October 15, 2007

 

 Research training programs open to veterinary students - October 15, 2007

 

Students compete with medical, dental students

posted October 1, 2007
 

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a nonprofit medical research organization, has opened its two research training programs to veterinary students for the 2008 competitions. Previously, the programs were open to only medical and dental students.

The programs are meant to encourage more physicians, dentists, and now veterinarians to pursue academic research careers. Veterinary students are eligible during any year of veterinary school, but they cannot have already received their DVM degree. If they apply in their fourth year, they have to defer graduation and receipt of the degree. To participate in either training program, the students must take a year off from school.

"Veterinarians make key contributions to the biomedical research enterprise," said William Galey, PhD, director of graduate science education and medical research training programs at HHMI. "Their knowledge and skills are increasingly important in the translation of modern molecular and cellular biology into medical practice, but there continues to be a shortage in the number of well-trained veterinarians to accomplish this task.

"By offering veterinary students the opportunity to experience a year of research training in our two year-out programs, we hope to encourage more young veterinarians to pursue research-oriented careers."

One of the two training opportunities is the HHMI Research Training Fellowships for Medical Students Program. The program enables medical, dental, and veterinary students from U.S. schools to spend a year conducting basic, translational, or applied biomedical research at any school or nonprofit research institution in the United States, except at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

For the 2008-2009 program year, fellows will receive a stipend of $27,000, an allowance of $5,500 that may be used for health care and other expenses, and a $5,500 research allowance. The application deadline is Jan. 11, 2008, and more details are available at www.hhmi.org/medfellowships.

The second program is the HHMI-NIH Research Scholars Program, which represents a 22-year partnership between the HHMI and the NIH. In this program, medical, dental, and veterinary students from U.S. schools spend nine to 12 months conducting basic, translational, or applied biomedical research in one of the many laboratories on the NIH campus.

As part of this program, all scholars are housed together on the NIH campus, and students select their research project after arriving. For the 2008-2009 program year, scholars will receive an annual salary of $27,000, health insurance, and other benefits. The application deadline is Jan. 10, 2008. Visit www.hhmi.org/cloister to learn more.

Dr. Chand Khanna, head of the Comparative Oncology Program at the NIH's National Cancer Institute, and Dr. Mark Simpson, head of the Molecular Pathology Unit at the NCI, helped jump-start the opportunity for veterinary students to participate in the training programs.

"In terms of opportunities for veterinarians in biomedical research, this is a fantastic start—to have the HHMI solicit the input of veterinarians," Dr. Khanna said. "This is an important example of how veterinarian scientists are now being invited to take leadership positions at the tables of research."

Dr. Khanna, who has worked with medical and dental students in the HHMI training program at the NIH, presented his and Dr. Simpson's efforts during a recent meeting of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, which became involved primarily because of the shortage of veterinarians in biomedical research.

"(The programs are) one of many examples of how veterinary medicine is part of the one-health, one-medicine concept because here we have veterinary researchers solving problems important to human health," said Dr. Andrew Maccabe, associate executive director of the AAVMC.

Based in Chevy Chase, Md., the HHMI has in the past 20 years invested more than $8.3 billion for the support, training, and education of the nation's most promising scientists. The institute commits nearly $700 million a year for research and distributes $80 million in grant support for science education.