The National Institute of Health (NIH) has clarified on its website that research veterinarians are eligible for competitive
grants and student-loan repayment plans.
Representatives from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) originally noticed that a prominent NIH
web page didn't list "DVM" as an eligible degree for student loan repayment. However, in talks with AAVMC legal counsel, NIH
officials acknowledged that veterinarians were eligible—in fact, the fine print deeper in the website makes that clear.
"All veterinarians interested in biomedical research will benefit from knowing [they] can compete for support from agencies
such as NIH," says Brian Smith, AAVMC's director of governmental affairs.
The DVM degree is now listed prominently, clarifying for website visitors that veterinarians in research and science fields
can apply for NIH grants and loan repayment. The page appears at http://lrp.nih.gov/eligibility/eligibility_of_individuals.aspx.
The website says the NIH may repay up to $35,000 of a qualified veterinarian's student loan debt per year, including most
undergraduate, graduate and veterinary school loans.
At press time, representatives from both the NIH and the AAVMC were scheduled to meet again in mid-June to discuss other ways
in which veterinarians can be included in grants.
"Veterinarians are important components of interdisciplinary biomedical research teams," Smith says. "The rules governing
the clinical loan repayment program do require direct human patient contact, something that is generally not part of a veterinarian's
duties. AAVMC is working with NIH to determine how best to expand these opportunities as veterinarians continue to contribute
to biomedical research teams."