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Wednesday, 29 August 2012 15:28

WMU starts adding med school faculty

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Vandre Vandre
KALAMAZOO — Western Michigan University has started adding faculty to its School of Medicine, which is scheduled to welcome its first class in the fall 2014.

On Tuesday, the university announced it had recruited its first basic scientist. Dale Vandré, Ph.D. is set to join WMU in November as the founding chair of the department of biomedical sciences. Vandré currently holds a position at Ohio State University’s College of Medicine as the vice chair of the department of physiology and cell biology.

At Ohio State, Vandré’s also served as assistant dean of foundational science and director of the integrated pathway program, the primary educational track for nearly 400 first-and-second-year medical students.

“We selected Dr. Vandré because it’s a great match for us,” said Hal Jenson, dean of the WMU School of Medicine. “He has been deeply involved in developing the first- and second-year student curriculum at Ohio State and was the co-chair of their curriculum redesign this year. In addition to that, he has been a well-funded researcher and will help us as we develop our own research programs.”

Initially, Vandré’s role at WMU will be to recruit additional basic science faculty, refine curriculum and develop basic and translational research programs. To start the search, Vandré said he will look inward to the faculty at WMU.

“I already know that we have talented faculty in the basic sciences at WMU that are eager to participate in the medical school. I have already contacted a few colleagues that I might be able to encourage to join me at Western,” Dr. Vandré said. “This is an incredibly difficult time for basic science research faculty that are solely dependent upon funding from government sources, so I believe that we will be able to attract some very talented people to Kalamazoo.”

The opportunity to hand-select and recruit a group of biomedical educators was what sold Vandré on the position at WMU, he said. Starting with a clean slate allows him to assemble faculty that have both the desire and skill to train medical students, something that he said was not given the same attention for first-year and second-year students at Ohio State.

“Of the more than 200 hundred faculty I oversee that participate in the current course, the majority are only engaged with students for 1 to 2 hours over the two years of the basic science curriculum,” he said. “This makes it difficult at best to generate continuity in the material that is presented from one presentation to the next, as most faculty have such a limited engagement with the curriculum that they don’t have the interest or take the time to become more involved.”

Part of Vandré’s future objectives will include establishing some research initiatives.

“I hope to continue with some of my current medical education research activities in the immediate future at Western Michigan, but I will be temporarily withdrawing from lab research to focus on building the department,” he said. “Once I have begun to hire the faculty, we will take a closer look at how best our faculty can contribute to research activities.”

Over the next couple of weeks, Vandré and his wife will make a trip to look at housing options in the Kalamazoo area.

Jenson said the school’s accreditation results are expected in October.

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