Skip to content


Veterinary research relates to the study of animal species, in terms of their health, disease and behaviour. It also plays an important role in human medicine through comparative studies. In addition, veterinary research contributes to quality and safety throughout the whole food chain, and is linked to sustainability of our environment and biodiversity.  

Why is research important in veterinary medicine?

Veterinary research allows us to obtain a greater understanding of how diseases originate and spread, and what effect this has on animals. This leads to improved prevention strategies against specific diseases, including the production of vaccines, improved diagnostic tests, and the ability to breed healthy and productive animals.

Comparison of physiological and pathological processes between species contributes significantly to our understanding of normal and disease states. Furthermore it facilitates the extension of preventative and therapeutic strategies across species, and between man and other animals.

Veterinary researchers also play a particular role in food safety through the development of prophylactic, therapeutic and management strategies to prevent disease in food animal species and diagnostic methodologies to identify potential zoonotic organisms. They are also well placed to consider and minimise the risks associated with the transfer of pathogens during the processing of livestock products. 

Back to top

What type of research qualifications are available?

The two most common specialist research qualifications are a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Master of Veterinary Science (MSc). A Bachelor degree is a pre-requisite for entry into either of these degrees. A PhD is usually obtained after three or four years of study and an MSc after one or two years of study. The requirements for the degree can include coursework, but the emphasis is on the completion of a piece of original, independent research.

Back to top 

Where is veterinary research carried out?

Veterinary research is carried out in a number of public and private organisations. The list below is a selection of some of the main ones, but there are many more.


Government funded agencies

Central Science Laboratory

Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency

Scottish Agricultural College


BBSRC funded institutions

Institute for Animal Health

The Babraham Institute

Roslin Institute


Scottish Office Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department funded institutions

The Moredun Research Institute

The James Hutton Institute

The Rowett Research Institute of Nutrition and Health


Veterinary Colleges

University of Bristol

University of Cambridge

University of Edinburgh

University of Glasgow

University of Liverpool

University of Nottingham

The Royal Veterinary College

and other Universities


Charities and Trusts

Animal Health Trust and other Charities and Trusts


Veterinary practices


Private enterprise

Back to top 

Who provides funding?

Funding is provided from a range of sources, and choosing the most appropriate type of funding to apply for is one of the biggest decisions a researcher has to make. The list below provides names of some of the key public and private funders, although there are many others.

Wellcome Trust

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division

European Union

Moredun Foundation

RCVS Knowledge - in particular, please see the RCVS Knowledge Grants page

Back to top

Help with undertaking clinical research?

This list of veterinarians from all over the world has been compiled from a doctorate research project on the difficulties experienced by practitioners in having their research results published in peer reviewed journals. These veterinarians all have been successful in publishing articles in the Veterinary Record, Equine Veterinary Journal, Equine Veterinary Education and Journal of Small Animal Practice, when they were in practice.

They have all volunteered to help aspiring practitioner authors to publish their results in peer reviewed journals. They may be contacted by email.

As well as liaising with colleagues who have already undertaken research, and speaking to the veterinary schools, there are also some useful publications available to help you if you are considering or already undertaking a research project. The help offered includes advice on how to write up articles for publication, funding and how to manage the project.

Some suggested reading:

"The Pocket Guide to Critical Appraisal", Iain K Crombie; BMJ Books, 1996

"How to Survive Peer Review", Elizabeth Wager, Fiona Godlee, Tom Jefferson; BMJ Books, 2002

"The Pocket Guide to Grant Applications", Iain K Crombie & Charles de V. Florey; BMJ Books, 1998

"The Sciences Good Study Guide", Andrew Northedge, Jeff Thomas, Andrew Lane and Alice Peasgood; The Open University, 1997.

Back to top 

The requirements for veterinary research and the recruitment of veterinary surgeons into research

This paper has been developed by the RCVS Research Committee to promote research and highlight the key issues affecting research - now and in the future. It discusses the research carried out by veterinary schools and other organisations and goes on to explain why the future funding and provision of research is so important. It also highlights the importance of ensuring that enough graduates are recruited into research careers to match growing demand.

Back to top

The Impact of Veterinary Research - an RCVS publication

The RCVS has written a brochure to promote the key role that veterinary research plays in the lives of many, not just those traditionally associated with veterinary science and food production.

Through the use of case studies, the publication highlights the role of veterinary science in, for example, helping to develop new treatments for diseases such as river blindness in humans. The case studies focus on novel research that has had a wide impact.

The brochure was produced by the RCVS on behalf of its Research Subcommittee, which aims to encourage the research base of the veterinary schools; engage with the national and international research agenda in advancing evidence-based knowledge in biomedical sciences; promote the unique value offered by veterinary medicine in translational research; and to foster a research training environment which contributes to a sustainable veterinary research community.

For hard copies, please contact or 020 7202 0778

Back to top

Veterinary research into practice

On 20 September 2005, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' Research Committee hosted a one-day seminar, Research into Practice… Practice into Research. The key objectives were to demonstrate how research has a place in every day practice, to stimulate participation in research and to promote participation in evidence-based veterinary medicine and clinical audit.

You can download a brief summary of the day's proceedings or a full report, which includes a detailed summary of each speaker's session.

Back to top