Veterinary students are uniquely qualified in comparative medicine, a training that is a resource in animal model research. Yet, a majority of students do not pursue research careers, principally because they lack exposure to biomedical research. The proposed Summer Veterinary Student Research Program (SVSRP) at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) will train veterinary medicine students in research skills and encourage them to pursue a research career. VMRCVM has had success with this and similar summer research programs in the past, training 87 students since 1995. SVSRP will give students experience in areas of research that couple student interests in animal health with research in animal models of infectious disease, immunology and immunopathology, cellular and molecular pathology, molecular biology, and food, nutrition, and health. Mentors will be assigned by the Advisory and Selection Committee to applicants based on applicant interests. Students will receive training in the writing of research proposals and scientific papers, biostatistics and experimental design, computer-based graphics, reports and presentations, visual display of quantitative information, humane care and use of animal models, and the ethical conduct of research. A unique feature of this program will be a visit to the NIH, USDA, the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute, and other agencies in Washington, DC to better understand research career opportunities for veterinarians and to learn how public policy is influenced by research. Further, to sustain interest in biomedical research, we will organize a weekly meeting with successful DVM researchers from academia, government, or biotech industries. After completing orientation and writing a research proposal, students will spend nine weeks in the mentor's laboratory doing research. The ethical conduct of research will be stressed with weekly seminars on this subject that will supplement an orientation short course and will include speakers with expertise in scientific integrity, human experimentation, and the Belmont Report. We will recruit from all 28 veterinary medical schools in the nation, particularly from Tuskegee University with the objective of recruiting underrepresented minorities.
Zoonotic diseases are major public health concerns. Veterinarians are uniquely trained in the context of comparative medicine and this specialized training allows them to play a vital role in research concerning these diseases. The Summer Veterinary Research Program (SVSRP) is designed to increase the number of veterinarians undertaking research.