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Preclinical Curriculum: Year 1

Curriculum Organization - Year I (36 weeks)

(Length of all blocks is approximate. See block schedule for actual dates. See MedScope for course details.)

Introduction to Clinical Medicine (Year Long)

Introduction to Clinical Medicine-I (ICM-I) is a multi-year longitudinal experience providing each student with the understanding of the components of clinical medicine and the community in which they will be learning/practicing in. The main course components are:

  • Class sessions: Through lectures and group sessions, topics such as the health history, interviewing special populations and understand business in medicine will be covered.
  • Preceptor sessions: Students will have an opportunity to practice what they learn in longitudinal clinical sessions throughout the year under the supervision of clinical faculty.
  • Service learning: Students will engage with various community partnerships in the surrounding community of West Baltimore. Through these activities, students will develop an understanding of the social determinants of health, physicians’ professional and social responsibilities and one’s own behaviors and attitudes about these issues.

Foundations of Research and Critical Thinking (FRCT) (Year Long)

This course is designed to stimulate critical thinking, enhance intellectual acuity and inquisitiveness, and to foster excellence in the development of clinician educators, clinician scientists and physician investigators. The goal is to help students understand basic research principles, evaluate research and the literature, and understand how research findings will affect their clinical practice. The course has two required components: 1) a didactic component consisting of a series of lectures and small group sessions and 2) completing a Scholarly Project. Scholarly projects will be based on a research project (basic, clinical or translational), a public health service project, or a hypothesis-driven grant application. Within the Scholarly Project, the student will demonstrate the ability to formulate a scientific hypothesis, describe the methods and procedures they would use to test the hypothesis, perform the background work that will form the basis of their project, and write a final report describing their work. Importantly, the Scholarly Projects will add breadth to the academic portfolio of the students as they apply to increasingly competitive residency training programs. The goal of the course is to provide all medical students with the necessary educational and practical tools to pursue a highly successful and productive career in clinical or academic medicine.

Structure and Development (10 weeks)

A comprehensive overview of the morphological and developmental organization of the human body is provided. The basic concepts of structure as related to function are described in lectures and demonstrations. Study includes all levels from gross morphology to the ultrastructure of cells revealed by electron microscopy. Laboratory facilities for gross examination are provided for dissection, topographical study, osteology and radiology. Light microscopical laboratories are available for study of histological preparations of human tissue and for correlation of tissues studied at this level with electron micrographs. The course also includes instruction in living anatomy, radiology and clinical correlation. Laboratory instructors include anatomists, surgeons and radiologists. The interdependence between structure and function in the different tissues and organs of the body is emphasized. 

Cell and Molecular Biology (9 weeks)

It is clear that, as biotechnology develops, an increasing number of diseases are understood at the cellular and molecular level. Thus, an understanding of biological molecules and their interactions underlies modern medicine and the treatment of diseases. The goal of this course is to present fundamentals of biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology and human genetics from an integrated multi-disciplinary perspective. Further, these molecular principles are correlated with clinical issues throughout the course so that the importance of cell biology in the illumination of the causes of, as well as the strategies for the treatment of many diseases, is clearly revealed.

This comprehensive course presents a concise view of many topics including the basic structure and function of mammalian cells, structure and function of proteins and enzymes, cellular energetics and metabolism, biochemical nutrition, cellular receptors and intracellular signaling. Fundamental principals of modern molecular biology are presented, including DNA structure and function, protein synthesis and the regulation of gene expression. The principles of modern molecular biology are integrated with clinical human genetics so that fundamentals of cytogenetics and population genetics are examined.

The goals of this course are accomplished through a series of focused lectures complemented by clinical correlation sessions presented by the clinical faculty. In addition, this course includes a major commitment to teaching fundamentals through multiple small group sessions where students learn through problem solving, clinical case studies and through discussion and presentation of the medical literature. 

Functional Systems (10 weeks)

An introduction to the study of cellular function. The course begins with the study of general membrane and cellular physiological principles, including diffusion and membrane permeability, osmotic pressure and cell volume changes, electrochemical equilibrium including the Nernst equation and Donnan equilibrium, the origin of resting membrane potentials, active and passive transport processes and epithelial transport. Study then focuses on action potential generation and propagation in excitable tissue like neurons and muscle cells, the structural and functional properties of skeletal muscle including its mechanical properties and excitation-contraction coupling and the pathophysiology of nerve and muscle.

This block covers the functional aspects of the major organ systems. It provides students with a basic understanding of mammalian and, in particular, human physiology, and lays the foundation for the study of clinical medicine. The subject matter is organized into sections that cover cellular, cardiovascular, renal, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine and integrative physiology. Each section ties together aspects of structure with function and includes discussion of relevant pathophysiological and clinical applications. Conference periods are used for clinical correlations, small group discussions, laboratory exercises and computer-assisted simulations. The curriculum includes problem-solving and problem-based, self-learning sessions. 

Neuroscience (6 weeks)

The Neurosciences course provides a unified approach to the study of the central nervous system, i.e., fundamental concepts of neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, neurophysiology and clinical neurology are considered in an integrated sequence. The course begins with structural, biochemical and developmental aspects of the brain and spinal cord. Studies of the major sensory and motor systems and consideration of higher neural functions subsequently form the core of the course. Clinical presentations highlight the importance of major neurobiological principles in the hospital and office setting. Methods used include lecture, laboratory and small group discussions, along with self-teaching and self-evaluation units. The course faculty includes members of the departments of anatomy and neurobiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, physiology and neurology. 


Last Revision: July 15, 2014