The University of Michigan Medical School's Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine (ULAM) proposes to strengthen our established Postdoctoral Training Program in Laboratory Animal Medicine to help meet the documented national need for veterinarians trained in laboratory animal medicine, with special emphasis on the support and conduct of biomedical research. The University of Michigan (UM) is one of the top research universities in the world with over $1 billion in research expenditures in 2008-9. Interdisciplinary research across school and college boundaries is very highly encouraged. Similarly, the UM Medical School has a strong interdisciplinary research program with research expenditures in excess of $377 million ($366 million in NIH funding). ULAM is the primary provider of animal care services and the exclusive provider of veterinary care services for all UM campuses, providing over $13 million in services in 2009. In 2009-2010, ULAM faculty were awarded over $2.4 million in research funding. The UM's postdoctoral training program is well-established, operating continuously over 35+ years, and training approximately 8% of US veterinarians boarded in laboratory animal medicine.
The specific aims of our three-year training program are to produce highly skilled laboratory animal veterinarians who possess the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities to: 1) provide high-quality clinical care using advanced technical skills to a wide variety of animal species;2) provide effective oversight and management of personnel and facilities;3) provide valuable consultation to researchers during the planning, conduct, refinement, and evaluation of animal research studies;4) understand and appropriately apply federal, state, and local regulations pertaining to animal welfare and research;and 5) conduct independent and collaborative research. We train individuals to become leaders in the field. Trainees are recruited from diverse backgrounds and prior experiences including post-professional training and private or corporate practice. The first year of the expanded program will be University-funded and will include intensive training in the clinical support of diverse animal species and animal models maintained by the University. Second year trainees will participate in a component of our training program that is unique from other postdoctoral training programs in laboratory animal medicine - the ULAM Concentrations. In these ten project-based, experiential training modules, trainees perform a supervised apprenticeship in which they implement relevant theory and practice in real- life situations. Throughout all years of the program, trainees will be provided both didactic and experiential training including the conduct of a substantive, hypothesis-driven research project under the direct supervision of an established researcher. Multiple assessment methods will be used to regularly evaluate and improve trainee performance and program effectiveness. Graduates will be prepared to sit for the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) certifying exam upon program completion.
The proposed program will directly benefit public health through the training of laboratory animal veterinarians who bring unique skills and understanding of whole animal systems to the biomedical research team. As a result of their breadth of training in research conduct, clinical medicine, and animal program administration and management, laboratory animal veterinarians help to ensure the efficient and effective conduct of animal-based biomedical research while also safeguarding the health and welfare of animal subjects.