A Commitment to Research:
History of the Boehringer-Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program

The mission of the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program is to provide an opportunity for veterinary schools to introduce first and second year veterinary medical students to biomedical research. By providing a supportive environment in which students can experience research in an established laboratory, complemented by seminars and discussion groups on the scientific process, ethics, and research opportunities, the participants will gain insight into careers in biomedical research.

Since 1989 Boehringer Ingelheim's legacy animal health company, Merial, has actively participated in funding research programs at veterinary schools to provide students with an opportunity to experience research first-hand. In 1998, given the success of these programs and our commitment to biomedical research, all US veterinary schools in North America were invited to participate in the program. Currently all veterinary schools in The United States, Canada, France and The Netherlands participate, and we look forward to continued expansion.

Partnership with NIH

The Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program includes a national symposium where research findings are presented and experiences are shared among the year's veterinary scholars and the invited veterinary faculty. In 2003, the NIH expressed an interest in funding an annual national symposium for veterinary students involved in research. It was proposed that the NIH partner with then-Merial in the national symposium, which would allow an increased number of students to attend, including those combined degree students (DVM, PhD) currently funded by the NIH. It is our hope that the positive experience will stimulate scholars to pursue a career in biomedical research, subsequent to completing their veterinary degrees.

This partnership offers a tremendous opportunity to markedly increase the potential impact of the program on the veterinary student population, and is a resounding endorsement of Boehringer Ingelheim's commitment to biomedical research. In 2017, the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) at NIH announced the renewal of their support for the Veterinary Scholars Symposium through 2021.

Success and Growth of the Program

The BIVSP program and the associated symposium have grown from sponsorship of a handful of students to a large and robust program. The number of sponsored students has grown from 54 at eight schools in 2000 to an anticipated 180 students at 36 schools in 2017. Attendance at the symposium has increased from 43 to more than 650 during the same period.

The program marked its 25th anniversary in 2014 with further expansion in the number of schools and students sponsored.

Program Summary:

Research Program

At each institution, Boehringer Ingelheim scholars are assigned to a mentor and laboratory. Each scholar conducts a hypothesis-driven research project developed jointly by the scholar and mentor. The research project is typically conducted over an 8-12 week period during the summer. At the end of the program, scholars present their findings to their fellow scholars and attending faculty. Scheduled activities providing opportunities for the students to learn about the broad aspects of research are also included.

National Boehringer Ingelheim-NIH Veterinary Scholar Program Symposium

Scholars from each participating school and program directors are invited to attend the 2-day symposium, which is held on a rotating basis at various North American veterinary schools. The scholars present their research findings by oral and/or poster presentation. Cutting-edge scientific sessions are scheduled, augmented by practical topics including grant and manuscript writing and time management. Ample opportunities are provided for students to network with each other and with various mentors from academic, industry, and government backgrounds. In addition, presentations on careers in biomedical research are scheduled including speakers from industry and past program participants.

Boehringer Ingelheim Scholar Grant

A BI grant is a matching grant, and therefore Boehringer Ingelheim covers approximately 50% of each scholar's stipend at the home institution. The remaining 50% is matched by the participating school.