The University of Birmingham Medical School
A centre of innovative student, teaching, learning and research
William F. Doe, Dean
The School, founded in 1825, aims to provide students with an unparalleled clinical and learning experience. In the last four years the Birmingham Medical School has made substantial improvements to its teaching and support facilities including the building of a £2 Million Electronic Learning Centre, providing 300 computers and 16 small group teaching rooms that link to the School’s Biomedical Library, creating a learning facility that is open 24 hours a day seven days a week. A £12 million Student Facilities Complex, at the heart of the School to provide state-of-the art facilities including a large lecture theatre, small group teaching rooms and social space, will be completed by January 2005.
September 2000 saw the launch of ‘The Black Country Strategy’, to expand links with NHS partners in response to address the shortage of doctors and the severe inequalities of health and healthcare in Birmingham and the Black Country. The ‘Black Country Strategy’ presented an exciting development in the training of future doctors. By September 2003, the Medical School will have increased its annual intake by an additional 159 students, including 40 graduates, taking the total to 380. The project extends clinical training beyond Birmingham into general practices and district hospitals in the Black Country and Worcestershire providing unparalleled clinical experience for its students in both urban and rural settings. The expansion programme allows access to clinical teaching and research on patients drawn from a population of five million that is remarkably diverse in its socio-economic and ethnic make up. A Health impact assessment study will determine the effect of clinical training on deprivation within the Black Country and in Birmingham. In September 2002 New Cross Hospital, Sandwell General Hospital, Russell’s Hall Hospital, Worcestershire Royal Hospital and Good Hope Hospital opened their doors to third-year medical students for the first time.
In October 2003 the Medical School will be taking its first group of 40 Graduate Entry students who will be studying a four-year course.
A ‘Virtual Campus’ linking 11 teaching hospitals and 65 teaching General Practices has been established to enable broadband access to the School’s Electronic Curriculum and multimedia learning material, self assessment and email. The Virtual Campus therefore links the students and consultants in the teaching hospitals and Practices to the School providing close communication support for self learning and administration and for students’ social life. The School has an annual turnover in excess of £70 million and is recognised as one of the leading biomedical and clinical research centres in the UK. In the 2001 Research Assessment exercise the School achieved 5* ratings in Laboratory based sciences, Anatomy and 5 ratings in Hospital-based subjects, Neurosciences and Biochemistry. Research awards have almost doubled from £17.9 million in 1997-1998 to £35 million in 2001/2. The School’s research ethos is characterised by the co-location of high quality basic science and strong clinical research groups to create an environment conducive to the type of seminal discoveries that are able to bridge previously disparate fields and that often stem from clinical observations.
Over the last five years the School has been awarded one of the five UK Wellcome Centenary Clinical Research Facilities. In addition, joint Infrastructure Grants, totalling £25.04 million, have been awarded, and will contribute towards the costs of the Institute of Biomedical Research (£28 million) and the National Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Centre (£7 million). The School supports thematic interdisciplinary research related to cancer, neurosciences (including biological psychiatry), immunity and infection, and medical sciences, especially endocrinology, cardiovascular and metabolic medicine with particular emphasis on translation of discoveryinto patient benefit.
The Medical School is expanding at a fast rate and it is, I am sure, becoming unrecognisable to many of our former students. What we can be assured of, however, is that the Medical School continues to be in the very front line of medical research and teaching and remains something of which we can all be so justly proud.