10 World-Class Veterinary Research Centers

As healthcare research has surged ahead for humans, veterinary research has managed to adapt to and expand on these practices for our animal friends. Veterinary research has become a vital and exciting field, with components like robotics, bioengineering, and genetic study. 

Strangely enough, almost all of this cutting-edge veterinary research is being produced by a relatively small number of veterinary programs. With exceptional funding, state-of-the-art facilities, and a culture of mentorship from world-renowned researchers, these schools are producing a vast amount of information and innovation in the veterinary world. 

Although you can learn by attending most any school that offers a recognized, accredited program in veterinary science, these 10 exceptional schools provide the best opportunity to participate in research that could change the face of animal healthcare.

1. Cornell University

This highly-awarded program is regarded by many as one of the top five in the nation. Faculty at this school are some of the most notable zoologists, veterinary researchers, and animal health specialists in the nation. Cumulative awards to students and faculty include ones from the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the American Heart Association, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Cornell has specialized research units for population medicine, microbiology and immunology, molecular medicine, and biomedical sciences. Current research projects include reverse genetic experiments with sheep to provide better vaccines for the deadly bluetongue virus.

2. Purdue University

Purdue’s facilities are some of the most innovative in the world, providing students access to the Super-Resolution Imaging Lab and Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab (ADDL). The school also boasts six unique research facilities, including the Center for Human-Animal Bond, Center for Paralysis Research, Purdue Comparative Oncology, Equine Sports Medicine Center, National Biosecurity Research Center, and the Cytometry Lab. Each of these labs supports unique research motivations such as animal cancer study, infectious diseases, and neuroscience research. The faculty is very distinguished, with the most recent award being given to Dr. Deborah Knapp by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for her application of a new drug to fight transitional cell carcinoma, which kills 14,000 humans and 20,000 dogs each year.

3. University of California – Davis

The UC-Davis program is ranked by the U.S. News and World Report as the best veterinary program in America, mostly due to the amazing research that is conducted there. Not only have UC-Davis faculty such as Dr. Edward Feldman, Dr. Neils Pederson, and Dr. Leslie A. Lyons been instrumental in producing world-acclaimed research on dogs and cats, but students of the prestigious UC-Davis program have gone on to become some of the most sought-after private veterinarians in the US. This program is also incredibly student-oriented, providing unique research opportunities for both college and high school students. Current research focus at the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center include treating Bovine Respiratory Disease and increasing food safety for bovine products (milk/meat).

4. University of Pennsylvania

Since 1912, University of Pennsylvania has been a huge contributor to the area of veterinary research. Between the Philadelphia laboratory and the one at the 700-acre New Bolton Center in Chester County, researchers are at the forefront of animal pathology. Over 19 separate animal laboratories are housed on these two huge facilities, with experiments ranging from reproductive health to microbial genomics. This school with approximately 400 enrolled veterinary students is also one of the most well-funded, with student and faculty researchers receiving a large portion of the $851 million in research funds each year. Current projects include new treatments for visual disorders, T-cell therapy for drug-resistant lymphoma, and stem cell therapy for dogs.

5. University of Georgia

The College of Veterinary Medicine at UG is well-known for its highly-awarded staff in almost every field of veterinary medicine. Surgeons such as Dr. Steven Budsberg exemplify the school’s cutting-edge research philosophies, having won several university and AVMA research awards like the Creative Research Medal and the Excellence in Canine Research award. The Animal Health Research Center is nationally recognized as one of the best in the U.S., and both students and professionals from the around the globe come to it to use the state-of-the-art equipment. In 2007, the NIH awarded the college at $7.4 million contract for collaborative research with Emory University, which is just one of many multi-million dollar projects the school hosts each year. Recently, the school was recognized for developing a bird flu vaccine using a canine virus.

6. Colorado State University

The CSU veterinary labs are notably the most extensive in scope, if not size. With over 35 separate labs ranging from livestock to animal oncology, each research lab student at these schools benefit from unparalleled access to animals, equipment, and top-tier mentorship. The current department Director, Dr. Sue VandeWoude has continued the culture of research by earning the prestigious Excellence in Research award from the AAVMC for her original research in feline leukemia. The annual budget for the program is over $50 million each year, with collaborations at colleges and medical institutions around the world. Current research projects include those focusing on equine health, tuberculosis, and orthopaedics.

7. University of Wisconsin – Madison

Overall, UW-Madison is one of the most noted research schools for both human and animal medical research. No where is this more evidenced than in their award-winning facilities, which are supported by over $1.3 billion in research funds each year – the most-funded college on this list and second only to Johns Hopkins University. In addition, veterinary students can work in one of the 45 research labs on an hourly basis, allowing them to gain hands-on experience on a flexible schedule. Current research projects include white-nose syndrome in bat populations, bovine milk fever trials, and the identification of a new species of eyeball-infecting roundworm. 

8. Texas A & M

The level of mentorship and research guidance is truly what sets this program apart. Not only does the school boast professors that are active in the publishing and research community, but they are willing to put in the time to see that students and residents get the best start to their veterinary career. In 2013 alone, the only two Zoetis-Morris Animal Foundation Veterinary Fellowships for Advanced Study were awarded to residents at Texas A&M. The school has four research-related facilities, including the DNA Technologies Core Lab, Flow Cytometry Lab, Image Analysis Lab, and Veterinary Medical Park with surgery rooms and animal observation areas. Current research explores issues like Salmonella outbreak management, regenerative medicine, and epidemiology.

9. North Carolina State University

Although this is not a school recognized for its high spending in research matters, it is one of the most highly-ranked veterinary programs – tying for third with Colorado State University among the nation’s 28 colleges of veterinary medicine. Professors such as Dr. Anthony Blikslager and Dr. Edward Breitschwerdt bring award-winning mentorship and teaching skills to the educational table, as well as research projects that are changing animal healthcare on a global scale. This school’s programs focus on dogs, cats, and horses with current research projects including stem cell therapy for canine heart disease and radiation therapy for feline lymphoblastic lymphoma. 

10. Michigan State University

Consistently ranked in the top 10% of all research colleges by the National Science Foundation, MSU is a haven of veterinary knowledge and hands-on research culture. Another unique strength of the program is its dedication to cross-college collaboration. The veterinary schools welcomes professionals from a wide array of veterinary, pathological, and medical backgrounds including epidemiology, food science, biomedical science, and engineering. As such, it has been able to participate in unique and wide-ranging research opportunities for building programs, products, and treatments that benefit both humans and animals. Current research projects include canine osteoblastogenesis, comparative cancer genetics in dogs and humans, and blood coagulation in liver disease patients.

Barry Franklin (Editor)

Barry is the Managing Editor of VetTechColleges.com, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, which he co-founded. Previously, Barry served as a VP at a Silicon Valley software company. In addition to running editorial operations at Sechel, Barry also serves on the Board of Trustees at a local K-8 school, and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. He presently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family and their black maltipoo.