Program Structure

The University of Missouri CMP combines graduate course work, residency training in laboratory animal medicine and research training.

In the first year, trainees perform rotations in veterinary care and investigator support. They also participate in resource management; quarantine and health monitoring; investigator training; protocol review; resource center administration, operation, and management; infectious disease research management; and laboratory animal diagnostics either through dedicated 2-week rotations or as opportunities arise. To gain experience in areas such as primate medicine or industry lab animal medicine, trainees may also perform an elective rotation during their first year. In the second year of the program, trainees rotate through one to three research laboratories, select a lab for their degree program (MS or PhD), and begin research training. The bulk of their time is spent on their research. Each week, approximately 10-15 hours will be committed on top of research to activities designed to hone skills applicable to trainees’ specific career goals. Trainees who pursue a PhD spend 100% of their fourth and fifth years in the laboratory. 

Rounds and Seminars

Trainees take part in clinical, management, pathology and regulatory rounds throughout their residency. Opportunities exist for trainees to participate in AFIP and cytology rounds at the veterinary school as well as to attend other educational seminars on campus, according to interest and as directed by their research mentor. Attending and presenting Comparative Medicine Seminars is ongoing throughout the fellowship experience. 


A resident updates faculty and trainees on her research progress.

Training Reviews

Training reviews are opportunities to meet with the CMP Director and Faculty. Reviews are held biannually and supplement less formal meetings following the completion of each rotation. Residents should come prepared to discuss their progress, goals, and research interests as well as provide feedback on their training experience.

Rodent Reproductive Cryobiology Activities

Structured activities are presented throughout the first year with the aim to provide didactic and hands-on experience in the basic principles of molecular and cryobiology techniques which are routinely used in research rodent colony management. An overview of the Swine and Rodent Resource Centers is also be provided. The trainee learns the basics of colony care and management, participates in reproductive services activities including sperm and embryo collection and cryopreservation, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer procedures, learns genotyping techniques, and participates in strain reviews for the Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center.

Diagnostic Rotation

This 2-week rotation provides an overview of pathology and diagnostic laboratory activities. Trainees perform necropsies, parasitology exams, sectioning of tissues and biopsies for histopathologic examination, and interpretation of results from IDEXX BioAnalytics microbiology, serology and molecular biology laboratories. Biopsies may be submitted throughout the year for which trainees prepare reports and consult with submitting veterinarians, scientists or facility managers. Through this rotation, pathology resources and archived materials, trainees are exposed to a broad range of cases from many species of animals ranging from genetically engineered rodents and transgenic swine to amphibians and reptiles. 

Compliance Activities

The aim is for trainees to develop a working knowledge of animal care and use compliance programs; including protocol review, facility inspections, assisting with investigations of issues of non-compliance and preparing reports to OLAW, AAALAC, or other oversight agencies, development of classroom or online training programs, and providing regular review and editing of ACUC Policies and Guidelines.

Vet Care Rotations

There are three vet care rotations with assigned duties according to campus facilities. The aim is for trainees to provide veterinary care for university facilities and the species housed within, coordinate adoption of research animals, provide investigator support, review sentinel reports for facilities and assist with room order and health status determination, health status changes, and disease containment/eradication plans if necessary.

Teaching Activities

Teaching experience is an important component of CMP training. To this end, all trainees participate in teaching Laboratory Animal Medicine, a course provided to all second year veterinary students at MU. Trainees also teach investigators handling and surgical techniques through workshops and courses and provide mentorship to veterinary students performing externships and elective rotations.

018pigResident guides extern in performing an ophthalmic exam on a pig.

Mentoring Activities for Rotating Veterinary Students

Through a number of veterinary student programs including externships, elective rotations and summer laboratory animal medicine or research programs, trainees can gain critical mentoring experience. For these, trainees supervise and aid in the coordination of the rotating student’s day-to-day activities including routine health procedures, clinical evaluations, diagnosis and treatment of animals, attendance of seminars, lab meetings, animal handling laboratories and rounds. Trainees also expose students to various facets of lab animal medicine including comparative medicine research and clinical, administrative and diagnostic laboratory animal medicine.

Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research (LIDR) Activities

Trainees may pursue eligibility requirements to access the Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research (LIDR), one of 12 NIH-funded Regional Biocontainment Laboratories. There, they can develop a working knowledge of the operations and animal care and use of an ABSL-3 facility and provide investigator support or perform their own research involving ABSL-3 pathogens.

Management Activities

Ongoing management topics are discussed at biweekly management rounds. Through these and ongoing management activities, trainees develop a working knowledge of the operations of an animal care and use program.  These include, but are not limited to approaches to barrier, conventional and containment animal care, budgeting and per diem setting, problem solving operational, facility, equipment and personnel resource issues and participating in facility construction or renovation projects, facility grant proposals. This training is supplemented by a course in Laboratory Resource Management and participation in quarterly management webinars put on by the Training Program Directors Group.

Development of Presentation and Writing Skills

Developing presentation skills and networking with the scientific community are key components of the CMP. In addition to a formal Comparative Medicine Program seminar series, trainees are funded to attend 1-2 scientific meetings/year beginning in the second year of the program.  Trainees are expected to present at each meeting they attend and apply for available travel grants.  Generally, trainees attend the annual AALAS meeting during their second year and a scientific meeting related to their research during their third year and beyond. 

Trainees are given a variety of opportunities to develop writing skills. Assignments include SOPs, policy statements, pathology reports, animal facility inspection reports, laboratory findings, intra- and extramural grant proposals, and research papers for publication in refereed journals. Preparation of a publishable paper (MS and PhD) and an extramural grant proposal (PhD) are requirements of the program. Many trainees generate data and/or case material for several publications. Formal training in grant and manuscript is also provided through a required course.