Veterinarians are uniquely prepared for scientific discovery that benefits human health, particularly when their broad understanding of comparative physiology and pathology is coupled with mechanistic or translational research training. However, the United States suffers from an ever-worsening shortage of veterinarians with expertise in biomedical research. Summer research programs for veterinarians have had demonstrated success in increasing the number of veterinarians who pursue research careers, and our proposed T35 research training program "Veterinary Summer Scholars in Comparative Medicine" at the University of Minnesota will provide a mechanism that helps meet the need for greater numbers of veterinarians in biomedical research. The objectives of our T35 research training program are to provide veterinary students with: 1) opportunities to conduct biomedical research in an environment of discovery provided by active laboratories and mentors;and 2) research-relevant experiences in the form of lectures and discussions focused on experimental design, data analysis, research communication, literature searching, grant writing, and responsible conduct and ethics in research. The long-term goals of this training program are to increase the number of veterinarians who pursue biomedical research training after completing the veterinary degree and, ultimately, to increase the number of veterinarians who become productive independent investigators in the biomedical sciences. Our approach will consist of providing a wide breadth of research opportunities for students, from basic cellular and molecular bench research to theoretical and field epidemiology, to translational and clinical research, all built around the central theme of One Medicine, One Science at the University of Minnesota. The proposed training program includes a group of highly qualified research mentors, offers a wide array of state-of-the-art research experiences, and provides a rich and diverse environment for training veterinarians in research. The research laboratories of the training mentors are located on the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses of the University of Minnesota. Program faculty is grouped in two major focus groups: 1) Inflammatory and Chronic Diseases and 2) Cancer Biology. Within each focus group there are several biomedical research themes and significant interactions among faculty. The T35 program faculty study disease processes in humans, spontaneous animal disease models, and experimental animal models. The mentors include a complement of clinically-trained physicians and veterinarians that have clinically-based, extramurally funded research programs. Overall, our training environment will allow the trainees extensive interactions with researchers in a variety of fields. In Year 1 we propose to support five students pursuing DVM degrees, increasing this number by one student per year for a total of nine students in Year 5. The duration of training for each student will be 10 weeks, from June to August.
There currently is a serious shortage of academic veterinarians who have the background and training to do independent biomedical research. The training program Veterinary Summer Scholars in Comparative Medicine at the University of Minnesota will introduce veterinary students to the culture of biomedical research and engage them in a creative, problem-solving research activity that leads to new knowledge and opens potential pathways to a career in scientific discovery that benefits human health.