University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA

The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) is one of five campuses of the University of Massachusetts (UMass)system. It is home to three schools: the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Graduate School of Nursing, as well as a biomedical research enterprise and a range of public-service initiatives throughout the state. One of the fastest-growing academic health centers in the country,  UMMS is located in Worcester, Massachusetts; other UMass sites are located in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell. UMMS is also known as UMass Worcester.

UMMS was established by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1962 to provide residents of the commonwealth an opportunity to study medicine at an affordable cost and to increase the number of primary-care physicians practicing in the commonwealth’s under-served areas. The School of Medicine accepted its first class of 16 students in 1970. Six years later a 371-bed hospital opened on campus; the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences opened in 1979, and the Graduate School of Nursing opened in 1986.

In 1998 the UMMS system of hospitals and clinics merged with Memorial Health Care to form UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health-care provider in Central Massachusetts and clinical partner of UMMS.

Accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the School of Medicine grants the MD degree to its graduates. With the exception of MD/PhD students, degree candidates were formerly required to be Massachusetts residents, a policy which has changed beginning with the entering class of 2017. Approximately 125 students enroll annually, and more than 2,700 students have received medical degrees from UMMS. The School of Medicine has gained a national reputation for its primary-care program and consistently ranks in the top 10 percent of schools in the annual U.S.News & World Report guide, “America’s Best Graduate Schools”. SCImago Journal Rank listed the university as No. 74 in the US and No. 248 globally. Over half of each graduating class enters primary-care residencies, a trend underscoring the school’s founding mission. In addition, a high number of graduates practice throughout the state. The institution attributes its success in training primary-care physicians, in part, to a curriculum which emphasizes early exposure to community practice (beginning in the first year of medical school). Third-year students are required to complete a clerkship-rotation program, in which they spend six weeks at a time with community-based physicians. The curriculum’s learning objectives are targeted at developing the foundational competencies required of all physicians including competency in communication, scientific, and patient- and community-advocacy skills. In 2010, National Resident Matching Program results showed that members of the UMMS class were accepted into some of the most competitive residency programs in the country; 71 percent of graduates entered primary care (including obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine and pediatrics).

UMMS has emerged on the national scene as a research center. In 1998, UMMS researcher Craig Mello (an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute) and his colleagueAndrew Fire (of Stanford University, then of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C.) discovered RNA interference (RNAi). Mello and Fire demonstrated that small pieces of double-stranded RNA had interfered with the expression of a gene whose coding sequence of DNA was similar to that of the RNA they tested. Since the discovery of RNAi, researchers at UMMS and around the world have taken advantage of its technology to speed investigation into a variety of diseases. Mello and Fire received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries related to RNA interference.

UMMS is extending its mission of public service through its Commonwealth Medicine initiative. Commonwealth Medicine provides partnership opportunities for state and local agencies to increase the value and quality of publicly funded health expenditures and to improve access and delivery of care to at-risk and uninsured patients.

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