Focus on Research
October 2021
The Promise of Veterinary Medical Research
Two major studies have outlined the need to focus on biomedical and animal health research in recent years. A National Academies study and report titled “Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science” outlined the impact, potential and need to identify and focus more resources on veterinary medical research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) “Physician-Scientist Workforce (PSW) Report” described the need to train more clinician-scientists, including physicians, veterinarians and dentists, to conduct more biomedical research.

“Research in veterinary science is critical to the protection of public health and the advancement of science that benefits both humans and animals as individuals and populations,” wrote the authors of the National Academies study. “The current level of support for veterinary research, however, has not kept pace with the challenges posed by new and emerging threats and the nation's growing demands for knowledge in biomedicine and animal health.”

The AAVMC, which often works closely with government agencies and others on workforce studies like this, is addressing a series of goals related to these analyses.

Those include:

  • Increased interdisciplinary and inter-institutional cooperation and collaboration
  • Encouraging more students to consider careers in research and strengthening “research culture” on campus
  • Increased advocacy for government support for programs and infrastructure

Right now, about a half a billion dollars in research is underway at U.S. based AAVMC institutions, funded by organizations like the National Institutes of Health, the USDA, and many other agencies, corporations and foundations.

Developing strategies to support the success and growth of the research mission at our colleges and schools, exploring funding opportunities, and inspiring future students to consider career opportunities in research falls under the purview of the AAVMC Research Committee, which functions as an advisory group to the Board of Directors and the Assembly.
Research Committee Building Community to Power Future Success
The Research Committee is working diligently to advance the success and growth of the research mission at AAVMC member institutions. Among their strategies: promoting the importance of veterinary medical research, exploring funding opportunities, inspiring student researchers and networking.

The Research Committee consists of the Associate and Assistant Deans for Research from each AAVMC Member, Collaborative, and Provisional Member; and the Director from each Affiliate Member institution.

Committee leadership recently surveyed members to solicit their views on strategic priorities and a consensus emerged describing the need to develop more collaboration, communication and a stronger sense of community among veterinary medical researchers at AAVMC institutions.

The Research Committee is moving quickly toward that goal.

The AAVMC Research Forum was established as a community of interest in 2020. Since then, the forum has grown to include about 80 members posting observations, queries and comments. Zoom meetings with more than 25 attendees each have been held on topics like promoting clinical scientist training, research technology commercialization, and industry engagement.

The Research Committee added an international representative to the Research Committee leadership team in 2020. The group is playing an active role in guiding many research-related AAVMC initiatives and advocating for program development, support and funding.
National Veterinary Scholars Program Helps Prepare Tomorrow's Researchers
Almost 900 people convened for the virtual 2021 National Veterinary Scholars Symposium (NVSS), an annual scientific gathering that showcases veterinary medical student research. The event was hosted by the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Students, faculty, university and business representatives gathering virtually were addressed by several keynote speakers and attended a variety of informational and networking sessions – all centered around the essential role of veterinary medical research.

Students participating in the program conduct a hypothesis-driven research project developed jointly by the student scholar and faculty mentor. The results are then shared during the end-of-summer research symposium. Hundreds of posters and abstracts were available during the event.

The annual showcase of veterinary medical research was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The American Veterinary Medical Association sponsored production of the 370 page abstract booklet.

The AAVMC’s Research Committee is playing a significant role in the presentation of the program.

The 2022 National Veterinary Scholars Symposium will be hosted by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Fourteen Professional Program Students Earn FFAR Fellowships
The AAVMC and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) annually collaborate on the Veterinary Student Research Fellowships (Vet Fellows) program. Fourteen students were presented fellowships as part of the 2021 program.

The fellowship creates opportunities for veterinary medical students to pursue research on global food security and sustainable animal production. The three-month fellowship culminates with student presentations at the annual National Veterinary Scholars Symposium in August.

As a result of the pandemic, the AAVMC and FFAR enlarged the scope of the fellowship to include zoonotic or pandemic research this year.

“We are thrilled to support the research of the Vet Fellows this year who are developing tools, technologies and strategies to solve real-world issues affecting animal production, disease evolution and animal and human health,” said FFAR’s Advanced Animal Systems Scientific Program Director Dr. Tim Kurt.
Clinical Research Leading to Improved Clinical Care
Clients often marvel at the quality of diagnostic and clinical care offered through a university-based Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Do they realize that much of their customer experience was developed in those same laboratories and clinics?

From non-invasive imaging techniques to chemo-therapeutic protocols, many advancements in veterinary clinical care arise through clinical research programs underway in academic veterinary medicine.

Pets are part of modern family life, as data collected by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) attests, and people expect human-quality healthcare for their beloved companion animals. That demand will likely continue: the AVMA reports dog and cat populations in the U.S. are expected to grow to 100 million and 85 million, respectively, by the end of this decade.
The Research Committee is working to build support for clinical research activities on campus. One example: they recently presented “Promoting Clinical Research — A Community Gathering and Discussion,” which brought leaders together to discuss strategies for doing so.
One Health Alliance Helping Guide $300M in Pandemic Spending
The global Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in almost 220 million morbidities and about 4.55 mortalities. While the public health, medical and scientific communities continue to battle it, measures are underway to help prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Congress has appropriated $300 million for USDA-APHIS through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act to build out “One Health” infrastructure related to monitoring and surveillance of susceptible animals for SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants. The CTSA One Health Alliance is helping provide guidance on how those resources should be deployed.

Click here to examine the USDA Strategic Framework.

The COHA includes 15 veterinary schools partnered with their medical school counterparts through a National Institutes of Health Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA). COHA addresses its mission to advance the understanding of diseases shared by humans and animals by leveraging the expertise of physicians, research scientists, veterinarians, and other professionals in a way that advances translational research.
Research Facilities Act to Support Research Infrastructure on Campus
The AAVMC is working with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) to build support for the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA)’s Research Facilities Act. That legislation calls for an $11.5 billion investment in agricultural research infrastructure at U.S. colleges of agriculture.

Those resources are needed to shore up facilities at public colleges of agriculture, which are pressed to discover new and better ways to promote agricultural productivity and food safety, reduce zoonotic disease threats, and help mitigate climate change in the midst of a growing global population.
The AAVMC works closely with the APLU on a number of initiatives. Those include creation of the National Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education (NIAMREE) and a major report advocating for regulatory reform regarding gene editing in agriculture.
AAVMC Newsletters

The AAVMC is working hard to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in every dimension of academic veterinary medicine. To foster this goal, the photographs and illustrations which are used in our communications programs are aspirational, and do not necessarily reflect the levels of diversity and inclusion that currently exist.

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