Program scholars participate in discussions facilitated by Cornell faculty and external consultants. Topics range from emerging infectious diseases to career exploration and consideration of leadership and its attendant responsibilities. In addition, presentations on drug design and development, and bioterrorism are prominent features of the program. The modules and workshops of this year's program are as follows:
- Careers in Industry
- Residency Training Workshop
- Research Training Workshop
- Translational Science Workshop
The Leadership Module is the signature event of the program and one that has attracted interest among educators at Cornell and elsewhere. It is an exercise calculated to develop critical thinking, leadership, and communication skills. Designed and moderated by Professor David Fraser, the module affords an opportunity to interact in a collegial manner with distinguished leaders in science, higher education, and the business community. Professor Fraser sets the stage for a scenario that raises scientific, political, economic, social, and ethical issues. Each student and each facilitator is assigned a role. From time to time participants are asked to make decisions based on information that is revealed as the scenario unfolds. Toward the end of the meeting, the facilitators are invited to step out of their assigned roles to comment on the module and the principles they employ in making decisions.
Emerging Diseases Workshop
This workshop considers diseases caused by infectious agents, or their products. It is an exercise in interactive, student-directed learning. The workshop focuses on diseases that are emerging in nature. Many are exacerbated by population mobility, habitat disruption, climate change, or the inappropriate use of antibiotics. The first part of the workshop consists of student presentations. One presentation considers antibiotic resistance while three others focus on diseases selected by the students. In an evening session, facilitators comment on aspects of emerging diseases that reflect their personal experiences and interests.
Biodefense and Public Health Workshop
The veterinary profession and the public at large are deeply concerned about the consequences of the deliberate release of microbial agents or biological toxins that pose a health threat to humans or animals. A workshop addresses these matters. As in the Emerging Diseases Workshop, students conduct library research on four diseases frequently cited as bioterrorist agents. A panel of expert facilitators leads the students in a discussion of these diseases. The evening session affords an opportunity for the facilitators to expand on the day's discussion and to comment on the preparation needed for a career in public health.
Drug Design and Development Module
The module serves as an introduction to the opportunities and challenges of drug discovery, development, and marketing, with a focus on veterinary pharmaceuticals. Three student teams compete in a discovery and marketing exercise. Organized by Dr. Michelle Haven, Vice President Business Development, Licensing and Strategic Planning, Pfizer Animal Health, the module acquaints the participants with career opportunities for DVMs in the pharmaceutical industry.
Leadership in Action
The film "A Few Good Men" provides the basis for a discussion of the characteristics and limitations of leadership. Students consider these matters in the context of the film and reflect on their significance to leadership in veterinary science.
An introductory discussion broadly addresses training and career options for DVM graduates. The meeting sets the stage for more detailed discussions of graduate training later in the program.
Careers in Industry
Leadership Program scholars learn about career opportunities for veterinary graduates in the pharmaceutical industry. They do so as mock applicants for positions as research scientists, animal management specialists, or veterinary pathologists. The exercise is facilitated by Dr. Gerard J. Hickey, Senior Director, Pharmacology and Animal Health, and two of his colleagues at Merck & Co. The module affords opportunities for students to explore career opportunities in a major research-oriented pharmaceutical company while simultaneously providing practical experience in the interview process.
Graduate training in a clinical or a veterinary service specialty raises a variety of structural and academic issues. In the U.S., interns and residents often are selected through a "matching program" in which both applicants and institutions express their preferences. Understanding how the matching system operates is one objective of the residency discussion. Other considerations bear on the training experience itself. Factors considered include the reputation of the institution, the number and strength of the faculty, the case load and responsibilities assigned to trainees, their contact time with faculty and senior staff, and the professional enrichment activities offered by the host institution.
Selecting a mentor and an environment for graduate studies are critical decisions made by individuals who aspire to an academic career or to an alternative career in which research will become a significant element of the individuals' professional responsibilities. The competition for academic appointments is intense in both the U.S. and other countries. The resources needed to sustain a major research program are also limited. Therefore it is imperative that one's training be at a high level. This entails looking beyond the subject matter of research to focus on acquiring the skills needed to function as a competitive scientist. How one acquires those skills is difficult to define although many believe that it involves the development of a disciplined thought process through experiential learning in a strong research environment.
Students explore the concept of translational science in the context of a case study. Guidance is provided by a facilitator whose career combines animal patient care with basic research conducted at the cutting edge of his or her clinical or service discipline. A distinction is drawn between translational science and clinical research as represented by protocol development, clinical trials, and enquiries into the natural history of disease.
Hypothetical Research Project
A new research workshop will be introduced in the 2011 Leadership Program. Students will be asked to develop hypothetical, hypothesis-based research strategies calculated to provide new insight into the cause and progression of the still poorly understood disease, laminitis in horses.