Veterinary Externship Descriptions

Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) on the Oregon Health &Science University (OHSU) West Campus offers students of accredited veterinary medicine programs a variety of elective experiences that can be tailored to suit the needs of the individual student. In this year-round program students can spend two weeks with the Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) at ONPRC. Students will spend time with all the units that support DCM, including the Clinical Medicine Unit, Surgical Services Unit, Behavioral Services Unit, and Pathology Services Unit. Students may, by special arrangement, request extended externships with a specific research mentor or a specific ONPRC DCM unit.

All students are requested to submit a curriculum vitae/resume with a letter of interest that includes a statement of career goals and your expectations from the externship. This information allows us to schedule the most appropriate externship for each student.   


  • A current Cooperative Education Agreement Contract must exist between OHSU and your home institution. Students may also establish a liability agreement contract utilizing Veterinary Student Professional Liability Insurance using the AVMA PLIT program.
  • Students must pass a criminal background check conducted by OHSU public safety prior to receiving access to OHSU facilities.
  • Students must meet all the occupational health requirements of ONPRC including documentation of measles vaccination or immunity and documentation of a negative tuberculosis testing.
Opportunities for electives include: 

A. ONPRC on the OHSU West Campus

Initial externships in Division of Comparative Medicine at ONPRC are two weeks long and involve rotations through all units in order to give externs a comprehensive overview of the breadth of expertise and coordinated efforts involved in simultaneously optimizing animal health and well-being, as well as animal models and research outcomes. Students who return for a second externship have the option of focusing on one or more particular areas of the list below. Alternatively, if a student elects an externship for more than 2 weeks, they may choose to focus on particular areas starting in their 3rd week. Please be advised that while we welcome externships longer than 2 weeks, scheduling longer and more focused visits depends heavily on unit and mentor availability. 

Clinical Medicine
Under the direction and oversight of DCM veterinarians, externs will have rotations in the Colony Hospital working with non-human primates (NHPs) in the breeding colonies, and with clinical veterinarians working with NHPs assigned to various research projects. In Colony Hospital, externs can gain experience with critical care and chronic case management, as well as gain insight into how to coordinate that management with the behavioral dynamics of the group, and future research assignment needs. For research-assigned NHPs, externs can evaluate animals assigned to research projects, learn about the research project objectives and dynamics, as well as learn how the veterinary and scientific personnel interface to provide excellent animal care and well-being in pursuit of scientific objectives. Overall, NHP clinical experience can include: physical exams, developing treatment plans, venipuncture, catheter placement, IV fluid therapy, wound triage and management, suturing and bandaging, and performing radiographs and ultrasonography. The conceptual objectives include understanding: 1) the important role of NHPs as models of human disease and physiology;2) the various roles and responsibilities of the Laboratory Animal Medicine veterinarian involved in supporting and facilitating biomedical research;and 3) the scope of Laboratory Animal Medicine as a specialty of veterinary medicine, and the paths and requirements for board certification by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. 

Extern rotations in the Pathology Services Unit offer exposure to post-mortem examinations of NHPs in support of research protocols and diagnostics. An extensive archive of microscopic material, including teaching sets, will permit the examination of normal histology and disease entities. Additionally, there are 6 to 8 hours of prepared didactic/lecture material covering the Diseases of Laboratory Primates and the Gross Morbid Anatomy of Nonhuman Primates. During the academic year, preceptors can participate in the weekly review of Joint Pathology Center (formerly called Armed Forces Institute of Pathology) Wednesday Slide Conference material and ONPRC Pathology Services Unit case reviews. Double headed microscopes are available for one-on-one review of microscopic material, and a digital photomicrography camera permits review of slides on a monitor in real time. The DCM in-house clinical pathology laboratory is also a resource and a component of the Pathology rotation. 

Rotations in the Surgical Services Unit offer exposure to a high volume of both medical and research-related surgeries. PowerPoint presentations of our most frequently performed procedures along with written narratives and, when possible, hands-on training with anesthetized animals prior to necropsy (non-survival surgery) is available. Procedures for externs can include: placement of endotracheal tube, placement of cephalic catheter, laparotomy and exploratory surgery, endoscopy, CSF aspiration, and bone marrow biopsy. Externs may also scrub in and assist in survival procedures such as cesarean sections, embryo transfers, and endoscopy as time and caseload permit. 

Extern rotations in the Behavioral Services Unit provide opportunities for students to learn about the behavior and social hierarchy of macaques. Working with the Behavioral Services Unit technicians, students will learn how to attend to the behavioral needs of captive macaques and various aspects of behavioral management. A main focus of the Behavioral Services Unit is putting animals in social housing. Externs will learn how macaques are pair-housed, how group dynamics are monitored, and how these processes are coordinated with clinical and research needs. Externs will also learn about positive reinforcement training, providing appropriate novel enrichment, and methods to alleviate behavioral problems when they arise. 


Medical treatment options for humans and animals begin at the level of basic science, where scientists work to further our understanding of the physiologic mechanisms that underlie wellness and disease. In the research elective, the preceptor can choose to work with a scientist pursuing one of the following fields of research: anesthesiology, neuroscience, reproductive science, virology. Note: Minimum rotation of 8 weeks is required for a rotation within a research division.

Division of Neuroscience:

  • In vitro and in vivo strategies for understanding behavioral and physiological functions of the nervous system
  • Sophisticated molecular, cellular, and genetic techniques (including gene therapy of the nervous system, next generation sequencing of the primate genome, neural and cognitive behavioral assessments)
  • Imaging procedures including MRI, CT and imaging-guided interventions
  • Research programs aimed at unraveling the molecular mechanisms of human neurological diseases, health aging, maternal/fetal health, neurogenesis, addiction, metabolic disorders, and primate genetics
  • Weekly research meetings
Division of Reproductive &Developmental Sciences:
  • Behavioral observation and behavior testing
  • Surgical procedures including in vitro fertilization, gamete, embryo transfer, fetal and oviductal catheterization, ovariectomy, lutectomy, and hysterectomy
  • Reproductive ultrasonography
  • Hormone and growth factor assays
  • Cellular and molecular techniques, including in vitro fertilization, gamete, embryo and stem cell manipulation and culture, gene microarray analyses, quantitative PCR, in situ hybridization, western blotting, immunocytochemistry
  • Weekly research meetings
The Division of Pathobiology and Immunology:
  • Participation in ongoing studies of the pathogenesis and immunity of SIV, herpes family viruses, and other agents
  • Use of state-of-the-art virologic and immunologic technologies
  • Application of genomic and proteomic techniques to virologic and immunologic investigation
  • Vaccine development
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
The Division of Cardiometabolic Health:
  • Focus on metabolic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases
  • Expertise in the central nervous system that controls appetite and energy expenditure, pancreas function, and adipose tissue function
  • Broad array of research tools including noninvasive imaging, complex whole animal studies on physiology and behavior, and in vitro and ex vivo techniques


Department of Comparative Medicine –Central Waterfront Campus
The DCM-C provides the animal resources for the OHSU Campus. To support animal research activities, the DCM-C presently provides nearly 100,000 square feet of animal space, four veterinarians and 40 employees. Species housed include rodents, rabbits, ferrets, frogs, fish, pigs and sheep. 

Veterinary medical students will participate in a range of hands on experiences, including experimental surgeries, post-surgical care, physical exams, treatments, preventive medicine, biological sampling, handling, husbandry, and euthanasia of multiple laboratory animal species. Students will also participate in animal welfare regulatory issues as well as the rodent health surveillance program. 

At the completion of the rotation, veterinary students will be familiar with the husbandry, medicine and surgery of common laboratory animal species. The experience gained will also benefit veterinary students who wish to pursue careers in private practice working with pocket pets, companion animals and large animals.   

If you need additional information or if you are interested in enrolling in the veterinary externship program, please contact us! 

Oregon National Primate Research Center Externships
Jeff Stanton, DVM, MA, DACLAMHead –Education &Training Unit
Clinical Veterinarian and Assistant Professor
Coordinator for the Oregon State Laboratory Animal Medicine Training Consortium
Oregon National Primate Research Center
Division of Comparative Medicine –Mail Code L584505 NW 185th Avenue
Beaverton, OR 97006
(503) 346-5283 (office)
(503) 346-5000 (main) 

OHSU/Marquam Hill Campus Externships
Tom Chatkupt, DVM
Head, Clinical Medicine, Surgery, &Training
Department of Comparative Medicine
Oregon Health &Science University
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
Mail Code L110
Portland, Oregon 97239
503-494-1515 (office)
503-494-8425 (main)
503-494-4338 (fax)