The Summer Research Comparative Medicine Fellowship program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is specifically designed for first- and second-year veterinary students to gain research experience and exposure to translational science relevant to human health. These positions provide a unique opportunity for structured training in a research-intensive environment, with a focus on comparative disease pathophysiology in nonhuman primates and other species. Veterinary students who are considering careers in research, academia, laboratory animal medicine, zoology, exotics, primatology and pathology are encouraged to apply. Positions include stipend, provision of housing for the summer, and travel to the annual veterinary scholars meeting.
The program seeks to:
- Teach the basic elements of hypothesis-driven research, including the scientific method, basics of study design, an overview of the grant-writing process, proper data management and basic statistical methods
- Provide training in ethics and professionalism in research, including proper conduct of research, ethical treatment of animals, intellectual property and human subjects protection
- Provide experience in oral and written presentation of scientific findings, including demystification of the publication process
Will a program be held if COVID-19 continues?
We expect that during the summer of 2021 an on-site program will be held. There are likely to be notable differences, such as mask ordinances, outdoor classes, local quarantine prior to animal exposure, and a National Veterinary Scholars Symposium is likely to remain remote. If you are accepted and uncomfortable about being at Wake, you are high risk or you test positive – a remote project can and will be implemented.
Will I be paid?
Yes, we pay you what the government dictates, which is not commensurate with your brilliance or the blood, sweat and tears you will shed. It is paid once a month and ensures that you have enough food to fuel you through the days.
Does the program provide summer housing?
Yes! We pay for you to stay in beautiful Winston-Salem, at the Wake Forest University undergraduate campus dorms or alternative housing if arranged and within budget.
How long is the program?
Twelve weeks. If you have exotic summer plans, we can try and figure that in but it will depend on the nature of the research.
Will I work with monkeys?
Yes! That is what we love the most….regardless of what research project you undertake, you will be invited and expected to join non-human primate clinical research procedures that are ongoing. We offer a wide range of research projects that involve many different animal models, or involve pathological assessments, or advanced radiology approaches. The monkey part of your day can be large or small depending on your interests and our schedules.
What research projects are available?
This changes every year as that is why science is so much fun. You will be given a list of research projects and mentors that are available for the summer – we ask you to rank your interest and then we go through a ‘matching’ process so you can develop skills and knowledge in something you are truly passionate about. You can see example student past projects for ideas and inspiration.
Yes, we aim to inspire, teach, and demonstrate that as a DVM you stand side-by-side with MDs and PhDs as research scientists with unique skills and the ability to conduct important medical research. As you choose your research project, you will be additionally choosing a primary research mentor. Our mentors are selected to have interesting, generally animal-based research programs, and many of these mentors are DVMs.
What special requirements are needed?
Tuberculosis testing – you are all potentially festering fomites and our monkeys are worth more than a top notch racehorse. Prior to starting you will need vaccination records and a negative TB test. FYI we also drug screen you, so plan ahead.You will need to come with a computer, and a pair of shoes that you can dedicate to being monkey-turded and tossed at the end of summer. A car is also very helpful, but not necessary.
How do I apply?
See the how to apply page.
Will I go to the National Veterinary Scholars Symposia?
Yes, we need your jaw-dropping research findings to be shared with your colleagues. We cover your registration, accommodation and travel to the meeting. You will return home with a large souvenir fabric poster detailing your summer toil which we encourage you to present at other research meetings or hang up in the hallowed halls of your own veterinary college.
Will I get published?
Ideally yes…but this process can be painfully slow. Most of the students do get published but we need you to be active in this process by generally staying in touch and helping after the summer has ended.
Do I need prior research experience?
NO! You just need to have the desire to give it a try, and indicate that you are interested in a research career so need this experience to really know. However, if you have prior research experience or advanced degrees, it will not be counted against you and can indicate your ongoing interest and desire to pursue a research-related veterinary career. Which is a positive. Either way, make the case in your personal statement that translationally relevant biomedical research is something you want to do.