Ongoing support is requested for a short-term ten-week research training initiative at Cornell University. The program targets predoctoral veterinary students who aspire to careers in biomedical discovery or public health. Thirteen positions are equested in each of the next five years. The program has the following objectives: (i) To promote the commitment of veterinary student trainees to a career in biomedical research;(ii) to nurture trainee interest in biomedical research as a career through experiential learning, independent research, and research-related activities;(iii) to promote high ethical standards, and the development of the creativity, leadership and teamwork skills necessary to succeed in biomedical research;(iv) to empower students to make informed decisions regarding graduate training and their careers by providing vocational counseling;and (v) to create a professional network that will benefit the students beyond the completion of their formal training and veterinary education. The desired outcome of the program is for the alumni of the program to seek advanced scientific training following completion of their professional degree that will allow them to fulfill the nation's need for veterinary scientists. Training would be provided in outstanding modern facilities at the College of Veterinary Medicine and laboratories in Weill Hall. The participating faculty trainers are nationally competitive scientists and many of them have served as mentors for program scholars in the past. Many of the participating faculty also serve as module facilitators and counselors. The scientific disciplines encompassed by the program are broadly based and include virology, bacteriology, immunology, parasitology, epidemiology, cancer biology, signal transduction mechanisms, biomedical engineering, and others. The Cornell program has been successful in identifying outstanding participants including subsequent Rhodes and Fulbright scholars, and many individuals who graduated from veterinary college with the University Medal or its equivalent. More than 145 alumni have earned the Ph.D. degree or are presently in training while many others have been awarded other advanced degrees in science or public health. An enduring network of program participants, counselors and consultants is a unique legacy of the program. As mentors, they are committed to assisting one another and more junior colleagues who are still in training. Mechanisms have been established to validate elements of the program, and to identify problems connected with the professional advancement of veterinary graduates who aspire to careers envisioned by the program. An outcome analysis completed in 2005 revealed that more than half of the students who took part in the program since 1990 have pursued science-based careers.
The proposed short-term research training program will encourage veterinary students to pursue careers in biomedical science and public health following completion of their veterinary degree by combining an intensive summer research experience with vocational counseling and student-directed workshops. This is relevant to public health as there is a recognized national shortage of such suitably trained veterinarians who play important roles in the recognition and control of emerging diseases and food safety.
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