Eight months after five biomedical sciences departments merged into two, the College of Medicine is working in collaboration with the College of Arts and Science on a new version of the biomedical sciences undergraduate program.
The biomedical sciences division at the CoM has undergone big changes over the last year with the department of anatomy, physiology and pharmacology and the department of biochemistry, microbiology and immunology presently housing what use to be five departments. With the changes complete, the college is now working on three new majors that match the new departmental structure to be implemented in the fall of 2020.
The new majors are biochemistry, microbiology and immunology; neurosciences; and cellular, physiological and pharmacological sciences, the last of which is still a working title. They will replace the four biomedical sciences undergraduate programs. Students currently in these programs will be able to finish their studies without switching to the updated versions.
Dr. Scott Napper, a faculty member in the CoM, is leading the project. In an email to the Sheaf, Napper says that the new curriculum will offer academic advantages to students.
“These programs are designed to provide learners with student-centric, multidisciplinary training that inspires and enables careers within a spectrum of science-based activities,” Napper said. “Through emphasis on critical thinking, experiential learning and hands-on training in cutting-edge technologies, the curriculum reflects modern priorities in biomedical science education.”
Dawn Giesbrecht, a laboratory instructor at the Biomedical Sciences Teaching Lab, is also involved in the project. Giesbrecht says that experiential learning through research will be a strength of the new program.
“We’ve offered course-based undergraduate research experience, and students get a lot of good, authentic research experience. We are building on that some more,” Giesbrecht said. “At a time when programs all across North America are cutting back on hands-on learning, I think one of the strengths of this program is that we can give students a lot of [that], so they get to learn techniques and skills in the labs.”
Giesbrecht says the changes to the biomedical sciences program have been “ongoing for more than a decade.” With the changes to the undergraduate programs, the CoM will be working more closely with the College of Arts and Science.
“Our faculty right now is housed in the College of Medicine while the program itself is [run through] Arts and Science. By bringing these two components together, the College of Medicine will play a larger role in the program than before,” Giesbrecht said. “When you have faculty in one college and the program in another, there can be a bit of a disconnect. It’ll create the synergism of a more collaborative program.”
Once the majors are offered next year, the CoM will continue to work on the biomedical sciences division. Giesbrecht says that the second phase of changes could include an additional major and new classes on subjects like epidemiology and pathology.
“As I understand it, it’s not common to have epidemiology courses offered to undergraduate students, so we’re pretty excited to offer that,” Giesbrecht said. “These brand new classes will be innovative offerings for our program.”
Ana Cristina Camacho / Staff Writer
Photo: Jordan Dumba / File