The 2020 National Veterinary Scholars Symposium

NVSS Gives Students the Inside Track on Careers in Research

As a natural outgrowth of the Veterinary Scholars Program, Boehringer Ingelheim is proud to be a sponsor of the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium since its inception. The NVSS is the premier annual scientific colloquium which showcases research accomplishments by veterinary students completing summer research internships. The Symposium highlights the ways veterinary scientists advance basic and applied research to support global health and enables participants to gain insights into careers in biomedical research.

National Veterinary Scholar Symposium
Iowa State University
Aug 4-6, 2021

2020 Virtual Symposium Welcome Address

  • This type of hands-on experience is essential for students to understand the role of research in innovation for both animal and human health.
    Dr. Eric Haaksma, Global Head of Research and Development for Boehringer Ingelheim’s Animal Health business.
Past Symposia
Year Location
2000 University of Georgia
2001 University of Georgia
2002 Purdue University
2003 Kansas State University
2004 Auburn University
2005 University of Georgia
2006 Louisiana State University
2007 University of Pennsylvania and AAVMC at NIH
2008 Michigan State University
2009 North Carolina State University
2010 University of Georgia
2011 University of Florida
2012 Colorado State University
2013 Michigan State University
2014 Cornell University
2015 University of California - Davis
2016 The Ohio State University
2017 National Institutes of Health MSU
2018 Texas A&M
2019 Tufts University and MIT
2020 San Diego UCSD and Western University - AVMA
Future Symposia
2021 Iowa State University
2022 University of Minnesota
2023 North Carolina State University
2024 Western University


More than 500 veterinary students from across the U.S., as well as animal health researchers and leaders from three dozen top veterinary schools, convened virtually this week for the Veterinary Summer Scholars Symposium and presentation of the annual Boehringer Ingelheim Research Awards for Graduate Veterinarians and Veterinary Students.

This annual scientific colloquium – normally conducted in person -- showcases research by veterinary students completing summer research internships. It provides an opportunity for students in the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program to present and discuss research findings. Veterinary Scholars also have the opportunity to network with each other and with mentors from academia, industry and government.

The Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program was established more than 30 years ago to introduce first- and second-year veterinary medical students to biomedical research. Nearly 4,000 students have received stipends from Boehringer Ingelheim to conduct research since the program started.

At each participating school, Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars are assigned a mentor and laboratory. Each scholar conducts a hypothesis-driven research project. The research project is typically conducted over a 10-12 week period during the summer, with students presenting their work at the conclusion. This year, the 35 participating schools quickly deployed alternative plans to comply with COVID-19 safety measures. Some offered lab-based projects to students in a way that provided social distancing and related protections. Others refocused students’ research work on projects involving data analysis, which could be conducted offsite.

“We hope that some good can come from the many lessons we have learned during this year’s pandemic, such that we can better detect and treat -- or even prevent -- the next pandemic or major threat to human and animal health,” said Caroline Belmont, head of U.S. Animal Health Innovation for Boehringer Ingelheim. “Recent events have highlighted how important both innovation and collaboration are in addressing unmet needs in animal and human health. We look forward to the many future contributions today’s veterinary students and researchers will make in advancing these efforts.”

Students from the more than three dozen veterinary schools participating in the Veterinary Scholars Program are eligible to apply for two annual awards: The Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Graduate Award and the Veterinary Research Scholar Award. Winning students receive monetary prizes and a stipend to attend the annual Veterinary Scholars Symposium to accept their awards and present their research.

As part of the Veterinary Scholar Program, each year Boehringer Ingelheim presents awards to one graduate student and one undergraduate student for exemplary research. The recipient of the 2020 Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Research Scholar Award is Megan Fahey, a DVM and Ph.D. degree student at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Her work in the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program has involved exploration of the use of mesenchymal stem cells to prevent or reduce degeneration in intervertebral disc disease. The 2020 Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Graduate Award was presented at the virtual Veterinary Scholars Symposium to Dr. Sara Osum Isakson, a graduate student completing her Ph.D. in the Comparative and Molecular Biosciences Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Osum’s Ph.D. research has focused on developing and characterizing the first porcine model of Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a devastating neurologic disease for which there is no cure. To read more about their research and how to apply for the 2021 awards, click here.