July 16, 2007

Expansion Takes Cornell Far Beyond Cayuga's Waters

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This article appears in the 2007 edition of The Sun’s annual Student Guide.

Just in case the 745 continuous, hilly, gorge-filled acres of Cornell’s Ithaca campus don’t convey the vast scale of our University to you, add to the picture a bourgeoning campus in the developing Middle Eastern nation of Qatar and an esteemed medical college in Manhattan. Clearly, Cornell’s commitment to research and world-class education spans well beyond the buildings scattered around East Hill overlooking Ithaca, New York. To more accurately understand the University, one must look to the far-reaching corners of the world.

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar

In 2001, Cornell fuelled a worldwide dissemination of medical knowledge and healthcare. Its partnership with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development enabled the University to establish the first American medical school overseas in Qatar, a small country that occupies an 11,437 sq. kilometer peninsula on the Arabian Gulf. Qatar is a nation committed to education and peace, and has hosted a various international conventions such as meetings of the World Trade Organization.
WCMC-Q is a six-year “integrated program of study” in which the first two years comprise a pre-medicine program, and the next four are part of a medical program. Admission to the College is competitive and the curriculum coincides with that of Cornell’s medical school in the United States.
Although WCMC-Q mandates that up to 70 percent of each class be Qatari citizens, the college consistently hosts a diverse array of students from Africa, Asia, America and Europe. There are more than 50 faculty members, and more than 150 students spread among the six classes.
Cornell’s Ithaca campus has begun to bring the two campuses closer together through video-technology. Prof. James B. Maas, Psychology, video-casts his classroom lectures for the students in Qatar, enabling them to take Psych 101 from overseas. Maas has also traveled to Qatar to speak to the students.
WCMC-Q is excited to be a part of the American Cornell community. In a letter sent to President Skorton in accordance with his inauguration last fall, students, faculty and staff of WCMC-Q wrote, “We are very proud to be part of this Cornell tradition, with its emphasis on excellence in education and research, tolerance and the open exchange of ideas, and a transnational vision.”
At the close of 2007-2008 academic year, the first class to graduate from WCMC-Q will receive their medical doctor degrees.

Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan

Founded in 1898, Cornell’s New York City-based medical college, which has since been named Weill Cornell Medical College, has emerged as a world-leader in medical research and education. Offering both doctor of medicine degrees and doctorate degrees in biomedical research and education, WCMC has joint programs with various centers in Manhattan such as Rockefeller University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Among its many medical advances, doctors at WCMC have made significant contributions to the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the first “double-blind” controlled experiment to test the efficiency of drugs and the creation of penicillin, according to its website.
Today, Cornell’s medical doctors are working to find a way to treat heart disease through gene therapy, among other things. Its research is focused in three main areas: structural biology, genetic medicine and neuroscience.
President David Skorton, who has a joint appointment at the medical school in Manhattan and the biomedical engineering department in Ithaca, has been working to facilitate collaborative efforts between the two campuses through his organization of conferences in which students and faculty from both schools can meet and discuss their work.
Some professors, such as Yi Wang, Biomedical Engineering (Ithaca) and Physics in Radiology (Weill), take students back and forth between the two campuses. Because Wang feels there are great benefits in exposing students to the facilities at both campuses, he said in an interview with the Cornell Chronicle, “When students go down to Weill, they’re leaving the Cornell system. They should still be considered to be in the system, getting credit.”