Photo keyboard highlighting research

New student society to promote research established using national funding

The new society is called VetGEMS, and is a part of a vet school wide initiative to promote research careers for veterinary and bioveterinary students. VetGEMS will organise a wide variety of talks, workshops and practical sessions with a research focus, to allow all students at the school to find out what a veterinary academic career might look like.

The society isn’t only targeted at aspiring academics though. The planned events will be aiming to make research relevant to everyone, demonstrating that academic skills are incredibly useful throughout veterinary medicine. Whether it is as a student writing a case discussion, a farm animal practitioner deciding if a new drug is worth the money, or a hospital intern participating in a clinical trial, we will all use research in our careers and VetGEMS will reflect that.

This has all been made possible by the Vet Schools’ successful grant application to the INSPIRE scheme, a nationwide body designed to encourage research at UK medical, veterinary and dental schools. The money awarded will be used to bolster established student research at the school (summer research projects, intercalated degrees and student prizes), as well as developing new projects. Apart from VetGEMS, this includes an INSPIRE website - designed to provide practical information, advertise research projects and link interested students with research mentors. Also planned is a new one-day event, the Research Forum and Governors Prize, will give students the opportunity to present their research to an audience, with generous prizes on offer as an incentive.

VetGEMS’s committee is made up of Bridget Johnson, Laurel Breton, Catherine Roberts, Ming Cheng and Amie McGarva. If you’re curious about research in a clinical career, want to figure out how on earth referencing works, or are just looking for a warm place with pizza on the cold winter evenings, VetGEMS can help out.

Freshers Fayre - 20 September 2017

Image of 3 vet students takenDuring the Fresher’s Fayre on 20 September 2017, VetGEMS had the opportunity to reach out to the freshers and let them know what the society is about.

We displayed pictures of Glasgow Vet students at the recent Association of Veterinary Teaching and Research Work (AVTRW) conference that took place at Surrey University Vet School on 12 and 13 September 2017. These students benefitted from funds from the INSPIRE programme and all felt that the conference was very enlightening.

We also let the students know what VetGEMS hopes to achieve, and directed them to our website. Students were keen to learn more about what a research career entails and acknowledged the importance of knowing how to read and critically evaluate journal papers in order to keep abreast of recent research.

27 students expressed interest in attending events held by VetGEMS, of which 16 were first years. One student commented that we hold a session on how to write a paper, which we all agreed is a good suggestion. We intend to also host journal clubs and also let students have the chance to meet researchers to gain an insight on the career path of vets in research. We will also link up with the Research Ambassadors to plan more activities.

Report from the VetGEMS talk - 14 March 2017

VetGEMS held its first talk on Tuesday the 14th of March 2017. This talk aimed at exposing students to a career in research after graduation, and the many ways that one can get involved research. We were delighted to have PhD students Rob Coultous and Joshua Leach to talk about their careers so far, especially their work in veterinary research.

A Horse Betting Levy Board Research Scholar, Rob is currently in his second year of his PhD in equine piroplasmosis at the Weipers Centre Equine Hospital. He brought us through his veterinary journey after graduation, and explained how he felt that being in mixed practice for 6 years was getting a bit too routine and decided to go back to university and to a PhD.

Josh is a MRC Clinical Research Fellow at The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, and is doing a PhD on colorectal cancer. He has had a vast amount of experience in research, having completed numerous projects, such as “Evaluating the prognostic significance of intratumoural microvessel density (iMVD) in Canine Histiocytic Sarcoma”, "Effects of clinical mastitis caused by gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and other organisms on the probability of conception in New York State Holstein dairy cows" and “Establishing an in vitro model of the equine blood-brain barrier”. Josh is also an American diplomate in veterinary pathology, having completed a combined residency and Master of Science by Research in the University of Glasgow. He encouraged students to take the opportunities during veterinary school to experience doing research, such as by doing an intercalated degree.

One student commented that “it's really nice that the speakers were both so open/honest about their experiences and willing/eager to answer questions.”

Both speakers emphasised the lack of clinically experienced vets in research, and encouraged students to consider it as a career path after graduation. 70% of the attendees felt that this talk was useful and 85% would like more opportunities to chat with researchers in the vet school and to get a feel of why they got interested in research.