The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has two new faculty members in the Department of Biomedical Science. Renee LeClair and Andrew Binks joined the faculty this month, both coming from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville.
LeClair is joining as chair of the department and associate professor. Binks is joining as an associate professor and director of faculty development.
“We are thrilled to have Renee and Andrew join our faculty, as they have extensive experience in research and student-centered learning methods for the delivery of medical education, both of which are distinguishing features of our school,” said Cynda Johnson, dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
LeClair will lead a department that had been chaired for the past three years by Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech, and senior dean for research at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
Friedlander will step down from the chairmanship in a planned transition as he takes on increasing responsibility for development and leadership of the VTC Health Sciences and Technology campus in Roanoke.
“It has been an honor to serve as the chair of the Department of Biomedical Science,” said Friedlander. “I have had the pleasure to lead a transition for the department that has increased the identity and professionalism associated with the important role of basic scientist educators in the medical school, including the design and buildout of new department facilities, the recruitment of several new faculty, including LeClair and Binks, and support staff to the department and the increasing emphasis and recognition of scholarship in both research and education for the outstanding group of basic science faculty in the department. It was a privilege to work with these dedicated faculty and to recruit someone as talented and passionate about basic science education as Renee LeClair to lead the department into the next phase.”
LeClair most recently served as clinical associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville.
In that position, she developed a non-didactic student-centered course that integrated the scientific disciplines of biochemistry, nutrition, cell biology, genetics, and pharmacology with behavioral, social, and clinical sciences. She also has experience in online education, developing and delivering an online medical biochemistry course for the University of New England Online Learning.
Her research focuses on fibrotic remodeling and vascular biology, as well as medical education. Over the last eight years, LeClair has looked for ways to incorporate team-based learning, instead of traditional lectures, to educate medical students. The approach is the primary teaching method at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
“This student-centered approach to learning encourages student preparation prior to class, engages students for the entire class time, minimizes passive learning, and promotes professional competencies,” said LeClair. “I am excited to see how the learning method is implemented here at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and participate as faculty.”
LeClair earned her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Maine at Farmington and her doctorate in biochemistry and cellular biology from Rice University.
Andrew Binks most recently served as associate research professor, second-year cardiopulmonary module director, co-director of the student research program, and director of third- and fourth-year research elective at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville.
His research focuses primarily on dyspnea – or shortness of breath – and cardiopulmonary physiology, with the goal to describe the neural circuitry sufficiently to develop effective therapeutics to relieve dyspnea. Currently, there are no effective therapies.
In addition, Binks has been an active medical educator, embracing student-centered learning methods and opportunities to mentor medical students in research.
“As the boundaries between the biomedical sciences fall and medicine rapidly evolves, medical education must be integrated and innovative to meet the needs of the modern student and future physician,” Binks said.
Binks earned his undergraduate degree in physiological science from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England, and his master’s degree in human and applied physiology from King’s College at the University of London. After returning to the University of Newcastle upon Tyne to complete his doctorate degree in pulmonary physiology, Binks completed his postdoctoral fellowship and was a research associate at Harvard University.