The purpose of the training program outlined in this renewal application is to provide short-term intensive research experiences to professional veterinary medical students. The short-term goal is to stimulate an interest in the pursuit of hypothesis-based research that examines mechanisms, treatment, and prevention of disease. The long-term goal is to increase the number of veterinary students that embrace research as part of their career, with a focus that ranges from basic science/discovery to translational and epidemiological studies. These individuals fill a unique niche in the biomedical community, combining a comparative medical education with investigatory skills that are essential to advancing human and animal health. The program is based upon a research intensive summer experience that is part of a larger Summer Research Program. First- and second- year veterinary students select mentors from graduate faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), the Ohio State University (OSU). These faculty include individuals with primary appointments in the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Pharmacy, assuring broad exposure of students to all facets of the health sciences community. Projects are developed in collaboration between student and mentor, assuring that the project reflects student interests and ideas. Development of the proposal and preliminary training activities occur prior to summer, and presentation and publication of research results are emphasized in the period following summer. The latter includes an end-of-summer research symposium, at which students make oral presentations of research results, and poster/platform presentations at the CVM Research Day the following spring. Accordingly, students are selected from within the OSU CVM community. The most meritorious projects are now selected based upon proposals submitted to and ranked by the CVM Council for Research, with final award decisions made by the Executive Steering Committee of the Summer Research Program. This change has resulted in increased quality of students and projects, with now over 50 applications for 10 T35 positions. Recruitment of new faculty mentors now provides international research opportunities, particularly in the field of epidemiology, and we have achieved a 3:1 faculty mentor: student ratio, assuring a large number of training options that will assure a fit with student interests. W have implemented a mechanism for student feedback and as a result, summer seminars are increasingly focused on career development. Subsequent pursuit of graduate education is used as an indicator of program success. Of the 40 T35 trainees that have completed the program in the current funding interval, 25% are engaged in graduate education (with 45% still in veterinary school).
The research experience supported by this training grant will enhance recruitment of DVMs into graduate programs or other research career tracks, thereby addressing the national need for veterinary scientists that are an essential component of our biomedical research force.