Purdue, IU celebrate 50-year collaboration with unique benefits for physicians in training

This fall 24 first-year medical students embarked on their studies with the Indiana University School of Medicine here on the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus. This Purdue University, Indiana University School of Medicine partnership is more than 50 years strong, having been launched with a one-year pilot program in 1968. By 1980, a second year had been added, and by 2014, medical students could stay for all four years of their medical education, including clerkships at local hospitals.

One of the incoming first-year medical students, Alec Booth, received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue in biomedical engineering in spring of 2022.  Booth chose to study at the West Lafayette regional campus for several reasons, including the school’s unique relationship with the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. 

“I’m so glad I chose to study in West Lafayette,” he said. “For one, the class size is smaller than the main IU Medical School campus. The regional campuses have incoming class sizes around 25 to 30, while the Indy campus has an incoming class of about 150 people. I much prefer the smaller group as we are more tight-knit and collaborative. Also, since I graduated from Purdue, I am familiar with the campus and love being in West Lafayette. Finally, the biomedical engineering and applied medical technology scholarly concentration is something that is only available on the West Lafayette campus.”

While an undergraduate student, Booth participated in research in the Jayant Nano Neurotechnology Lab in the Weldon School and says he looks forward to continuing that research.

“My intent, post-training, would be to practice and likely do research in the specialty of neurosurgery,” Booth said. “As an undergrad, I always enjoyed my labs and neurosciences classes and being hands-on, which has helped push me towards that area.”

Booth also plans to take a gap year in between his second and third years of medical school to complete a master’s degree in BME at Purdue, which is another unique feature of the partnership between Purdue and IU.

Jay Akridge, Purdue provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity, said Booth is the perfect example of how students benefit from the successful collaboration. 

“In addition to the advantages of small classes and dedicated faculty, students in the IU School of Medicine at Purdue can enrich their studies and training by becoming involved in our research enterprise,” said Akridge. “Purdue has a rich portfolio of medical and health related research centers and institutes—including large-scale interdisciplinary research centers and programs in drug discovery, cancer research and biomedical engineering—in Discovery Park and across our campus.”

Matthew Tews, DO, MS, associate dean and director of the IU School of Medicine-West Lafayette, said he looks forward to exploring even more opportunities for collaboration with Purdue health sciences programs and clinical partners in the community.

“We have outstanding faculty at IUSM, Purdue, and in the community who are generous mentors, teachers and collaborators for our students,” said Tews. “We look forward to continuing to work with Purdue and the community health systems for another 50 years as we prepare future generations of physicians for this rapidly changing world.”

As for Booth, he is thankful to be able to complete the next phase of his education in a familiar, supportive environment.

“I plan on completing most of my medical training in West Lafayette, he said. “The first two years are book-test type classes. The next two years are clinical rotations and I hope to do as many rotations in West Lafayette as I can -- there is a better opportunity to get one-on-one work with physicians in Greater Lafayette.”

And, of course, he’s also glad to still be a Boilermaker.

“I think that getting a Purdue engineering undergraduate degree gives me a different perspective than other medical students and has prepared me for challenges in medical school and beyond. As West Lafayette is my home, and I will always be a Boilermaker, I am thrilled to be a part of this partnership.”