The University of Delaware has taken another step forward in its pursuit to provide exceptional instruction to its pre-med students. The Center for Health Profession Studies (CHPS) officially opened its new home in Pearson Hall — a permanent, upgraded location to meet the growing needs of undergrads pursing a variety of science degrees that will lead to careers in health and medicine.
“It’s been a real joy to watch the evolution of this effort,” said College of Arts and Sciences’ Dean George Watson. “This started from a realization that pre-med is not just about being a biology major. This center can have a big impact on launching our students into their medical careers.”
CHPS advises and trains pre-med students to become future healthcare professionals and research scientists. Center director David Barlow hopes to foster engagement of students not just in academic and clinical settings, but in service, global internships, living learning communities, student organizations and other out of classroom experiences that supplement formal education.
College of Health Sciences’ Dean Kathleen Matt said she sees CHPS as an opportunity to transform healthcare — nationally and in the state. She mentioned the Delaware Institute of Medical Education & Research Program (DIMER), which provides opportunities for Delawareans to obtain a high-quality medical education.
“It has always been challenging for residents of Delaware to achieve a seat in medical school. Having the DIMER program has helped tremendously,” explained Matt. “But the development of the Center for Health Profession Studies has changed the landscape. With the help of this center and the programs they offer, our students are now much more competitive — achieving placement in some of the nation’s top medical schools.”
CHPS helps students achieve success in career areas or roles, including medicine, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, physician assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, pharmacy, physical therapy and occupational therapy. The center advises 2,500 UD students each year.
One such student is medical diagnostics major Briyana Chisholm. Over the summer, she interned in the Resar Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, studying high mobility group proteins that enhance transcription of proto-oncogenes — genes that are typically involved in cancer. She specifically studied the under-examined HMGA2 protein.
“The protein has been implicated in a subset of aggressive cancers, primarily metastatic, and has been shown to correlate with the progression of the cancer,” said Chisholm, who has her sights set on medical school. “So we created a cell line that overexpresses the protein because we wanted to see what other genes are upregulated or downregulated when HMGA2 is upregulated or overexpressed. We found a lot of proteins implicated in other types of cancers.”