The Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine Program Curriculum

The HPTM Program requires students to be full-time students. They will take at least 9 credit-hours (hrs/wk) in each of the three academic terms for at least four years. By virtue of the unique interprofessional nature of the curriculum for this program, HPTM students are not required to take BBSC core courses. Click here to see the timeline.

In year 1 of the program, students will participate in problem-based learning and small group laboratory sessions alongside medical students in the Basic Science Core Courses of the Integrated Medical Curriculum (IMC). The foundational course for HPTM students will be divided into semester long modules which will run for years 1 and 2 of the program. Modules I-II will be concurrent with the problem-based learning (PBL) medical school courses, and will be based on topics in biomedical disciplines that are suggested by the problem cases in PBL. An interprofessional research design course will be taken by students in Term III of the first year, alongside medical students in the Translational Research Track of the IMC. Students will take research rotations beginning in the first year. Such rotations will be enriched through clinical encounters. Students will also take elective courses relevant to their specific area of research interest. Following advancement to candidacy, students may register for the dissertation course for the remainder of their graduate studies. Continued participation in the Translational Research Seminar Series will be the only course requirement after candidacy.


Course Descriptions

Gross Anatomy and Radiology
Students will participate in interprofessional small group, Problem-Based Learning activities with medical students in the Translational Research Track (recently approved by the SOM Curriculum). Small groups will be facilitated by faculty members of the ITS. Students will also participate in gross anatomy laboratory session.

Molecules, Cells, Tissues
Students will participate in interprofessional small group, Problem-Based Learning activities with medical students in the Translational Research Track (recently approved by the SOM Curriculum). Small groups will be facilitated by faculty members of the ITS. Students will also participate in laboratory sessions on histology.

Pathobiology and Host Defense
Students will participate in interprofessional small group, Problem-Based Learning activities with medical students in the Translational Research Track (recently approved by the SOM Curriculum). Small groups will be facilitated by faculty members of the ITS. Students will also participate in laboratory sessions concerning pathology.

Foundational course, Pathophysiology for translational scientists, HPTM modules I-IV
This course will serve as the foundation for all students in the HPTM curriculum, providing active student learning opportunities in a series of longitudinally integrated modules. This will not be a traditional lecture-based course, but rather scientific content will be presented in modalities that emphasize guided inquiry modalities to promote problem solving, analytical thinking, active learning, and cooperative group interactions. This course will emphasize the disciplines of physiology, pathology, and pathophysiology because they are the bridge between the basic and clinical sciences and because these disciplines provide an integrated understanding of the human body as a multicomponent system. Course content will be presented using a combination of classroom, laboratory, and relevant authentic environments. Activity-driven approaches will emphasize discovery-based learning and student-focused processes in order to develop the skills necessary for life-long autonomous learning, discipline authentic performances, and to achieve the expected competencies. The HPTM I-IV course is expected to build a contextual framework for clinical encounters, laboratory rotations, research focus-specific course work, and qualifying exam in year 2.

Interprofessional research design course
The Inter-professional Research Design (ITRD) course will team HPTM students with UTMB medical students in the translational track in an 8 week required course in identifying a translational problem and designing translational research projects. The course will use a combination of guided inquiry and more standard workshop and didactic formats to lead students through the processes of identifying a research question, generating a hypothesis, and reviewing the literature to develop rationale for the study. Experimental design including basic statistical approaches will be discussed. Other topics such as protection of human subjects, the search for funding sources, writing IRB protocols and grant applications will be touched on. The final product of the course will be a small grant proposal on a translational topic. Students will work in small teams (2-4 students) that include at least one PhD and one MD student. Each individual student will be required to generate their own interdisciplinary research proposal and demonstrate participation in the research proposal generated by their partner. Defined weekly interim assignments will lead the students towards the final research proposal. Student progress will be discussed in classroom sessions. In addition, course faculty will provide detailed feedback and formative assessments on an individual basis. Faculty mentors will also provide enrichments experiences regarding technical approaches and/or clinical relevance that will be tailored to each group's research topic. These enrichment sessions will include time in a laboratory observing/learning laboratory techniques and/or time in a clinical setting. Culminating activities will include: 1) final evaluation of proposals in a mock study section in class session and 2) presentation of research proposal in poster format at the MSSRP poster session. The research proposal will be graded based on scientific soundness, and evidence of interdisciplinary, interprofessional collaborative interactions.

Interprofessional Enrichment Activity
This enrichment activity will allow graduate students and medical students to come back together in groups to participate in lectures, workshops, and guided inquiry sessions concerning regulatory issues in human subjects research and animal research, experimental animal models, comparative anatomy, introduction to the clinical laboratory environment, clinical conferences with research correlations.

Research Rotations
An important component of training translational researchers is to provide exposure to the clinical realities of human disease and/or injury. So, in addition to the traditional laboratory rotation, HPTM students will be provide a focused opportunity to observe patients with disease and/or injury relevant to their specific area of scientific research. HPTM students, with guidance from their MTT mentors, will participate in clinical encounter opportunities appropriate to their area of research interest. Students will be expected to participate in 4 clinical encounter session during the first 18 months of study. Examples of clinical encounters for student in the infectious disease MTT include trips to Infectious disease outpatient clinic, inpatient consult service, visits to diagnostic laboratories (microbiology, molecular diagnostic and serology labs) in UTMB hospitals and to the UTMB Autopsy service. At the Autopsy service, students will have an opportunity to view and participate in an autopsy, usually working with one or more medical students. Students recruited into our Hepatitis and Hepatocellular Cancer MTT will, in conjunction with their laboratory rotation, spend 1-2 hours/week "shadowing" either a radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, or surgical oncologist during their normal clinic, and attend a one-hour weekly tumor board meeting to gain insight into the multidisciplinary approaches used to treat cancer patients.

Translational Research Seminar and "Meet the Professor"
This seminar series will team physicians and basic scientists to give presentations that illustrate the bi-directional collaborative nature of translational research. The goal of this seminar series is to demonstrate the important functions of inter-professional communication in driving successful translational research projects. Seminars will be held one evening per month. Students will participate in discussion with the professors after the seminar.

The HPTM Program will continue the theme of inter-professional collaborations in the conduct of translational research by utilizing co-mentoring teams composed of a basic scientist and physician from the ITS MTTs to guide each student's dissertation project. Both mentors will be involved in guiding the development, implementation and completion of the student's dissertation research project. The rationale for co-mentored research projects is that this mechanism will continue the student's exposure to both the scientific and clinical perspectives of a disease or injury state, and facilitate the further development of their inter-professional communication skills.