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Queen's University
 

Internal Academic Review Committee
Report on the Review of the Basic Medical Sciences

This review encompassed the Departments of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology, Pharmacology & Toxicology, Physiology, and Pathology, including the Life Sciences concentration. Members of the Internal Academic Review Committee remarked on the high quality of the Review Team's Report, which included the External Consultants' assessment. This review was the most complex undertaken to date, and the Internal Academic Review Committee wishes to thank the Review Team for completing such a challenging assignment.

In reviewing the documentation, the Committee observed a lack of congruence between the responses of the Dean and Department Heads, and the observations and recommendations of the External Consultants and Review Team. The Internal Academic Review Committee perceived that the review needed more serious attention by the departments involved both in its planning stages and in the formal responses to the recommendations.

On the positive side, the Internal Academic Review Committee was pleased to be made aware of the particular research strength in Biochemistry and of the high quality of the Life Sciences program. The Dean's commitment to undertake a review of the Life Sciences program was viewed as a positive initiative that could make what is already an academically sound curriculum even better, and that could also address the concerns raised about accommodating students in this popular program.

The most difficult issue with which the Internal Academic Review Committee grappled concerned assessing the importance that should be attached to negative findings emanating in the first instance from the External Consultants and, in many cases, amplified by the Review Team. The Committee felt that these findings could have been tempered to a significant degree had the units prepared a better self study.

Nonetheless, the Internal Academic Review Committee suspects there are substantive issues that require attention.

The Internal Academic Review Committee recommends that the Basic Medical Sciences Departments undergo another internal academic review to be initiated in May 2001, and that the Vice-Principal (Academic) be asked to coordinate this review with the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. The Committee further recommends that, during the next two years, the Basic Medical Sciences Departments be asked to give the most serious consideration to the recommendations of the External Consultants and Review Team. Follow-up will also occur as part of the annual staffing and budget strategy meetings between the Dean and the Vice-Principal (Academic).

January 5, 1999

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INTERNAL ACADEMIC REVIEW
BASIC MEDICAL SCIENCES
Executive Summary of the Review Team Report

The six basic medical science departments are: Anatomy and Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Physiology and the Department of Pathology. Pathology has a much larger involvement in clinical medicine than the other departments. All aspects of the departments were subject to the review except for their contributions to educational and training programs within the Faculty of Health Sciences, and hospital activities.

The Life Sciences undergraduate program to which all the departments contribute is highly regarded by students and faculty, and was praised by the External Consultants. However, both immediate and long-term enrolment problems are symptoms of structural problems in the program which should be addressed. There may also be a dichotomy between the objectives of the faculty with regard to the specialized nature of the Subject of Specialization program on the one hand, and the expectations of the students, many of whom use the program as preparation for medical school and other professional health related programs.

Each of the departments has a masters and a doctoral program and these were found to be in a healthy state. However, the proportion of former Queen's undergraduate students in the graduate programs is high, and except for Biochemistry, there is a greater emphasis on the masters programs than would be expected in strong research departments. An energetic campaign to recruit the best students from across the country and abroad into the graduate programs, and special emphasis on the doctoral programs is recommended. The departments might also consider the academic benefits and efficiencies which would follow from combining certain of their activities at the graduate level; for instance, developing a common set of departmental regulations, and conducting common recruitment and advertising.

All the departments have significant research activity and recent hiring is facilitating the development of strong research programs. The Biochemistry Department shows particular strength and success in research. Pathology is also a strong research department, and would compare well with Biochemistry were there a greater emphasis on the PhD program and a larger complement of postdoctoral fellows. Other departments contain distinguished individual researchers.

The research interests in several of the departments are converging and the traditional discipline boundaries are becoming blurred. The Team feels it would be timely for the departments to review their organization and investigate alternative structures which might allow greater advantage to be taken of new research and teaching opportunities.

Review Team

Dr. Barrie Frost, Department of Psychology
Mr. Lawrence Killen, Leaming Resources Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences
Dr. Sandra Olney, School of Rehabilitation Therapy
Dr. Malcolm Stott, Department of Physics (Chair)
Dr. Donald Weaver, Departments of Medicine and Chemistry
Mr. Shafique Jarnal, Graduate Student, Department of Electrical Engineering

June 12, 1998

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