Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has a network of more than 750 clinics for students’ third- and fourth-year rotations.

As a way to stimulate interest in research collaboration among faculty and these clinical preceptors, CVM held the inaugural Collaborative Clinical Research Faire Feb. 4, 2012 on WesternU’s Pomona campus.

“The distributive model of our curriculum has enabled us to create unique ties with a large network of private practices around the area,” said CVM Associate Dean for Research Dominique Griffon, DMV, MS, PhD, DECVS, DACVS. “I would like to strengthen our relationship with these practices to engage in multicenter clinical studies that will impact animal health. The main goal of this initial meeting is to identify clinical issues relevant to our faculty and preceptors.”

“The general objective of this strategy is to build a strong partnership between faculty members, preceptors and industry to generate new knowledge and advance veterinary medicine. We hope to engage our students in this initiative, exposing them to clinical projects during their rotations in private practices,” Griffon said.

The faire attracted CVM students interested in learning more about research opportunities on campus.

“I noticed the lineup for speakers included a lot of faculty we work with on a daily basis,” said second-year CVM student Ben Williams. “I thought it would be interesting to hear what they’re doing research on.”

Research is an important way to continually advance professional education.

“Keeping up to date as a clinician is part of our oath,” said second-year CVM student Marissa Heil. “You can’t do that without doing research, or without others doing research.”

The research faire featured presentations grouped in two topics: small animal and equine medicine. Guests broke into two groups during lunch and brainstormed potential research opportunities.

Dr. Gregory Smith, founder of East County Large Animal Practice in El Cajon, said he attended the research faire to support the university. He is open to participating in research under certain conditions.

“Traditional research is very cumbersome and impractical in a clinical setting,” he said, adding he would consider participating “if there’s something that could be done that does two things — gives our client added value and sets the practice apart. We’re going to be an advocate for the animal and for our client. Research will be third.”

Karen Ehnert, DVM, MPVM, senior veterinarian, Veterinary Public Health & Rabies Control, County of Los Angeles Public Health, said she learned about new avenues of potential collaboration between the university and Los Angeles County.

“(CVM researchers) can benefit from the fact we have connections with 400 private animal hospitals and 21 animal shelters,” she said. “I serve the whole of the Los Angeles County community — the people, pets and the environment — so I have a global look at it. WesternU professors are working in different areas that are of great interest to us, such as research on vector-borne diseases and leptospirosis. We have been able to submit samples to WesternU to investigate different emerging infections, and there have been discoveries we may not have been able to do without the help of this collaboration.”