Graduate Training Program in Comparative Medicine

Principal Investigator: John Parker

Co-PI: Robert Weiss

Baker Institute for Animal Health
Sponsor: NIH-Office of the Director (OD)
Grant Number: 5T32OD011000-27
Title: Graduate Training Program in Comparative Medicine
Project Amount: $539,185
Project Period: June 2021 to May 2022

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): 

Ongoing support is requested for a “Graduate Program in Comparative Medicine” in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. Six post-doctoral positions are requested to provide training to DVMs seeking a PhD. The Comparative Medicine Program combines the very best that Cornell offers in the form of didactic graduate-level instruction, faculty supervision and training related activities. Trainees can follow one of two tracks: one is geared to a career in basic research and one to a career in translational science. In each case, training is structured to ensure the orderly progression of scholars to independence. Research areas available to trainees are broad and include infectious disease, immunology, epidemiology, cancer biology, cell biology and signal transduction, genomics and genetics, developmental biology, molecular medicine, and neuroscience.

The proposed program combines independent, faculty-guided research with formal didactic instruction in cell and molecular biology, genomics, and biostatistics, career counseling, and a variety of professional enrichment activities calculated to develop the trainees’ critical capacity, communication and teamwork skills. Graduate scholars would earn the PhD degree. The average time to degree for veterinarians seeking a PhD at Cornell University is 4.3 years; however, funding is requested for three years. The first six to nine months of training support will be provided by Graduate Research Assistantships provided by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell. It is expected that trainees will apply for individual fellowships (“K” awards or equivalent) that would support the trainee as they finish their graduate studies and transition to independent careers. However, all trainers are selected with the goal of ensuring training support continues independent of any fellowship award.

Program alumni are encouraged to undertake at least two years of research beyond their PhD degree preferably in a related discipline and at a different institution before accepting their initial appointment as an independent investigator. Many alumni are expected to realize careers as faculty members in U.S. veterinary colleges or medical schools, although some may seek research positions in independent institutions, government, or industry. The goal of the program is to train veterinary scientists that can meet the national need for trained veterinarians within academia, industry, public health, and government to address problems relating to animal and human health.