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Press Release

For Immediate Release: August 29, 2008
Contact: Division of News & Electronic Media, Office of Communication
(404) 639-3286

CDC Launches New Program to Train Veterinarians

First-ever program for CDC includes hands-on experience in high-containment labs

In an effort to help address a national shortage of veterinarians certified to work with laboratory animals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun a new residency program in laboratory animal medicine. One of about 40 such programs in the country, the CDC program combines classroom training with hands-on experience in CDC's most sophisticated high-containment laboratories to help prepare veterinarians for careers in biomedical research.

The two-year training program, which is a partnership between CDC and nearby Emory University's Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, began in July with its first two residents and will be taking applications for the 2009 class in November. CDC expects to accept two to three residents next year for the 2009-2010 class.

"For many years, it's been a struggle to find experienced veterinarians who are qualified and interested in laboratory animal medicine. With more high-containment labs being constructed across the country, the problem is only going to get worse," said Dr. Carolyn Black, director of the CDC's Division of Scientific Resources, which created and operates the program. "We hope this will be a step in the right direction to filling the need for well-trained veterinarians who can perform vital research to help protect the public's health."

The program combines 200 hours of academic coursework at Emory University with 2,000 hours of hands-on experience in CDC's lab facilities and infectious disease research with a CDC scientist as a mentor. Graduates of the program will be proficient in not only the day-to-day care and treatment of laboratory animals but also in working in high-containment laboratories (Biosafety Levels 3 and 4), designing scientific experiments and the use of animal models and administration of lab animal medicine programs.

"One of the qualities that sets this program apart from other programs in laboratory animal medicine is that it offers residents the opportunity to work closely with CDC scientists and to learn the skills necessary to work in high-containment labs, which is experience they can't get in many places," said Dr. Nathaniel Powell, chief of CDC's Animal Resources Branch . "That experience, combined with first-rate academic study at Emory University, makes this program unique."

The program was accredited in June by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM). Individuals who successfully complete this program will meet the training requirements needed to take ACLAM's certifying examination. Trainees will work at CDC for at least two years following the program.

Candidates for this program must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree or the equivalent from an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited veterinary school, be a U.S. citizen or hold permanent residency status and be eligible to obtain and maintain a U.S. government security clearance.


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