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Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Summer Scholars Program

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Students and staff participating in the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Summer Scholars Program

General Information

2021 Program Dates: May 7, 2021- August 13, 2021

Download the application​

Deadline for applications: February 10

The goals of this program are to provide an opportunity for veterinary students to explore careers in research through participation in a hypothesis driven project, group training activities, trips to research centers and attendance at research symposia. First and second year veterinary students in good standing from AVMA-accredited schools of veterinary medicine who do not hold graduate degrees are invited to apply. Positions are available for two students who will receive a stipend and work 40 hours per week for 10 weeks. BI funded students will interact with approximately 25 veterinary student researchers at The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville Tennessee and participate in training and social events. Students will present a poster of their research at the 2021 National Veterinary Scholars Symposium at Iowa State University.
All plans are subject to change/limitations due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Contact Information

For further information, contact the program directors: 

  • Dr .Stephen Kania (skania@utk.edu)
  • Dr. Linda Frank (lfrank@utk.edu).

Project: Optimizing procedures for the detection of Leptospira in environmental samples

Leptospirosis is one of the most widespread zoonotic diseases that can cause fatal disease in humans and animals. Leptospira, the spirochete bacteria that causes this disease is harbored in the kidney of reservoir animals are excreted to the environment through urine. Environmental contamination is a major risk factor for contracting leptospirosis in humans and animals. In this project, we examine water and soil samples from selected Knoxville locations for the presence of pathogenic Leptospira using Real-time PCR, culture, and next-generation sequencing. We will compare the methods to identify an optimal method /procedure to use in large scale studies.

Project: A pilot study exploring Leptospira infection model using Galleria melonella larvae

Mammals such as hamsters and guinea pigs are the commonly used experimental animal model for studying Leptospira, a zoonotic bacteria that causes leptospirosis. There are ethical, budgetary, and logistical problems in using these animals in the experimental studies. Greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) larve, has been introduced as an alternative model to study microbial infections. In this study we will investigate the feasibility of using Galleria mellonella larvae infection model to study Leptospira infection.  We will inoculate a pathogenic and non-pathogenic Leptospira and record the changesusinghealth index scoring system that measure larvae mobility, cocoon formation, melanization, and survival. Real time PCR, bacterial culture and immunofluorescence will be used to measure the bacterial load in the worms. Innate immune response will be measured  using hemocyte evaluation.

Project: Staphylococcal vaccine evaluation

Staphylococci cause skin infections in dogs that are becoming increasingly difficult to treat due to antimicrobial resistance. A vaccine has been developed as an alternative therapy. The student will evaluate the response to the vaccine in dogs that are taking part in a clinical trial to determine the efficacy of the vaccine.

Activity for the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Summer Scholars Program