Pitt Helps University in Republic of Kazakhstan Develop Medical School

Issue Date: 
August 20, 2013

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has been chosen to guide the Republic of Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University as it establishes its own medical school, which aims to educate physician-scientists to become the nation’s next leaders in health care, medical education, and biomedical research.

“This is the School of Medicine’s most ambitious educational partnership undertaken to date and meets the university’s goal of building its presence on the global health stage,” said Arthur S. Levine, Pitt senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean, School of Medicine.

Nazarbayev University sought a strategic partner to provide consultation and technical assistance in developing its medical school, which will be built in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana. The site selected for the Nazarbayev University School of Medicine is near Nazarbayev University’s main campus and in close proximity to the hospitals of National Medical Holding, also part of Nazarbayev University, which will serve as clinical rotation sites for the students. “Pitt will provide the knowledge and experience they need to institute a U.S.-style curriculum to train their republic’s new doctors and biomedical researchers,” Levine said.

Pitt School of Medicine experts will advise Nazarbayev University officials on how to design and develop teaching facilities for a medical school curriculum; recruit and train school leadership and faculty; plan organizational and administrative structures, policies and procedures; and develop courses, syllabi, and clinical experiences with the participation of physician-educators from the hospitals of National Medical Holding.

“In collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, we will establish a new model of medical education that trains superb clinicians,” said Nazarbayev University President Shigeo Katsu. “Our aim is to establish Kazakhstan’s first integrated academic health system and, ultimately, to transfer this model to other regions of the country to improve the overall health care of the people of Kazakhstan.”

The new medical school, which will use English as the language of instruction, is expected to open in fall 2015. Applicants will be expected to meet admissions requirements similar to those of U.S.-style medical schools that have been developed in other countries, such as an appropriate premedical foundation and completion of the Medical College Admissions Test.

Kazakhstan’s use of Pittsburgh’s biomedical expertise began in June 2011 with the short-term training of principal investigators and other research personnel from Nazarbayev University’s Center for Life Sciences and Center for Energy Research. Collaborative activities expanded in July 2012 when UPMC, Pitt’s clinical partner and one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, announced that it was selected by Nazarbayev University to assist its development of a national oncology treatment and research center.