Medical and Graduate School Education in Pathology

The resources of the Department of Pathology support a full range of educational programs at Harvard Medical School (HMS), the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), and active participation in teaching is strongly encouraged for faculty and trainees in the Department.

Members of the Department of Pathology play important roles as educators in several different programs:

Faculty, fellows, and trainees of the Department of Pathology serve as instructors in general pathology courses, in addition to systemic and organ-based pathophysiology courses in both the HMS Pathways and HST core curricula, at the HSPH, and within GSAS. Faculty typically participate in these courses as course directors or lead instructors, while trainees participate as laboratory instructors and discussion group leaders. Members of the department teach in virtually every pre-clinical Pathology and Pathophysiology course, as well as in other basic science courses (e.g., Immunology, Anatomy, and Molecular Biology). Several core courses in pathology for medical and graduate students at HMS are directed or co-directed by faculty in the department. To encourage and recognize teaching, residents in the Department of Pathology are appointed as Clinical Fellows at HMS.

Pre-clinical courses at HMS

The Foundations and Immunity in Defense and Diseases courses in the HMS Pathways curriculum, as well as the HST Human Pathology course, are the primary introductions to disease mechanisms and pathophysiology for first-year students at HMS. These courses are highly rated, and receive among the best overall course evaluations among the pre-clinical offerings in either curricula. Drs. Lichtman, Lovitch, Mitchell, Padera, and Schoen have all been recognized by school-wide teaching awards voted upon by the HMS and/or HST students. Department Faculty not only contribute the bulk of Pathology teaching in HMS and HST, but have also played major developmental roles in designing the HMS Pathways and Advanced Integrative Science Curriculum (AISC) curricula, through a major educational reform undertaken in the past 5 years.

HMS Pathways Curriculum (Pathways Curriculum Map)

Introduced in 2015 as part of a comprehensive curricular reform at HMS, the Pathways curriculum utilizes a “flipped classroom” format involving significant self-directed learning in preparation for in-class small group case-based learning and laboratory education. Each class includes 135 medical students (including both M.D. and M.D.-Ph.D. students), who take classes alongside approximately 35 dental students. Students in this curriculum complete pre-clinical coursework in 14 months before proceeding to core clerkships (the Principal Clinical Experience (PCE)). Following the PCE, students are required to complete a 3-month scholarly project, as well as two AISC selectives, which can involve work or time in the BWH Pathology Department.

Pathways courses taught by faculty, fellows, and trainees of the Department of Pathology include:

  • Foundations (PWY100)
    Scott Lovitch, Course Co-Director for Pathology and Histology
    170 M.D. and D.M.D. students
    13-week required pre-clinical course in the first year that teaches the fundamentals of systemic pathology and cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease, as a part of larger course that includes genetics, anatomy, biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, and pharmacology

  • Immunity in Defense and Disease (PWY110)
    Andrew Lichtman, Course Director
    170 M.D. and D.M.D. students
    5-week required pre-clinical course in the first year that teaches the fundamentals of immunology, as part of a larger course that includes dermatology and rheumatology
  • Homeostasis I (PWY130)
    Scott Lovitch, Course Core Faculty for Pathology
    170 M.D. and D.M.D. students
    9-week required pre-clinical course in the first year covering cardiovascular, respiratory, and hematologic physiology, pathophysiology, and pathology
  • Homeostasis II (PWY131)
    Scott Lovitch, Pathology Coordinator
    170 M.D. and D.M.D. students
    10-week required pre-clinical course in the first year covering renal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and reproductive physiology, pathophysiology, and pathology
  • Cancer Biology (AISC600)
    20-30 M.D. students
    Post-clerkship AISC (required selective): a one-month selective taught by several BWH Pathology faculty.

HST Curriculum (HST curriculum map)

HST is a distinct M.D. and Ph.D. educational program that synergizes the strengths of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, and the Harvard teaching hospitals in a unique collaboration that integrates science, medicine, and engineering. There are typically 30-50 students per class, with a mix of M.D., M.D.-Ph.D. and Ph.D.-only students. The curriculum is largely didactic and laboratory-based, with an emphasis on problem solving and understanding research approaches to clinical questions; there is also a rigorous 6-12-month research thesis requirement.

HST courses taught by faculty, fellows, and trainees of the Department of Pathology include:

  • Human Pathology (HST030)
    Richard Mitchell and Robert Padera, Co-Directors
    50 MD, MD-PhD, and PhD students
    13-week required pre-clinical course in the first year that teaches normal structure-function, the fundamentals of systemic pathology, and the current practice of academic pathology, in addition to a thorough leavening with state-of-the art biomedical research
  • Biomaterials, Tissue Engineering, and Regenerative Therapeutics (HST521)
    Frederick Schoen, Course Director
    10-15 MD and MD-PhD students
    13-week pre-clinical elective
  • Blood Vessels and Endothelial Phenotypes in Health and Disease (HST527)
    Guillermo Garcia-Cardena, Course Co-Director
    10-15 MD and MD-PhD students
    13-week pre-clinical elective

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

There are 20-30 students per class, with greater than 90% holding prior doctoral degrees. The curriculum is didactic and laboratory-based.

HSPH courses taught by faculty, fellows, and trainees of the Department of Pathology:

  • Pathophysiology of Human Disease (EH208)
    10 MPH and PhD students
    12-week course required for most students that teaches the fundamentals of systemic pathology.

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

HMS matriculates over 250 graduate students annually (approximately 150 Ph.D. students, with the others receiving M.B.E., M.M.S., and other graduate degrees). Several of these students will take a core Pathology elective, HBTM 200/HST035, teaching the principles and practice of human pathology. In addition, these students can elect to do their graduate thesis research in the laboratories of BWH Pathology Department Faculty who also hold appointments in one of the HMS Graduate Programs (including Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Immunology, Virology, Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics, Biophysics, Neuroscience, Systems Biology, and Chemical Biology). The Biological and Biomedical Sciences program includes a translational research track, the Leder Program in Human Biology and Translational Medicine, which includes additional exposure to pathology through additional required courses, clinical observerships, and focused laboratory instruction.

GSAS courses taught by faculty, fellows, and trainees of the Department of Pathology include:

  • Pathology of Human Disease (HBTM 200/HST035)
    Scott Lovitch, Course Director
    30-40 PhD, MSc, and advanced undergraduate students
    15-week survey course in human pathology, required for PhD students in the Leder Program in Human Biology and Translational Medicine and open to all graduate and advanced undergraduate students as an elective, covering cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease, fundamentals of systemic pathology, and frontiers of translational research in human pathology

Resources for Pathology Trainees

Current and prospective residents and fellows interested in teaching are advised to visit the Harvard Medical School Resident and Fellow Teaching Portal, and to contact the relevant course director(s) for additional information regarding teaching in specific courses.

Resources for Students

Students interested in enrolling in any of the courses listed above should visit the website of the Harvard Medical School Office of the Registrar for information regarding enrollment. Non-student affiliates of the Department (e.g., postdoctoral fellows) may be eligible to enroll in courses as a professional benefit, and are advised to contact the Benefits Office at their home institution for additional information.

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