Merial Veterinary Scholars & Other Programs
The NIH/Merial Summer Research Program is designed to expose students in their first or second year of veterinary school to all phases of biomedical research. This includes the development of research ideas, the preparation of research proposals, the performance of biomedical research, and the presentation of research results in written and oral formats. Students in the program perform full time biomedical research during the months of June, July, and August, participate in weekly seminars, and present their work in oral, poster, and written presentations. Students also attend the National Merial Scholars Conference. The program provides a rich experience in biomedical research for students and simultaneously exposes them to a wide variety of research topics through seminars. Students also benefit from close association with University faculty.
Who is eligible?
Any veterinary student who has completed one semester of veterinary school is eligible to apply. Students can be from the University of Pennsylvania, or any other veterinary school.
History of the Program
The Summer Research Program has existed at Penn Vet since 1990. The program is currently funded by Merial and by an NIH training grant. Other sources of support include funds from the office of the dean, the four departmental chairs and the Marie Lowe Cancer Center. Since its inception, the program has funded 291 awards to 262 different students to perform biomedical research in the laboratories of 119 different faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania. The historical success rate of gaining acceptance into the program is about 75%. The chart below shows the number of applicants and matriculants in each year.
How does the Program Work?
Students perform full time research during the months of June, July, and August under the supervision of their faculty mentor. Throughout the summer, students participate in weekly seminars given by faculty and guest speakers (see schedule for 2012, below). Students also orally present their own work to other students in the program at the end of the summer. Students attend the annual National Merial Scholars Symposium and present a poster of their work at the conference. In September, students prepare a written manuscript of their work in the form of a research paper. The following March, all participating students submit their work to the Penn Veterinary Student Research Day. In prior years, two thirds of the Penn Vet Student Research Day winners have been participants in the Summer Research Program. In addition to a stipend (currently $5500 for the summer) students receive course credit for independent study (8 credits for Penn students). Non-Penn Vet students can receive up to an additional $500 for relocation costs and will be offered reasonably priced housing options for the summer. It is anticipated that 18-24 students will be funded each year.
Schedule of Events, 2012
April 30 Introductory Student/Mentor Potluck Dinner
June 5 Seminar: Responsible Conduct in Research, Grants and Career Planning
Dr. Michael Atchison
June 12 Seminar: Title TBA
Dr. Ted Mashima, AAVMC
June 19 Seminar: Careers in Phamaceutical Industry
Drs. Jessica Stehr, Emily Hickey and Charlie Hsu, Merck Co.
June 20 Visit to NIH in Bethesda, MD
Chand Khanna, DVM/PhD, and Mark Simpson, DVM/PhD
June 26 Poster, Oral and Written Presentations
Drs. Frank Luca and Michael Atchison
July 3 Careers in Academia
Dr. Kurt Hankenson
July 10 Careers in Laboratory Animal Medicine Medicine
Dr. F. Claire Hankenson
July 12 Fireside Chat: From Vet School to a Research Career (4pm)
Guests: Steve Artim, Emily Meidel, and Theresa Alenghat
July 17 Student Presentations
July 19 Fireside Chat: "Work-Life Balance" (4pm)
Guests: Drs. Amy Durham and Louise Southwood
July 24 Student Presentations
July 25 Vist to Philadelphia Science Center (2pm)
Chris Laing, MRCVS, Ph.D. VP of Science and Technology
July 31 Student Presentations
August 2- 5 Merial-NIH Meeting at Colorado State University
August 7 Wrap-Up Session
September 8 BBQ Party
September 14 Student Research Write-Ups Due
February 2013 Penn Vet Student Research Day Abstracts Due
March 2013 Penn Vet Student Research Day
National Merial Scholars Symposium
Each year, veterinary students in formal research programs in the US and Canada meet for a National Symposium. These meetings enable students to present their work to others, learn about careers for veterinarian-scientists, and network with their peers and scientists from academia, industry, and government. Past conferences are listed below. The 2012 conference is expected to be hosted by the Colorado State University.
Past National Conferences
2000 University of Georgia
2001 University of Georgia
2002 Purdue University
2003 Kansas State University
2004 Auburn University
2005 University of Georgia
2006 Louisiana State University
2007 University of Pennsylvania and AAVMC at NIH
2008 Michigan State University
2009 North Carolina State University
2010 University of Georgia
2011 University of Florida
2012 Colorado State University
Anticipated Future Conferences
2013 Michigan State University
Application to the Program
To apply to the program, students interested in performing biomedical research discuss research ideas with participating faculty. All faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania are eligible to accept a student in the program, thus students are not restricted to the participating faculty list. The Program Director, Dr. Michael Atchison, can assist students in identifying faculty with interests compatible with theirs, or students can identify a faculty mentor through information available at the various Penn graduate group web pages, and departmental web pages. The student and faculty mentor fill out an application package and write a short research proposal (approximately 3 pages) which is due February 1 each year. Please make sure to contact possible faculty mentors at least two months prior to the deadline. The research proposal should define the questions being pursued and should explain the experimental approaches to be taken to answer those questions. The advisory committee reviews the applications with respect to academic standing of the student, quality of the research proposal, and training potential of the mentor's laboratory. Students whose applications are funded are notified by late February of their award.