The translational research and therapeutics course has a unique structure unlike programs at other colleges, including fewer didactic lessons, a greater emphasis on applying team science skills and providing a bird’s eye view of each component of the translational research process within a single course. More than a dozen faculty members at the College of Medicine teach the students throughout the duration of the class, which includes learning about clinical trials as well as outcomes and public health policy.
“Incorporating team-based learning activities and team projects gives our students opportunities to immediately apply what they are learning via lectures and readings to problem-solving and experimental design situations, not just remember information for exams,” McCormack said. “That is what they will need to be able to do in the future as leaders of their own research teams.”
Ph.D. candidate Victoria Leroy, who is interested in pursuing a career in life sciences consulting, took the course during the first semester of her doctoral studies and said it opened her eyes to the different considerations that need to be made along the way for a drug’s development and success.
Leroy teamed up with classmates to design a mock treatment, develop clinical trials, undergo the Food and Drug Administration approval process and market it to patients.
“A lot of people don’t understand the time and money it takes to get pharmaceuticals to market,” she said. “For example, when actually getting it to market, you need to consider patient adherence and whether they will actually be interested in taking it, depending on factors like side effects and costs.”
As someone who is not planning on a career in clinical research, Leroy said she felt that partnering with her classmates helped bring together a variety of perspectives and knowledge needed to design a successful project in the class.
“It truly is a team effort to get from bench to bedside,” she said.