The University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) is a graduate-level institution of the University of North Texas System, located on a 33-acre campus in the Cultural District of Fort Worth, Texas. Established in 1970, UNT Health Science Center consists of five colleges with a total enrollment of 2,243 graduate students (2014–15). The institution offers degrees in osteopathic medicine, public health, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, and biomedical sciences.
UNT Health Science Center serves as home to several NIH-funded research programs and currently leads all Texas medical and health science centers in research growth. The Health Science Center also houses laboratories for TECH Fort Worth, a non-profit biochemistry incubator.
Community and school outreach programs include Fort Worth’s annual Hispanic Wellness Fair and the annual Cowtown Marathon. The UNTHSC Pediatric Mobile Clinic provides healthcare to children in underserved areas of Fort Worth at no cost. The institution also participates in several state and federally funded programs that bring students and teachers onto campus each summer.
The University of North Texas Health Science Center was initially founded in 1970 as the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM). The college opened as a private, non-profit school for osteopathic medicine, located on the campus of the Fort Worth Osteopathic Hospital. It was the first osteopathic medical school in Texas and remained the only one in the state until 2015, when the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine was established. The inaugural class of 18 students graduated in 1974, earning the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. In 1975, the college became a part of North Texas State University, after the Texas Legislature overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 216, making TCOM a state medical school. TCOM was the second public university-affiliated osteopathic medical school to be established.
In 1990, TCOM opened the DNA Identity Laboratory, with the responsibility of assisting the state of Texas in evaluating paternity cases. In 1993, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences opened, and TCOM was renamed the University of North Texas Health Science Center. In 1997, the UNT School of Health Professions opened a physician assistant program. In 1999, the School of Public Health opened. In 2008, UNTHSC opened the TECH Fort Worth Acceleration Lab.
In 2011, the Texas Legislature authorized the establishment of a college of pharmacy at UNTHSC. As the first pharmacy school in North Texas, the college matriculated its inaugural class of Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students in 2013. In 2013, UNTHSC began developing an interprofessional education (IPE) program, in participation withTexas Christian University (TCU). In 2014, Texas Woman’s University joined the IPE partnership. In 2015, UNTHSC and TCU announced the creation of a joint MD school, which will accept its first class of students in 2018. In 2015, the physician assistant program was ranked as the number 33 graduate-level physician assistant program by U.S. News and World Report.
Through its five schools and colleges, UNTHSC offers several academic programs. Each program is graduate, and focuses on health professions and biomedical sciences. Several Doctor degrees, Masters degrees, and online programs are offered. An interprofessional education (IPE) integrates each of the colleges and schools, with the goal of promoting teamwork and improved communication. UNTHSC is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Doctoral degrees include: the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). Several masters degrees are offered, including: Master of Science, Master of Health Administration, and Master of Physician Assistant Studies.
The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences offers M.S. and PhD programs in biochemistry and cancer biology, cell biology, immunology and microbiology, integrative physiology, molecular genetics, pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacotherapy, pharmacology and neuroscience, structural anatomy and rehabilitation sciences (PhD only), and visual sciences. Specialized Master’s Programs are offered in biotechnology, clinical research management, forensic genetics, and medical sciences.
The School of Public Health (SPH) offers degrees in Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Public Health (MPH), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Several areas of concentration are offered, including: biostatistics, community health, environmental & occupational health sciences, epidemiology, health management and policy, and maternal and child health. The SPH offers dual degree programs with TCOM, the UNT Anthropology Department, and the UNT Geography Department. Graduate certificate programs are available in Public Health and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
The School of Health Professions offers the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), the Master of Physician Assistant Studies, and the Graduate Certificate in Lifestyle Health. The UNT System College of Pharmacy confers the Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD). The Office of Professional And Continuing Education (PACE) provides continuing education services for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, and public health professionals. PACE holds accreditation from the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) is a state-supported osteopathic medical school that serves as the cornerstone of the UNT Health Science Center. TCOM has 920D.O. students, more than 300 full-time faculty, and over 400 part-time faculty members. TCOM is ranked 50th in the nation for primary care by U.S. News and World Report and graduates the eighth largest number of physicians in the United States that go on to practice primary care. Roughly 55 percent of TCOM graduates go into either family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, or obstetrics and gynecology, while the remainder specialize in fields ranging from orthopedic surgery to radiation oncology.
The first two years of medical school at TCOM focus on the basic sciences, with a systems-based approach to basic clinical sciences. The third and fourth years of training consist of clinical experiences, where students rotate through various specialties of medicine. Clinical rotation sites include John Peter Smith (JPS) Hospital in Fort Worth, Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, Plaza Medical Center in Fort Worth, Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Dallas, Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, San Jacinto Methodist Hospital in Baytown, Conroe Regional Medical Center in Conroe, Bay Area Medical Center in Corpus Christi, and Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview. There are residency programs in dermatology, neuromuscular medicine integrated with family medicine, and orthopedic surgery, and a fellowship program in palliative medicine.
TCOM also offers the following dual degree programs: D.O./M.P.H., D.O./M.S., and D.O./Ph.D. Through the Primary Care Pathways Program, motivated students may also complete a three-year, undergraduate degree at Midland College and University of North Texas before completing their undergraduate medical training at the medical school.
UNT Health is a division of the university where faculty members provide health care services. UNT Health consists of 230 physicians, who practice in 40 medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties, including allergy/immunology, family practice, cardiology, neurology, obstetrics & gynecology, oncology, orthopedics, psychiatry, sports medicine, and neurosurgery. In all, UNT Health serves 560,000 patient visits annually. In June 2014, the UNT System Board of Regents and the Tarrant County Hospital District approved creation of a partnership where physicians from UNT Health and the JPS Health Network will be combined under a newly formed medical group.
UNTHSC is located on a 33-acre campus in the Cultural District of Fort Worth, Texas. The Gibson D. Lewis Health Science Library’s collections, including more than 20,000 journal titles and 67,000 books, provide UNTHSC students and faculty with access to the latest basic science and clinical research. The Lewis Library provides access to virtually 100 percent of the world’s current medical information, including a wide variety of research databases. UNTHSC also houses the Atrium Gallery, a non-profit public art exhibition space, which holds 8 to 10 arts shows each year. The Atrium Gallery is a member of the Fort Worth Art Dealers Association.
A total of 2,243 students were in attendance at UNTHSC for the 2014–15 academic year. 57% of students were female; 43 percent were male. About 46% of students are White, 21% Asian, 12% Hispanic, 8% black or African American, 1% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 2% identify as two or more ethnicities, and the remaining students were non-resident aliens (8%) or of unknown ethnicity (1%). Because of state law regarding enrollment of Texas residents in public medical schools, each entering class is composed of at least 90% state residents. Many out-of-state residents receive competitive scholarships that make up the difference. Applications for admission are processed through the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS).
The UNT Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) was created in 2004 and consists of the Laboratory for Molecular Identification, the Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology, and the Forensic Services Unit. Founded in 1986, the Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology provides anthropological analysis of human remains for law enforcement and medicolegal agencies as well as other publicly supported entities, such as public defenders and district attorneys. UNTCHI analyzes DNA samples from both unidentified remains as well as reference samples submitted by family members of missing persons to law enforcement agencies nationwide. It also conducts all DNA analysis for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center is one of less than a dozen laboratories in the United States capable of mitochondrial DNA evaluation and is the largest single contributor to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a database for unidentified missing person cases. The Center is the only academic center in the U.S. with access to the FBI’s next-generation CODIS 6.0 DNA Software. In 2011, UNTCHI began managing and developing the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) for the U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition to providing investigators with important information regarding cases, the anthropological data are used to refine molecular analyses within the CODIS system. This collaboration has created a unique resource for the identification of missing persons and unidentified remains, and is available to law enforcement agencies and medicolegal entities charged with the investigation of death across the nation. Additional support is also available to agencies through the Center’s Forensic Services Unit. The center also provides training to scientists worldwide on identifying human remains, from Malaysia, Thailand, India, the Middle East, South Africa, Mexico, and Libya. The center operates with funding from the National Institute of Justice.