Veterinarians represent a large, mostly untapped source of biomedical researchers. Their training provides them with a thorough understanding of the similarities and differences in physiology and diseases of different animal species (comparative medicine). This uniquely qualifies veterinarians to integrate their knowledge into the development of animal models for human diseases.
Animal models are a critical component of translational research, which is aimed at translating basic medical discoveries into clinical applications. Translational research is an important priority in biomedical research, and veterinary scientists are uniquely qualified to direct this type of research. In addition, veterinary scientists are significant contributors to the advancement of research in areas including food safety, infectious diseases, toxicology, and genomics that may be directly or indirectly linked to biomedical research.
However, because they lack exposure to investigative programs, relatively few veterinary medical graduates pursue training that leads to research careers. The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine (MSU-CVM) offers a Summer Research Experience Program that introduces veterinary students to biomedical research and the exceptional career opportunities available in that field.
The Summer Research Experience is a 12-week program designed to provide student trainees with exposure and training in biomedical research as well as skills that will help them grow into leaders in the veterinary profession. By participating in this program, students will gain a solid foundation for making informed career decisions, particularly with respect to careers as veterinary scientists.
To achieve this, students receive training through two major components. The first is a hands-on research experience with a faculty mentor that begins in the first week of the program and continues through the 12-week program. The second component is a series of interactive educational experiences that begin early in the program and culminate in attending the national Merial-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium at the end of the program. MSU-CVM is committed to making the research experience for each trainee informative and professionally enriching.
For the research component, each student in the Summer Research Experience Program works with a faculty mentor that has a matching research interest on a relevant medical problem. Through interaction with the mentor, trainees receive training in the formulation of a testable hypothesis and in the design of an appropriate experimental strategy. Trainees conduct research in the faculty mentor’s lab, and they work with their mentor to analyze and interpret their findings. Trainees then prepare and present their research results at the MSU-CVM Research Day and the Merial-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium. Through this process, trainees learn the value of creative and critical thinking in research, and they receive practical experience in conducting, analyzing, and presenting their research findings.
Much of the educational component occurs early in the program. Training is generally in the form of interactive workshops that prepare students for their research experience and provide them with leadership skills and career guidance. Training sessions include:
- Ethics in Science and Research
- Humane Use of Animals in Research
- Scientific Writing and Presentations
- Writing and Rewriting Grant Proposals
- Effectively using Library Resources to Support Research
- Patenting and Technology Transfer
- Career Panel featuring veterinarians representing different research career paths
- Leadership, Teamwork and Negotiating
- Laboratory Safety and Biosafety
- Preparing a CV and Cover Letter
The educational component also includes visits to laboratory animal and veterinary diagnostic facilities as allows for periodic meetings between program directors, trainees and mentors during the summer. It concludes in the Merial-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, which is held annually at a U.S. college of veterinary medicine. At the symposium, trainees present their research findings, attend sessions presented by national leaders in research and the veterinary profession and interact with fellow veterinary student trainees from across the United States. The 2017 Merial NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium was sponsored by AAVMC-NIH-Michigan State University and took place August 3 – 6, 2017 at the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC.
Casey Graves, and faculty mentor Dr. Russell Carr
The key to the success of the Summer Research Experience Program is the close collaboration of outstanding students with dedicated, competent scientists. A list of the program's mentors and their research areas is provided at the following link:
Students must be enrolled and have successfully completed the freshman year of veterinary college in good academic standing; they cannot have completed the veterinary degree at the time of participation in the program. We welcome students from any college of veterinary medicine in the United States to apply to our program. No prior experience in research is required. Mississippi State University is committed to diversity in the educational process and seeks to involve students from under-represented population groups in this program.
The elements of the application include the following:
- an application form (PDF or Word) completed by the student. The application includes information on the student’s academic background, research background and a statement of the student’s interest and motivation for the program. The application also allows the student to indicate his or her area of research interest.
- a letter from a professional that evaluates the applicant's potential and interest in research. If students identify a mentor with whom they would like to work, we also encourage inclusion of a letter from that protential mentor.
Submit Application by Email or Mail To:
Summer Research Experience Program
College of Veterinary Medicine
Office of Research and Graduate Studies (R2000)
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Email to: Ms. Stephanie Huffmand
Application Deadline and Selection Process
The application deadline for the 2017 program is Wednesday, February 1, 2017. Applicants will be notified whether they were selected for the program by the first week of March. The 2017 program will begin Tuesday, May 2, 2017 for MSU students. For non-MSU students, the start date will depend on each student’s academic schedule.
This program is generously funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Merial Veterinary Scholars Program and through funds provided by the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Student trainees receive a minimum stipend of $5,619 for the entire 12-week program. Stipends for all non-MSU students include a minimum of $1,320 for living expenses ($110 per week).
Morris Animal Foundation Veterinary Student Scholar Program:
The Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) Veterinary Student Scholar Program also funds summer research projects for veterinary students in the areas of animal health and/or welfare. MAF funds research projects that benefit large companion animals, small companion animals or wildlife/special species. This program is nationally competitive, and MAF announces its grant awardees in March of each year. To apply, students must first identify a research faculty member willing to serve as mentor. Together, the student and mentor develop a research proposal following the program guidelines. The full proposal needs to be submitted to the MSU-CVM Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies ten days prior to the MAF deadline. Selected applications will be submitted to the Morris Animal Foundation. For more information on this program and application materials, contact Dr. Mark Lawrence or visit the program's website.
For more information about the MSU-CVM Summer Research Experience Program, contact:
Dr. Mark Lawrence, Dr. Jeff Eells, or Dr. Andrea Varela-Stokes
Co-Directors, Summer Research Experience Program
MSU College of Veterinary Medicine
Telephone: Lawrence: 662-325-1205; Eells: 662-325-1085; Varela-Stokes: 662-325-1130
For information on the National Merial Veterinary Scholar Program, click here:
The NIH also offers its own competitive summer training programs for interested veterinary students. For further information see: https://www.training.nih.gov/programs