Nation's first veterinary student receives prestigious NIH Fogarty Fellowship

April 02, 2007

NORTH GRAFTON, MASS., APRIL 2, 2007 - As the nation's first veterinary student to receive a prestigious "Overseas Fellowship in Global Health and Clinical Research," Elliott Garber, a third-year student at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, already knows about the symbiotic link between animal, human, and environmental health. Garber was chosen from more than 130 applicants nationwide following an intense, three-day selection conference hosted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. He is enrolled in Tufts' combined doctor of veterinary medicine and master of public health degree (DVM/MPH) program, which is a demanding course of study that prepares veterinarians to use their understanding of population-level comparative medicine to advance public health.

"My principal purpose in applying for the fellowship was to gain experience doing rigorous academic research, focusing on the animal/human/environmental health interface in a resource-poor setting," Garber said. "There has been a lot of talk over the last few years emphasizing the need for better integration of the different health professions, and I hope that this experience of working in a predominantly human-health oriented setting will give me the skills, mindset, and credibility to forge new paths in that direction."

Garber's one-year fellowship will enable him to do a combination of field and laboratory work in Vellore, India, studying the epidemiology of cryptosporidium and rotavirus in livestock, wildlife, and humans. Both of these agents are found in contaminated water around the world and can cause gastrointestinal diseases resulting in debilitating illness and death.

Garber will spend three weeks at NIH for an orientation session before going to Vellore in early August for 10 months. The Christian Medical College, internationally recognized for its high quality of research and one of the top medical schools in the country, will host Garber during his fellowship in India.

The NIH's Fogarty International Center (FIC), in partnership with the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the NIH National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse, awards the one-year fellowship to provide clinical research training experience for graduate-level U. S. students in the health professions. The 2007 fellowships were awarded to Garber and 19 other highly motivated U.S. health professional students to enable them to experience mentored research training at top-ranked NIH-funded research centers in developing countries around the world.

"The selection of Elliott Garber as a Fogarty fellow is the latest example, albeit a momentous one, of veterinarians breaking through the artificial barrier that falsely separates the health of people from that of animals," said Joann Lindenmayer, DVM, MPH, associate professor in Tufts' Department of Environmental and Population Health and liaison to Tufts' DVM/MPH program. "Humans are but one of the thousands of species in the global environment. Because veterinarians understand and appreciate the many variations on the theme of life, they are uniquely qualified among health professionals to address the complex problems that now challenge global health. Elliott is the first Fogarty fellow who is being trained as a veterinarian; many more will follow."
Editor's Note:

Prior to attending Tufts, Garber received a B.A. degree in biology and religious studies from the University of Virginia. His parents, Steve and Meg Garber, reside in Burke, Virginia.

Tufts University

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