of-the- art biomedical research seminars presented by renowned scientists. In addition, these conferences will cultivate connections among veterinary students, fellows, faculty, government, and industrial scientists performing comparative biomedical research. The meetings will provide formal and informal opportunities for networking. Furthermore, these conferences will engage veterinary students, fellows, academic faculty, nationally recognized research scientists, government scientists and pharmaceutical industry scientists in a constructive dialogue about future directions for veterinary, comparative medicine and translational research. Importantly, these conferences will invite, sponsor and inspire undergraduate students from groups underrepresented in research to pursue veterinary and graduate training. There is a dearth of students from minority backgrounds that are underrepresented in veterinary and comparative medicine. Participation of such students in these conferences while they are undergraduates will increase awareness of career options in veterinary research, providing one of the most effective tools to increase numbers of underrepresented students in the profession. These conferences will provide opportunities for connections between veterinary students performing research, and directors of advanced training programs. There continues to be a shortage of highly qualified veterinary graduates applying for positions in postdoctoral research programs for veterinarian-scientists. This conference will bring together several hundred veterinary students who have an interest in research with directors of training programs designed for post-graduate research training. Formal presentation as well as one-on-one interactions will assist recruitment efforts of training programs, and will promote our long-term objective of facilitating contributions from veterinarian-scientist for advances in treatment of human diseases and public health.
Veterinary scientists play a major role in improving public health by enhancing studies that translate findings from research to clinical practice in both prevention and treatment of diseases. In addition, they serve as the best mediators of practices that prevent infectious diseases that affect both animals and humans. A series of five conferences are proposed that will address the national need for basic, translational, and clinical scientists by providing an opportunity for young veterinary scholars to meet, interact, exchange information, and gain an understanding of the many ways through which they can become significant contributors to biomedical advances.