Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine Western University of Health Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Summer Research Program

The Veterinary Summer Research Program (VSRP) is a joint venture of the College of Veterinary Medicine Office for Research and the WesternU Office of Research and Biotechnology to offer competitive funding opportunities to veterinary students in order to fully engage them in the field of biomedical research during the summer months.

Program Overview

The short term goal of this program is to expand students’ interest and skills in research and scholarly writing and offer them experience in the lab and as integral participants in the research process.  In the long-term, this program hopes to foster interest in students to seek advanced training after graduation, pursue a biomedical research career, and remain scholarly active in their field of interest.

During this program, students will work under the supervision of experienced faculty members and research technicians to gain experience in:

Students will participate in data collection as part of their project and will be expected to prepare for this phase by reviewing relevant literature and demonstrating their understanding of the methodologies used in their project.  Students will acquire technical skills and generate data by working under direct supervision of their mentor and research technicians. Students will have an opportunity to develop problem solving skills during one-on-one interactions with their mentor as well as during weekly research meetings.  Students will investigate various research career pathways available to veterinarians both on and off campus.

Hands-on Experience in Research

Students will work under direct supervision of their faculty mentor and research specialists in the laboratories to acquire the technical skills required for their project.  Students will spend the majority of their time in the mentor’s laboratory conducting hands-on research; however, all mentors must agree that students will be available for FIT lunches, STARS, and field trips. Students and mentors will have the opportunity to share progress and discuss ongoing issues during the FIT lunches organized every Friday.

Research Training

In addition to the hands-on training with their mentors, students enrolled in the VSRP will attend seminars, small group discussions, and several field trips relevant to research. 

Our 2014 Sponsors

  1. Orientation: The VSRP will start with a day of orientation focusing on planned activities, tour of the laboratories, laboratory safety, laboratory etiquette, maintaining a proper laboratory note book, and poster preparation and presentation. This day will also include time for individual meetings between students, mentors and research specialists.
  2. Friday Investigations and Topics (FIT) lunches:  Seminars are planned for every Friday and topics may include:
    • Anesthesia and pain management in experimental animals
    • Application of laboratory methods in biomedical research
    • Biostatistics
    • Career opportunity in laboratory animal medicine
    • Common techniques in cell biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology
    • Computer-based reports and presentations
    • Ethical issues surrounding animal use in research
    • Ethical Issues Intellectual Property and Authorship
    • Experimental design and power calculation
    • Grant and scholarly writing
    • Justification of Sample Size – Power-Analysis Workshop
    • Patents and licenses / research management
    • Preclinical research
    • Resources and challenges in clinical trials
    • Tips for poster presentation
    • Tips to get published

    Format will vary with topic and may consist of a PowerPoint presentation, journal club, or case discussion. These meetings will conclude with students sharing their progress and discussing any issue they may be facing in their project.

  3. Field Trips and Workshop: Fields trips and workshops are organized every year to enhance exposure to biomedical research tools and careers.  Past Examples include:
    • UCLA Department of Statistics Workshop (New in 2014):  Dr. Mahtash Esfandiari, Director of Statistical Consulting Center at UCLA, will conduct this hands-on workshop scheduled at the beginning of the program.  Dr. Esfandiari will guide students on a step-by-step exploration of statistical power analysis which they can apply to their experimental design.
    • Trip to Pacific Veterinary Conference (2014 Pac Vet- San Francisco, CA):  Dr. Daniel Segna, Assistant Executive Director of the California Veterinary Medical Association, has partnered with the CVM Office of Research to offer WesternU students an opportunity to give podium presentations of scientific abstract at the Pacific Veterinary Conference. This trip is designed to help students become familiar with the format of scientific presentations, improve their knowledge with a day of continuing education, and network with other students engaged in research at WesternU and UC Davis.  Students will accompany faculty presenters.
    • Trip to UCLA medical center: Dr. Marcelo Couto, DVM, PhD, Executive Director of DLAM, will be hosting this trip to the animal facilities at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  In the clinical and molecular diagnostic laboratory, students will be exposed to MFIA serology and MPV-PCR assay to detect the prevalence of MPV (Mouse ParaVirus) in mice population. The visit also provides ample opportunity to converse with pathologists with hands-on exposure to small animal necropsy, and diagnostic interpretation of histopathology slides.
    • Trip to City of Hope: Diane McClure, DVM, PhD, DACLAM, CVM Associate Professor of Laboratory Animal Medicine whose expertise is laboratory animal medicine and the development of laboratory animal models, will be leading this excursion to City of Hope National Medical Center, a not-for-profit clinical research center, hospital and graduate medical school located in Duarte, California.  Dr. Richard Ermel, DVM, PhD, Director of Animal Resources Center at the City of Hope, will host our students as they explore the facility.  The day will include a tour of the Animal Research Center and Transgenic Mouse Core facilities.  A lecture presentation and discussion of the state-of the-art technologies used in generation of Transgenic and Knock-Out mice will highlight the unique valuable mouse models created/produced at COH/BRI.  Following this, students will visit one or two labs that are using the unique mouse models to emphasize their significant role in translational/biomedical research and how the models are being used.  The one day/field trip event will conclude with a summary and discussion of career opportunities for DVMs in research and comparative medicine programs.

Dissemination of Results

Student Technology and Research Symposium (STARS): STARS is a one day program during which students from all colleges at WesternU present the results of their summer research project. Each student submits a written abstract and gives a 15 minute oral presentation to faculty members from all colleges, visitors, and fellow students. Breakfast, lunch, break refreshments, and a wine and cheese mixer are provided. This event occurs in the last week of their summer experience, and is designed to be supportive, friendly, and provide a constructive experience. The Office of the Vice President of Research provides awards to the best presentations.

Merial–NIH Veterinary Scholars Program Symposium: Students whose travel expenses can be supported will submit a poster for presentation at the 2014 Merial-NIH Symposium. Merial participants must commit to present a poster at the Merial-NIH symposium as part of their application to the program.

College Research Day: Currently enrolled College of Veterinary Medicine Students will be given the opportunity to present their scientific research findings as a podium presentation each year in the early spring. Students will be able to exchange ideas, share their knowledge, present their research to faculty and students from all colleges on campus, improve their presentation skills, and earn awards. A keynote speaker is invited to present their expertise to faculty and students alike, previous keynote speakers have included: Dr. Bruno Chomel, DVM, PhD, Dr. Sc. Professor of Zoonoses, University of California, Davis; and Dr. David Haworth DVM, PhD, President and CEO of the Morris Animal Foundation.

Potential Research Mentors

Below is a list of faculty members with active research and experience mentoring research students:

Evidence-Based Veterinary Medical Education (EBVME) Research Interest Group – more information on EBVME RIG.

Collaborative Clinical Research Interest Group – more information on Collaborative Clinical RIG.

Eco Health Research Interest Group – more information on Eco Health RIG.

Timeline and Schedules

Veterinary Research Scholars will be enrolled full time from May 19 to August 3, 2014.

VSRP Sponsors and Application Information Page

Enquiries should be directed to John R. Greenwood, CVM Office of Research: greenwoodj@westernu.edu, Ph: 909-469-5557.