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Unique new medical computing science degree for Aberdeen

A unique new degree course in medical computing science will be launched at the University of Aberdeen in September.

The BSc in Medical Computing Science will be offered as part of a joint initiative between the Department of Computing Science and the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Course Director, Dr Peter Lucas, of the Department of Computing Science said that this is an extremely exciting new venture for the University. Computing Science is now indispensable and has a great deal to offer medicine, not only for improving quality of care, but also for making progress in biomedical research. However, there are currently only very few people who understand both fields.

“The goal of the BSc Medical Computing Science course is to educate students in both medicine and computing science to enable them to contribute to the research, development, and use of medical computing science.”

Modern medicine depends very heavily on computers and information technology.  For example, doctors use computers to keep electronic patient records and to detect drug interactions; hospitals use computers for image analysis and as ‘expert systems’ to advise on diagnosis and treatment; and health authorities use computers to monitor care quality and identify where the health care system is not performing well. Computers are also essential for medical and biomedical research, such as in the development of new drugs. The Human Genome Project would have been impossible without the availability of fast computers.

Effectively developing and using computing science in medicine requires people with a background in both fields, who are comfortable talking about biomolecules, cells, clinical medicine on the one hand, and databases, mathematics and programming languages on the other hand.  Currently, there are relatively few people who have such knowledge and they are very much in demand within academia, industry and the health service.

The new course is part of a significant expansion in the coverage of electronic commerce and internet topics in the Department of Computing Science's degree programmes, which also includes new BSc degrees in Computing & E-Business, and Internet Information Systems.

Dr Lucas added: “I am looking forward to attracting students to this new course.  Aberdeen is a leader in research in medical computing science, with projects ranging from building decision-support expert systems, to generating personalised health information material, to modelling protein-protein interactions and medical image analysis.”

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