January 15, 2005


 AVMA to support biomedical research symposium

Posted Jan. 1, 2005

With the approval of the Executive Board, the AVMA will provide $5,000 to support the 2005 national symposium "Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science: Intersection on the Road Ahead." The measure passed by a narrow margin in the board. Merial Animal Health/Merck Foundation has provided primary funding for similar symposia held annually since 2000 in conjunction with the Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholars summer research program.

The symposium is a national forum for veterinary students and postgraduate veterinarians engaged in biomedical research to present research data and learn about state-of-the-art interdisciplinary biomedical research from renowned scientists. It cultivates connections among veterinary students, fellows, faculty, government, and industrial scientists performing comparative biomedical research, and engages these individuals in constructive dialogue about future directions for veterinary research.

In 2004, 20 faculty members and 132 veterinary students, representing 18 U.S. veterinary colleges, participated in the "Soaring with Eagles" national symposium. To date, attendance at the annual event has been limited largely to individuals from veterinary schools participating in the Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholars Research Program. Travel and accommodations of veterinary students performing research through other mechanisms, such as the National Institutes of Health T35 training grants, have not been subsidized. This limitation prevents a considerable number of veterinarian-scientists in training from fully participating in building a veterinary research community.

The organizers of the 2005 symposium are seeking additional funding besides Merck-Merial, to extend participation to faculty and students involved in biomedical research at all 28 accredited U.S. veterinary schools. They submitted a grant proposal to the NIH, which is under consideration, and they have received word that the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges will pledge its support.

The AVMA Council on Research recommended providing $10,000 to support the symposium; the AVMA Executive Board approved half this amount. Opponents of funding the symposium argued that the AVMA was already very involved in supporting research in other ways, such as funding of the National Needs for Research in Veterinary Science study. The majority of the board, however, felt the symposium was worthy of funding.