Revolutionizing healthcare

The Carle Illinois College of Medicine is redefining what a medical school can be.

By Kim Schmidt

Images courtesy of University News Bureau

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has partnered with Carle Health System to create a new kind of medical school by infusing a decidedly Illinois strength into the curriculum: a focus on engineering and innovation.

By blending a human-centered approach with our strengths in engineering, graduates of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine will be trained to be problem-solvers, coming up with new technologies, systems, and approaches to patient care.

The College expects its first class to begin in 2018. For now, the faculty is hard at work developing the unique courses that will fill the curriculum. The Carle Illinois College of Medicine differentiates itself by adding two very important components to its core curriculum. In addition to coursework in basic and clinical sciences, students at Illinois will also dive deep into medical humanities and engineering/innovation courses.

“Our engineering and data science are second-to-none and we’re using that expertise to address a deeply unmet need—to use technology to make medicine more human,” said Dr. King Li, dean of the College. “Our inaugural class is selected not just for academic aptitude, but for compassion, competence, curiosity and creativity.”

Dr. King Li, dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, leads a faculty drawn from nine colleges as well as physicians from the Carle Health System.

A wide variety of perspectives will fuel this focus on human-centered innovation. Faculty at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine come from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, College of Applied Health Sciences, College of Business, College of EducationCollege of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Media, School of Social Work, College of Veterinary Medicine, and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign. Faculty are also drawn from the medical staff of the Carle Health System, an integrated system of hospitals, a 400-member physician group and health plan, consistently recognized for providing quality care to a population of 1.3 million people.

Below, explore a little bit of what we’re bringing to the future of medicine.

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Tiny exports signal big shifts in cancer tissue. Stephen Boppart, Bliss Professor of Engineering, recently led research finding that detecting changes in and around cancer cells, especially in vesicles, tiny packages that transport things in and out of the cell, can signal critical changes to a cancer’s progression. Boppart hopes that the findings will open new avenues of exploration for cancer detection, progression, and treatment. The researchers have developed a portable version of an imaging device for use in operating rooms and biopsy suites, and are now testing whether it can identify increased vesicle production in cancer patients and assess how aggressive a tumor is. Read More…
Quick test finds signs of sepsis in a single drop of blood. A new portable device can quickly find markers of deadly, unpredictable sepsis infection from a single drop of blood. A team of researchers from the University of Illinois and Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Illinois, completed a clinical study of the device, which is the first to provide rapid, point-of-care measurement of the immune system’s response, without any need to process the blood. This can help doctors identify sepsis at its onset, monitor infected patients and could even point to a prognosis, said research team leader Rashid Bashir, a professor of bioengineering at the U. of I. and the executive associate dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Read more…
‘Molecular prosthetics’ can replace missing proteins to treat disease. Researchers have demonstrated that a small molecule can transport iron in human cells and live animals when proteins that normally do the same job are missing, a condition that often causes severe anemia in patients. Such “molecular prosthetics” might treat a host of incurable diseases caused by protein deficiencies, such as anemias, cystic fibrosis or certain types of heart disease. “If you’ve lost a hand, even a simple prosthetic device is really helpful. In the same way, we found that a small molecule that replicates the main job of a missing protein can be sufficient to restore functionality in cells and animals,” said Dr. Martin D. Burke, the leader of the study. Burke is a professor of chemistry at Illinois and the interim associate dean for research at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Read more…
Antibiotic breakthrough: Team discovers how to overcome gram-negative bacterial defenses. One of the most significant public health issues facing us today is the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. A team of scientists led by Illinois chemistry professor Paul Hergenrother report that they now know how to build a molecular Trojan horse that can penetrate gram-negative bacteria, solving a problem that for decades has stalled the development of effective new antibiotics against these increasingly drug-resistant microbes. Read more…
Researchers uncover genetic similarities between unresponsive honey bees and autism in humans. Honey bees that consistently fail to respond to obvious social cues share something fundamental with autistic humans, researchers report in a new study. Genes most closely associated with autism spectrum disorders in humans are regulated differently in unresponsive honey bees than in their more responsive nest mates, the study found. The findings, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, appear to be unique to genes associated with autism and not to other behavioral disorders in humans. The study offers an early glimpse of the molecular heritage shared across the animal kingdom, the researchers say, and offers tantalizing clues about the evolution of social behavior. Read more…

Learn more about how you can support the inaugural class of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

This story was published .