In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is funding five additional Vet Fellowships to conduct pandemic and zoonotic research. The FFAR Vet Fellows program equips veterinary students with the expertise to address future agricultural challenges.
Up to 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, meaning a pathogen can spread from animals to humans. Both coronaviruses and influenza viruses can be zoonotic and can be found in agricultural animals such as poultry and pigs. Research on food-animal production and veterinary medicine can reduce the threat of zoonotic pathogens. Yet, veterinary students have limited opportunities to research zoonotic diseases in agriculture.
“The coronavirus is an example of how pathogens can move between humans and animals,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “Understanding new diseases in animals, and especially how they spread, is vital to slowing transmission and developing remedies. FFAR is expanding the Vet Fellows to assure we have the expertise in the veterinary community to address what could be future pandemics.”
A recent JAVMA article agrees that veterinarians are needed in the research field to be part of the solution. FFAR is ensuring that the future scientific workforce includes veterinarians with expertise in zoonotic pathogens by funding five additional Vet Fellowships to conduct research on pathogens that threaten agricultural productivity and human health. To bolster the scientific workforce in response to the coronavirus, FFAR is not requiring the 2020 Vet Fellows to secure matching funds. Additionally, FFAR and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), who partners with FFAR to administer the program, extended the nomination deadline to May 6, 2020.
The FFAR Vet Fellows program will still support ten students to conduct research on agricultural productivity, public health and environmental sustainability. Information about applying for the FFAR Vet Fellows Program is available on FFAR's website. The fifteen 2020 FFAR Vet Fellows will be announced in summer 2020.