Gilmour appointed for second term
"Research is a collaborative enterprise," said Robert Gilmour. "With rare exceptions, the days of the lone ranger are gone. Over the past decade there has been a reawakening of research at the Vet College, with new leadership and a new philosophy. I've been fortunate to have been a part of that."
Gilmour accepted his current position in 2003 and was recently reappointed for another five-year term as associate dean for research and graduate education. Explaining that research at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine is "roots-driven and faculty-inspired," Gilmour added, "faculty approaches the administration looking for support and partnership, not a prescription."
Gilmour is comfortable with this concept. During his first tenure, he recalls that one of his earliest mandates was to "help bootstrap clinical research."
"Clinical research is a difficult proposition," said Gilmour, explaining that funding for research to benefit animals is not widely available. "We had clinicians who wanted to do research, but had few resources to do it, were receiving insufficient recognition for what was being done, and lacked much of the necessary infrastructure to work effectively."
To change this, Gilmour partnered with Rodney Page, the Alexander de Lahunta Chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences and Professor of Medicine, to empower and enable clinical researchers. A variety of strategic policy changes has "clinical research moving," Gilmour said, adding that he and faculty at the Vet College have more in mind. In his second term, he hopes to assist in laying the groundwork for a clinical research center that will organize current resources to improve efficiency. The center will drive collaborative research, supporting researchers with time, recognition, rewards, and resources.
Part of Gilmour's plan is to inspire young researchers. Early in his tenure, he was both "impressed with the caliber of the Vet College's student researchers and depressed by their lack of confidence in their ability to do research." To change this, he developed a summer program to encourage more vet students to engage in research. Now in its 4th year, the Veterinary Investigator Program encourages participants to develop research skills, an appreciation for the value of biomedical research in veterinary medicine, and a desire to pursue a career that involves biomedical research.
"The synergies between veterinary research and biomedical engineering are natural," said Gilmour. "Pre-clinical research that isn't ready for humans can be conducted at the Vet College."
His personal research, which he has maintained while serving in his administrative capacity, is an example of this synergy. Gilmour and his team investigate the mechanisms for the development of cardiac rhythm disturbances. His work is at the cellular level, although for several years he has tested various models of cardiac arrhythmia in a group of German shepherd dogs with inherited cardiac disease. His work is funded by the NIH and the NSF and is published in physiology, physics and medicine journals.
Gilmour earned his Ph.D. in pharmacology in 1977 at SUNY Upstate Medical Center. He was appointed associate professor of physiology at Cornell in 1987 and named professor in 1999.