Creant comunitat per als nous estudiants universitaris: el cas de la medicina personalitzada

ImageGràcies a l’Inside Higher Education he vist que moltes universitats americanes, per tal de crear vincles amb els seus futurs estudiants (tan si provenen de l’ensenyament preuniversitari com si venen per trasllat d’una altra universitat) assignen un petit treball o tasca per fer abans de començar el curs.

Em sembla francament un tema molt interessant, i crec que fa caliu entre els nous estudiants a una universitat. Pel que fa a la Universitat de California, Berkeley, hi he vist una cosa innovadora (i no ho dic perquè sigui la meva): aquest any la Facultat de Ciències i Lletres (amb uns 18000 estudiants) demana fer un treball sobre medicina personalitzada, on cada futur estudiant envia una mostra de cèl.lules cutànies, i té material per reflexionar sobre el futur i diferents qüestions d’aquesta disciplina.

This year, said Mark Schlissel, the college’s dean of biological sciences, a look at personalized medicine made sense. “For now, it’s mostly a research tool, but in the coming years it’s going to become part of everyday medical practice, based on your very personal genetics.”

Geneticists will analyze each sample for three genes: metabolism of folate, tolerance of lactose and metabolism of alcohol, all relatively innocuous and perhaps useful in students’ daily lives. Students will be able to use that information to learn if they should eat more leafy green vegetables, steer clear of milk products or limit alcohol intake.

The idea is not to identify potentially dangerous genes in students’ samples, but to point out traits that can be managed through behavior, said Jasper Rine, a professor of genetics, genomics and development. “We want to get people to appreciate that there are things you can do that enhance your health based on the genes you have,” he said. “There are concrete, actionable, specific steps that do enhance quality of life. This is the message of the post-genomic era.”

Naturalment ha calgut fer un gran esforç per mantenir la privacitat de les anàlisis, però sembla que se n’han sortit bé. Tot plegat és interessant:

Most institutions with an assignment for incoming students choose to assign readings, while a few opt for films or a common service activity over the summer, she said. “There’s this idea that you’re creating community and introducing students to higher level college thought, and those are the usual ways colleges choose to do it,” she said. “But it definitely doesn’t surprise me that Berkeley is doing something like this.… It’s in line with the culture and ethos and history of the place.”

Even so, Schwartz said that, like any good experiment, it’s a one-time thing. “I don’t think we’d do it again or twice in a row,” she said. “Who knows what creative thing the deans will come up with next.”

Segur que el deganat corresponent hi haurà d’esmerçar moltes energies. Ja veurem què faran el curs vinent.