Cornell University Combined DVM-PhD Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

Principal Investigator: Renata Ivanek

Co-PI: Jonathan Cheetham; Gerlinde Van de Walle

Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences
Sponsor: NIH-National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Grant Number: T32GM150453-01
Title: Cornell University Combined DVM-PhD Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Project Amount: $232,214
Project Period: July 2023 to June 2024

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): 

The mission of this MSTP at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is (i) to create a diverseand inclusive veterinary clinician and scientist community to support and mentor Combined DVM-PhD Degree (CD) trainees along the axes of their personal identity, clinical discipline, and research domain; (ii) to provide integrated training in clinical veterinary medicine and biomedical research that prepares trainees to perform at the highest standards as rigorous clinician-scientists; (iii) to develop biomedical science leaders exhibiting creativity, curiosity, compassion, and service; and (iv) to develop skills for success in a broad range of veterinary clinician-scientist research careers through experiential learning. Towards this mission, we have established a flexible and vibrant CD training plan that strategically and uniquely pairs Cornell’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) curriculum with the graduate (PhD) program in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (BBS). The current Cornell CD program has a strong track record of ongoing success since its creation in 2002. Approximately 71% of our 24 CD graduates are in research careers (33% in academia, 17% in government, and 21% in industry). Incoming CD students will choose their PhD mentor, after their laboratory rotations, from a pool of 40 trainers (including 4 affiliate trainers) representing 8 research specialties with an average of $900,000 of research grant funding. Cornell is committed to providing all CD students, including MSTP trainees, full financial support (tuition, stipend, and health insurance) for all years during their CD programming. The training of CD students at Cornell is flexible. It typically starts with 1.5 years in the DVM curriculum, then switching to a 3- or 4-year long Ph.D., and finally returning to the remaining 2.5 years of DVM training. Of the current cohort of 15 CD students, including 2 newly admitted trainees, 6 (40%) hold prestigious predoctoral fellowships, including 5 NIH F30s. Key objectives for our MSTP are to: (1) Recruit and retain students, and grow a diverse CD student cohort; (2) Develop biomedical science leaders with skills in major competency domains required for clinician-scientists, namely disciplinary knowledge combined with clinical, technical, operational, professional, and self-development skills; (3) Optimize DVM and PhD training integration and the combined time-to-degree through the temporal intermingling of DVM and PhD training, research during the DVM curriculum, and clinical training during the PhD curriculum; and (4) Expand opportunities for career development, both in academia and beyond academia, and enhance skills in communication, team-science, and entrepreneurship. Our overarching objective is to develop a diverse pool of well-trained veterinary clinician-scientists who have the disciplinary knowledge and skills that will uniquely prepare them for leadership roles in biomedical research to advance human health at the individual and population levels.