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Curriculum and Degree Requirements in DVM/MS in Laboratory Animal Medicine

The DVM/MSLAM) program curriculum is closely tied to the DVM curriculum which students take at the same time. The MS program begins with an introductory course in the first year and follows with didactic, tutorial-based laboratory courses each semester in the second and third years.  In addition, Applied Learning Experience (ALE) completed during the summers following the first and second years of the DVM program provides practical exposure to research and clinical laboratory animal medicine. Clinical laboratory-animal focused electives during the fourth year provide further practical training and mentorship in a variety of settings.

CURRICULUM

Year 1: (9 credits)

Spring (3 credits) 

  • LAM 551 - Introduction to Laboratory Animal Medicine

Summer: (6 credits)

  • LAM 558/559 - Applied Learning Experience

Year 2: (10.5 credits)

Fall: (2.5 credits)

  • LAM 553 - Preventive Medicine in Research Animal Facilities & Journal Club

Spring: (2.5 credits)

  • LAM 557 - Specialized Research Environments and Journal Club

Summer: (5 credits)

  • LAM 558/559 - Applied Learning Experience


Year 3: (4.5 credits)

Fall: (2.5 credits)

  • LAM 556 - Surgery and Anesthesiology in Research Facilities

Spring (2.0 credits)

  • LAM 555 - Laboratory Animal Medicine and Pathology


Years 3 and 4: (9 credits)

Clinical Electives – Students must take 9 weeks of LAM-focussed clinical electives in the DVM program. The MS-LAM program director must approve the LAM-focussed electives in advance.

DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

  • 12 didactic credits are required during the first, second and third years of the DVM program.
  • 12 credits of summer experience (ALE) during the first- and second-year summers – six credits each summer.
  • 9 credits of clinical elective experience in the fourth year.

Didactic courses are taught by faculty from Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and by research animal facility veterinary staff and scientists from nearby institutions. Adjunct and guest faculty are drawn from Tufts Medical School and Tufts Medical Center Hospitals, Charles River Laboratories, Sanofi-Genzyme, Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, AbbVie, Novartis, and Harvard Medical School Animal Resources and Comparative Medicine.

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Applied Learning Experiences (ALE) (Summer of first and second year-see extended information below)

LAM 558 - Applied Learning Experience: Animal Facility Experience – 6 credits; 8 weeks (approximately 280 hours); summer

The summer Animal Facility Experience consists of 8 weeks of in-depth training experiences at industry or academic laboratory animal facilities during the first or second summer after matriculation into the program. The focus of this experience should be on clinical laboratory animal medicine, husbandry, regulatory compliance, or facility management. With advance approval of the program director, equivalent full-time work experience acquired before matriculation may substitute for LAM 558 or 559, but not both. Work undertaken to satisfy undergraduate course requirements will typically not qualify for exemption.

LAM 559 - Applied Learning Experience: Research Experience – 6 credits; 8 weeks; (approximately 280 hours); summer

The summer Research Experience consists of an 8-week research experience involving animals. The focus of this experience should be significant participation in a research project using laboratory animals, including exposure to experimental design, collection of data, and interpretation of results. With advance approval of the program director, equivalent full-time work experience acquired before matriculation may substitute for LAM 558 or 559, but not both. Work undertaken to satisfy undergraduate course requirements will typically not qualify for exemption.

First Year

LAM 551 -Introduction to Laboratory Animal Medicine – 3 credits; spring

This course is an introduction to the use of animals in biomedical research and the role of the laboratory animal veterinarian.  In the first half of the course, presentations from experts in the field cover regulatory control of research animal use, the role of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), animal models in biomedical research, and ethical use of animals.  A laboratory animal anatomy module includes a dissection lab devoted to anatomy of chickens, rodents, rabbits, ferrets and frogs.  The second half of the course covers the biology and care of research animals and design of research animal facilities. The class tours several rodent housing and mixed-species research facilities in the area.

Students are expected to attend all classes, labs, and tours.  They are required to write one analysis paper on research animal ethical cases and to work in groups to create a design for a multi-species research animal facility. Two written assignments are required.

Second Year

LAM 553 - Preventive Medicine in Research Animal Facilities & Journal Club - 2 credits; fall

This course complements the second year of the veterinary curriculum which is mainly concerned with the pathophysiology of disease. The course begins with a series of classes in the application of medical statistics to animal research. The class supplements the introductory exposure to statistics and epidemiology in the professional DVM program with specific emphasis on the design and interpretation of research studies using animals. The second half of the courses focuses on rodent viral, bacterial, and parasitic pathogens of concern in research.  The course emphasizes the diagnosis, treatment, control, and prevention of disease in the laboratory animal facility including the development and implementation of health surveillance and preventative health programs in a laboratory animal setting.  This course consists of didactic lectures and tutorial sessions with assigned readings, case studies, and interactive discussions. This course includes two journal club sessions on l contemporary topics in laboratory animal care and management intended to in the literature and foster critical reading and application of new research reports.

LAM 557 - Specialized Research Environments - 2.5 credits; spring

This course provides advanced instruction in topics relating to specialized environments of particular concern to the laboratory animal veterinarian.   The course primarily consists of didactic presentations and discussions led by specialists in the field on a broad variety of topics including zoonotic diseases, occupational health and safety programs, and biocontainment facility design and disaster planning. Other subjects include transgenic technology, behavioral studies, and imaging technologies such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT).  The course consists of didactic lectures, case studies, and facility tours which integrate the material discussed in lectures. This course continues the two journal club sessions.

Third Year

LAM 556 - Surgery and Anesthesiology in Research Facilities & Journal Club - 2.5 credits; fall

This course provides students with additional training in anesthesia and surgery methods with specific emphasis on the laboratory animal setting.  Practical laboratories provide an opportunity for the students to gain hands-on experience in the appropriate restraint and handling techniques as well as practice common procedures such as injections, oral administration of compounds, catheter placement, and blood collection in rodents.  Pain assessment, analgesic management, determination of humane endpoints, and methods of euthanasia are also covered.  Principles of aseptic surgery in research facilities and post-operative care are emphasized.  Students also have an opportunity to practice routine dentistry in Cummings School teaching dogs. The journal club continues with an emphasis on animal models and advanced techniques and the underlying basic science.

LAM 555 - Laboratory Animal Medicine and Pathology - 2 credits; spring

This course complements the third year of the veterinary curriculum which integrates the pathophysiological aspects of disease with a comprehensive discussion of presenting clinical signs, diagnostic criteria, and the treatment of health concerns of the common laboratory animal species. The lectures provided in this course are designed to provide students with a sound basis in clinical laboratory animal medicine with emphasis on diagnosis, prognosis, and management.  Experimental surgery laboratories allow students to gain practical experience in swine and rabbit surgical methods by performing common procedures such as jugular vein cannulation.  Facility management and staff management are discussed along with an introduction to “lean management”. The journal club continues with an emphasis on animal models and advanced techniques and the underlying basic science.

CLINICAL ELECTIVES – 9 WEEKS 

Nine (9) weeks of laboratory animal medicine rotations are required during the 4th year of DVM training.  Elective time may be scheduled throughout the clinical year, including the last seven weeks prior to graduation.  DVM/MS-LAM students meet with MS program faculty and their mentors to plan their clinical year required electives for the combined degree and prepare for the next step in their career.

Clinical electives can be done at laboratory animal facilities at any location the student chooses.  There are multiple opportunities in the greater Boston and Worcester areas, and students have arranged elective experiences at several distant locations.  The following types of experience are encouraged:

  1. Rodent barrier facilities
  2. Biocontainment facilities
  3. Primate or multi-species research facilities
  4. Surgical programs
  5. Transgenic facilities
  6. Research Pathology Experience
  7. Academic, pharmaceutical or industry biomedical research facilities