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Two departments within the Texas A&M University School of Medicine have officially changed their names. The Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine is now the Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, and the Department of Primary Care and Population Health is now the Department of Primary Care and Rural Medicine. These new names better reflect what each department does and the focus of the faculty members within each.
The Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine underwent an external program review last year in which reviewers indicated that the current name of the department did not accurately reflect what the department does. Some faculty members had previously and independently suggested incorporating “genetics” or “genomics” into the departmental name, and the name “Department of Cell Biology and Genetics” was chosen with broad support among both the faculty within the department and department heads and other leaders within Texas A&M University.
The department’s name has, in a sense, come full circle, as it was called the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics 45 years ago when the School of Medicine was founded. Going forward, the new name will better reflect the department’s mission, attract graduate students interested in cell biology and genetics, and help medical school ranking organizations incorporate data appropriately, departmental leadership said. In addition, the explicit inclusion of “genetics” in the department’s title not only reflects a powerful scientific approach used in nearly all of its laboratories, but also provides a way to grow, both scientifically and academically.
The Department of Primary Care and Population Health has focused interest on advancing primary care and rural health care access through educational, clinical care, service and grant initiatives with an emphasis on expanding primary care providers to rural Texas. Therefore, the name “Department of Primary Care and Rural Medicine” better reflected the work being done by the department’s faculty. In addition, the faculty who support residency programs—both the one owned by Texas A&M and the one in partnership with DeTar Health System—are in this department, and potential candidates and graduates of both residencies are recruited and trained to provide primary care to rural and underserved areas of Texas. The changing of the name comes at a time that the School of Medicine is refocusing its efforts to improve the health care of rural Texans.
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