The Veterinary Scholars Program 2012 Symposium

Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars Program Symposium Gives Students the Inside Track on Careers in Research

The Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program (BIVSP) enables veterinary schools to introduce first and second year veterinary medical students to biomedical research. By providing a supportive environment in which students help conduct research in an established laboratory, complemented by seminars and discussion groups on careers in science, the participants gain insight into careers in biomedical research.

Michigan State University
August 1-4, 2013
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Highlights from 2012 Symposium

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  • Over the years, this program has been critical in exposing some of the brightest veterinary students to research and helping them understand potential pathways in establishing a research career.
    Ellen de Brabander, Global Head of R&D, BI ANIMAL HEALTH
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Past Symposia
Year Location
2000 University of Georgia
2001 University of Georgia
2002 Purdue University
2003 Kansas State University
2004 Auburn University
2005 University of Georgia
2006 Louisiana State University
2007 University of Pennsylvania and AAVMC at NIH
2008 Michigan State University
2009 North Carolina State University
2010 University of Georgia
2011 University of Florida
2012 Colorado State University
2013 Michigan State University
2014 Cornell University
Future Symposia
2015 University of California - Davis

2012 Symposium a Success!

The 2012 Veterinary Scholars Program Symposium, hosted by Colorado State University and co-sponsored by Merial and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provided exciting opportunities for the students and young researchers who participated in this year's MVSP to glimpse the future of biomedical research. The students, from 36 participating schools, not only had a chance to present the results of their own summer research, they also heard presentations from researchers at all levels – from young post-doctoral researchers to those with well-established careers in academia, government, and private research settings.

"Over the years, this program has been critical in exposing some of the brightest veterinary students to research and helping them understand potential pathways in establishing a research career," said Ellen de Brabander, Global Head of R&D, Merial. "There is no doubt that the exposure has led program participants, whose education and expertise are crucial to continued scientific advances, to choose a career in research, either in industry or at public organizations."

The theme of this year's Symposium, "Comparative Medicine: The Key to Translation," was presented by keynote speaker Elias Zerhouni, President, Global R&D, Sanofi and a former Director of NIH, who spoke about translational medicine, an increasingly important consideration in biomedical research. In addition, he provided the students with food for thought regarding the curiosity and drive required to pursue a career in research, and the need to think carefully about the questions to be asked when initiating any scientific study or experiment.

Throughout the Symposium, speakers were asked to provide insight into their own career paths in research. Scientific sessions were augmented by practical topics including grant and manuscript writing and time management, and ample opportunities were provided for students to network with each other and with various mentors from academic, industry, and government backgrounds.

"Comparative medicine and animal models of human disease are crucial to the advancement of medical knowledge," said Roberto Alva, Head of Clinical R&D, Americas East, for Merial and MVSP Director. "But the number of scientists being trained to fill our national needs for comparative animal research, animal and human food safety and drug development is at a critically low level. This program is making a real impact in inspiring our most talented veterinary students to continue their postgraduate education and consider a career in biomedical research. "

The MVSP has grown from a handful of participating colleges and students to more than 450 students at every veterinary college in the US and most Canadian veterinary programs. It has recently expanded to include veterinary colleges in France and the Netherlands. The Symposium is recognized as one of the premiere national meetings for veterinary student research. Responsibility for hosting the Symposium rotates each year to a different college of veterinary medicine in the US.

Susan VandeWoude, Associate Dean for Research at Colorado State University, which hosted this year's Symposium, says the program fills a unique need by allowing researchers from academia, industry, and government to come together to support the common goal of increasing biomedical research. "The research presented here is going to be instrumental in continuing to move the profession forward," she said. "I hope we have inspired young researchers to consider how veterinary medical research has not only influenced how we manage diseases of animals, but has contributed to human medical advances."

As part of the Symposium, Merial traditionally presents a graduate research award to an outstanding young veterinarian who will soon complete or has recently completed a PhD program in the biomedical sciences, or who is in the final 1 to 2 years of residency training in the field of veterinary pathology, medicine, surgery, radiology/imaging, or laboratory animal medicine. In addition, Merial funds an award for veterinary students who participated in the previous summer scholar program, attended the Symposium and presented their work, and completed their proposed project work plan. The award recipients receive an honorarium and an opportunity to present their research at the summer symposium.

Read about the 2012 award winners