The Division of Comparative Medicine at MIT began training veterinarians
in laboratory animal medicine in 1982. Since that time 38 veterinarians
have completed the training program and have gone on to establish themselves
in positions of prominence throughout the laboratory animal community.
DCM postdoctoral veterinarians have authored or co-authored more than
100 scientific papers and chapters during their tenure at DCM and have
contributed extensively to the scientific programs of the national meetings
of a number of professional societies. Performance in the ACLAM board
examination has also been exceptional. The Division currently claims two Foster Award winners, a prize given
annually to the individual with the highest examination score.
The objective of the program is to train postdoctoral veterinarians in comparative medicine and the conduct of biomedical research. The program is comprised of four years of integrated practical and didactic training in medicine and research that promote a multidisciplinary approach to questions in biomedical science. The training is structured to expand upon the unique comparative knowledge, skills, and perspectives that a veterinarian brings to biomedical research. Trainees have the option of pursuing an advanced degree through MIT's Biological Engineering or the Interdepartmental Microbiology Graduate Program.
Training in medicine includes rotations in diverse clinical settings,
medicine and pathology seminars, IACUC meetings and protocol reviews,
and clinical and facilities meetings. Postdoctoral veterinarians will
participate in rotations and seminars in fulfillment of the requirements
of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM).
Training in research includes rotations in diverse research laboratories,
biomethodologies coursework, research seminars, journal clubs, and general
immersion in a productive comparative medicine research environment. Postdoctoral
veterinarians will become proficient in topics central to the conduct
of research including research methods, experimental design, and animal
Trainees are required to take four courses that will provide a firm background in biochemistry, molecular biology, research methodology, and biostatistics. These courses will augment previous undergraduate and veterinary school training. The four required courses will be selected from the curriculum listed below. The electives listed are a small sample of the diverse courses available. Trainees may petition to enroll in other courses that are more appropriate to their specific research interests.
1) Introduction to Experimental Biology: Application of experimental techniques in biochemistry, microbiology, and cell biology emphasizes integrating factual knowledge with understanding experimental design and data analysis to prepare students for research projects.
2) General Biochemistry: Includes contributions of biochemistry toward understanding the structure and function of organisms, tissues, and cells. Covers the chemistry and functions of cells and tissues and the chemical and physical basis for the structures of nucleic acids, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. General metabolism of carbohydrates for the structures of nucleic acids, proteins, and carbohydrates, fats, and nitrogen-containing materials such as amino acids, proteins and related compounds.
3) Biostatistics: An introduction to basic statistical designs and formulas used in biological sciences. Includes sample data and statistics, tests of mean, variance, population data, students' T test, chi square test, and analysis of variance.
4) Human Pathophysiology: Mechanisms underlying selected diseases are examined, with particular emphasis on molecular and biochemical basis of pathogenesis. The role of inflammation, the immune system, hormones, growth factors, drugs, toxins, and infectious agents are considered. Subject integrates aspects of pathology, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology.
5) Control of Cellular Metabolism: Designed to explore in-depth the hormonal regulation of cell function. After an introduction on the control of cell metabolism, the focus is on the action of representative hormones from each of three major classes: peptide, catecholamine, and steroid hormones. An integrated picture of the role of hormones and substrates in providing an inter-organ metabolic control is then developed.
6) Tumor Biology: Broadly concerned with the natural history and causal mechanisms of cancer in people and animals. Subjects include differences between normal and tumor cells, in vitro and in vivo viral and chemical carcinogenesis, activation of chemical carcinogens, chromosomal and genetic influences, monoclonal vs. polyclonal tumors, malignant-normal cell hybrids, host-tumor interactions, tumor immunology, reversibility of malignant phenotype, causes and treatment of human cancer.
7) Biological Electron Microscopy: Introduces the use of visualization techniques for studying biological structure. Operation of the transmission and scanning electron microscopes. Biological sample preparation, including negative staining, shadowing, Kleinschmidt technique for nucleic acids, embedding and sectioning, autoradiography, and specific antibody staining. Interpretation of ultrastructure from micrographs.
8) Immunology (Harvard Medical School): This is a survey course in basic immunology. Anatomy and physiology of the immune system, fate of antigen, cell trafficking, cellular interactions, regulation of the immune response, B and T cell recognition mechanisms and principles of immunoregulation will be included.
9) Short Course in Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics (JAX lab): This is a two week course that emphasizes an intensive up-to-date description of genetics in laboratory animals and man, the relationship of heredity to disease, and the importance of genetics in understanding and preventing transmitted defects.
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