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Office: Edwards Building, Room R321
Mail Code: 94305-5342
Phone: (650) 498-5080
Web Site: http://med.stanford.edu/compmed

Courses offered by the Department of Comparative Medicine are listed under the subject code COMPMED on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

The Department of Comparative Medicine at Stanford is an academic, basic science department, the department is comprised of  thirteen faculty,  ten of whom are veterinarians.  All faculty members are immersed in laboratory animal science and translational research.  They teach at the undergraduate, graduate, professional, and postgraduate levels. The deaprtment's clinical and basic science faculty welcome,  review, and accept student candidates for participation in research projects.  The Department of Comparative Medicine was established at Stanford in 1990. 

The department's faculty is also engaged in collaborative and comparative research, with animal model expertise and programs in veterinary pathology, pain and anesthesia, rodent reproductive biology, infectious disease, cancer, bioengineering, animal welfare, and neuroscience. In addition, the veterinary faculty in the Department of Comparative Medicine has oversight responsibility for the campus-wide animal research program and provides clinical service in the Veterinary Service Center (VSC). The mission of the department is to advance human and animal health through outstanding research, veterinary care and training. 

To learn more about the Veterinary Service Center Core and services provided, see the Veterinary Service Center (VSC) web site.

To learn more about Animal Research at Stanford, see the Animal Research at Stanford web site.

Master of Science in Laboratory Animal Science

The Master  of Science (M.S.) in Laboratory Animal Science (MLAS) degree program in the Department of Comparative Medicine is a flexible, one- to two-year graduate program designed for students who want to pursue advanced careers in  biomedical research, focusing on animal modeling and biomethodology, laboratory animal science, organizational  management and facility design, regulatory and compliance issues, and animal welfare. Under the department's rolling admissions policy, prospective students may submit applications to the department anytime during the academic year.

The  program’s academic courses are designed to build a solid foundation for a successful career in laboratory animal science and biomedical research. Graduates find employment in pharmaceutical companies and academia, or pursue training in medical or veterinary schools. The program is designed to give students the ability to customize their academic research experience.  

The Master  of Science (M.S.) in Laboratory Animal Science degree program  may also be taken by Stanford undergraduates as a coterminal master's degree program.

University requirements for the M.S. degree are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

Degree  Requirements

  1. At least 45 units of academic work, all of which must be in courses at or above the 100 level. 36 of the 45 units  must be at or above the 200 level.
  2. Students must complete a master's thesis, which may take the following form:
    1. Original analysis of original data

    2. A comprehensive literature review with a meta-analysis of data or a critical reanalysis of data

    3. Evaluation of a methodological problem using real data

    4. A comprehensive literature review with a grant proposal (NIH style format) for a new study to bridge a gap in the existing knowledge.

  3. Per University policy, the master's degree must be completed within three years.

Required Courses

Students are required to enroll in the following courses quarterly.

Units
COMPMED 200One Health Journal Club1
COMPMED 260Masters Laboratory Animal Science Practicum/Laboratory Research1-15
COMPMED 290MLAS Career Development1-6

In addition, students must also complete the following courses prior to graduation.

Units
COMPMED 202Research Biomethodology for Laboratory Animal Science2
COMPMED 209Laboratory Animal Medicine Seminar2
COMPMED 210Introduction to Mouse Histopathology3
COMPMED 211Biostatistics for the Life Sciences2

How to Apply (external applicants and current Stanford graduate students)

1. Review the information and instructions on the University Graduate Admissions web site.

2. Submit your application online. The link to the online application is on the University Graduate Admissions web site.

Admissions Deadline: Applications and admission decisions are reviewed on a rolling deadline. For more information, contact Steve Choy  <stevechoy@stanford.edu>, student services administrator, at (650) 724-7880.

Items which must be included in the online application:

  • Completed School of Medicine Graduate Student Online Application Form
  • Resume or CV
  • Transcript (unofficial transcripts are acceptable)
  • Statement of Purpose (1-2 pages, 1 inch margins, 12 point font, single-spaced)
    • The statement of purpose should describe succinctly the reasons for applying to the proposed program at Stanford, preparation for this field of study, research interests, future career plans, and other aspects of the student's background and interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating aptitude and motivation for graduate study.
  • Two letters of recommendation; at least one of the two reference letters should come from a science-related faculty member or professor.
  • $125 application fee is assessed by the Registrar at the time of the submission of the application.
  • Recommended: Valid GRE, MCAT, or GMAT scores

Instructions for Coterminal Applicants

The coterminal degree program allows Stanford University undergraduates to study for a master's degree while completing their bachelor's degree(s) in the same or a different department. See the "Coterminal Degrees" section of this bulletin for additional information.

Please note: the information listed below is for current undergraduate Stanford students

University Coterminal Requirements

Coterminal master’s degree candidates are expected to complete all master’s degree requirements as described in this bulletin. University requirements for the coterminal master’s degree are described in the “Coterminal Master’s Program” section. University requirements for the master’s degree are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

After accepting admission to this coterminal master’s degree program, students may request transfer of courses from the undergraduate to the graduate career to satisfy requirements for the master’s degree. Transfer of courses to the graduate career requires review and approval of both the undergraduate and graduate programs on a case by case basis.

In this master’s program, courses taken three quarters prior to the first graduate quarter, or later, are eligible for consideration for transfer to the graduate career. No courses taken prior to the first quarter of the sophomore year may be used to meet master’s degree requirements.

Course transfers are not possible after the bachelor’s degree has been conferred.

The University requires that the graduate adviser be assigned in the student’s first graduate quarter even though the undergraduate career may still be open. The University also requires that the Master’s Degree Program Proposal be completed by the student and approved by the department by the end of the student’s first graduate quarter.

Graduate Advising Expectations

The Department of Comparative Medicine is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. When most effective, this advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the adviser and the advisee. As a best practice, advising expectations should be periodically discussed and reviewed to ensure mutual understanding. Both the adviser and the advisee are expected to maintain professionalism and integrity.

Faculty advisers guide students in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, developing of teaching pedagogy, navigating policies and degree requirements, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways.

Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for their graduate program.

For a statement of University policy on graduate advising, see the "Graduate Advising" section of this bulletin.

Chair: Sherril Green

Professors: Donna M. Bouley, Paul Buckmaster, Sherril Green, Shaul Hestrin

Associate Professors: Corinna Darian-Smith, Stephen Felt, Joseph Garner, Claude Nagamine

Assistant Professors: Megan Albertelli, Kerriann Casey, Thomas Cherpes,  Monika Huss,  Cholawat Pacharinsak, Jose Vilches-Moure

Courses

COMPMED 11SC. Life in the Zoo: Behavior, Welfare and Enrichment. 2 Units.

What makes for a good life in a zoo? For that matter, what makes a good zoo? The psychological and physical wellbeing of the animals? The contribution to research, conservation, and education? The guest experience? Students will learn first-hand how animal welfare science provides an evidence-based approach to optimize and balance each of these demands so that "good welfare is good business." Through a unique experience at San Francisco Zoo students will learn how to apply principles of animal behavior to design environmental enrichments which benefit both the animals and the complex mission of a zoo. Students will be guided through the process of assessing an exhibit from the point of view of the animal's behavior and wellbeing, educational opportunities, and guest experience; developing an enrichment plan; designing and building enrichments for the animals; interacting with the public as docents; and assessing the overall effectiveness of a new enrichment; before finally presenting their work at a "mini-conference." The course will be taught with an emphasis on self-guided learning, student-led class time, hands-on experience, and service-learning. Most days will begin with students presenting what they have learned the previous day to the class, followed by student-led discussion, preparation time for the day's activities, and then time out in the zoo. The course will be taught by Dr. Garner (whose introductory seminar in Animal Behavior is strongly recommended, though not required) and Dr. Watters (Vice President of Animal Wellness and Animal Behavior, San Francisco Zoological Society).

COMPMED 23N. Microbes that Made Plagues: Biological Causes and Social Effects. 3 Units.

Massive scale infections or plagues have often occurred, affecting millions for years or quickly killing thousands. In this seminar, we will use both biological and social lenses to examine infectious agents and the plagues they caused. To provide helpful framework for this exploration, we will begin with a very brief overview of the principles of microbiology and immunology. This will be followed by specific looks at the biological causes and social responses to Black Death, cholera, tuberculosis, the 1918 influenza pandemic, polio, and the ongoing HIV pandemic. We will conclude our seminar with similar looks at some of the infectious agents most likely to cause new pandemics.

COMPMED 80N. Animal behavior: sex, death, and sometimes food!. 3 Units.

Preference to freshman. Behavior is what makes animals special (thirsty plants don't walk to water), but why do animals behave the way they do? What does their behavior tell us about their inner lives, and about ourselves? What do lipstick and cuckoos and fireflies have in common? Why would nobody want to be a penguin? What do mice say to each other in their pee-mail? Learning how to think about questions like these gives us a unique perspective on the natural world. Format: Discussion and criticism of video examples, documentaries, and research papers. Topics: History and approaches to animal behavior; development of behavior, from genetics to learning; mechanisms of behavior, from neurons to motivation; function of behavior, from honest signals to selfish genes; the phylogeny of behavior, from domestication to speciation; and modern applications of behavior, from abnormal behavior, to conservation, to animal welfare, and animal consciousness.

COMPMED 81N. Comparative Anatomy and Physiology of Mammals. 3 Units.

Preference to freshmen. Emphasis is on a comparative approach to anatomy and physiology of a wide range of mammals, the unique adaptations of each species in terms of its anatomical, and behavioral characteristics, and how these species interact with human beings and other animals. Dissection required. Class size is limited to 16.

COMPMED 83. Horse Medicine. 2 Units.

The course will explore most common equine diseases, ranging from colic to lameness are reviewed using problem-oriented approach. Topics include: equine infectious diseases, care of the newborn foal, medical emergencies, and neurological disorders. The course includes a 2 hour lab on the physical and neurological examination of the horse at the Stanford Red Barn. Students will also have the opportunity to ride polo ponies and learn the basics of polo during a trip tot the Stanford Polo Team Fields.

COMPMED 84Q. Globally Emerging Zoonotic Diseases. 3 Units.

Preference to sophomores. Infectious diseases impacting veterinary and human health around the world today. Mechanisms of disease, epidemiology, and underlying diagnostic, treatment and control principles associated with these pathogens.

COMPMED 85N. Animal Use in Biomedical Research. 3 Units.

Preference to freshmen. How and why animals are used in biomedical science. Addresses human and animal disease entities and how animal research has contributed to the treatment and cure of disease. Significantnportions of this course are devoted to documenting the humane care and treatment of laboratory animals in research, including, but not limited to such topics as laws and ethics, animal behavior, animal modeling, and the animal activist movement. Course topics will also include: What advances have been made as a result of the use of animals in research? Who conducts animal research? Predominant animal species used in biomedical research, facts and myths; the regulation of biomedical research; housing and care of laboratory animals; why new drugs must be tested; animal use in stem cell research, cancer research and genetically engineered mice; career choices in biomedical research.

COMPMED 87Q. Laboratory Mouse in Biomedical Research. 3 Units.

Preference to sophomores. Focus is on the laboratory mouse, a widely used and important research model. Topics include the ethics of animal use in research; the natural history, origin and husbandry of the mouse; characteristics of key mouse strains; its anatomy and physiology; common diseases and their effects on research; coat color genetics relative to human diseases; immunodeficient mouse models; and genetic engineering of mice. The laboratory includes necropsy, handling, introduction to anesthesia and surgery, identification methods, and common research techniques using live and dead mice. Enrollment limited to 14 students.

COMPMED 89Q. Ouch it Hurts! The Comparative Neurobiology of Pain. 3 Units.

Preference to sophomores. Focus is on understanding the basic neurobiology of pain pathways. Topics include the physiology, pharmacology, and clinical aspects of effective pain management. In both humans and animals pain is part of the protective mechanisms that prevent further injury to the body. However, if the pain process continues unchecked, it can become extremely detrimental.

COMPMED 107. Comparative Brain Evolution. 4 Units.

Functional organization and evolution of the vertebrate nervous system. Topics include paleoneurology, cladistic analysis, allometry, mosaic versus concerted evolution, and evolution of brain region structure, connectivity, and neurons. Comparisons between structure and function of vertebrate forebrains including hippocampi. Evolution of the primate visual and sensorimotor central nervous system as related to vocalization, socialization, and intelligence.
Same as: COMPMED 207

COMPMED 110. Pre-Vet Advisory. 1 Unit.

For students interested in a career in veterinary medicine. How to meet the academic and practical experience prerequisites for admission to veterinary school. Networking with other pre-vet students. Periodic group meetings with guest speakers presenting career options in veterinary medicine. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

COMPMED 198. Undergraduate Directed Reading in Comparative Medicine. 1-3 Unit.

May be taken as a prelude to research and may also involve participation in a lab or research group seminar and/or library research.

COMPMED 199. Undergraduate Research. 1-3 Unit.

Investigations sponsored by individual faculty members. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

COMPMED 200. One Health Journal Club. 1 Unit.

Participants report on and review scientific articles published in peer reviewed journals. Focus is on manuscripts which report basic and mechanistic discoveries, animal modeling and translational research. The objective is to introduce MLAS students to critical scientific review of hypothesis-based research and experimental design, data analysis and interpretation. Enrollment limited to undergraduate and graduate students currently matriculated or planning to enroll in the MS in Laboratory Animal Science degree program.

COMPMED 201. Neuro-Cellular Core. 2 Units.

Focuses on fundamental aspects of cellular neurophysiology. Topics include exploration of electrophysiological properties of neurons, synaptic structure and function and synaptic plasticity. The course consists of didactic lectures and student-led discussions of classical papers. Incorporates simulation program Neuron. Enrollment restricted to students enrolled in Neurosciences Graduate Program.
Same as: NEPR 201

COMPMED 202. Research Biomethodology for Laboratory Animal Science. 2 Units.

Emphasis is on providing introductory training and practical, hands-on research animal biomethodology. Topics include basic care and principals guiding the use of research animals, animal health and welfare, enrichment, basic mouse handling, rodent breeding, and the principals of rodent aseptic surgery and anesthesia. The objective of this course is to teach basic skills in animal handling, animal care and biomethodological research techniques. Content delivered online and in-person.

COMPMED 205. Animal Use in Biomedical Research. 3 Units.

How and why animals are used in biomedical science. Addresses human and animal disease entities and how animal research has contributed to the treatment and cure of disease. Significant portions of this course are devoted to documenting the humane care and treatment of laboratory animals in research, including, but not limited to such topics as law and ethics, animal behavior, animal modeling, and the animal activist movement. Course topics will also include: What advances have been made as a result of the use of animals in research? Who conducts animal research? Predominant animal species used in biomedical research, facts and myths; the regulation of biomedical research; housing and care of laboratory animals; why new drugs must be tested; animal use in stem cell research, cancer research and genetically engineered mice; career choices in biomedical research.

COMPMED 207. Comparative Brain Evolution. 4 Units.

Functional organization and evolution of the vertebrate nervous system. Topics include paleoneurology, cladistic analysis, allometry, mosaic versus concerted evolution, and evolution of brain region structure, connectivity, and neurons. Comparisons between structure and function of vertebrate forebrains including hippocampi. Evolution of the primate visual and sensorimotor central nervous system as related to vocalization, socialization, and intelligence.
Same as: COMPMED 107

COMPMED 209. Laboratory Animal Medicine Seminar. 2 Units.

Focuses on husbandry, care and diseases of major laboratory animal species (rodents, fish and amphibians, swine, sheep, rabbits, monkeys); regulatory and compliance, applied principals of animal modeling, and factors that influence animal research, animal behavior and research reproducibility. The objective of this course is to provide students with an overview of the history of laboratory animal science, current industry standards and practices, and the fundamentals of laboratory animal diseases. Department consent required for enrollment. May be repeated for credit.

COMPMED 210. Introduction to Mouse Histopathology. 3 Units.

Focus is on anatomy and histology (microscopic anatomy) of the entire mouse, proper instrument handling and dissection technique, proper tissue fixation, trimming and orientation in cassettes, identification of normal organ histology on H & E-stained slides using a light microscope, use of special stains, and digital image acquisition. Basic pathological processes (inflammation, necrosis, apoptosis, hyperplasia, cancer) and how these manifest in different organs comprises the pathology aspect of this course. Participants present the pathology of their lab's mouse models. Preference to graduate students working with mouse models. Dissection labs. Comfort with mouse handling and previous participation in VSC mouse handling and euthanasia workshops recommended.

COMPMED 211. Biostatistics for the Life Sciences. 2 Units.

Emphasis is on real-world experimental design and analysis in the life sciences, with particular focus on modern techniques that maximize power and minimize sample size, and avoiding common errors contributing to false discovery and the reproducibility crisis. This is a flipped-classroom. Class time is devoted to discussion of assigned reading (primarily Grafen & Hailsm 2002 "Modern statistics for the life sciences"), critique of papers, working through example data sets, and developing analyses for the students' own research data. The objective is to provide MLAS students with a fundamental understanding of basic statistics, particularly as applied to the design and planning of animal-based research projects. Enrollment is limited to MLAS students, unless student has course director consent.

COMPMED 212. Laboratory Mouse in Biomedical Research. 3 Units.

Focus is on the laboratory mouse, a widely used and important research model. Topics include the ethics of animal use in research; the natural history, origin and husbandry of the mouse; characteristics of key mouse strains; its anatomy and physiology; common diseases and their effects on research; coat color genetics relative to human diseases; immunodeficient mouse models; and genetic engineering of mice. The laboratory includes necropsy, handling, introduction to anesthesia and surgery, identification methods, and common research techniques using live and dead mice. Class enrollment includes a laboratory section.

COMPMED 215. Synaptic Properties and Neuronal Circuits. 2-3 Units.

Focus is on synapses and circuits in the central nervous system. Objective is to demonstrate how the specific properties of different synapses play a role in the function of neuronal circuits. The main types of synapses are covered, including both ionotropic and metabotropic-receptor-dependent synapses and their related circuits in the CNS. Lectures and student presentations. If taken for 3 units qualifies as a Core Course satisfying requirements in Cellular, Molecular & Developmental Neuroscience in the Neurosciences Graduate Program. Students enrolling for 3 units write an NIH-style proposal on a selected synapse, proposing a study of its properties and related function and presenting the proposal to the class for critique and discussion.

COMPMED 260. Masters Laboratory Animal Science Practicum/Laboratory Research. 1-15 Unit.

Research laboratory and clinical service (pathology, diagnostic laboratory, surgery, husbandry, anesthesiology, aquatics, facility business and management, etc.), quarterly rotations for students enrolled in the Master's of Laboratory Animal Science program. The objective of this course is to provide students with hands on experience in research laboratories using animal models and to provide experience working in the daily operations of a large, veterinary service center. Fulfills the practicum and research requirements of MLAS students.

COMPMED 290. MLAS Career Development. 1-6 Unit.

Focus is on career development for graduate students and trainees enrolled in a trainee program in the Department of Comparative Medicine. Seminar topics include career pathways in laboratory animal science, resume preparation, manuscript preparation and authorship, life in academics, life in industry and biopharma, regulatory agencies, veterinary and medical school. Speakers include faculty, speakers from industry and pharmaceutical companies, veterinary school and medical school graduates, regulatory and compliance professionals, research scientists, and animal research program/laboratory managers. Students may choose to shadow veterinary clinical faculty or rotate through basic science laboratory, by special arrangement. The objective is to introduce students to the multiple career pathways available to individuals with advanced training in laboratory animal science. May be taken up to six quarters.

COMPMED 299. Directed Reading in Comparative Medicine. 1-18 Unit.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor. (Staff).

COMPMED 370. Medical Scholars Research. 4-18 Units.

Provides an opportunity for student and faculty interaction, as well as academic credit and financial support, to medical students who undertake original research. Enrollment is limited to students with approved projects.

COMPMED 399. Graduate Research. 1-18 Unit.

Investigations sponsored by individual faculty members.Opportunities are available in comparative medicine and pathology, immuno-histochemistry, electron microscopy, molecular genetics, quantitative morphometry, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the hippocampus, pathogenesis of intestinal infections, immunopathology, biology of laboratory rodents, anesthesiology of laboratory animals, gene therapy of animal models of neurodegenerative diseases, and development and characterization of transgenic animal models. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

COMPMED 801. TGR Project. 0 Units.

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