Andrew Bean, PhD, Takes the Helm at the Graduate College

With the new term, Rush University welcomes a new dean of the Graduate College, Andrew Bean, PhD, whose achievements in neuroscience and cancer research are complemented by his work building a path to success for the next generation of scientists.

He joins Rush University from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center/UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, where he served as associate dean and professor of neurobiology and anatomy at McGovern Medical School of the University of Texas.

Bean is a noted researcher and educator who has served as a mentor to more than 30 undergraduate, graduate, medical and postdoctoral trainees in his career. He also is a leader in developing proven methods for recruiting and retaining under-represented students into science. He will continue this work as the leader of the Graduate College, where the education programs focus on developing researchers in biomedical, nursing and health sciences.

“Dr. Bean not only brings his experience as an associate dean at a world-class research and educational institution, but also his own research expertise to Rush,” says Thomas A. Deutsch, MD, provost of Rush University. “He will serve as an outstanding role model for the students and faculty of the c​ollege.”

In addition to its reputation for research excellence, Rush’s initiatives in areas such as community outreach, the quality of the students and the faculty and the infrastructure, as well as the dedication of its leadership to academic scholarship, were among the factors that drew Bean to Rush.

“The Graduate College has great potential, and I am excited to help lead the Graduate College toward realizing that potential,” he says. 

Success in the lab, and removing barriers to it

Bean has published more than 65 peer-reviewed papers, and he has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and private foundations. He describes his research as fundamental biology that is focused on understanding how an essential process common to all cells works and what happens when that process does not work correctly. 

“Our fundamental research has led to translational insights that have helped us to understand diseases like neuroblastoma, glioblastoma and Alzheimer’s disease, underscoring the essential nature of the process we study,” he says.

On top of his success in the lab, Bean’s achievements as an educator reach beyond the classroom. He is a leader in the recruitment and retention of under-represented populations in science, particularly in doctoral biomedical programs. He led a series of studies examining the barriers to recruiting, admitting and retaining doctoral students from a diverse population and offered solutions. Based on that research, UTHealth revised its admissions process, broadened recruitment efforts and added significant support systems for all doctoral students.

These strategies include adopting a more holistic admissions process that relies less on exam scores, broadening recruitment efforts, and creating an inclusive and supportive environment to retain students.

“Graduate school can be difficult,” Bean says. “Students need both academic and social support during their studies.”

Foresees growth in online learning and collaborations

His work complements Rush’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and dovetails with the Initiative to Maximize Student Development​, an existing NIH-funded PhD training program for under-represented students that is directed by faculty in the Graduate College.

Bean says he foresees growth in the Graduate College’s online offerings and in interactions with academic and industrial partners: “Enhanced opportunities for experiential (active) learning, online coursework and career development efforts will help our students succeed in the Graduate College and beyond.”  

Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Bean earned his undergraduate degree in psychobiology from Oberlin College in Ohio, and his doctorate in pharmacology, cell biology and neuroscience from Yale University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Karolinska Institute, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Stanford University before moving through the faculty ranks at McGovern Medical School and joining Rush University.​