|Volume 21, Number 2||Fall, 1994|
Types of Training
Two major types of training programs are available for veterinarians interested in the fields of laboratory/comparative medicine. The first can be called residency training, since the goal is to obtain specialty certification by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM). These programs concentrate on both didactic and experiential training in laboratory animal medicine and program management. The amount of research training is variable, depending upon the program selected and the interests of the training faculty. The second type of program is referred to as postdoctoral research training, since the goal is to produce scientists who are capable of competing for independent funding through the basic National Institutes of Health (NIH) research project grant (R01) mechanism. Certification by the ACLAM is not a primary goal of this type of program and the amount of actual training in laboratory animal medicine and program management may be limited.
Veterinarians interested in pursuing a career in laboratory animal/comparative medicine should be aware of the different focuses of these 2 types of programs in order to select the type that best suits their long-term career goals. If ACLAM certification is the major goal, they should determine if the program provides the type of training necessary to meet the eligibility requirements for taking the ACLAM certification examination.
Sources of Funding
1. Federal (Public Health Service) Funding. One potential source of funding for postdoctoral research training is the National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Training Grant (T32) program offered by the NIH. The Comparative Medicine Program (CMP), National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), currently funds 14 T32 programs, with a total of 56 training positions for veterinarians. Stipends range from $19,608 to $32,300 per year, and are based upon the trainee's years of relevant experience. Funding is for a maximum of three years.
NIH also offers Individual NRSA Awards for postdoctoral fellows (F32). The F32 applicants must arrange for a sponsor at an appropriate host institution to supervise their training experience. Stipends and terms of appointment for this program are the same as for the T32 program.
Individuals with three years of postdoctoral experience in some aspect of comparative medicine and who desire additional research training may wish to consider the Special Emphasis Research Career Award (SERCA, KO1) offered by the CMP, NCRR. This award provides a five-year appointment with a maximum stipend of $50,000 per year, plus a modest amount of funds for research expenses. The first three years of the award are used to further the candidate's research training. The last two years are dedicated to independent research which is proposed as an outgrowth of findings during the initial three years of the award.
The First Independent Research Support Transition (FIRST) Award (R29) is designed to provide support for new, independent biomedical investigators to initiate their own research and demonstrate the merit of their own research ideas. Funding is for a five-year period, with maximum direct costs of $350,000 and a one-year ceiling of $100,000. The application and review process is analogous to that used for R01 grants.
2. Non-Federal Sources. Certain academic institutions may support residency training programs from their departmental budgets or from income accounts. Recently, several pharmaceutical companies have begun supporting training positions within academic institutions, and several have positions within their own organizations.
Career Opportunities Following Training
Several career pathways are available following completion of a training program. To some degree, the nature of the program will dictate what opportunities are available. For those individuals with an interest in clinical medicine, there are positions where the primary area of responsibility involves providing clinical support and managing the laboratory animal care program. Some institutions provide a significant amount of release time from clinical/management responsibilities to pursue either collaborative or independent research programs. Opportunities to pursue a full-time research career are also available and the SERCA/KO1 award described above is designed to provide the initial foundation for such a career.
Information on Training Programs
Information on the NIH programs described above can be obtained by contacting:
Director, Laboratory Animal Sciences Program
Comparative Medicine Program, NIH
Room 857 Westwood Building
5333 Westbard Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892
Information on the programs approved by ACLAM can be obtained by contacting:
Dr. Charles McPherson, Secretary-Treasurer, ACLAM
200 Summerwinds Drive, Cary, NC 27511
Prepared in collaboration with Dr. Cynthia Pond, Comparative Medicine Program, NIH.