For more than 20 years, the Michigan State College of Veterinary Medicine has hosted its DVM Summer Research Program, which recruits and immerses veterinary medical students in research experiences on campus. Thanks to a new NIH grant, it’s about to get even better.

Dr. Srinand Sreevatsan, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies for the College and professor in the Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, and a team of co-investigators including Dr. Sue Ewart, Dr. Colleen Hegg, and Dr. Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan, have been awarded a new T35 Education Research Program grant from the National Institutes of Health. The funded project, “Short-term Biomedical Research Training Program for Veterinary Students,” will enable the College to increase the number of veterinary students from diverse groups who pursue biomedical research-related education and career paths.

The College’s DVM Summer Research Program includes a carefully planned delivery of modules required to prepare participating students for further training in biomedical research. The College’s Program promotes diversity in composition and content, and has provided an in-road to the successful development of an additional R25 grant, which will enhance underrepresented minority recruitment into DVM classes.

“Veterinary scientists are trained to be key contributors to One Health and are ideally situated to deliver services in biomedicine, zoonotic diseases, agricultural systems, ecosystems health, and spontaneous models of human disease,” explains Sreevatsan. “Exposure of DVM students to different research programs is a critical first step in promoting their development in the scientific method. Ensuring those students are diverse in their backgrounds and interests will ensure faster and more innovative progress in science and medicine, both for animals and people.”

Students’ pursuits align with the NIH’s core mission areas:

  1. microbial ecology and evolution; microbial pathogenesis, microbial population structure, and functioning in health and disease; and microbe-host-environment interface biology;
  2. comparative medicine (oncology, inflammation, cardiology, theriogenology, genetics, ophthalmology, orthopedics); and
  3. systems approach to population-level investigations.

“Through our DVM Summer Research Program, we provide scholars with research experience and an overview of career opportunities in academia, government, and biomedical industry. They cultivate a science identity through mentor and peer networks, and that provides them with a positive, reinforced framework to help foster the confidence required to pursue a career in science,” says Sreevatsan.

Throughout the past decade, the College has successfully recruited 50 students from underrepresented groups, with 31 of them being appointed as T35 fellows and 19 in the R25 Biomedical Research for University Students in Health Sciences Program (BRUSH).