Project Number: 3022-32000-016-019-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Sep 1, 2021
End Date: Aug 31, 2026
The USDA ARS Animal Health Program (NP103) currently houses several of the world’s experts on diseases of agricultural importance and in many instances conducts research that cannot be performed elsewhere due to needs for high containment facilities. As more emerging diseases come from animal origins, it is of critical importance to have clinician researchers with diverse expertise across a wide range of pathogens and host species to be able to quickly address them. The Animal Health National program has many scientist vacancies and has approximately 30% of current scientists eligible for retirement. ARS has had an increasingly difficult time recruiting qualified veterinarian scientists into these positions and state diagnostic labs and universities are facing similar difficulties. The objective of this initiative is to increase the pipeline of individuals seeking DVM, PhD degrees to work in animal health research. Early exposure and experiential learning in these fields/careers and to individuals working in this space will enable students to gain valuable research and educational experiences as well as develop relationships to successfully complete DVM, Ph.D. degrees. This will ultimately enhance the resilience of the U.S. to emerging, reemerging, transboundary and zoonotic diseases by maintaining a cadre of scientific expertise ready to address any disease in any host species.
Over the next 5 years, Cooperator and ARS will work together to develop a program for veterinary students to conduct summer research internships at ARS laboratories. The cooperator's program has a 30-year record of success and in 2012, the program funded 184 students in 36 schools, including those in the U.S., Canada and several European veterinary schools. The program targets first and second year veterinary students for summer research experience to facilitate their interest in biomedical research. At the end of the summer, all of the students are invited to attend a research symposium where they attend talks by academicians, industry, government scientists and others and present their research. By entering into a partnership with USDA ARS, scholars will have increased access to working on diseases of agricultural importance. ARS will work directly with the cooperator to identify ARS laboratories and mentors that can provide research projects for scholars for the summer. The cooperator will advertise these research opportunities through its program with veterinary schools and assist in awarding the funding to the students. Additionally, the cooperator will plan and execute the summer research symposium with assistance from ARS as needed. The funding for the program will go directly to the cooperator for disbursement to veterinary schools and students.