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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

University of Dayton launches new minors in neuroscience and life science quality assurance

By Dave Larsen

Allison Eastburn of Pittsburgh will blaze a new trail this fall when she enters the University of Dayton as a first-year premedical major. To expand her potential career options beyond becoming a physician, she plans to declare for the College of Arts and Sciences’ new quality assurance in life science industries minor.

“I believe this minor will enhance my knowledge of the biotech industry, which is extremely important to be aware of in the medical field,” Eastburn said. “It will also give me the ability to pursue an occupation in the medical field without having to be a doctor, if I decide in the future that is what I want. I like that it will give me options.”

Quality assurance in life science industries is one of two new, interdisciplinary science minors being introduced during the 2020-21 academic year to help prepare students for careers in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and biomedical device industries.

Housed in premedical programs, the life science quality assurance minor provides students with the skills to assure product quality, safety and efficacy, and meet the industry’s scientific and business challenges. The curriculum includes industry-specific courses about regulatory and legal requirements, product development and risk analysis, as well as microbiology and business courses.

The quality assurance minor is a partnership with Pathway for Patient Health (PPH), a Cincinnati-based independent organization that offers universities a free, cooperative education program which includes a curriculum developed by life science industry and government leaders.

“Pathway for Patient Health is working with industry partners that include AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Procter & Gamble,” said Kathleen Scheltens, premedical programs director. “They are providing training to students and then connecting those students with industry, to establish a pipeline.”

PPH provides content for online and in-person courses, as well as industry experts who will visit campus to present to students in the classroom. In conjunction with an online summer course, Risk and Failure Analysis, students will intern with one of the organization’s industry partners, gaining both valuable work experience and networking opportunities.

The College also is launching a new minor in neuroscience, housed in the Department of Biology and designed for biomedical science students with academic, research or professional interests in the field of neuroscience. It provides strong foundational knowledge of the biological functions of the nervous system and its relationship to behavior and brain disorders.

“Neuroscience is one of the most exciting, dynamic and rapidly evolving interdisciplinary scientific fields and has been characterized as the last frontier in science,” said Pothitos “Takis” Pitychoutis, associate professor of biology and neuroscience minor coordinator. His research focuses on preclinical neuropsychopharmacology and behavioral neuroscience.

“The goal of our newly founded neuroscience minor program is to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the function of the nervous system and the biological bases of behavior,” Pitychoutis added. “We believe this novel interdisciplinary minor will specifically appeal to biomedically-oriented science majors who wish to explore the mysteries of the brain, and further pursue careers in medicine and other health professions, academic neuroscience research, clinical psychology, or in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industry.”

Jacob Wagner, a senior premedicine major from Hudson, Ohio, plans to attend medical school after graduation. He said the minor will lay the groundwork for his success by providing a complete, holistic understanding of neuroscience through its combination of neurobiology, biomedical and psychology course requirements.

“The biology and biochemistry courses are critical to understanding the physiology of the brain, but the psychology courses evaluate and explain the consequences of normality and irregularity within the nervous system,” Wagner said. “This dynamic intrigued me because I can apply the material learned in the neurobiology, physiology or biochemistry courses to abnormal psychology and the dysregulations that cause psychological conditions.”

The life science quality assurance minor is open to all majors. The neuroscience minor is open to all science majors. Both minors require 16 semester hours and launch during the 2020 fall semester.

For more information about the quality assurance minor, visit the Premedical programs website.

For more information about the neuroscience minor, visit the Department of Biology website.

Photo, top of page: Pothitos “Takis” Pitychoutis

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