Encouraging advances in personalized medicine have demonstrated that grave diseases are as distinct in character as the individuals they afflict. Our current genomic age provides exceptional opportunities to identify genetic changes that are responsible for diseases, and to foster an understanding of how such changes cause disease. In the clinical arena, it is now possible to use genetic information to diagnose and treat patients. The heart of current healthcare innovation, diagnostics are involved in more than 60 percent of clinical decisions, and the industry employs nearly 4 million people across the globe. Diagnostics are essential to personalized medicine-the practice of directing drugs and treatments to those for whom they will be most effective, and an individual's clinical, genomic, and environmental information is used to more precisely select medication and dosage for each patient. The field promises several opportunities to improve therapeutic care and reduce costs of treatment, including risk assessment, early detection, and definitive diagnosis and treatment. (1)
Arizona State University and Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland recently announced an exciting cooperative initiative, in partnership with Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., to form the new International School of Biomedical Diagnostics. The innovative school-which will offer the first degree program of its kind-is at the vanguard of establishing diagnostics as an independent discipline.
The schools are natural partners, as they are young institutions committed to serving the needs of their respective communities and countries through an entrepreneurial approach to higher education. Their complementary expertise will be applied to focus areas of research. The partnership has been a while growing. Researchers from Arizona State University and Dublin City University have been working together in areas of shared interest for seven years, and the new school exemplifies the intention of both universities to create a more structured arrangement. In early 2014, the universities also announced the "Transatlantic Higher Education Partnership," which detailed plans to offer joint programs on student entrepreneurship, developing age-friendly universities and setting up a healthcare research initiative called BioDesign Europe. (2)
The new school's United States and European locations are both well-rooted diagnostic research hubs. In the United States, Arizona is a growing academic and industrial hub for diagnostics, home to large American diagnostics research laboratories and non-profit organizations, as well as pioneering diagnostic corporations such as Ventana Medical Systems. Arizona State University is a leader in the field with its Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics and the newly established National Biomarker Development Alliance. In Ireland, Dublin City University hosts the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, an elite integrative research institute focused on the development of continuous point-of-care biomedical diagnostic devices. The new program will help create a skilled workforce in Arizona and Ireland that can fill a growing industry need. Since diagnostics influences every facet of health care, including pharmaceutical and technology development, patient management, health care finance and healthcare policy, graduates from this groundbreaking program will be better prepared to transform healthcare. (3)
The new school is bolstered by several valuable resources of each institution. At Dublin City University, the school will draw upon the award-winning MSc in Biomedical Diagnostics program based at the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, and upon expertise from its faculties of Science and Health, Engineering and Computing, as well as its Business School. Dublin City University is ranked among the top 50 Universities worldwide (QS 'Top 50 under 50' 2012), and has twice been named Sunday Times University of the Year. (4)
"The new international diagnostics Master's program is on the cutting edge of establishing diagnostics as an independent discipline," says Mara G. Aspinall, President and CEO, Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. "The core curriculum for this school has four key areas: the technology and science of diagnostics, the information of diagnostics, the business of diagnostics, and the application of diagnostics including how diagnostics fits into the healthcare continuum."
Classes are set to begin in the fall of 2014, with degrees offered by both institutions. The first degree offered will be an international Master of Science in Biomedical Diagnostics. It is a 30-credit degree program taught by faculty from both universities, and other leading industry partners. The school expects to enroll 100 students per year within its first five years, and the academic programs will attract students from a mix of recent college graduates and those already working in the industry and looking to further their careers. The program will employ a progressive pedagogical approach with both virtual instruction and in-person classroom elements. There will be opportunities for students to take advantage of research or industry immersion programs, as well as internship experiences at both locations. The program culminates with an applied project that students complete with industry and academic partners. (3)
Graduates will also be armed with a thorough knowledge of the regulatory issues on both sides of the Atlantic. "The program will create highly qualified graduates for the fast-growing global diagnostics industry," says Aspinall. University leaders expect that the new school will improve the lives of individuals of all ages, create intellectual property, and attract foreign direct investment, not to mention the important aspect of job creation.
1. Partnership for Personalized Medicine; http://biodesign.asu.edu/file/ppm_information.pdf
2. World News Network. (September 2013). ASU, Dublin City University Announce Major Transatlantic Higher Education Partnership. Retrieved from http://article.wn.com/view/2013/09/17/ASU_Dublin_City_University_announce_major_Transatlantic_High/
3. Caspermeyer, J. (January 07, 2014). Arizona State University Biodesign Institute; ASU to launch International School of Biomedical Diagnostics. Retrieved from http://www.biodesign.asu.edu/news/asu-to-launch-international-school-of-biomedical-diagnostics-
4. Biomedical Diagnostics Institute; Partnership. Retrieved from http://www.bdi.ie/about/partnership.html
5. Bucher, J. (2014). First International School of Biomedial Diagnostics Breaking New Ground. [Press Release]. Sent via email from firstname.lastname@example.org.