Forty-eight new medical students recently began their journey at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Students from the Class of 2024 come from a range of academic disciplines: 85.5% have an engineering background, and 14.5% come from the basic sciences, with degrees in areas such as chemistry, biomathematics, biophysics, computer science, and cell biology. Nine students hold an advanced degree, consisting of three doctorate degrees and six master’s degrees.

“Like the two classes before them, this talented cohort of future physician-innovators met challenging admission requirements that go beyond the typical premedical track. The majority have backgrounds in engineering, advanced mathematics, computer science and other quantitative disciplines,” said Dr. King Li, dean of the college.

Carle Illinois received approximately 3,000 primary applications for the class of 2024. The 48 selected candidates come to the college from across the United States, with a majority coming from California (9) and Illinois (8). This diverse class is 14% racial and ethnic minorities underrepresented in medicine. Just over 8% are African American, 4% are Latinx, and 2% are of mixed race or ethnicity. The gender split is nearly even with 52% male students and 48% female students.

“We are excited with our progress in building a diverse student population and believe success here is essential to fulfilling our mission and vision,” said Dr. Stephen Boppart, executive associate dean and chief diversity officer. “It is important that we recruit and train a new generation of skilled, forward-thinking, and compassionate physician leaders who will represent the diversity of today’s America.”

The students began their academic courses and clinical training this month in the college’s engineering-focused, case-driven, problem-based, active learning curriculum.

“I am grateful for the collaboration that the team-centered, active learning environment has fostered among our class early on,” said first year medical student Brittany Vill. “Starting medical school mid-pandemic has provided our class with its first opportunity for growth, and I look forward to exploring many opportunities for innovation during our four-year journey together.”

The first class of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine will graduate in 2022.

Carle Illinois is the nation’s first engineering-based college of medicine. It is a partnership between Urbana-based Carle Health and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the country’s top public research universities.