The aim of the Georgia Veterinary Scholars Research Program (GVSP) at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine (UGA-CVM) is to immerse academically talented veterinary students from across the US in cutting edge research, inspiring them toward careers in biomedical research, and fostering in them deeper understanding of the goals and needs for veterinary research. Critical to this aim is the GVSP's commitment to broad, inclusive recruitment of students and careful pairing with strong, cross-disciplinary mentors who are not only capable of providing a thorough exposure to the principles underlying the conduct of research, but who also provide a scientific environment that instills a sense of community. The expansion of biotechnology frontiers requires research veterinarians who are well-trained organismal biologists. Such individuals are also key players in the disciplines of comparative medicine, public health, and food safety. Furthermore, veterinarians have the breadth of knowledge to have major impacts on the study of emerging and reemerging zoonotic diseases that are spurred by burgeoning societal and climate changes. Nevertheless, veterinary students are often not aware of career opportunities in research and in many cases do not recognize the role of veterinarians in many of these exciting areas. Clearly, for the promises of "One Health" and translational medicine to be realized in healthier people and animals, we will need more veterinarians engaged in research. The GVSP strives to showcase the excitement and wonder of a research career to future veterinarians to inspire them to choose research as their profession. The renewal of our training grant will help with this important goal. UGA-CVM has the programmatic and administrative structure necessary, built on the experience of the past 16 years, to successfully achieve the proposed training of six veterinary students. During the 12-week program the students are welcomed into the discipline and camaraderie of the scientific community and challenged to think differently. Fundamental skills are conveyed through seminars on the ethics and conduct of research, animal welfare, and communication skills as well as an informal journal club at the homes of faculty, team building and leadership exercises. The central experience is full time hypothesis-based research with a mentor of the student's choosing, culminating in written and oral presentations at the university and national levels. The PI is the director of all the Summer Programs at UGA-CVM and is supported in the GVSP by 24 mentors from five different colleges and 11 different departments. The GVSP is designed to capture the imagination of future veterinarians at a formative time to inspire them to develop into independent investigators.
There has developed a great need in contemporary society for veterinarians trained in the methodology of basic research. Unfortunately, veterinary students are often not aware of the career possibilities in these areas of need. The expansion of biotechnology frontiers requires contributions by veterinary scientists capable of evaluating whole animal health issues while being expert, or at least conversant, with the rapidly evolving technologies. We believe our proposed training grant (competitive renewal) Georgia Veterinary Scholar Summer Research Program will make veterinary students more aware of and likely to pursue careers in research. Such veterinary research scientists will then be particularly well equipped to identify unique features of various animal models of human disease, to advance studies in translational medicine and animal health, to navigate the interface of animal and ecological health, and to be leaders in public health.
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