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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science 5 An Assessment of Current and Projected Resource Needs for Research in Veterinary Science This chapter outlines the resources that researchers in veterinary science require to meet pressing societal needs effectively. In this age of reductionist research and the ascendancy of disciplinary endeavors, veterinary research stands apart because of its breadth and interdisciplinary orientation. The world is different from what it was, and full of risks that were unanticipated only a matter of years ago. The first half of the twentieth century brought great victories over infectious disease in animals and humans. Improvements in public health, diagnostic methods, and nutrition, coupled with the development of vaccines and antimicrobial drugs, ushered in an era of complacency. Epidemics of polio, cholera, influenza, tuberculosis, brucellosis, and rabies in the United States became distant memories. As noted by Hughes (2001), Sir MacFarlane Burnett wrote in the early 1960s that “one can think of the middle of the twentieth century as the end of one of the most important social revolutions in history, the virtual elimination of the infectious disease as a significant factor in social life.” No more. That notion has been shattered irrevocably over the last decade. Today, danger looms in the form of highly pathogenic avian influenza, foreign-animal diseases (such as foot-and-mouth disease), and transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, to name but a few examples. Veterinary research is critical to the advancement of our understanding of and response to those risks and many other animal health problems—for example, chronic debilitating diseases. As noted in Chapter 1, support for veterinary research tends to “fall between the chairs” (Schwabe, 1984). There is an urgent need to provide adequate resources for investigators, training programs and facilities involved in veterinary research. Almost 40 years have elapsed since there has been significant invest-
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science ment in facilities to support veterinary education and research; HR 490 and HR 3348 and similar bills authorized a 3-year program of grants for construction of veterinary medical education facilities. Since that time, many reports have outlined changing research and educational needs and the impact on animal and human health (Pritchard, 1989; NRC, 1989; NRC 2002b; NRC, 2004). The veterinary research enterprise must address a very large number and variety of animal genera, species, and breeds—from horses and mice to oysters and bison—and a vast array of challenges—from models to evaluate new human drugs to molecular dissection of agents of bioterrorism. Animals occupy an extraordinary number of different environments—from shrimp-rearing ponds to mouse cages and from wilderness areas to feed lots—and they meet diverse human needs—from models of human disease to competitive athletics and from service and companionship to esthetic pleasure and sources of food and livelihood for millions of Americans. All the examples of critical research needs outlined in Chapter 3 require facilities (for example, laboratories, animal housing, and containment laboratories), infrastructure (for example, equipment and databases), financial resources, and well-educated research scientists. Research cannot be carried out effectively without all those physical, financial, and human resources. The goals of this chapter are to Determine the extent to which the available resources outlined in Chapter 4 are sufficient to address the challenges, implement the strategies, and address the research priorities identified in Chapters 2 and 3. Identify where current or future resources and activities are likely to be inadequate. Recommend approaches to address the inadequacies. COLLABORATIVE AND INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH—A “ONE MEDICINE” APPROACH Veterinary research aims to prevent, control, diagnose, and treat animal diseases to ensure animals’ health and welfare, and it contributes to both animal and human health, as illustrated in earlier chapters. Research in veterinary science and veterinary medicine as a whole are at the center of domestic and wild animal and human health (see Figure 1-1 in Chapter 1). Because veterinary research intersects human and animal health, it is interdisciplinary. Translational research aims to accelerate transformation of basic biological research from the bench to applications for animal and human patients in care by translating parallel learning applicable to biological systems across species and using new tools to gather information about the divergence of species to illuminate important differences. Translational research is needed to link basic-science discoveries to studies involving animals and human health. A disease that has been viewed at the molecu-
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science lar or cellular level can look different at the organ system or whole animal level. To realize the potential for translating scientific advances into animal health, veterinarians and animal scientists must bring their whole-animal understanding to every phase of research and development (R&D), from basic biological research to applied studies. A sustainable model for translational research will take full advantage of the substantial R&D investment in human drugs and other therapies (Kinkler, 2004). New discoveries at the bench include basic biology and pathways, molecular libraries, bioinformatics and computational biology, and structural biology. Applied research is needed to transform discoveries to development of products and procedures that can be used for patient care. High-priority elements of translational research include the following (Kinkler, 2004): Sequencing of the genomes of multiple species and research in all the “omics” for animals—functional genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and metabonomics. Development of effective animal models, in addition to existing rodents models, to validate safety, efficacy of candidate pharmaceutical agents and to predict clinical outcomes. Animal-based stem-cell research with appropriate models to evaluate therapies. Research to identify targets for drug development in humans and for treatment of other animal disorders. Identification of new targets for drug development, using well-characterized rodent and nonrodent animal models. Development and promotion of preventive medicines and therapies—such as nutraceuticals, anti-infectives, immune modulators, and vaccines—that use new immunogenic modalities to keep animals healthy. Financial constraints on research often put pressure on investigators to select applied-research topics rather than address basic-science questions even though basic science contributes fundamental information to applied research. That pressure tends to stifle inquiry into the fundamental principles underlying scientific phenomena, which form the backbone of knowledge that can eventually be translated into clinical benefits (Patterson et al., 1988; Dodds and Womack, 1997; Dodds, 1995a). The idea of translational research and the “One Medicine” approach described in Chapter 1 imply that fragmentation of the research effort into disciplines must be overcome. A multidisciplinary approach is needed in which basic scientists, veterinary and medical researchers, and clinical specialists with different but complementary skills work together. Basic scientists and veterinary and medical researchers tend to have highly specialized training, but few clinicians have independent scientific-specialty training, so the collaboration among the
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science different groups could be difficult to achieve. Most academic settings administratively foster interaction between the researchers and clinical specialists and try to identify people who can be leaders in the research (Wagner, 1992). However, forced interactions among clinical specialists and researchers may not achieve the desired outcome. The culture of a multidisciplinary approach to veterinary and human medicine should be promoted in early professional training. That is discussed further in this chapter. The National Research Council report Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research (NRC, 2005) defines interdisciplinary research as “a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice” (emphasis added). The report says that although interdisciplinary research has been conducted in many industrial and government laboratories and other nonacademic settings, researchers in academe often face obstacles and disincentives in pursuing interdisciplinary research despite its apparent benefits (NRC, 2005). In academe, collaborative interdisciplinary research is often impeded by administrative, funding, and cultural barriers between departments and universities. Other barriers are related to “the tradition in academic institutions of organizing research and teaching activities by discipline-based departments—a tradition that is commonly mirrored in funding organizations, professional societies, and journals” (NRC, 2005). Recognizing the importance of interdisciplinary research, NIH set up the Roadmap Initiative that is designed to conduct such work (see Chapter 4). On the basis of its members’ experience, this committee concurs that researchers in different colleges of veterinary medicine (CVMs) and colleges of agriculture who are interested in collaborative interdisciplinary research encounter some of the barriers to interdisciplinary research mentioned in the National Research Council report. a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report has noted that “there is very little coordination of a research agenda between the intramural, extramural, and private sector research system” (p. 53, USDA, 1999). Yet, many of the research objectives identified in Chapter 3, the translational research, and the One Medicine approache discussed above imply that the participation of two or more research entities would be effective. Therefore, the committee assessed whether CVMs colocated with colleges of medicine (CoMs) or USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratories reported higher research expenditures from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USDA, and all other sources than those without the benefit of colocation of such facilities. (See detailed analysis in Appendix H.) The analysis suggests a positive correlation between research expenditures of CVMs and colocation with CoMs or ARS laboratories. The analysis is preliminary and does not imply a causal relationship. Furthermore, whether CVM faculty members collaborate with their colleagues in colocated CoMs or in nearby ARS laboratories could not be determined. Many
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science other factors may affect research programs in veterinary science on a given campus—for example, university emphasis on research, adequacy of the physical plant, availability of ancillary resources, and seed money for young investigators from internal sources. However, the data suggest that CVMs may derive some benefits from proximity to CoMs and ARS laboratories. Elimination of administrative barriers, sharing of resources, and financial agreements are key elements in successful interactions among and between research units. How science is practiced and how students are taught about science must undergo major change if the issues raised in this report are to be addressed effectively and efficiently. Collaborative research should not be limited to the United States; many of the critical research issues raised in this report have global implications (for example, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and emerging infectious diseases). Collaborations with international partners could facilitate knowledge transfer between countries and avoid duplication of effort. To say that interdisciplinary collaborative research is needed is not to say that all scientists must work in teams or that all research and education must be interdisciplinary. But some of the most interesting scientific questions are found at the interfaces between disciplines, so they can be approached most effectively by researchers in complementary disciplines (NRC, 2005). Future needs in science, especially those at the interfaces between science and social needs (see Chapters 2 and 3), cannot be met unless there is more cooperation among the various programs that conduct research and educate the veterinary scientists of the future. Furthermore, as noted later in this chapter, there are far too few researchers in veterinary science to afford fragmentation due to fears of administrative retribution, turf wars, and other nonproductive activities that sometimes dominate the culture of academic research. FINDING 1 Veterinary research integrates advances in basic science (such as genomics) and animal health, and it is a critical component of human medical research. Because veterinary research occurs in many disciplines, collaborative and interdisciplinary research is crucial in translating scientific advances from one traditional discipline to another. However, such research may be hampered by administrative barriers, cultural barriers, and lack of economic resources. For example, USDA supports veterinary research on the health of food-producing animals, poultry, and aquatic food species, whereas NIH supports research in comparative medicine and biomedical sciences. National needs would be addressed more effectively if those and other entities that support veterinary research had a comprehensive plan and a national strategy for support of veterinary research. RECOMMENDATION 1 The veterinary research community should facilitate and encourage collaborative research across disciplines, institutions, and agencies by reducing administrative barriers and by nurturing and rewarding successful team-oriented investigators.
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science The community should encourage the development of a long-term national interagency strategy for veterinary research. The strategy could include a specific focus at NIH on integrated veterinary research via the Roadmap Initiative. NIH should consider having a veterinary liaison, like the veterinary medicine and public health liaison at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to help ensure integration of veterinary and human medical research and adequate support for the research needs outlined in this report, including loan-repayment programs, veterinary research input into study sections, and long-term support. Other federal agencies, state agencies, private foundations, and supporters of veterinary research should recognize and provide long-term support for collaborative, integrated veterinary research. Establishing and maintaining joint interagency collaborative programs, such as the NIH-National Science Foundation program in the ecology of infectious disease, would facilitate and enhance interdisciplinary collaborative research. HUMAN RESOURCES As alluded to in Chapter 4 and in many other reports (AAVMC, 2003; ACVP, 2004; NRC, 2004a; Smithsonian Institution, 2004), veterinary research faces a shortage of qualified personnel. Many institutions and professional societies report unfilled positions for veterinary researchers. Research priorities established by this and previous reports cannot be met with the present pool of scientific investigators. The combination of the decline in production of trained veterinary scientists in the last decade and the predicted retirement losses of veterinary scientists indicates that the United States will be unable to meet critical research needs of animal health in the next decade. The shortage is due to the combined reluctance of veterinary students to pursue research, lack of financial incentives, and lack of funding for some kinds of research. A shortage of veterinary expertise in biomedical research was also reported in a National Research Council report (NRC, 2004a) that found that position announcements for laboratory animal veterinarians had increased by about 255%, from 56 in 1995 to 199 in 2001. Recognizing the need to recruit qualified veterinary scientists for biomedical research, the NIH Center for Cancer Research (CCR) announced the CCR Training Initiative in Comparative Pathology and Biomedical Science. The initiative includes the Comparative Molecular Pathology Research Training Program, which offers veterinary professionals the opportunity to earn a PhD and gain eligibility for certification as medical specialists in veterinary pathology (Box 5-1). The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) reports that there are about 50 unfilled job openings in laboratory animal medicine in 2004, 25 of which are at the director level (M.W. Balk, Executive Director, ACLAM, personal communication and September ACLAM Newsletter, 2004).
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science BOX 5-1 CCR Training Initiative in Comparative Pathology and Biomedical Science “Translational research is critical for the discovery, development and delivery of therapies and interventions for combating human disease. A key component of this research process is the ability to translate findings from animal models to the clinical setting. The Center for Cancer Research (CCR), NCI has recognized a need for investigators capable of integrating molecular mechanisms of disease within the complexity of whole living biosystems that have been designed and validated as predictive models of human disease. A foundation for training this kind of translational research investigator incorporates interdisciplinary education in veterinary medicine with training in human biomedical research. To respond to this unmet national research training priority, the intramural research program of the CCR NCI has developed two training programs in collaboration with The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).” SOURCE: http://ccr.nci.nih.gov/resources/training/default.asp. The current shortage of laboratory animal veterinarians is expected to increase because of increasing demand and the large number of laboratory animal medicine specialists nearing retirement without an expected net increase in the number of new diplomates. Although not all laboratory animal veterinarians engage directly in research, it is estimated that 10% of ACLAM diplomates are principal investigators and another 25% coinvestigators on peer-reviewed research grants (M.W. Balk, Executive Director, ACLAM, personal communication, 2004). The Research Council report (2004) also found that there was an estimated deficit of 67 veterinary pathologists in the United States and Canada in 2002 and projected that the deficit would reach 336 in 2007. An American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) survey in 2004 reported immediate needs for 149 veterinary pathologists and a cumulative deficit of 417 by 2007 (Table 5-1). Many ACVP pathologists engage directly in veterinary research, and almost all others contribute indirectly to research—for example, those engaged in drug-safety research in industry and diagnosticians in government, university, and private laboratories. In addition, highly trained scientists with expertise in phenotyping and behavior assessment are needed for characterization of generated animal models. The critical shortage in human resources stimulated the formation of an innovative alliance between ACVP and the Society of Toxicologic Pathologists, which has similar needs and interests. The purpose of the alliance is to develop a
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science TABLE 5-1 Supply of and Demand for Veterinary Pathologists Supply Demand Number in Training Graduates in Last 5 Years Current Openings Expected Cumulative Deficit by 2007 Anatomic pathologists 170 185 127 347 Clinical pathologists 43 55 22 70 Total 213 240 149 417 SOURCE: Ochoa et al. 2004. collaborative relationship between industry—the major employers of such professionals and thus in the greatest need of them—and academe to identify, support, and educate more persons who will be available to meet the growing employment demands. Similar alliances between professional societies and government might be effective in addressing some of the human-resources needs described herein. Certainly, various sectors of the academic community could do a better job of identifying and encouraging bright young students to seek careers in research. Effective joint efforts might also attract extramural support for graduate stipends and aid in bringing newly graduated scientists to the attention of those seeking new employees. Although the adequacy of veterinary researchers in food-animal health and food safety has not been assessed, anecdotal evidence suggests a likely shortage. For example, ARS has difficulties in recruiting and retaining DVM-PhDs (such as veterinary medical officers) partly because of lack of financial incentives. The agency had to fill 13 and 11 vacant positions in FY 2001 and FY 2002, respectively. In response to such a personnel crisis, the agency has developed the Recruitment and Retention Policy to improve the location and hiring of qualified DVM-PhDs into veterinary medical officer positions by offering more-competitive salaries, recruitment and retention bonuses, and student-loan repayments. The shortage of qualified DVM-PhDs candidates has been in the specialty disciplines of pathology, infectious diseases, laboratory animal medicine, and microbiology (in the subspecialties of immunology, virology, and bacteriology). The ability of that policy to meet the needs of ARS for DVM-PhDs is unknown. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the federal agency responsible for food-animal disease detection and control, has only 300 veterinarians and 30 veterinary diagnosticians. CDC Director Julie Gerberding acknowledged the critical need to replace losses in veterinary scientists in the next decade. CDC estimates that it will need about 200 veterinarians in the next decade. For example, about half of the 99 veterinarians in the commissioned Public Health Corps in 2004 will be eligible to retire by 2006 (Chapter 4). The US Public Health Service is having difficulty in recruiting and retaining veterinary officers and has had over 50 unfilled veterinary
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science positions for over 6 months (David A. Ashford, US Public Health Service, personal communication, March 30, 2005). There are only 100-150 wildlife veterinarians, but they have clinical and teaching responsibilities and cannot devote their efforts only to research (AAWV, 2004). The evidence of a personnel shortage presented above is limited to a few disciplines and key institutions. The shortage of human resources in veterinary research is likely to be more widespread. The few examples above make it obvious that there is a need to train additional veterinarians and veterinary researchers. But, the number of master’s degree and doctoral students graduating from CVM’s has not increased in the last 10 years (Figure 4-2). In 2003, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) established the Task Force on Emergency Needs in Veterinary Human Resources to develop a focused action plan addressing human-resources needs in veterinary public practice. The task force estimated that an additional 241 veterinary students and 658 graduate students need to be trained each year to alleviate the critical shortage of veterinarians in public practice (for example, in food safety, food security, and prevention and control of foreign-animal diseases). In response to the task force report, AAVMC surveyed its members to estimate how many new faculty members would be needed to support the additional students. The survey indicated that an estimated 400 new faculty persons would be needed in various disciplines (Table 5-2). In addition, AAVMC recently surveyed its members about projected faculty replacement needs based on anticipated retirements. The CVMs that responded represented 1,595 of the total 2,665 FTE faculty members in all 28 CVMs. They reported that about 14% (220) of their faculty members are at least 61 years old. Replacing the retirees will be another challenge for the future. The additional CVM recruitment will contribute not only to teaching but also to veterinary research because CVM faculty collectively conduct a large proportion of research in veterinary science. The veterinary research enterprise will probably benefit from increased TABLE 5-2 New Faculty Requirements of CVMs Discipline Number of New Faculty Needed Animal health, food safety and security 65 Comparative medicine and laboratory animal medicine 63 Population medicine, public health, and epidemiology 70 Infectious diseases, zoonoses, and emerging diseases 91 Basic biomedical sciences 79 Miscellaneous disciplines including the above 34 Total 402 SOURCE: AAVMC Member Survey, 2004.
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science faculty sizes at CVMs. First, more veterinary researchers can be trained. Second, the analysis in Chapter 4 indicates that CVMs with larger faculties and lower student:faculty ratios tend to have higher research expenditures per faculty. Because CVMs have multiple responsibilities, a larger faculty may mean that more faculty members are sharing administrative and clinical duties so that each member can devote more time to obtaining funds for and conducting research. FINDING 2 Veterinary research faces a critical personnel shortage that is not limited to biomedical sciences. Some agencies and institutions report difficulties in recruiting and retaining researchers who have the veterinary expertise needed to fulfill the organizations’ roles in public health and food safety, animal health, and comparative medicine. RECOMMENDATION 2 Additional veterinary researchers must be trained to alleviate the demands and to meet societal needs for veterinary research. A debt-repayment initiative similar to the NIH Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program could address concerns about the large debt burden faced by graduates of veterinary colleges. If the CCR training initiative and the ARS PhD training program for veterinarians, started in FY 2003, prove successful in recruiting and retaining veterinary researchers, they could be expanded and used as models by other agencies and companies. EDUCATION AND TRAINING The number of research scientists who graduate each year with training and expertise in veterinary science is not sufficient to meet the national demands in academe, industry, and government. Many veterinary researchers are trained in CVMs; others are trained in departments of comparative medicine, departments of veterinary sciences, colleges of agriculture, animal science departments, and other academic or research institutions. Data on education and training of veterinary researchers in CVMs were presented in Chapter 4, but the committee did not gather similar information from colleges of agriculture, CoMs, or other biology programs, because there is no rational way to tell which students are likely to pursue careers in veterinary research in those colleges or programs. Therefore, the following discussion is focused primarily on CVMs even though other colleges and departments also train veterinary researchers. An estimated 658 additional graduate students need to matriculate each year in all disciplines to meet the needs of public practice (Table 5-3). In an AAVMC survey, responses indicated that $272 million in new funds would be required for graduate fellowships and related expenses (R. Dierks, AAVMC, personal communication, August 11, 2004). The need for additional veterinary researchers cannot be met unless students are willing to pursue research. The proportion of
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science TABLE 5-3 Proposed New Graduate Students in CVMs Discipline Number of Students Animal health and food safety security 109 Comparative medicine and laboratory animal medicine 120 Population medicine, public health, and epidemiology 145 Infectious diseases and zoonoses, and emerging diseases 156 Basic biomedical sciences 128 Total 658 SOURCE: AAVMC. veterinary students pursuing graduate studies and research is smaller than the proportion pursuing private practice. CVMs need to recruit students who have an interest in research and clinical medicine and provide a curriculum that stimulates and maintains their interest throughout their professional education. As Freeman (2005) stated, “individually and collectively as a profession, we are concerned that veterinary medicine is failing both to sustain its academic base and to meet the national needs for research in the fields of comparative medicine (translational research), public health, and food production.” Students’ hesitation to pursue research careers can be attributed to several factors (Freeman, 2005): The long period required to attain a DVM or PhD and postdoctoral training. The substantial tuition debt accrued during DVM training. The lack of financial support for graduate students in veterinary science. The failure to stimulate veterinary students’ interests in research. The issues raised by Freeman have been discussed in other documents and at the AAVMC Symposium on The Future of Veterinary Graduate Education held on March 11-12, 2004, in Washington, DC. (See Appendix L for issues raised in the symposium.) Combined PhD-DVM and residency-PhD programs are mechanisms to reduce the duration of DVM and PhD training, and they are offered in some CVMs. One college created a veterinary public-health specialization within the master’s of public health degree program (http://vet.osu.edu/vetpublichealth). Financial disincentives to pursue careers in veterinary research can be addressed by loan-forgiveness programs. For example, a severe shortage in the availability of practicing veterinarians for underserved areas was addressed via a student-loan forgiveness program under the National Veterinary Medical Service Act (PL108-161), which has been signed into law but not yet funded. Persons who agree to serve in areas of national need, such as rural communities, will be eligible for repayment of their student loans. A similar program could be set up to provide incentives for students to pursue and sustain careers in veterinary research. Financial disincentives for student recruitment to veterinary research can be
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science ing. Scientists without DVM degrees are also key members of many other research programs in veterinary sciences—including departments of animal science, veterinary science, and comparative medicine—and of research programs in zoos, government, and industry. The committee could find no data that revealed how many of the scientists in such settings conduct research in veterinary science as defined here. A National Research Council report (2004) recommended how to address the needs of veterinarians in biomedical research (see Appendix M for recommendations relevant to this report). Those recommendations can be applied broadly to veterinary research, including public health and food safety and animal health. In addition, the committee suggests that CVMs set up joint internship and research programs with other colleges (such as medical and agricultural colleges and departments of biology and animal science), federal agencies, and industry for veterinary, undergraduate, and graduate students. Joint programs would not only introduce veterinary students to research but also expose nonveterinary students to veterinary research. Moreover, the programs would provide students with the interdisciplinary training needed for translational research. Faculty serving as advisers for the programs would also serve as role models and mentors for students interested in pursuing veterinary research. Experience in a different college or research organization provides a different perspective, offers far greater diversity of scientific exposure, and introduces both veterinary and nonveterinary students to the importance of and opportunities in veterinary research. FINDING 3 Interest in research careers has been declining among veterinary students in nearly all academic disciplines. Some students are deterred by financial costs and the required extended training; others are not aware of that career option. Without the next generation of adequately trained veterinary researchers, veterinary science cannot provide the data required for informed decisions that govern day-to-day activity in animal health, such as decisions that underlie the economic stability necessary for adequate national animal health care. RECOMMENDATION 3 To meet the nation’s needs for research expertise in veterinary science, changes in recruitment and programming for graduate and veterinary students will be required. These include the following: Strengthening of summer research programs, combined DVM-PhD degree paths, and the integration of basic science into clinical curricula. Innovative programs for graduate training that emphasize quality of research experience over formal coursework. Increases in stipends and salaries for graduate students who hold profes-
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science sional degrees. Academic programs that support high-quality, competitive, cutting-edge scientific research. Creative research environments that emphasize information technology, global involvement, and national competitiveness. The AVMA Council on Education, which is charged to review colleges of veterinary medicine for accreditation, publishes a set of uniform regulations and guidelines that identify ten areas of concern for review process. The guidelines for assessment of research with regard to opportunities for research experiences for veterinary students should be strengthened. The effectiveness of these student programs should also be incorporated into the outcomes-assessment category for review. Research scientists in training should direct their expertise to national problems in animal health, incorporate cutting-edge science into experimental design, and develop programs of high quality that compete nationally with other disciplines of science. And they should adapt and market their research through personal leadership and participation in national committees and review boards that manage scientific research related to animal health and welfare. FACILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE In most scientific disciplines, research must be conducted in laboratories (for example, wet, dry, bench, clinical, experimental, and high-security laboratories). In addition, researchers require office space and classrooms, and lecture halls and teaching laboratories are necessary for the training and education of the next generation of researchers. Research with and about animals also requires barns, pastures, ponds, field sites, and other conventional facilities where large numbers of research animals can be maintained as suitable subjects and housed in conditions conducive to their welfare. Zoos and other specialized facilities for housing animal collections are essential for better understanding of many of the world’s most important, at-risk species. Facilities in Universities CVMs conduct a large proportion of research in veterinary science and provide all the professional education for veterinarians and much of the clinical and research graduate education. The CVMs recently reported on their capacity to educate more professional and graduate students and on the additional resources required to support this expansion. To expand their current training capacity to accommodate 240 additional veterinary students and 658 new graduate students per year, new and renovated facilities would be required. Space for classrooms, teaching and research laboratories, and biocontainment housing for research animals would be needed, as shown in Table 4-3. Existing funding sources, such as
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science state and university funds and gifts from foundations and private donors, are unlikely to meet needs of this magnitude. In recognition of the importance of building the veterinary workforce for public-health service, Senator Wayne Allard introduced S 914, the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act, on April 27, 2005. The act would be an amendment to the Public Health Service Act to establish a competitive-grants program to build capacity in veterinary medical education and expand the workforce of veterinarians engaged in public-health practice and biomedical research. Research in colleges of agriculture at most land-grant institutions is an integral part of state economic creativity and inventiveness and provides an economic engine for biotechnology in food safety, livestock-animal health, and animal modeling for the life sciences. Among the 50 states, the willingness of legislatures to invest in research infrastructure largely defines the research-rich and research-poor universities. The colleges of agriculture must have modern laboratories and the necessary research facilities to conduct state-of-the art research, maintain a high scientific profile, and assure others of their credibility. FINDING 4 The last major federal program to support construction of facilities for CVMs ended nearly 40 years ago. AAVMC has documented that new and renovated facilities are needed to train additional veterinary students to meet the demands of public practice. The committee believes that meeting the facility needs will allow training of veterinary researchers (of whom there is a critical shortage) and provide additional space for research. RECOMMENDATION 4 AAVMC and its members should identify ways in which the CVMs’ facility needs can be met financially and logistically. They should consider mounting an extensive outreach effort to educate policy-makers in federal and state governments about the necessity of additional facilities to train adequate veterinary researchers. Facilities in Government Agencies USDA conducted a study of its needs for facilities in 1999 (USDA, 1999). The National Animal Disease Center (NADC) in Ames, IA, was badly outdated, and the 1999 Strategic Task Force on USDA Research Facilities strongly recommended that it be given priority for renovation. Replacement facilities were designed and the first of two funded construction phases was completed. The new facilities house offices and laboratories of NADC, the Center for Veterinary Biologics, and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories. However, additional livestock and poultry laboratory and animal space are still needed to meet
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science the needs of research projects listed in the USDA Current Research Information System (CRIS). The task force also noted that “Animal health research, including research on foreign animal diseases and human/animal (trans-species) interactions, is and will continue to be a high priority for the future. Biocontainment facilities capable of operating at Level 3 and Level 4 are required for research with pathogens of highest risk. The Agriculture Research Service currently operates 4 biocontainment facilities for animal diseases, each of which is in severe need of renovation to maintain human and animal health security.” The task force then presented four recommendations that are directly related to animal research: immediately developing plans for a state-of-the-art animal health research, veterinary services, and biocontainment facility; upgrading current level 2 and level 3 biocontainment units for animals; constructing a level 4 biocontainment unit; and addressing issues pertinent to the fact that the primary foreign-animal health research unit is on an island (Plum Island, off the coast of Long Island, NY). It also recommended that the Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory (Biosafety Level 2) program be merged with the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (Biosafety Level 2 and Biosafety Level 3 Agriculture). Some of the recommendations have been addressed. For example, the NADC addresses some of the needs for state-of-the-art facilities. But other needs, such as construction of level 4 biocontainment facilities, have not yet been met. The United States lacks food-animal and laboratory space to work with zoonotic agents under the BSL-4 classification (USDA, 1999). Those facilities are needed to conduct food-animal and laboratory studies on such agents as Nipah and Hendra viruses, which cannot now be conducted in the United States. The urgency of the need for state-of-the-art biocontainment facilities was emphasized in February 2004 with the release of HSPD-9, whose paragraph 24 states that “the Secretaries of Agriculture and Homeland Security will develop a plan to provide safe, secure, and state-of-the-art agriculture biocontainment laboratories that research and develop diagnostic capabilities for foreign animal and zoonotic diseases.” Similar needs probably exist at other federal and state agencies that conduct veterinary research and at nonuniversity research institutes, including zoos. The committee was unable to find specific data on such needs as related to research in veterinary science, but it points out that adequate facilities are critically important for such research. FINDING 5 USDA documented its research needs in the 1999 Strategic Planning Task Force report. Not all those needs have been met, including biocontainment facilities, which were given high priority in HSPD-9. Over the next 2-3 years, new containment laboratories may be built in academic institutions to provide additional space for veterinary research under high containment.
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science RECOMMENDATION 5 The recommendations of the 1999 Strategic Planning Task Force on USDA Research Facilities and the provisions of HSPD-9 should be implemented immediately. Biocontainment laboratories should receive special attention. Adequacies and shortfalls in facilities—both federal and nonfederal—needed for support of veterinary research should be documented and quantified. Research Resources Resources for veterinary research include libraries, databases, data-management resources, electronic communication systems (such as systems for sharing clinical information), specialized populations of animals, and collections of research materials, such as DNA, serum, anatomical and pathological specimens, and histological materials. The power and value of such resources are well illustrated by the central databank on genetically modified mice maintained by the Jackson Laboratory’s mouse center (see www.informatics.jax.org). Preceding chapters of this report show that several research resources are essential to almost every subdiscipline of veterinary research—for example, databases and tissue collections. The keys to making collections of animals, tissues, and data valuable as research resources include Availability to multiple investigators. Being statistically representative of the relevant populations. A rational and consistent basis for inclusion in the collection. Accurate, complete, and verifiable records. Reliable storage and rapid retrieval. Amenability to electronic retrieval and analysis. Quantity of material sufficient for study, ideally in multiple projects. Adequate, consistent, and reliable sources of support. Although valuable information and material (stored tissue and serum samples) exist, they are often distributed in numerous small, isolated collections. Tissue samples in diagnostic laboratories could be valuable research resources that offer exciting opportunities to study animal diseases and epidemiology if they are archived properly and made available to the broad research community. Clinical records of academic veterinary teaching hospitals could also provide valuable data for research (for example, on disease incidence), but they are often inconsistently recorded among hospitals. One CVM has begun to collaborate with a large corporate private-practice group on disease surveillance. If the disease surveillance could be expanded to yield an integrated, national database of clinical data that protects patient identity, data on many of the patients seen by private primary and referral veterinarians might become part of large, clinical databases for retrospective and prospective research.
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science Translating bench research to patient-care applications requires execution of appropriately designed and randomized controlled clinical trials. Randomized controlled clinical trials are especially important in evaluating potential benefits of therapies that are already used in human medicine. Chapter 4 noted that multicenter clinical trials and collaborations among industry, academe, and private veterinary practices already occur but that a national system for support of such efforts would be a powerful research and clinical tool. The increase in veterinarians with specialized training in the private sector should promote collaboration with academic institutions. Data-sharing and collaborative efforts would allow meta-analyses large enough to achieve the statistical power to detect significant differences between groups (Boothe and Slater, 1995). Integration of clinical-research networks requires linking existing networks so that clinical trials and studies can be conducted more effectively and ensure that patients, health-care providers, and scientists form true “communities of research.” In addition to databases and tissue samples, many disciplines in veterinary research will benefit substantially from access to well-characterized animal colonies with known diseases. With the exception of laboratory mice and rats and the national system of regional primate research centers, few higher-animal colonies with spontaneously occurring diseases are maintained for research purposes. Several decades ago, NIH offered support for such colonies, and many remarkable studies were conducted with the animals (Patterson et al., 1988; Dodds and Womack, 1997; Dodds, 1995a). However, the costs of maintaining the colonies are prohibitive today, and full or even substantial cost recovery from extramural sources is unlikely. With a few exceptions, such as the National Swine Resource and Research Center supported by NIH, animal colonies are maintained only if they have specific research purposes. Permanent loss of unique animal models could result in a serious loss of advances in both animal and human medicine; their preservation is critical to facilitate research in animal diseases. The genetic similarity between human beings and animals is a compelling argument that studies with animals would reveal both normal and abnormal pathways and mechanisms. Such colonies are imperative for the integrative physiological and pathophysiological studies mentioned in Chapters 2 and 3. FINDING 6 Effective communication among the various entities involved in veterinary research is needed to maximize the value of continuing studies and to leverage the resources of the relatively small veterinary research community. In particular, databases with clinical records that can be exchanged among teaching hospitals, private practices, and diagnostic laboratories would provide data that could serve as valuable, cost-efficient tools for retrospective and prospective research. Likewise, tissue samples and other specimens (such as serum, DNA, and microorganisms) from healthy and diseased animals offer exciting opportunities to study
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science animal diseases and epidemiology if they are archived properly, protect client or owner confidentiality, and are made available to the research community. RECOMMENDATION 6 The American Animal Hospital Association, AAVMC, and AVMA should address the need for more effective communication among the federal, university, and private sector entities involved in veterinary research. The need for databases, animal health and surveillance systems, specimen collections, and other sharable research tools to support veterinary research should receive special attention. Organization of a working task force or national workshop to devise an operating plan for developing and managing these clinical and research databases and collections and to identify methods for their support would be an important first step toward the formation of national databases and archives (such as specimen banks and clinical databases) for veterinary research. FINDING 7 Well-characterized animal colonies with known diseases have been an important resource for many remarkable studies and are imperative for integrative physiological and pathophysiological studies. Preserving the genomes of those unique model animals is critical to facilitate research in animal diseases. RECOMMENDATION 7 NIH and USDA should address the importance of engineered and spontaneous model colonies of animals and ensure that these valuable resources are not lost. For some species, that can be accomplished by cryopreservation and preservation of their germplasm in tissue banks until it is needed for funded, targeted research or by transfer of their genetic mutations into other, smaller laboratory species. For other species, maintenance of the whole animal may be necessary. FINANCIAL RESOURCES Estimating the annual expenditures in veterinary science research is difficult for several reasons. First, veterinary science is not a term that is used in databases that record research activities, such as those of CRIS, NSF, or NIH. Second, some of the veterinary research conducted may not be reported as that, because of its direct contribution to other disciplines, such as human medicine and toxicology. Third, other than the data reported in Chapter 4, the committee was unable to obtain specific information on additional research expenditures that might be related to veterinary research; for example, some of the internal research done by industry reported by the Animal Health Institute may be relevant to this report, but the committee cannot decipher the proportion expended on veterinary research. To assess the adequacy of financial support for different disciplines of vet-
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science erinary research designed to meet societal demands, the committee used the following steps: Assess veterinary research that needs to be conducted to meet societal demands (Chapter 2). Set an agenda based on research needs and outline priorities (Chapter 3). List the current funding sources for each research priority. Document available financial resources (Chapter 4). Compare resource needs for each research priority with available resources. The committee observed that some research disciplines (notably companion-animal and equine research, wildlife and conservation research, and zoo-animals and exotic-pet research) are unlikely to receive financial support from government agencies that would ensure continuing advancement in research. The committee noted in Chapter 4 that NIH and USDA are two of the largest sources of support for veterinary research. However, the mission of NIH is directly related to human health, so biomedical sciences and comparative medicine are two disciplines in veterinary research that are most likely to be supported by NIH. Although USDA’s mission is directly relevant to animals, its focus is on food- and fiber-producing animals. Although veterinary research has made many important contributions to biomedical sciences (see Chapter 2), the amount of funds awarded to veterinary research by NIH is small relative to the number of critical issues in biomedical sciences that need to be addressed by veterinary research. For example, CVMs reported about $154 million in research expenditures from NIH in FY 2002-2003. The relatively low expenditures from NIH are due partly to the small workforce in veterinary research (discussed earlier in this chapter) rather than concerns about scientific merit. In fact, when compared on a full-time equivalent basis, faculty in CVMs are nearly as successful in obtaining NIH R01 awards as faculty in colleges of medicine (see Chapter 4). USDA contributes different types of resources to veterinary research related to agriculture. In FY 2002-2003, CVMs reported research expenditures from USDA of $34 million. Less than $1 billion is spent annually by all public-sector entities (including academic and nonacademic research institutes) reporting to CRIS1 on research related to food and fiber animals, fish, poultry, and horses (Tables 4-1 and 4-2). The reported amount comes from multiple federal and nonfederal sources, including USDA internal (ARS) and external Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service research expenditures. It also 1 Primarily units of USDA state agricultural experiment stations and cooperating academic entities, such as colleges of agriculture and CVMs.
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science includes expenditures in some fields of research that are usually associated with animal science rather than veterinary science—for example, nutrient utilization and some aspects of animal physiology. Protection of food-animal health requires preventive measures and treatment at local levels. During a major disease outbreak, veterinarians and veterinary scientists are responsible for diagnosis and risk management that lead to disease control and elimination. Failure to develop specific, sensitive, and rapid technologies for diagnosing infectious disease can lead to catastrophic loss of animal and human lives and major economic loss. Often overlooked are research methods using for target-disease models to determine risk, economic impact, and risk management and plans for recovery after a disease outbreak, including carcass disposal and repopulation of affected premises. USDA has the responsibility for conducting and funding much of that research. USDA awards most of its competitive extramural research funds through the National Research Initiative (NRI) program, which was initially proposed in 1989 (NRC 1989). The initial proposal suggested a fund for competitive grants in agriculture (including plants and animals) that would reach an annual appropriation of $550 million (including an existing resource of $50 million at that time). Funding has been in the range of $100-150 million and has never reached the amount envisioned (Figure 4-10). Total NRI funds for animal research have usually been about $12 million per year (Table 4-14). Individual grants are of short duration and low funding compared with those given by NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Agriculture has lagged substantially behind in federal research support. Data from NSF show that federal support for agricultural research increased by only 0.5% in constant 1996 dollars from 1982 to 2001 compared with an increase of 3.9% for all life sciences (NSF, 2004). The recognition of new threats from agroterrorism places additional demands on agricultural research. In fact, HSPD-9 calls for acceleration and expansion in “development of current and new countermeasures against the intentional introduction or natural occurrence of catastrophic animal, plant, and zoonotic diseases,” which will include “countermeasure research and development of new methods for detection, prevention technologies, agent characterization, and dose response relationships for high-consequence agents in the food and the water supply.” Paragraph 26 of HSPD-9 directs the secretaries of agriculture, homeland security and health and human services to submit an integrated budget plan for “defense of the United States food system.” The need for more competitive funds for agricultural research prompted the Research, Education, and Economics Task Force of USDA to propose the formation of a new institute, to be called the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) “for the purpose of ensuring the technologic superiority of American agriculture.” “The mission of NIFA should be to support the highest caliber of fundamental agricultural research” (“research that addresses the frontiers of knowledge, while it leads to practical results and/or to further scientific discovery”). The task
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Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science force proposed that “NIFA should accomplish its mission by awarding competitive peer-reviewed grants that support and promote the very highest caliber of fundamental agricultural research” and that its “annual budget should build to $1 billion over a five-year period.” (USDA-ARS 2004d) The task force clearly suggested that direct support for agricultural research is critical and that veterinary research is a critical component of agricultural research (Chapter 2). FINDING 8 The committee identified some disciplines of veterinary research that do not have identifiable sources of financial support from government agencies. Those disciplines include the ecology of zoonotic emerging diseases, dynamics of select agent, biodefense pathogens in wildlife, companion animal and equine research, wildlife and conservation research and, zoo-animal and exotic-pet research. Those disciplines contribute to animal health and important segments of human health research or have direct human social impact, but they do not have dependable, permanent financial resources that would ensure their continuing advancement in research. RECOMMENDATION 8 The veterinary research community should actively engage NIH, USDA, the Department of the Interior, NSF, and other federal agencies and urge them to recognize and address the need for financial support for the disciplines of veterinary research that lack identifiable sources of federal funding despite their contributions to public health, comparative medicine, and animal health and welfare. EPILOGUE The impact of veterinary research extends beyond the prevention and treatment of animal diseases. Veterinary research also contributes to biomedicine through comparative medicine and to biosecurity via disease and ecosystem surveillance, establishes social policy regarding animals, and protects the nation’s agricultural economy by protecting food animals from diseases and by ensuring the safety of our food supply. This report has identified many opportunities for veterinary research to improve animal and human health and welfare. Because of its small workforce and limited infrastructure and financial resources, the veterinary research community can devote little time and effort to developing and improving predictive and diagnostic tools for preventing the emergence and outbreak of disease. Early diagnosis or prevention can lessen the social and economic impact of diseases. The success, and indeed power, of any society rests in its ability to predict, prepare for, and prevent adverse events while taking advantage of opportunities. Today’s veterinary research enterprise has little capacity to fulfill those important societal mandates. Expanding the veterinary workforce and providing trained personnel with research resources can lead to enduring advances in animal and human health.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: