Having analyzed the trends shaping the future of veterinary medicine and the VMRCVM, Dean Gerhardt Schurig has crafted a vision that unifies the college’s academic, clinical and research programs around a singular organizing concept: Translational medicine.
Translational medicine involves the fusion of basic scientists and clinical researchers on programs that catalyze biomedical innovations into practical clinical solutions… for both animals and people.
The goal of this evolving academic culture is to dissolve the boundaries that have slowly been erected between scientists who are conducting basic molecular research and clinical faculty-members who are treating cases in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH). Ultimately, this will increase our rate of innovation and the speed with which we invent and export better products and services into the clinical arena.
The world of veterinary medicine is changing fast. Advancements in animal health and public health require high-performance interdisciplinary teams focused on problem solving.
Dr. Schurig’s own experience with the VMRCVM provides an illustration. When he arrived at the college in 1978 to begin working as a veterinary immunologist, brucellosis, a disease that affects animals and people, was still a major problem in the United States and around the world.
The existing “live” vaccines in use at the time were imperfect. By using various technologies that existed as a direct result of the work that basic scientists were doing as they explored the genetic foundations of life, Schurig was able to develop the highly successful RB-51 vaccine.
Other scientists working in various centers and programs in the VMRCVM provide additional examples.
Graduate students and residents are playing a key role in the translational research and medicine program. Their academic plans will include a mandatory translational research component; they will be required to explore an immediate clinical application for the knowledge they produce through scholarship.
The expansion of knowledge and production of new clinical approaches will fortify the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s role as a tertiary care center and better serve veterinarians throughout the region.
Biomedical and health researchers in other Virginia Tech laboratories can field-test their innovations on patients dealing with naturally occurring disease and trauma. Increased activity in this area will lead to more National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, and increased partnerships like the one established with Wake Forest University, government agencies, and research institutes.
The program is expected to generate entrepreneurial activities, intellectual property, patents, and corporations can all generate additional revenues and royalties for investigators, the college, and the university.