Longer, healthier lives for Iowans and the world

CATEGORIES: Alumni, Research, Students

This story was originally published in the Nov. 16 issue of Alliance for Iowa State. The Alliance advocates Iowa State University’s land grant mission throughout Iowa while focusing its advocacy on state legislators and public policy makers. Read archived stories here.

Fundamental research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) at Iowa State University is helping people live longer, healthier lives. Long before a patient steps inside a doctor’s office or a surgeon’s operating room, scientists at Iowa State have developed innovative methods and materials that produce more accurate data collection, sharper MRI scans, and more.

The biology program — one of the most popular degrees in LAS — is a powerhouse with outstanding researchers dedicated to improving the lives of Iowans and people around the globe. They work tirelessly on research dedicated to big issues such as treating pregnancy disorders and killing cancer cells.

In addition to a strong biology program with a reputation for excellence, the genetics program is an increasingly popular choice for students because of its importance to new advancements in medicine.

Imagine a world without heart disease. Genetics research at Iowa State could contribute to this very possible idea. Dedication to stopping disease at the molecular level — before it has a chance to harm individual cells — means some of the world’s most prominent diseases could be eliminated completely.

Many of the world’s medical advances not only come from Iowa State’s biologists and geneticists, but artists as well. Shared by LAS and the College of Design, the biological and pre-medical illustration program (BPMI) offers a unique opportunity for students with a knack for science and art to fuse their talents to benefit the medical field.

Suzanne Verma (BPMI, ’99), an Omaha, Nebraska native, was drawn to the rigorous niche program after searching the country for the perfect undergraduate degree that would propel her medical career in anaplastology. Fewer than a dozen programs exist in the nation, and Iowa State’s is regarded as one of the best.

"BPMI really prepares students because it puts a big emphasis on using visual mechanics to solve a problem," said Verma, an anaplastologist in the Center for Maxillofacial Prosthodontics at Texas A&M College of Dentistry, where she creates prosthetics for patients with facial disfigurement due to cancer, trauma, and birth defects.

A healthy life, potentially free from disease, starts under the microscope at Iowa State University — furthering the land-grant mission by giving Iowans and world an opportunity for a better life.