Nobel Laureate Shares Insights on Research Career at 2015 Merial-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium
Peter C. Doherty, DVM, PhD, who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for discovering the nature of the cellular immune defense – the only veterinarian to have received this honor – gave a lively keynote address at the 2015 Veterinary Scholars Symposium, held at the University of California, Davis on July 30 through August 2. He advised the audience of young biomedical researchers and veterinary students considering a research career to take risks, ask questions, remain flexible and above all to enjoy their work. Doherty headlined a strong group of speakers who provided brief vignettes of their careers in research, all of whom participated in a panel discussion that ranged from communicating science to non-scientists to achieving an appropriate work-life balance.
This year’s Symposium marked the 26th year of Merial’s stewardship of the Merial Veterinary Scholars Program (MVSP), which funds a 10-12 week hands-on summer research experience for first and second year veterinary students considering careers in biomedical research. The students then present their research results as a scientific poster at the Symposium, which also showcases the work of young researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The focus of the 2015 Symposium was firmly on the challenges faced by researchers at the interface of humans, animals and their environment. Plenary topics included the One Health initiative and prevention of pandemics, priorities for environmental health science research, and a CDC perspective on zoonoses such as Rift Valley fever and Ebola. Participants also heard from National Geographic researcher Mireya Mayor on her field research career in Madagascar and other locations. Additional breakout sessions targeted broad areas of research including translational medicine, molecular and regenerative cures, and the relation between genes and disease.
Fabian Kausche, Global Head of Merial R&D provided welcome remarks to the veterinary students, encouraging them to take full advantage of the opportunity to engage with fellow attendees about their research experiences and career paths. “I applaud all of you who are working toward – or considering – a career in biomedical research,” said Kausche. “We need scientists with the skills and training to fulfill the need for comparative animal research, animal and human food safety, and drug development if we are to continue to advance biomedical research.”
“Year after year, the Symposium continues to grow and attract some of the best young biomedical researchers to attend and present,” said Roberto Alva, Senior Director of Clinical R&D, Merial, and Executive Director of the MVSP. “This year we had nearly 600 registered participants. The positive feedback we received from the students, mentors and program directors of the participating veterinary schools truly highlights the importance of this program in generating interest in careers in biomedical research and in the One Health concept.”
Currently all veterinary schools in the USA, Canada, France and The Netherlands participate in the program, which is also supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Johns Hopkins University, the Burroughs Wellcome fund, and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.
Read about the 2015 award winner