Tag: public health
This coming fall there will be a few modest changes to the BIMS program. Part of our ongoing assessment is focused on how our students are doing; the remainder is focused on how our courses and program structure can be improved. Based on feedback received, we are making these changes:
1. We are changing BIOL 4320 Molecular Cell Biology to be BIMS 4320 Molecular Cell Biology. It made no sense to us to have a course listed under BIOL when Biology majors are not required to take the course and it cannot count for credit toward their major, when that same course is a required BIMS program course.
2. We are modifying the way advanced electives are to be categorized through the addition of two new course numbers: BIMS 4X91 Advanced Topics in Microbiology and Public Health, and BIMS 4X92 Advanced Topics in Genetics and Molecular Biology. Since program inception last year, we have allowed a wide variety of courses to satisfy the 9 hrs of upper level BIMS program electives – courses from Biology, Biochemistry, Psychology, Pathophysiology from the nursing program, and Kinesiology. We believe more focus is needed to help strengthen the core of BIMS-centric courses, and so these two new course designations will be our first step in doing this.
3. We are dropping BIOL 4310 Immunology. This course will still be offered annually, but will now be a course under BIMS 4391 Advanced Topics in Microbiology and Public Health: Immunology (probably to be referred to as Advanced Topics: Immunology). Dr. D’s Cancer Biology will be offered as a 4392 Advanced Topics: Cancer Biology. So, though it would seem we are losing a very important course (Immunology), the fact is it still will be offered but under a new number.
4. We are re-designating the 3-hour requirement for Immunology as a 3-hour requirement for any BIMS 4X91 OR BIMS 4X92 offering, opening the program to be tailored more toward the interests and needs of our students.
With these simple changes, we believe we have made a small but important step in improving our program.
The vision of the Biomedical Science program at McMurry is to teach biology from the perspective of molecules, cells, and human health. It is often easy to see the emphasis on molecules and cells. We have courses like Genetics, Microbiology, Human Physiology. However, we are never far from a discussion of how these elements of biomedical science influence human health and wellness. To say one does not go without the other would be a fair statement.
I believe our focus on human health really contributes well to understanding the concept of public health. Public health can be seen in a variety of ways. Most obvious would be the emphasis on healing the sick or preventing illness. Our courses focus on these elements as we study how life works, what happens when it doesn’t work well, and how man has contributed to rectifying the problems to restore health. Less obvious, but no less important, is the need for us to consider exercise and wellness and health policy and administration and education when we consider health and wellness of individuals AND communities. When expanded in these ways, such things as promoting active lifestyles, dietary awareness, food safety, veterinary health care, and mental health all contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes public health. Limiting ourselves to consideration of DNA and drugs and cells and microbes severely restricts and underestimates the concept of health in all its dimensions.
McMurry’s BIMS program represents one of the keystones for a comprehensive approach to teaching public health and safety on our campus. The Department of Kinesiology’s Exercise Science & Human Performance program is an excellent partner, along with the Department of Psychology’s focus on mental health. Who knows – maybe one day we will borrow from these and other areas of campus to build a bona fide Bachelor’s degree in Public Health!
Here are some things that are happening in the BIMS program this summer.
1. BIMS 1300. Introduction to Scientific Research is the first BIMS course taken by freshmen. It is an introduction to thinking about science in a different way – science as a process to engage in, not a bunch of facts to memorize. Dr. Tom Benoit is busy this summer adjusting its approach based on last year’s initial version to make it even more successful. The seminar portion will be completely re-done to expose students to what’s new in biomedical sciences around the world.
2. BIOL 1301. Unicellular Organisms is Dr. Benoit’s other course this fall. The course is so unique that finding an appropriate textbook is difficult. Expect the course to adjust its approach slightly to focus more on how cells work in order to emphasize what’s common to unicellular organisms, rather than on differences between various species.
3. BIOL 3410. Dr. Wilson is completely re-doing Microbiology this summer. The lecture will be aligned more closely with the textbook to help students study for exams, and the lab will feature 4-5 research projects within which all skills and knowledge for the lab portion of the course will be taught. Two projects will be a survey of fresh foods for the presence of coliforms and a survey of McMurry students for the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
4. BIOL 3460. Genetics will jump into high gear this year as Dr. Heidi DiFrancesca begins to orient students to the use of molecular biology technology at our disposal. Expect use of the DNA sequencer and rt-PCR in the lab.
5. BIMS 4320 and BIMS 4250. Junior and senior level BIMS courses will benefit from new equipment to support student research projects, and from a year of maturity in the program. Dr. D had students get the lab going last year and took baby steps in bringing it up to full capacity. This year we’ll hit the ground running.
6. BIMS 4201. The capstone course has been restructured to allow students to sign up with a BIMS faculty member to work on a project in their area of expertise. We can expect a wider variety of research projects this year as students join the research in their areas of interest. Cancer research, genetic engineering, bacterial spore physiology, and public health should all be represented by the end of the year.
The BIMS faculty will hold a retreat this summer to focus and connect our efforts. More updates will be coming on other aspects of BIMS improvements made this summer.