Sherbrooke universities sign research partnership

Photo: Gordon Lambie
By: 
Gordon Lambie
Staff Writer

Bishop’s University and the University of Sherbrooke’s faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMSS) signed off on a five-year plan to continue their fledgling partnership in the field of medical research internships on Friday. Building on an agreement that has been in place since 2012, the deal will see Undergraduate students from Bishop’s paired with supervisors and projects at the U de S to give them hands-on, real-world experiences in the world of applied medical research.

“It is really expanding our opportunities for undergraduates,” said Bishop’s VP Academic Miles Turnbull, “it also provides opportunities for professors to connect with colleagues at the Faculty of Medicine.”

Turnbull pointed out that since large-scale academic research is generally a domain for graduate and post-graduate studies, the partnerships give Bishop’s students an special opportunity they might not get at other undergraduate universities.

“It aligns with our strategic vision for the development of research,” the VP Academic said. “It’s a value added to our undergraduate experience.”

Dr. Pierre Cossette, Dean of the FMSS, said that the agreement represents the schools taking advantage of complementary programs and visions. He said that the internships are growing in popularity, pointing out that 30 students took part in the program this past summer. Many of the students who engage in these research internships, he explained, go on to enroll in related U de S programs for their graduate studies, keeping their expertise in the region and helping to solidify the continuity of work being carried out locally.

“It is an outstanding experience for future scientists,” added Jean-Pierre Perreault, Vice-Dean for Graduate and Research Studies at the FMSS, who was acting as master of ceremonies for Friday’s announcement.

Samuel Wilson is one of those future scientists. Though he just began his fourth year of an Honours Biology degree at Bishop’s, Wilson was able to spend the summer actively engaged in real-world research on colorectal cancer being carried out at the FMSS.

“The experience was incomparable,” Wilson said when asked how his summer measured up against the time he had spent in the classroom at Bishop’s.

The BU student explained that he developed a keen interest in cellular biology early on during his studies at the English University. To have had the opportunity to dive right into hands-on research work that is actively working to make a real difference in the world of gastroenterology before he even completes his undergraduate studies, he said, is truly remarkable.

Wilson plans to commit his life to medical research with a focus on colorectal cancer after he finishes at Bishop’s, continuing the work he has started here in Sherbrooke. He plans to spend his final year at the university furthering his research to date in the form of an honours project.

“I’m very lucky,” Wilson said, “this is a pretty unique opportunity.”

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