Megan Fahey receives the 2020 Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Research Scholar Award
More than 500 veterinary students from across the U.S., as well as animal health researchers and leaders from three dozen top veterinary schools, convened virtually this week for the Veterinary Summer Scholars Symposium and presentation of the annual Boehringer Ingelheim Research Awards for Graduate Veterinarians and Veterinary Students.
This annual scientific colloquium – normally conducted in person -- showcases research by veterinary students completing summer research internships. It provides an opportunity for students in the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program to present and discuss research findings. Veterinary Scholars also have the opportunity to network with each other and with mentors from academia, industry and government.
The Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program was established more than 30 years ago to introduce first- and second-year veterinary medical students to biomedical research. Nearly 4,000 students have received stipends from Boehringer Ingelheim to conduct research since the program started. More information is available at http://veterinaryscholars.boehringer-ingelheim.com/.
At each participating school, Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars are assigned a mentor and laboratory. Each scholar conducts a hypothesis-driven research project. The research project is typically conducted over a 10-12 week period during the summer, with students presenting their work at the conclusion. This year, the 35 participating schools quickly deployed alternative plans to comply with COVID-19 safety measures. Some offered lab-based projects to students in a way that provided social distancing and related protections. Others refocused students’ research work on projects involving data analysis, which could be conducted offsite.
“We hope that some good can come from the many lessons we have learned during this year’s pandemic, such that we can better detect and treat -- or even prevent -- the next pandemic or major threat to human and animal health,” said Caroline Belmont, head of U.S. Animal Health Innovation for Boehringer Ingelheim. “Recent events have highlighted how important both innovation and collaboration are in addressing unmet needs in animal and human health. We look forward to the many future contributions today’s veterinary students and researchers will make in advancing these efforts.”
Students from the more than three dozen veterinary schools participating in the Veterinary Scholars Program are eligible to apply for two annual awards: The Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Graduate Award and the Veterinary Research Scholar Award. Winning students receive monetary prizes and a stipend to attend the annual Veterinary Scholars Symposium to accept their awards and present their research.
The recipient of the 2020 Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Research Scholar Award is Megan Fahey, a D.V.M. and Ph.D. degree student at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Fahey is committed to a career as a veterinary clinician scientist, and her research interests have evolved to focus on zoonotic disease, virology, and immunology. Her work in the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program has involved exploration of the use of mesenchymal stem cells to prevent or reduce degeneration in intervertebral disc disease.
The 2020 Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Graduate Award was presented at the virtual Veterinary Scholars Symposium to Dr. Sara Hamman Osum, a graduate student completing her Ph.D. in the Comparative and Molecular Biosciences Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Osum’s Ph.D. research has focused on developing and characterizing the first porcine model of Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a devastating neurologic disease for which there is no cure. Before joining the DVM/PhD program at the University of Minnesota, she spent four years as a research associate, studying tolerance and autoimmunity models and fostering her interest in advancing animal welfare through the development of improved animal models for preclinical research. Dr. Osum received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Minnesota in 2016, and her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of California in Santa Cruz, Calif., in 2008.
The Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Graduate Award promotes research in veterinary biosciences. It recognizes graduate veterinarians who have completed or will soon complete a Ph.D. program or are in their final years of residency training in veterinary pathology, medicine, surgery, radiology/ imaging, or laboratory animal medicine. Recipients receive an honorarium and are invited to present their research at the annual Veterinary Scholars Symposium.
Caroline Schlaeppi Fisher, from North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, received an honorable mention, 2020 Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Research Scholar. That distinction recognizes her work evaluating the effectiveness of reuse and sterilization of certain devices used in veterinary surgery, work intended to help shape evidence-based guidelines for the reuse of these devices.
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This story is adapted from a press release from Boehringer Ingelheim.