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Map of Life: First-of-a-Kind Course Brings Advances in Genomics to Medical Professionals

Prof. Malcolm Campbell

Prof. Malcolm Campbell leads the new "Medical Genomics 101" course. He is the coauthor, with colleagues Prof. Chris Paradise and Prof. Laurie Heyer, of the pioneering Integrating Concepts in Biology, a digital textbook lauded for its novel, highly effective method of teaching students about science.

Davidson College and its medical education partners have launched the first ever continuing medical education course offered through global online leader edX.org. The new genomics course lets medical professionals glean the latest on advances in mapping and analysis of human genes, the instruction manuals for how humans develop and function, without sacrificing time with patients.

Davidson teamed up with Carolinas HealthCare System and the Charlotte Area Health Education Center to put the primer, "Medical Genomics 101," online through edX.org, a worldwide leader in MOOCs, or massively open online courses. Now, doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can complete a thorough, focused review of the rapidly evolving genomics field that is making personalized medicine possible.

With advances in DNA sequencing technologies, it has become practical and affordable for patients to have their individual genes, their genome, mapped out. That information could soon allow medical professionals to tailor treatment to individual patients -- GPS directions for aiding the ill.

"With our partners at Carolinas HealthCare, we are giving medical professionals an introduction to genomics, a field that is already transforming medical care. I'm excited to see this course reach a global audience through edX so that healthcare providers can incorporate genomics into their practices. We look forward to developing a more in-depth Advanced Medical Genomics course that will expand on topics presented in this first course," said Biology Professor Malcolm Campbell, a pioneer in genomics education.

Campbell, director of Davidson's James G. Martin Genomics Program, leads the course using curriculum he developed with AHEC Director Michael Ruhlen, M.D., and that is designed to benefit clinicians from all areas of practice. A half-dozen experts from Carolinas HealthCare will participate, explaining the application of genomics principles in their practices.

"This partnership marks a significant evolution in continuing education at Carolinas HealthCare and Charlotte Area Health Education Center," Ruhlen said. "Our doctors can now learn about genomics from Dr. Campbell, one of the finest professors in this particular academic field, while hearing from their clinician peers. And we expect this course to benefit patients as well. The flexibility an online class offers will give doctors more time to devote to patients."

The goal of the international, collaborative research program known as the Human Genome Project (HGP) was to map and increase understanding of the genes of human beings. Every genome is unique. The 13-year project sequenced DNA pooled from a range of individuals, revealing that there are around 30,000 human genes.

The course is composed of six modules that highlight new insights in the field of genomics and explores the ethical, legal and social implications that they raise. For a fee of $199, medical professionals can receive up to two hours of CME credit upon completion of the self-paced course and accompanying assessments.

"We are honored to partner with Carolinas HealthCare to launch the first continuing medical education course on edX.org," said Davidson College President Carol Quillen. "This course is a great example of both institutions' commitment to innovation and deploying technology to make education more adaptive to students' and professionals' needs. The rapid integration of genomics concepts into clinical practice makes this a project that could soon benefit patients around the world."

The nonprofit edX was launched by Harvard University and MIT in 2012. Davidson joined the edX consortium in 2013 as a charter member and has developed 14 courses for high school, undergraduate and now professional development students.

Related Information

Biology Professor Malcolm Campbell is a pioneer in genomics education. Visit his media experts page for additional information about the study of genomics.

Jay Pfeifer
japfeifer@davidson.edu
704-894-2920