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Biomedical Sciences Program Sees Enrollment Increase

 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXASOCTOBER 11, 2013 Erika C. Espinosa, 27, a University of Texas at Brownsville freshman biomedical sciences major from Edinburg and a graduate of Edinburg North High School, was inspired to select the degree program because of her family’s history of diabetes and cancer.
 
“It gives me the opportunity to learn and grow as a research scientist,” said Espinosa. “It will help me to better understand diseases that are present in my family, not only for them but for the Hispanic community as well.”
 
The Department of Biomedicine saw a significant increase this fall in students pursuing the bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences.
 
The degree program began during the 2012-13 academic year with 37 students, said Dr. Michael Lehker, Chair of the Department of Biomedicine and Associate Dean of the College of Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions.
 
Dr. Kari Brewer-Savannah, right, works with students Andrea Fragoso, Miriam De Leon and Erica De Leon 
This year’s cohort has 110 students, 20 of which are in the new Accelerated Professional Relevant Integrated Medical Education – Transformation of Medical Education track within the degree program. The APRIME-TIME initiative is a pre-med/medical program enabling students to complete a bachelor’s degree and a doctor of medicine degree in six years.
 
Lehker attributed the growth to the degree’s format. Students take 120 semester credit hours with full-semester and partial-semester classes. Besides the general core curriculum, biomedical sciences majors take classes like Introductory Molecular Biology, Introductory Cell Biology, Neurochemistry and Introductory Medical Genetics.
 
“Students immediately got the sense that we not only have outstanding educators with impeccable credentials, but faculty that deeply care for their success,” said Lehker. “Our first class gave great testimonials to that effect.”
 
Several professors are using the Flip Teaching method with students listening to lectures and watching videos online at home and solving real-life case studies individually and in groups in the classroom.
 
“The curriculum is tailored to have a real evaluation of human anatomy, physiology, molecular biology and genetics as well as new approaches in contemporary medicine,” said Dr. Hugo Rodriguez, an Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Physiology in the Department of Biomedicine and APRIME-TIME Program Director who is using Flip Teaching. “Also, our best ambassadors are the students, aided by social media, who are representing our department in different events promoting the program and talking about the program.”
 
Lehker said several representatives of the department did outreach and recruitment at Cameron County’s high schools, but students from outside the county also learned about the  degree through the university’s website and department emails.
 
Esther Naomi Chavez, 18, a freshman biomedical sciences major from Laredo and a graduate of J.B. Alexander High School in Laredo, chose the APRIME-TIME track to pursue because she wants to become a trauma surgeon and practice in south Texas where she was raised.
 
“Being a BMED major has most definitely challenged every bit of who I am and who I have been,” said Chavez. “It keeps you in check of everything that you do and how you spend your time. Having a new class every four weeks gives you no room to slack off, which means that as a BMED major, you are always on your toes making sure you take advantage of all the time given to you.”
 
For more information on the Department of Biomedicine contact 956-882-5000 or collegeofbiomedicalsciences@utb.edu.

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