The objective of the proposed Cornell University Veterinary Investigator Program is to provide veterinary students with an opportunity to engage in hypothesis-based biomedical research during the formative stages of their education. Veterinarians have much to contribute to scientific discovery in medical disciplines given that an education in veterinary medicine is inherently wide-ranging and comparative. Veterinary students are trained to integrate medical literature from a variety of sources encompassing the full array of animal species and to use problem solving approaches to evaluate disease pathogenesis and therapeutic strategies, ranging from molecular mechanisms to whole animal phenotypes. As such, an education in veterinary medicine provides a solid and broad foundation upon which to develop a focused area of scientific expertise. The goal of this proposal is to help veterinary students discover this synergy and to enhance their interest in biomedical research. The Veterinary Investigator Program will center on trainees working full-time in a research laboratory for a 10-week period during the summer after their first or second year of veterinary school. The trainees will conduct experiments with the guidance and direct supervision of a faculty mentor and will actively engage in all other laboratory activities. The trainees also will participate in several enrichment activities, including: 1) a Research Round Table, where a case-based approach will be used to address a scientific problem;2) weekly lunch seminars on Current and Emerging Research Techniques and dinner seminars on Grant Writing and Scientific Ethics, and;3) a seminar on Biomedical Research in Non-Academic Settings. In addition, the trainees will attend the Annual Center for Vertebrate Genomics Symposium and the Merck- Merial-NIH Symposium and will deliver a research presentation to the program participants and mentors at the conclusion of the program. Structured time outside of the laboratory, however, will not exceed two hours in any given week to ensure that the trainees have adequate time to devote to a meaningful research project. The Veterinary Investigator Program will tap into the deep pool of potential biomedical researchers who are attracted to the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. Students at the college have outstanding academic credentials and in many cases prior research experience. The Veterinary Investigator Program will provide eight interested students per year with an opportunity to avail themselves of the wide range of superb faculty and resources available at Cornell University, with the expectation that such an experience will motivate them to pursue a career that includes rigorous scientific inquiry.
By virtue of the requirements of the DVM profession, veterinarians are broadly trained in comparative medicine. Such training provides them with the ability to translate medical information obtained from a variety of animal species to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in humans, particularly diseases caused by specific genetic mutations or the transmission of infectious agents via food or contact with infected animals. The training program we propose will enable veterinary students to develop sophisticated research skills that can be used in combination with their clinical expertise to significantly improve biomedical research and public health.