WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- New programs and opportunities are popping up for Wake Forest University undergrads.
"We're inviting medical school faculty to be faculty in the school with these students," said Michele Gillespie, WFU College Dean. "The fact we'll have them teaching undergrad students is very unique. There are very few programs in the country that do this."
Starting in 2017, the university will offer programs in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering.
Students will be able to study Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery.
"They're all very exciting, but the medicinal chemistry will have students creating molecules in the labs and these molecules could actually solve diseases," said Gillespie. "The kind of work they're doing could potentially be path breaking."
University leaders say there's demand for biomedical science and technology graduates.
The Education Advisory Board reports from 2012 to 2014, demand increased by 58 percent across the US and 43 percent in North Carolina.
"As the medical school made the decision to move, we had a unique opportunity to partner with them at this new location, and we've always wanted to have an engineering program," said Gillespie. "We moved pretty quickly to figure out how to take advantage of state and federal tax credits to create academic programs and to begin renovations down there within one year."
Leaders say students will spend equal time on the main campus and in the new downtown classrooms and labs. They hope that location will help students connect more with the community and spur more economic development.
"I think there's a tremendous possibility of this being a hub of entrepreneurship activity in very high-tech biomedical areas," said WFU President Nathan Hatch. "I think that will attract other talent and help generate economic activity in Winston-Salem."
The programs will be available at Wake Downtown in the Innovation Quarter starting in fall 2017. The university expects about 350 undergrads studying downtown by 2021.