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 research aimed at translating basic discoveries into clinical applications (translational research), which is an important priority in 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 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 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:
The educational component also includes visits to laboratory animal and veterinary diagnostic facilities as well as periodic meetings between program directors, trainees and mentors during the summer. It concludes in the Merial NIH 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 2014 Merial NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium will be hosted by Cornell University.
The key to the success of the Summer Research Experience Program is the close collaboration of outstanding students with dedicated, competent scientists.
Students must have successfully completed the freshman year of veterinary college in good academic standing and cannot have completed the veterinary degree at the time of participation in the program. Students at any college of veterinary medicine in the United States may apply to the 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:
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
Application Deadline and Selection Process
The application deadline is February 1 of the student's year of application. A selection committee chooses the participants in the program, and applicants will be notified whether they were selected for the program by the first week of March. The 2014 program will begin May 6, 2014, for MSU students.
This program is generously funded by grants from the National Center for Research Resources / 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 $5,400 for the entire 12-week program. Stipends for all non-MSU students include a minimum of $1,200 for living expenses ($400 per month).
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: http://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/for-grant-seekers/veterinary-student-scholars.html.
For more information about the MSU-CVM Summer Research Experience Program, contact:
Dr. Mark Lawrence, Co-Director
Dr. Jeff Eells, Co-Director
Dr. Andrea Varela-Stokes, Co-Director
For information on the National Merial Veterinary Scholar Program, click here: