UGA College of Veterinary Medicine hosts the Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholars National Symposium, Ju

Athens, Ga. – The Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholar National Symposium returns to the University of Georgia campus this year, bringing more than 220 scholars, speakers and students from veterinary colleges across the United States and Canada together on July 28-31.

The symposium will be held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, with the welcome and opening address starting at 8:40 a.m. on Friday, July 29. Research poster sessions will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday, and an informal dinner at the State Botanical Gardens will start at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

Participants will share research and ideas on the topic of “Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science: Intersection on the Road Ahead.” One goal of the veterinary scholars program and symposium is to interest veterinary students in research careers.

The veterinary college organized the first symposium in 2000. This year’s symposium will provide opportunities for veterinary students engaged in formal research programs, such as the Georgia Veterinary Scholars Program, to network with their peers and interact with accomplished biomedical scientists working at the cutting edge of functional genomics, bioengineering, neurobiology, public health, comparative oncology and immunology. Participating students come from veterinary colleges in 20 different states as well as Saskatchewan, Canada.

The university’s interdisciplinary collaboration with organizations involved in biomedicine meant that it “was possible to attract as presenters world-class scientists not only from UGA, but also from the affiliated nearby institutions, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, Merck-Merial Animal Health and the USDA Agricultural Research Service,” according to Dr. Harry W. Dickerson, associate dean for research and graduate affairs for the veterinary college.

The Young Investigator Award Competition is a new and exciting component of the symposium. Graduate veterinarians pursuing advanced research training through doctoral or postdoctoral programs were invited to participate, and five finalists will present their work and compete for significant cash prizes.

In addition to the speakers and collaboration sessions, participants can take tours of the veterinary college’s research facilities as well as the university’s integrated biotechnology laboratories.

“Our symposium will provide a forum for veterinarians and scientists at various career stages to discuss cutting-edge research related to biomedicine, as well as to develop strategies to recruit and train veterinarians as primary investigators and members of research teams,” Dickerson said.
Keynote speaker Margaret Wagner Dahl, director of resource development and technology alliances at UGA, will speak about the relationships between innovation, public-private partnerships and economic development, with an emphasis on successful strategies for moving scientific discoveries from cell to society.

Dahl recently received the Georgia Biomedical Partnership’s Biomedical Community Award, which recognizes individuals, companies and institutions for important contributions to Georgia’s life sciences community. In 2002, she was one of five finalists for the Woman of the Year in Technology Awards sponsored by the Technology Association of Georgia and Women in Technology. Dahl will present her speech at the Saturday night banquet held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

While the conference is primarily sponsored by Merck-Merial, this is the first year the symposium received additional funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine.

The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, providing services to animal owners and veterinarians, and conducting research to improve the health of animals as well as people. The college enrolls 96 students each fall out of more than 550 who apply. It has more than 130 faculty members.

Through its hospital and diagnostic laboratories, the college benefits pets and their owners, food producing animals and wildlife. The laboratories safeguard public health through disease surveillance. Research done at the college improves the health and quality of life for companion animals and improves the productivity and health of poultry and livestock.