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WesternU / College of Veterinary Medicine / Research / College of Veterinary Medicine: Summer Research Program

College of Veterinary Medicine: Summer Research Program

WesternU CVM Veterinary Summer Research Program (VSRP)

The WesternU CVM Veterinary Summer Research Program (VSRP) is a joint venture between the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Office for Research, and the WesternU Office of Research and Biotechnology, to engage veterinary students in research during the summer months. This program is in part funded by Boehringer Ingelheim.

“Conducting a summer research project far outweighs anything that you can ever imagine…”

-Former VSRP scholar, HermanMax Salvosa-Chua (DVM 2024)

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Program Sponsors & Applications

All applications should be submitted electronically to the CVM Office for Research.

Deadlines and requirements vary with individual funding mechanisms– please review all instructions for each sponsor carefully. Applicants are welcome to apply to several funding mechanisms at the same time using the proper application form.

Discover the VSRP…

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A unique opportunity…

This program is designed to train students in responsible conduct of research, expose them to career opportunities in biomedical research and provide hands-on experience in research. Students that participate in this summer program should expect to engage in research projects under the mentorship of research faculty from mid-May to the end of July.

The short-term goal of this program is to expand students’ interest and skills in research and scholarly writing. In the long-term, this program aims at increasing the number of students who seek advanced training after graduation, pursue a biomedical research career, and/or remain scholarly active in their field of interest.

A group of people working in a lab with masks on.

Program Overview

CVM veterinary research scholars will work under the supervision of experienced faculty members and research associates to gain experience in:

– Research design and grantsmanship
– Responsible conduct in research
– Research methodology and acquiring relevant technical skills
– Interpretation and dissemination of results
– Poster and podium presentation skills
– Research career and training pathways for veterinarians
– Data recording and analysis

The CVM veterinary research scholars will be expected to prepare for their summer research projects by reviewing relevant literature and demonstrating their understanding of the methodologies used in their projects and will be actively engaged in the collection of data. Scholars will have an opportunity to develop problem-solving skills during one-on-one interactions with their mentors. This summer research program will culminate in CVM veterinary research scholars presenting a poster and / or podium abstract of their results.
Students researching in a lab

Hands-on Experience in Research

The program emphasizes one-on-one training in research under the direct mentorship of a faculty (a list of potential mentors may be found at the bottom of this page). CVM veterinary research scholars will work under direct supervision of their faculty mentor and research specialists in the laboratories for to acquire the technical skills required for their project.

The scholar will be given the opportunity to share progress and discuss ongoing issues during the summer research Workshop Series, commonly organized during the first week of the WesternU CVM Veterinary Research Scholars Program. The level of involvement of students varies with the funding mechanism, but CVM veterinary research scholars supported through extramural funding are expected to be engaged full-time for 10- to 11-weeks in their project.
  • Research Training

    In addition to the hands-on training with their mentors, full-time CVM veterinary research scholars enrolled in the WesternU-VRSP will attend seminars, small group discussions, and several field trips relevant to research. CVM veterinary research scholars supported through extramural funds are expected to attend all group training sessions.

    Orientation: The WesternU-VRSP will start with a day of orientation focusing on planned activities, a tour of the laboratories, laboratory safety, laboratory etiquette, maintaining a proper laboratory notebook, and data recording. This day will also include time for individual meetings between veterinary research scholars, mentors and research specialists. A social gathering allows trainees and mentors to meet and network.

    The Summer Research Workshop Series may include seminar and workshop topics such as:

    • General principles of grant writing
    • Study design, sample size calculation and power
    • Research Ethics (including ethical issues surrounding animal use in research, and intellectual property and authorship
    • Preclinical research
    • Resources and challenges in clinical trial
    • Patents and licenses / research management
    • Biostatistics / Statistics
    • Anesthesia and pain management in experimental animals
    • Application of laboratory methods in biomedical research
    • Common techniques in cell biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology
    • Career and training opportunities in biomedical research
    • 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 student research scholars sharing their progress and discussing any issue they may be facing in their project.

    Field Trips are organized every year to enhance exposure to biomedical research tools and careers. Past examples include:

    Trip to City of Hope: CVM student summer research scholars travel 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, hosts our students as they explore the facility. The day includes a tour of the Animal Research Center and Transgenic Mouse Core facilities. Lecture presentations and discussions highlight the state-of-the-art technologies used in the center and unique mouse models at COH/BRI. The one day-field trip event concludes with a summary and discussion of career opportunities for DVMs in research and comparative medicine programs.

    Trip to San Diego Institute for Conservation Research: This two-day trip includes talks by researchers at the Beckman Center for Conservation Research and a tour of the hospital. This trip also serves as social event as students finish the day visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

    Trip to UC San Diego Health Sciences, Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine: Dr Peter Ernst, DVM, PhD, Head of Division of Comparative Pathology and Medicine hosts this one day-visit. CVM student summer research scholars meet with residents in laboratory animal medicine and post-DVM graduate student research scholars currently enrolled in the research training programs. Short presentations by mentors allow CVM student summer research scholars to appreciate the breadth and relevance of the research undergoing in each laboratory.

    Trip to UCLA Medical Center: Dr. Marcelo Couto, DVM, PhD, Executive Director of DLAM hosts this trip to the animal facilities at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. In the clinical and molecular diagnostic laboratory, students are exposed to MFIA serology and MPV-PCR assay to detect the prevalence of MPV (Mouse ParaVirus) in mice population. The one day-visit also provides ample opportunity to converse with pathologists with hands-on exposure to small animal necropsy, and diagnostic interpretation of histopathology slides.

    Statistics Workshop (implemented in 2014): CVM student summer research scholars participate in a hands-on workshop scheduled at the beginning of the program. CVM student summer research scholars will be guided through a step-by-step exploration of a statistical method, which they can apply to their project, such as power analysis.

    Trip to Pacific Veterinary Conference: The California Veterinary Medical Association, has partnered with the CVM Office for Research to offer WesternU students an opportunity to give poster presentations of clinically relevant scientific abstracts 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.

  • Dissemination of Results

    Student Technology and Research Symposium (STRS) : STRS is a one day program hosted by the Office of the Vice President of Research, during which students involved in research from all Colleges at WesternU, present the results of their summer research projects. Each summer research 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.

    Boehringer Ingelheim National Veterinary Scholars Symposium (NVSS) : Full-time participants in the WesternU-VRSP, including those sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, must commit to present a poster at the upcoming NVSS as part of their application to the program. Poster preparation and travel expenses will be supported. Other scholars not required to present, such as those in subsequent part-time programs in the WesternU-VRSP, may apply to receive the same support from the CVM Research Office to cover their expenses. The Boehringer Ingelheim NVSS is usually scheduled each year at the end of the summer program and varies in location. This meeting provides an exceptional opportunity for scholars to meet peers from other institutions and network with renown scientists, in a collegial atmosphere. Further information about this national symposium can be found by visiting the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program – NVSS Information website.

    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; Dr. David Haworth DVM, PhD, President and CEO of the Morris Animal Foundation; and Dr Manuel Moro, PhD, Health Scientist Administrator, NIH.

  • Potential Research Mentors and Past Projects
  • Past WesternU-VSRP Programs
  • CVM Research working with microscope

    The Summer Research Experience

    The 2024 Veterinary Summer Research Program comes to an end in August 2024. Missed out but wanted to participate? Then get ready for the 2025 Veterinary Summer Research Program! Keep an eye out for upcoming deadlines and the call for applications, which usually go out in November the year prior to the program. Have questions? Feel free to reach out to CVM Research in the meantime with expressions of interest or questions.