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Minutes of a General Meeting of the Society held on 14th November 2002 at Le Café du Marché, Smithfield, London.

Present:  the President Prof. A. R. Michell and 21 Fellows and guests.

Apologies for absence had been received from 16 Fellows.

Minutes of the meeting held on 10th October 2002 had been circulated and were approved.

Matters arising:  none.

Correspondence:  none.

Any Other Business:  none.

The President welcomed the guest speaker, Dr. Wendy Harrison from the University of Georgia, who spoke on "Veterinary Clinical Research: who will do it?"  She expressed concern that veterinary medicine was moving from being a science-based profession to being regarded in some circles as a trade, and suggested that widespread involvement of the profession in clinical research would help counter this trend.  She discussed various aspects of veterinary education which might inspire undergraduates to consider this option as part of their future career choices, including elective courses, tracking of courses with respect to different species or interest groups, intercalated BSc courses, the association of practices with universities, and the individual input of inspirational members of academic staff.

Following this, the President himself spoke on "Veterinary Clinical Research: who will nurture it?"  He outlined the problems highlighted in the Selborne Report, including the lack of strategic focus in funding, problems in organising clinical research including species-restricted charities, and the absence of a Veterinary Research Council.  A major problem was the waste of talent in veterinary schools when able graduates rejected careers in research, caused in part by poor career prospects and in part by the natural inclination of veterinary graduates to help animals rather than to attack the frontiers of science.  He then described a new body being set up under the ‘umbrella' of the MRC, the Comparative Clinical Science Foundation.  This aims to highlight the meeting point between the study of animal and human disease, and return to some degree to the concept of 'one medicine'.  The intention is to involve practising veterinary surgeons in research, especially those in referral practices, in the same way as the MRC involves GPs, and apply animal clinical research to general medicine.  He outlined a number of areas in which benefits were anticipated, such as the study of genetics, ageing, oncology and of course hypertension and renal disease, and remarked on the necessity for medical researchers to appreciate that humans are not unique, but are in fact a particularly interesting and important species of animal.

Further details of the CCSF initiative can be found in the issue of the Veterinary Record dated 30th November 2002 (vol. 151, no. 22), pp. 649-651.

The meeting concluded with an interesting and informative discussion.

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