The future of health care education, research and practice is gaining a class of bright and ambitious graduates from the University of Arizona Health Sciences International dual-degree program.
Amidst the global pandemic in the fall 2020, Health Sciences International launched a dual-degree master’s program in cellular and molecular medicine with the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University in India.
“COVID-19 raised our awareness of and sensitivity to global health issues to a new level,” said Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president for the University of Arizona Health Sciences. “Through Health Sciences International, we’re pursuing even more opportunities to ensure the professionals we educate will be helping to solve the world’s health care challenges.”
In October, Amrita University recognized 13 dual-degree graduates with UArizona stoles and pins during a convocation ceremony on its Amritapuri campus. According to Carol Gregorio, PhD, director of Health Sciences International and head of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, the new graduates bring the total number of dual-degree recipients to 30 in the two years since the program began.
“It was a proud moment for all the students, parents and fellow faculty members assembled at the ceremony,” said Bipin Kumar G. Nair, PhD, Dean of the School of Biotechnology in Amritapuri. “I am proud to say that these students have proved their propensity by surpassing all challenges and maintaining persistence in excelling in the best way possible for their brighter career prospects. This would inspire the new batch of aspiring candidates looking forward to joining the dual-degree program.”
Bringing the world closer together
Health Sciences International, an initiative of UArizona Health Sciences, is an innovative partnership that enables students in India to complete a United States-accredited degree without traveling to the U.S. The students can earn one of several degrees from Amrita University and a Master of Science in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from UArizona.
Coursework and office hours are offered in an innovative format and virtual environment, allowing Amrita students to connect in real-time with UArizona faculty. Amrita dual-degree students obtain fundamental knowledge of the normal structure and function of the major organs of the human body, the major types of diseases that afflict those organs, as well as opportunities, strategies, and approaches to prevent or treat such diseases.
“I have gained more than just science, I have made amazing friends from all over the world.”
Degrees offered by Amrita include a Master of Science in bioinformatics, biotechnology or microbiology from the School of Biotechnology at the Amritapuri Campus. On Amrita’s Kochi Campus, students at the Center for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine can earn a Master of Science or Master of Technology in molecular medicine and nanobiotechnology.
Dual-degree graduates are well equipped to continue their education in doctoral or professional programs or pursue careers in academic and biomedical research.
“All of us here at Amrita truly value the amazing partnership that we have created and hope to continue striving to achieve even higher peaks of excellence,” Dr. Nair said.
More than ‘just’ science
Students in the dual-degree program can further their education through research internships on the UArizona Health Sciences campus in Tucson, Arizona. The internships provide students including Sparsha Pallen an opportunity to gain research experience in an American research lab.
Pallen and seven other graduating students missed Amrita’s convocation ceremonies in India because they were participating in research internships in Tucson. Pallen says she will be taking home more than laboratory and research skills when she returns to India.
“I have gained more than just science, I have made amazing friends from all over the world,” said Pallen, a research intern in the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson. “During my stay with one of my lab members, I tasted different cuisines, learned about multiple cultures and experienced life in an American family. Despite being 8,750 miles away from home, I felt at home.”
The dual-degree program is only the start of what the graduates will be capable of doing, and the program itself has bigger aspirations.
“We continue to develop new global partnerships and expand our relationship with existing partners,” Dr. Gregorio said. “We also continue to reach out to our colleagues in all Health Sciences colleges to develop new online programs that will have global impact.”