Jake Deckert Accepts First Joint Appointment for UWSOM-GU Health Partnership
SPOKANE, Wash. — For the first time since forming a partnership in 2016, the University of Washington School of Medicine and Gonzaga University have jointly hired a faculty member to teach medical students and Gonzaga undergraduates. Jake Deckert, Ph.D., is teaching first-year UW medical student courses in immunology, biochemistry and cellular physiology. Come spring, he’ll be a full-time instructor in Gonzaga’s human physiology program.
Finding one instructor who can handle the schools’ different curricula, students and schedules called for an innovator with strong teaching experience — someone who can support the needs of each institution while bringing new expertise and reinforcing the shared overall relationship and connection.
“This new position is symbolic in that it demonstrates the significant ways the two universities continue to strengthen and evolve our shared work,” says David Thorp, professor and chair of GU’s human physiology department. “It solidifies the Partnership at the ground floor — in the classroom.”
Thorp, and several members of Gonzaga’s faculty have taught the medical students, but Deckert’s position is the first to be developed and recruited jointly.
Bill Sayres, M.D., assistant dean for the medical school’s Foundations phase, underscores the strength of the selection.
“Jake has been an enthusiastic member of our team since his arrival here,” Sayres says. “Not only has he mastered aspects of the medical school curriculum associated with his core expertise, he is also developing his skills in non-core areas. He is working on curriculum development and pedagogical improvements as well.”
For his part, Deckert is pleased with his recent move to the Northwest.
“I’m excited to be here. I’ve been teaching for nearly a decade in classrooms and laboratories, and after a year in a lab I am pleased to be interacting with students again,” he says. “Teaching is a constant learning process — you never plateau. And here I’m surrounded by like-minded colleagues who are focused on always putting students first.”
The University of Kansas graduate holds doctoral and master’s degrees in exercise physiology and a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. Deckert spent the last year as a postdoctoral fellow with the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y., where he studied mechanisms leading to immune dysfunction and inflammation following spinal cord injury, his area of research.
Deckert has found a dynamic richness in the medical school curricula, along with the opportunity to delve deeply into topics and explore teaching methodologies.
“Usually, I’ve had to start lesson planning and development from scratch, but materials here have been developed collaboratively,” he says. “There are many layers of review and approval by professionals who are leaders in their fields, so it’s a great strength to build from and helps bring together the classroom and the clinic.”
Deckert will teach human anatomy and physiology to Gonzaga undergraduate students next semester, along with nutrition and metabolism, as well as a new upper-division course specific to his area of expertise in immunology.
“A successful first year will deliver positive educational experiences for students, and generate meaningful data on learning outcomes so that we can improve curricula based on institutional feedback and student input,” he explains. “We want to continue to attract the highest quality students while helping them reach their full potential.”
An avid runner and alpine touring skier, Deckert hopes to find time for adventures in the landscapes of the Northwest, as well.
About UW School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership
In 2016, the University of Washington and Gonzaga University formed a regional health partnership to continue, enhance and expand medical education and research in Spokane. The agreement makes Gonzaga a partner in the University of Washington’s regional, community-based medical education program, WWAMI (an acronym for the states it serves: Washington [Seattle and Spokane], Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho), and sets in motion plans to advance health-related research, entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary health sciences teaching in Spokane.
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