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An exciting time for inspiring vets to consider a career in research

Clinical Vet Primers

From L-R, Professor Mick Bailey, Jo Widdicome, Professor Linda Wooldridge, Professor Jeremy Tavare, Sarah Hughes, Darren Carwardine, Susan Armstrong, Cath Lewis, Professor Joanna Price

14 January 2015

An innovative scheme recently established at the University of Bristol (UOB) is successfully paving the way for more veterinarians to get exposure to hands-on research and inspire them to consider a career in research.

The veterinary profession is a rich and relatively untapped resource of talented individuals capable of making major contributions to advancing our knowledge of both human and animal disease. In addition, their unique skills in the areas of food security and farm animal health & welfare enable veterinary graduates to contribute to global health and sustainability research. However, despite this fact there is still a shortage of veterinary-trained individuals in research.

The Clinical Veterinary Primer Scheme has been pioneered by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute which is directed by Professor Jeremy Tavaré and is supported by The Wellcome Trust. The Clinical Veterinary Primer Scheme is offered on a competitive basis. The successful recipients receive 6 months of salary and research expenses which allow them to come out of clinical practice and spend a concentrated period of time doing high quality research.

In the first year, the scheme funded two veterinarians, Darren Carwardine and Cath Lewis who enjoyed the experience of research so much that they are now studying for a PhD. Darren is working on regenerative cell therapies in spinal cord injury under the supervision of Dr Nicolas Granger and Dr Liang-Fong Wong (UOB). Cath Lewis was awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship to study inhibitory pathways in chronic viral infections, such as HCMV, under the joint supervision of Professor Linda Wooldridge (UOB), Dr Ian Humphreys (Cardiff University) and Professor David Price (Cardiff University).

The scheme is now in its second year and the successful recipients are Susan Armstrong, Sarah Hughes and Jo Widdicombe who are all enjoying their research projects and actively looking for PhD placements. A third round of clinical primers is now open for applications and aims to recruit more talented veterinary-trained individuals. The scheme is strongly supported by Professor Joanna Price (Head of School of Veterinary Sciences) and Professor Mick Bailey (Head of Research, School of Veterinary Sciences) who see this as a fantastic opportunity to increase the number of veterinarians in research.

Quotes from EBI primer recipients:

“The Clinical Primer enabled me to undertake full-time research, immerse myself in the University research environment and apply for competitive PhD funding.” Cath Lewis

"Working as a practicing vet I had no plans to undertake any formal research training but the clinical primer scheme was such an enjoyable and rewarding experience I was fortunate enough to be able to continue with the research I had started whilst studying towards a PhD." Darren Carwardine

"The Clinical Primer has been an invaluable opportunity to experience high-end research within the enabling environment of UOB. My goal now is to achieve PhD funding." Susan Armstrong

“The EBI primer provides a stepping stone between clinical practice and research. It has allowed me to gain laboratory experience making me a more competitive PhD candidate.” Sarah Hughes

“The clinical primer was a great opportunity to experience life working in an academic environment. Gaining hands on lab experience and the opportunity to talk to staff and academics about future career aspirations, it was a great taster of whether I would suit and enjoy pursuing a PhD in the imminent future - I would!” Jo Widdicombe

For further information about the scheme and to apply for this round of funding please visit our funding pages.

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