When the University of Arizona and Arizona State University partnered to bring the College of Medicine to the downtown Phoenix campus, it was hailed by both state colleges as the beginning of a successful relationship.
Now, less than two years removed from the day the doors opened for the first class of medical students, the dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, Ahwatukee Foothills resident Dr. Stuart Flynn, said that the potential in future research will lead the young school to national recognition.
It is a focus that President Barack Obama has been championing for since his initial run for office. Biomedical informatics could pave way for a system of seamlessly sharing medical information through technological means but still providing the utmost privacy for patients.
"If you are paying attention to Obama with e-health records, well that is biomedical informatics," Flynn said. "(Up until now) training for doctors in this field has been very minimal and nominal. But it is imbedded in our curriculum (at the College of Medicine). It will eventually become as important to our students as their stethoscopes."
The advantages of such a system, as stated by Obama, is that it will reduce the cost of health care and the decrease mistakes caused by doctors not knowing a patient's full medical history. The difficulty is creating a system with sufficient patient confidentiality.
"The thing in the United States, it will start with patient confidentiality. Everything starts there, so whatever barriers you run in to it will guard patient confidentiality," Flynn said. "But the medical records issue, you would like that to be seamless... We have the ingredients and recipe to be national leaders."
Flynn came to the Valley in July 2006 after 20 years at Yale University to develop and design the curriculum that is now in place at the College of Medicine - Phoenix. He was named dean of the college last week after serving as interim dean since May 2008.
"It's a pretty sweet curriculum," said Flynn, who graduated from the University of Michigan and went on to do his postdoctoral work at Stanford.
He said a medical school has three areas of focus: education, health care and the adoption of a research mission.
"Our research mission is pretty robust," Flynn said. "The plan is to build three centers of excellence in research."
The three centers he mentioned are cancer, neurological sciences and diabetes and obesity.
"So in the field of cancer, we might very quickly focus on, because there is a need, women's cancer, notably breast cancer; and in men's cancer, notably prostate cancer," Flynn said.
The College of Medicine opened its doors in August 2007 and currently has a 48-student class size. Flynn said he would like to see it grow to 150 after expansion efforts that will be coming in the future.
"The reality is, I think, if we do an appropriate job advantaging these two universities, it will be successful," he said. "Right now space is the limiting step."