Home > Academia > Yet another call for interdisciplinary education

Yet another call for interdisciplinary education

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The mild sarcasm in the title notwithstanding, I think what Johns Hopkins is doing is fantastic (emphasis added):

Currently, most biomedical graduate programs teach first year students in separate silos, giving them separate courses in biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, and so on. The proposed new model would instead divide biology up into the key underlying processes — gene expression, metabolism and cell fate and function. Instructors would teach each of these key processes, or “nodes,” in an integrated bottom-to-top manner, incorporating important information from the molecular scale all the way up to the whole organism.

A second major component of the new curriculum would be a year-long, hands-on course in methods and techniques, providing students with skills to pursue their research interests.

“We think the new curriculum would create a valuable foundation for today’s graduate students in the life sciences,” says co-author Jon R. Lorsch, a professor in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry. “Organizing the material into nodes, which is the way biological systems are actually arranged, will help students retain more of what they learn, and the techniques course will prime them to tackle fundamental biological questions with whatever methods are required.”

The proposal follows an innovative curriculum that was implemented for medical students by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2009, called Genes to Society. The changes were designed to encourage students to see patients in a larger context, integrating the biological and physical aspects with the social, cultural, psychological and environmental variables that also affect their health. Such integration is viewed as critical to realizing the promise of personalized medicine, which was made possible by the human genome project.

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