Policy outlining AVMA research priorities revamped

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The AVMA has revised its policy on research priorities, making the document more succinct, current, and in line with the Association’s pursuits.

Changes made by the Council on Research to “Research Priorities of the American Veterinary Medical Association” (formerly titled “Research Priorities: American Veterinary Medical Association/Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges”) were approved by the AVMA Executive Board during its meeting Nov. 15-17, 2012.

Part of the new policy states the following:

Moving towards the future, the AVMA has identified the following research-related issues as high priority:

Research and/or programs that address or support:

  • Clinical research for the benefit of animal health.
  • Infectious and zoonotic diseases of animals and humans.
  • Environmental issues relating to animal and human well-being.
  • Food security and food safety.
  • Enhanced animal welfare and the human-animal bond.
  • Basic and translational research on human and animal disease.
  • Training veterinarians for the research workforce

The document was originally developed in conjunction with the AAVMC in 1994-1995. It was last revised in 2006, with changes made partly in response to studies released by the National Academy of Sciences detailing critical needs for research in the veterinary sciences and also in response to post-9/11 events, particularly biodefense initiatives, according to the recommendation background.

The revisions are based on “both current literature and recurring themes confronting the AVMA as far as calls for input on legislative items and advocacy for matters pertaining to animal research,” the background states.

COR member Dr. Don Reynolds said the previous policy was put together when the national agenda was different. The 9/11 attacks, anthrax scares, and outbreaks of influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome were in the spotlight. The research priorities reflected this, with many references to biodefense, food safety and food security, and protection from adulterants and terrorist attacks. “A lot of it was a sign of the times, defense type of tone to it,” Dr. Rey­nolds said.

He called revamping the document an arduous task. COR members had aimed to change the tone and focus, but they first had to identify the AVMA’s current priorities and stakeholders.

The result was a document that distilled priorities from companion animal medicine, food animal medicine, public health, academia, and the like into a list of broad, all-encompassing items. A unifying theme among the new priorities is one health, Dr. Reynolds said.

“Part of it is to give the Executive Board a reference point, so if someone asks if we endorse this or support that, they can come back and give background information and say, ‘Yes, we do,’” he said.

The Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee and Animal Welfare Committee each reviewed and supported the revisions.

Additionally, the board approved a recommendation from the research council that re-established a monetary component to the AVMA research awards in lieu of travel and registration benefits.

This means $5,000 will be given with the AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award, $2,500 with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation/American Kennel Club Career Achievement Award in Canine Research, $2,500 with the AVMF/Winn Excellence in Feline Research Award, and $2,500 with the Practitioner Research Award.

The AVMA awards program will continue to be managed by the AVMF.

The Executive Board had removed honoraria from all AVMA awards—not just the research ones—at its September 2012 meeting, citing the recognition and honor of each award to be the pre-eminent factors.

The COR based its recommendation on its belief that the research awards provide an opportunity for the AVMA to elevate its stature as a science-based organization.

“The AVMA research awards are given not only to recognize and honor the recipients but also to promote the significant advances in animal and human health that result from the research conducted. In the context of the AVMA’s effort to raise its research profile, the COR believes that the prestige of a research award is linked with a substantial honorarium,” the recommendation background states.

A venue hasn’t been officially identified for giving out the research awards, which have traditionally been presented at the AVMA Annual Convention. Dr. Ed Murphey, staff assistant to the council, noted, “We are planning on having some public recognition for the awardee at the opening ceremony of the AVMA convention by using slides with the awardee’s picture and a description of the award.”