We live longer, and we grow older and older. But what can we do to have a healthier life?
Our course will explore the new challenges in medicine in the fields of genomics, intelligent cures and personalized medicine, along with the technologies that make all of these possible, such as genome editing, new generation sequencing, bioinformatics and data analysis.
We will also look at the social and ethical questions behind this new approach: Who will access such private and fundamental information as DNA data? What does genome editing mean for our identity?
This new way of doing medicine has created blooming professions, such as data analysts, cultural mediators, biotechnologists, bioinformaticians and medicine communicators.
In the EU, jobs for health professionals - such as health practitioners, nursing professionals, and paramedicals - grew by 9% in the past five years. Jobs for health associate professionals - such as lab technicians and medical assistants - grew by 13%. Overall, they account for 6% of all jobs in the EU. As of 2016, around 13 million European health workers are employed. Most of them work in the health & social care sector. A small minority of health professionals works in other sectors - for example as consultants, professors, or public servants. In the next years, jobs for health professionals will increase by 5%, and jobs for health associates will increase by 10%.
RRI has been introduced in the medicine course contents following:
All contents related to Medicine modules focus on the newest medical fields opened up by the genomics era. This choice has been made keeping several RRI concepts in mind, and in particular the importance of challenging students with all the ethical, societal and gender-related dilemmas and opportunities provided by these innovative scenarios. These materials are thus tailored to make students aware that the medical field is now reaching a critical turning point where the direction the future research and legislation will take is in their hands.
When dealing with health, people often expect physicians to provide them certainties that are often impossible to grant. In our materials, we aimed at conveying this complex scenario by including a module related to the ethical implications related to the biomedical field, by describing several cutting-edge technologies (e.g. gene editing) that give rise to whole new promising and yet controversial horizons, by showing students the distance that is still to be covered to reach the so called “precision medicine”, so often discussed and yet missing even in the simple differentiation of male and female pharmacology.
More information on RRI 10 Ideas: https://zenodo.org/record/1303805#.W1H_03jdhF0
Learn by Play and Educational Games
All the practical activities proposed for the medicine modules have been designed based on a “learn by play” approach. We developed quiz (for gender medicine and epigenetics), simulation exercises (proof reading activities in genome editing module), role play games (for precision medicine), decision making games (for bioethics) and practical experiments using pre-existing web platform and web tools (for big data). The core idea of all this variety of activities is to transfer information engaging pupils, but moreover to transfer a new way of thinking at problems medicine is facing, helping them to develop tools of critical thinking and problem solving.
The activities proposed in the big data module of medicine are also based on the principles of citizen science and learning via experiment. Pupils are required, using pre-existing web platform, to be engaged in different experiments with big data where they can give an actual contributions working form their remote via internet. For example, in the "Eyewire project", pupils can help researchers of MIT to identify, in a complex 3d model obtained by many imaging data, neuronal connections of the retina.