Short Term Training for Students in the Health Professions

Principal Investigator: John Parker

Co-PI: Gerlinde Van de Walle

Baker Institute for Animal Health
Sponsor: NIH-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Grant Number: 5T35AI007227-35
Title: Short Term Training for Students in the Health Professions
Project Amount: $59,902
Project Period: April 2023 to March 2024

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): 

Continued support is requested for a short-term ten-week research training initiative at Cornell University. The program targets predoctoral veterinary students who aspire to careers in biomedical discovery or public health. Trainees may have some or no prior research experience. Seven positions are requested in each of the next five years. The program’s objectives are: (i) To promote the commitment of veterinary student trainees to a career in biomedical research; (ii) to nurture trainee interest in biomedical research as a career through experiential learning, independent research, and research-related activities; (iii) to promote high ethical standards, and the development of the creativity, leadership and teamwork skills necessary to succeed in biomedical research; (iv) to empower students to make informed decisions regarding graduate training and their careers by providing vocational counseling; and (v) to create a professional network that will benefit the students beyond the completion of their formal training and veterinary education. The desired outcome of the program is for the alumni of the program to seek advanced scientific training following completion of their professional degree that will allow them to fulfill the nations need for veterinary scientists.

Training would be provided in outstanding modern facilities at the College of Veterinary Medicine and other laboratories throughout the Cornell Ithaca Campus. The participating faculty trainers are nationally competitive scientists and many have served as mentors for program scholars in the past. Several of the participating faculty also serve as module facilitators and counselors. The scientific disciplines encompassed by the program are broadly based and include virology, bacteriology, immunology, parasitology, epidemiology, cancer biology, signal transduction mechanisms, biomedical engineering, and others.

The Cornell program has been successful in identifying outstanding participants including subsequent Rhodes and Fulbright scholars, and many individuals who graduated from veterinary college with the University Medal or its equivalent. More than 200 alumni have earned the PhD degree or are presently in training while many others have been awarded other advanced degrees in science or public health. An enduring network of program participants, counselors and consultants is a unique legacy of the program. As mentors, they are committed to assisting one another and more junior colleagues who are still in training. Mechanisms have been established to validate elements of the program, and to identify problems connected with the professional advancement of veterinary graduates who aspire to careers envisioned by the program. An outcome analysis of alumni who participated in the program between 1990-2006 revealed that 45% of those individuals have pursued science-based careers.