MUIC, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, collaborate on new science programs

Mahidol University International College (MUIC) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital for the creation of a collaborative minor program dubbed the “Minor in Designing Health Innovations” at MUIC.

The collaboration aims to foster exchanges of knowledge and expertise in both faculties in order to develop students to be innovators in the areas of medicine, health and wellness. The program will enhance their creativity and entrepreneurial mindset to bring out knowledge integration in sustainable business management which will benefit the country’s public health care and overall economic system.

Prof. Chulathida Chomchai, M.D., Dean of MUIC, explained that the MOU features collaboration in curriculum development, teaching, academic activities, and research between the two institutions.

The origin of this partnership began with MUIC seeking a new choice for a new minor for MUIC students and found that the Master of Science Program in Biodesign at the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital has an excellent curriculum which focuses on learner practice to develop new innovations to solve health and wellness problems. The first stage involved the adaptation of this style of teaching to MUIC’s undergraduate course. Instructors from the BSc. in Biodesign Program from the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital co-taught the class for two semesters. With very favourable student feedback, the two faculties agreed to co-develop a minor in Designing Health Innovations for MUIC. Incorporation of such a program into MUIC’s undergraduate curriculum will serve to enhance students’ critical thinking by focusing on study and research to initiate new processes and products.

“We are fully done with the curriculum development and are now waiting to submit the program to the University Council for approval,” Dean Chulathida said. “We are expecting to officially launch the program starting in September 2023, and forecast that at least 30 MUIC students will be interested in taking it.”

The MUIC dean added that, “Both institutions bring their own unique expertise to this collaborative effort, thus complementing each other under the MOU. The Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital is very concentrated on medical sciences and public health while MUIC has a comprehensive array of major programs in business administration, communication arts and design, computer science, and other areas. MUIC can pass on their integrated liberal arts disciplines to broaden the medical landscape of the faculty of medicine while the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital can transfer their medical knowledge and expertise to MUIC students.”

“The Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital has deep knowledge in medical science areas,” Dean Chulathida continued. “On the other hand, MUIC’s liberal arts education enables students to be more well-rounded by taking courses in visual communication, prototype creation, intellectual property management, marketing, and business. Students will have a comprehensive idea about what should be their product, who

they will be selling to, and how to set a price. They will also learn how to communicate in order to draw people’s interest to their products. As with innovation in any field, the end goal is a product or process that can be commercialised and distributed to benefit society.”

The MUIC dean emphasised that the minor in Designing Health Innovations is consistent with MUIC’s strategic plan that focuses on building innovations and inspires students to apply the knowledge and experiences they gain in real life.

“If Thailand aspires to be a country with outstanding innovations, we need to have a lot of innovators create innovations. The more innovations we produce, the more chances there are to be successful. So, we need to create people who will innovate.”

Students are required to study five courses in this minor: 1. Community Health Innovations 2. Design Thinking in Health 3. Case Studies in Health Innovations 4. Cutting-edge Technology for Health Innovations 5. Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Science.

Prof. Apichat Asavamongkolkul, M.D., Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, commented that, “Both faculties totally agreed on this partnership in order to exchange students and expertise to optimise students’ capabilities in applying their integrated knowledge in various fields, broaden their vision, and adopt in their working life going forward.”

“We are doctors, so we may sometimes lack business knowledge. MUIC can fill this gap,” Prof. Apichat continued. “In order to create innovations, we need to combine to achieve sustainability, survivability, and management. Design thinking not only benefits the students but also patients and the whole country.”

“The innovation process starts with creativity and proceeds through design, experimentation and transformative thinking to prototype-building until we get a new product or process. Every step requires business thinking.”

“It would be great if doctors could turn to startups to introduce new innovations that will benefit the health and wellness of people. Nowadays, our world pays attention to startups that introduce diversity in health technology. Our students need to study, practice systematically and logically formulate solutions. Collaboration under this program starts with knowledge and proceeds with concepts and processes in developing the Designing Health Innovations Minor and MSc in Biodesign.”

He concluded that, “Both faculties will join hands to enhance students’ skills and knowledge, and spark their interest to create new innovation for their own sake and also society’s, which would, in turn, benefit our country’s economy.”

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