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Integrating Public Health Topics in Drug Delivery System Education

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

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July 26, 2021

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July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

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Student Division Technical Session 3

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Jorge Jimenez University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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Jorge Jimenez is a PhD candidate in bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. They are part of the National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP-KAT) program and has research interest in ophthalmic biomaterials, drug delivery systems, Latinx healthcare and advancing diversity and inclusion in education. They engage in teaching as research through the Center for the Integration of Research Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL).

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April A. Dukes University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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April Dukes ( is the Faculty and Future Faculty Program Director for the Engineering Educational Research Center (EERC) and the Institutional Co-leader for Pitt-CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) at the University of Pittsburgh. April studied at Winthrop University, earning a BS degree in Chemistry and BA degree in Psychology in 2000. She then completed her PhD in 2007 at the University of Pittsburgh, studying oxidative stress in in vitro models of Parkinson's disease. During her prior graduate and postdoctoral work in neurodegeneration, April mentored several undergraduate, graduate, and clinical researchers and developed new methods for imaging and tracking mitochondria from living zebrafish neurons.

In her work for the EERC and Pitt-CIRTL, April Dukes collaborates on educational research projects and facilitates professional development (PD) on instructional and mentoring best practices for current and future STEM faculty. As an adjunct instructor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh since 2009 and an instructor for CIRTL Network and Pitt-CIRTL local programming since 2016, April is experienced in both synchronous and asynchronous online and in-person teaching environments.

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Morgan V. Fedorchak

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In drug delivery system (DDS) research and education, the integration of biology, chemistry, engineering and medicine is imperative to design therapies that address medical problems and disease. Engineers rely on medical and clinical experts to translate DDS to the clinic and healthcare settings, making these relationships invaluable. Recently, trends in medical education curriculum integrate social and public health aspects of medicine at all levels of study (undergraduate, graduate, and medical school) [Sharma et al 2018], when traditionally, the curriculum taught basic science and social perspectives as two distinct fields [Siegel et al 2018, Raddatz et al 2019] . The public health topics of health disparities and social determinants of health (SDOH) are becoming vital components to medical curriculum engaging medical students as socially responsible physicians that can mitigate health inequities in their future profession [Siegel et al 2018]. As medical education adapts to the inclusion of social health topics, as should engineering curriculum that relies deeply on the expertise of clinical and medical experts for translation of engineering health technologies. These shared principles may improve the ability for engineers on multidisciplinary teams to become competent on the social responsibilities of translating DDS to people and how they may impact health inequities. This paper discusses the implementation of SDOH in a cross-discipline (Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering) undergraduate course entitled Controlled Drug Delivery, and evaluates student interest in public health topics. During this 14-week course, students are taught traditional course content on DDS design, emphasizing delivery routes and strategies to overcome anatomical and physiological barriers. A public health module introducing health disparities and SDOH was included at end of the course, using case studies to discuss translational and societal impacts of DDS on historically marginalized populations. The course’s main project is a final group report that assesses students’ ability to design, develop and propose novel drug delivery systems. Student interest on public health topics was evaluated using pre- and post- survey data to collect self-identified responses. Final reports were analyzed by qualitative thematic analysis for incorporation of SDOH and health disparity topics and compared to a previous semester’s assignments in which public health and SDOH modules were not a part of the curriculum.

We integrated public health topics into our engineering course in alignment with the goals of multidisciplinary efforts in translating medicine to society. By doing so, our efforts go beyond the classroom to engage students in inclusive practices that reflect the need to consider health disparities as a factor in engineering design. Additionally, the alignment of scientific context to health disparities may support the interest of students to serve as engineers in sectors of public policy, governance and regulation, and healthcare delivery, where DDS knowledge is important to translation of therapies.

Jimenez, J., & Dukes, A. A., & Fedorchak, M. V. (2021, July), Integrating Public Health Topics in Drug Delivery System Education Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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