Dublin students next year will get a chance to investigate gene therapy, cellular biology and other biomedical subjects through a new academy.
Dublin City Schools' Biomedical Research Academy will kick off next fall, offering credits in Advanced Placement Biology, body systems, medical interventions, introduction to biomedical research, 3D art and technical writing.
"There's been a big movement in science education to incorporate more (science, technology, engineering and math)-based learning. So Dublin, as usual, is trying to stay on the cutting edge of these kinds of programs," said Roger Rabold, who will teach the year-long academy.
The district asked Rabold to design the academy that is open to all Dublin high school students and will be taught at Scioto High School for three periods in the afternoon.
The academy is one of four available to students next fall and is funded by a STEM grant from Race to the Top, said Eydie Schilling executive director of learning and teaching.
"We're doing a lot of planning to get the academies ready," Schilling said.
"The STEM grant will support the Biomedical Research Academy, the Environmental Academy, Engineering Academy and Business Academy."
Rabold won't be the only one to educate the new academy, though.
The 20-year teacher said he's planning speakers and hopes to get some researchers to address the class over Skype.
"It'll be a heavy dose of AP Biology, physiology and applications of medical technologies," Rabold said.
"The approach will be primarily problem-based learning. Students will learn with real-life problems."
Learning for a possible future in the medical field will be a focus of the new academy, but research will also come into play as students must complete a capstone research project by the end of the year.
"By the end of the first semester they should have a strong grip on carrying out research," Rabold said.
Experiments are planned for the classroom that include modeling and collecting data such as heart rate and EKG, but students will also get a chance to gain experience in the real world.
Rabold said he's working on creating partnerships with local doctors, specialists and hospitals.
"My vision is it will involve field experience, but more glorified shadowing rather than internships," he said, noting students won't be at places long enough for an internship.
Much of the new academy will involve medical-related lessons, but Rabold said he wouldn't limit participating students by interest in the medical field.
"I'm guessing the majority (of students) will have medical aspirations, but I wouldn't exclude anybody because of lack of interest (in medicine)... . Ideally if they do a strong job they'll have a formal research document that could benefit them in other ways."
To be in the Biomedical Research Academy, students must fill out an online interest form by March 1 and a formal application by March 15. Students accepted into the program should be notified in April.
Rabold isn't sure what the level of interest will be in the first year, but said the class should top out at about 24.
"There was tremendous interest at the (Jan. 23) parent meeting," he said.