A clear need to train and retain veterinary physician scientists is outlined by several National Research Council reports in 2004, 2005 and 2013 and by the National Institutes of Health Physician-Scientist Workforce Report in 2014. Recruitment and retention of highly qualified biomedical scientists, especially clinician-scientists with the DVM degree continues to be one of the most challenging issues facing not only the broader research community, but specifically academic veterinary programs around the country. In response, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine initiated the Veterinary Scientist Training Program (VSTP) in 2000 with the first class of VSTP students matriculated in August 2001, which has become the second continuing program in the nation. To date, 30 graduates have completed the VSTP program with dual DVM/PhD. Currently, the VSTP program has 17 students and admitted 3 students to the class entering in 2019. Fourteen of our graduates have gone on to leadership careers in academia, government agencies, and industry. 12 recent graduates are still at the early stage of their post-DVM residency and/or postdoctoral training. Only four graduates (13.3%) have chosen to become small animal practitioners, but one of them has indicated to return to academia. Thus, the percentage of our VSTP graduates who are using their research training is more than 80%. Our mission is to prepare our students with dual DVM-PhD degrees to become compassionate and exceptional veterinarian- scientists engaged in basic and translational research to advance the health of people, animals, and environment. The goal of our VSTP program is to provide an outstanding environment for both clinical and biomedical research training at the nation's top-ranked School of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences along with the University's internationally-recognized strong programs in Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, and Human Medicine. Most of our training faculty participate in established Centers and Institutes that promote collaborations and employ diverse evidence-based approaches to solving scientific problems through state-of-the-art equipment in individual labs and campus shared facilities. Our VSTP program hosts a number of student-centered activities, some of which are jointly organized with our medical school MD/PhD program, to create a unique learning environment in comparative medicine. Our students are an integral part of this dynamic environment and promote the excellence of the program through their research, outreach and student mentoring. Our objectives and intended outcomes for this T32 training grant are to: 1) prepare all of our trainees to become future leaders in academia, government service and public health, 2) provide greater exposure to career paths outside academia, 3) maintain the average time (8 years) to degree, 4) attract and train a diverse group of dual degree students, and 5) increase the number of dual degree trainees in training at UC Davis from 17 to 24.
Veterinarians are trained as comparative biologists with an understanding of all living species and ideally suited to solve the complex problems presented by current and future animal and human medicine. The goal of UC Davis DVM/PhD MSTP T32 training program is to provide an outstanding environment for both clinical and biomedical research training at the nation's top-ranked School of Veterinary Medicine and to prepare our students with dual DVM-PhD degrees to become compassionate and exceptional veterinarian-scientists engaged in basic and translational research to advance the health of people and animals, in context of their changing environment.