Merial/NIH Veterinary Summer Scholars Program
The aim of the Merial NIH Veterinary Scholars Program is to provide veterinary medical students the opportunity to explore the world of biomedical research, develop and complete a biomedical research project during the summer. The intent is to engage students in a creative, problem-solving research activity and to provide a learning experience that will lead to the discovery of new knowledge in an area of their choosing and identify potential pathways to a career in biomedical research.
- Learn about biomedical research and research career opportunities
- Design and conduct a research project
- Discuss your results with your peers
- Travel to Washington, DC for a national symposium with fellow students and scientists
- Earn $5,844
- Have a great time!
Extramural support from a Merial Foundation grant and a NIH T35 training grant are combined with significant support from the Louisiana State University, School of Veterinary Medicine, and enable students to participate in this program. Students supported by NIH funds will be chosen from applications that focus on problems or models important to human health. Regardless of the source of funding the Summer Scholars Program is the same and students participate in the program as one group. The program has two components. The major activity is focused on the Scholars' mentored, independent research project. Other group functions include lectures, discussions, social events and field trips to research institutions in the area.
Research plans will be developed by students with faculty mentor input, on any topic of interest to the student and likely to lead to the discovery of new information. Example topics include: immunology and infectious diseases, cancer biology, molecular epidemiology, experimental studies focused on nutrition and obesity, pharmacology, environmental toxicology, mechanisms of pathogenesis, zoonoses, biomechanics, cardiovascular pathophysiology, and others. The mentor and other advisors will provide guidance to students and an assessment of progress. Students will provide, at completion of the study, an oral presentation of their results to their colleagues and all mentors, and a presentation of results via posters at the annual Merial Summer Symposium to be held in Washington DC and at the LSU Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day. It is noteworthy that of the 17 awards given at the 2016 MS Thesis and professional student/house officer level, our summer research program students won four; 1st, 2nd and two 3rd place awards in the Basic Research Category. LSU Students will receive elective credit in the curriculum (VMED 5010 or VMED 5463) for successful completion of the program. Students will be strongly encouraged to work with their mentors to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals separately or as a smaller piece of work with their mentors.
Extra-research program activities for student scholars will be an integral part of the program aimed at expanding the students’ understanding of opportunities for veterinarians in biomedical research, and at enhancing the research culture of the student group.
These activities will include
- An orientation meeting at the time of award on the aims, organization, and expectations of the program, and the support available for conducting research projects.
- A series of one-hour lecture/discussions presented by faculty during the initial week on Experimental Design and Statistical Methods, Ethics in Research, Responsible Conduct of Research Issues, Animal Welfare Issues, Authorship, Grantsmanship and Writing, and an introduction to SVM central service facilities (Tissue and Organ Culture, GeneLab, Electron Microscopy, FACS, and Analytical Chemistry), an Introduction to Power Point Presentations, and an Introduction to poster preparation by the Bio-communications Unit of the SVM.
- Bi-weekly (5) one-hour group workshops to report and discuss each student scholars’ progress.
- Three to five scientific presentations and discussions are held with notable local scientists on contemporary topics such as Stem Cell Biology, Translational Biology, and Modern Vaccinology.
- Two field trips are scheduled to regional research centers. These will include the Tulane National Primate Research Center, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Presentations of ongoing research activities and the organizational structure and culture of the institutions are described. Both are partners with us in this program. Additional trips are planned to the LSU Center for Emerging Technologies (a biotechnology incubator), and the LSU School of Public Health in New Orleans.
- Informal evening social activities will be held for mentors and student scholars and their guests, during the first week, and at summer’s end.
- An additional team building exercise with students and mentors includes a float trip down the Amite River, will be held mid-summer.
- Presentation of research results will occur orally, at the Symposium, and at the Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day.
- Oral PowerPoint presentation of results at the end of the summer prior to the symposium. All mentor laboratory personnel will be invited.
- Exit interview of student scholars following the Merial Symposium by Dr. Macaluso (Director) and Drs. Grasperge and Taboada (Co-Directors) as well as available Advisory Committee members.
Veterinary Medical students in the 1st and 2nd year classes.
Students not concurrently enrolled in a graduate program such as our DVM/PhD program.
The Merial program restricts participation to one year. However, students may receive a second year support through the NIH BREVS program, Morris Animal Foundation, or other extramural support.
Preference will be given to students without prior formal research experience.
STUDENTS FROM ANY COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE ARE ENCOURAGED TO APPLY
A total of up to sixteen awards (14-16 awards) will be available. Students are urged to select a mentor from the lists provided of Faculty within the SVM, Hansen’s Disease Center (located within the SVM), the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (located in Baton Rouge), the Tulane National Primate Research Center (located in Covington), or the LSU School of Public Health (located in New Orleans). It may be useful to contact several potential mentors. Do not limit these contacts to faculty you have had as instructors. Mentors who have active ongoing research programs will be able to help you develop and conduct your project. These projects are often a small part of an ongoing larger study in the mentor’s laboratory. It should be clear that the project will be done by you with help where needed. You will not be “just a lab helper”. There is a wide and diverse array of opportunities. Search the units’ web sites below and in the attached list for other potential faculty:
LSU SVM Departments
Comparative Biomedical Sciences - http://www.lsu.edu/vetmed/cbs/index.php
Pathobiological Sciences - http://www.lsu.edu/vetmed/pbs/index.php
Veterinary Clinical Sciences - http://www.lsu.edu/vetmed/vcs/index.php
LSU Biological Sciences - http://www.biology.lsu.edu/
Tulane National Primate Research Center’s contact is Dr. Pyone Aye at email@example.com
If you need assistance or guidance, discuss these further with Drs. Macaluso (firstname.lastname@example.org), Grasperge (email@example.com), or Taboada (firstname.lastname@example.org), or any of the faculty listed as potential mentors.
Former Summer Scholars are an important source of information on what to expect, help on how to find a mentor, and selecting a research topic.
Letter of Intent (LOI) due: January 19, 2017 by 5:00 pm.
LOI's can now be completed on the website. Emailed PDF's are no longer necessary. Sumbitting an LOI is an important step as it allows us to know if we can help you identify a project. LOI's also give program administrators an idea regarding the number and type of proposals they are likely to receive.
Proposals for funding due: February 1, 2017 by 5:00 pm.
Submit a PDF of your proposal to Stephanie Willis at email@example.com.
Students are eligible to apply for funding on a one-time basis in the year 2017 for research that can be accomplished in 11 weeks. Recipients of awards will be notified by March 7, 2017, to allow early planning, purchase of supplies and preparation for summer research projects. Research projects will be considered for funding for which work can be done in a single summer. Students enrolled in the research elective emphasis area may submit a continuation plan on anticipated further work to be done in separate modules funded by other means (e.g. a research mentor’s funded grant) that span up to 2 summers and/or multiple 2-4 week elective blocks.
One proposal will be selected to submit to the Morris Animal Foundation for funding. The chosen proposal will need to be reformatted and submitted online to Morris Animal Foundation by March 1, 2017.
Proposals will be single spaced, and will comply with the following format
Cover Page: The link to the cover page is at the top right of this page.
Abstract (up to 250 words)
Aims and Objectives (a brief, clear statement of specific research objectives)
Introduction (up to 1 page to support the rationale of the research hypothesis and work plan, with a review of key literature relating proposed work to previous and current work in the field. Include a statement on relevance to your career goals and why it is an innovative, original contribution that will advance animal health)
Work plan (a 1-2 page statement of the essential work plan and methods that will be used to attain the stated objectives and test the hypothesis)
Letter of Support (attach letter of support from the mentor which should include the support available for the student)
Grants will be awarded to students upon the recommendation of a Student Research Electives Committee composed of 5 faculty representatives, each an accomplished researcher with an active current program, and 3 Ex Officio members: Dr. Kevin Macaluso, Program Director and Associate Professor of Pathobiological Sciences; Dr. Britton Grasperge, Co-Director and Assistant Professor in Clinical Pathology; and Dr. J. Taboada, Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs. Proposal evaluations will be based on:
- Originality and relevance to the future advancement of animal health 30%
- Student grade point average, academic background, and interest in research 20%
- Feasibility of the research plan, budget, and value as a learning experience 20%
- Level of support & guidance expected to be provided by mentor(s) 20%
- Potential for publication of findings in a scientific journal 10%
Funds to support successful proposals will be placed in an account for expenditure by students according to a budget approved by the advisory committee for summer stipends ($5,844) and $250 for such items as supplies and operating expenses. The latter will depend on the program and needs. It is expected that a majority of the cost of research will be supported by the mentors. Funds will not be provided for travel, capital expenses, or graduate, post-doctoral or residency stipends. Intellectual property rights for results of these studies will be assigned following LSU guidelines. As per University guidelines, mileage reimbursement up to $500 will be provided for LSU students electing to work at the TNPRC for the purposes of travel.
At least two qualified students from other veterinary colleges are being sought to bring regional diversity to our program. The application process is as described for LSU students with the exception that additional assistance will be provided in identifying a mentor and potential project and research proposals will be written after selection which will be based on the criteria below.
Unique aspects of our program are the LSU Equine Health Studies Program, the Tulane National Primate Research Center, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, an internationally recognized center of nutritional research focusing on obesity. You are encouraged to contact Drs. Macaluso (firstname.lastname@example.org), Grasperge (email@example.com) or Taboada (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. A $500 local expense card to offset transportation expenses will be provided.
Selection of Non-LSU Students
Students not at LSU are directed to supply their CVM GPA, class standing, a brief description of their interest in research and its potential relevance to their career goals, their potential areas of research interest and interest in specific mentors identified on our web site, if any. Special assistance is given to students via e-mail and telephone to formulate the application, and in the selection of potential mentors. Selection criteria used to guide the Advisory Committee include; 1. Student grade point average, ranking in their class, academic background, interest in research, and relevance to their career goals 2. Feasibility of the potential research projects, and value as a learning experience, 3. Level of support and guidance expected to be provided by their mentor.