Medicine and Biomedical Research: Concepts and Values in Medicine
Angela M. Illig
Advisor, University Honors College
PREREQUISITES FOR PROGRAM ENROLLMENT/WHO SHOULD ENROLL?
This program should be of great interest to undergraduate students with career plans in the health professions, such as medicine. Some volunteer experience in hospitals, clinics, or the equivalent is preferred. In addition, two courses in the biological sciences or neuroscience, such as Biological Sciences 0150 or 0715 (Foundations of Biology 1), Biological Sciences 0160 or 0716 (Foundations of Biology 2), Neuroscience 1000 or 1003 (Introduction to Neuroscience), or Neuroscience 1250 or 1070 (Human Physiology) are prerequisite to some of the courses in the program.
COURSES AND COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
Concepts and Values in Medicine
This course will examine the various ways that both conceptual and normative assumptions enter into medical research and practice. We will examine various ethical dilemmas that arise during medical decision making and in the course of medical research. For example, we will look at the doctor-patient relationship in the light of a biopsychosocial model and the role that informed consent ought to play. We may consider, for example, the issues raised by stem cell research, different concerns and models of inquiry used by medical researchers and clinicians, and how values enter into experimental designs and protocols in medical research. We also may critically analyze the conceptual underpinnings of important ideas, for example, what a genetic disease is or what the relationship is between biological and medical concepts of race.
This course is designed to prepare students to critically examine arguments involving values, ethical issues, and philosophical and ideological positions. It is also designed to give students an awareness of some of the social dimensions of medicine.
Peter K. Machamer, Ph.D.
Clinical and Medical Research Experience
This course will offer students an unparalleled exposure to the diverse and complex fields of clinical practice and biomedical research that exist within the University of Pittsburgh community. We will explore specific clinical disorders and the associated patient care and research directions. Each week, a one-hour presentation by a clinical faculty member will detail a specific patient or group of patients that are of particular clinical interest to the presenter. Prior to this presentation, a member of that faculty member's laboratory or clinical practice will give the students a two-hour presentation to provide essential background information pertinent to the clinical presentation. Finally, students will attend a one-hour discussion and submit a written report that summarizes the information provided each week in the course. This course is designed to expose students to clinical realities and to the research that supports advancements in clinical practice. By the conclusion of the course, students will be able to synthesize and review the scientific and clinical literature for the purpose of identifying gaps in the research or clinical practice.
Gregory M. Cooper, Ph.D.
Critical Evaluation of the Scientific Literature: Behavioral Neuroscience and Human Physiology
This course meets twice weekly for 2-hour discussion sessions. The goal of the discussion is to provide more in-depth appreciation of scientific research than is available in general lectures, by focusing on original scientific articles of relevance to recent controversies that arose in addressing questions of how the brain controls animal behavior and physiology. Grades in the course will be based on weekly written homework assignments in which students prepare a summary of the main points of the research articles. Specifically, students are asked to indicate what the goals of the research were, what was done, what was found, what was concluded, and what additional questions remained that might lead to new experiments.
This course is designed to expose students to the primary scientific literature, rather than to texts or review articles, and to encourage students to develop skills in the critical evaluation of scientific information by assessing whether appropriate experiments were performed, whether sufficient data were collected and analyzed appropriately, whether the results obtained warrant the conclusions drawn, whether the new information has been appropriately integrated with previous results, and what additional information must be obtained in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the issues.
Edward M. Stricker, Ph.D.
Alan F. Sved, Ph.D.
EXPLANATION OF EXPERIENTIAL/OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM COMPONENT
This program will run in parallel with a summer research program in which undergraduate students, engaged in faculty-mentored biomedical research, will meet weekly to present to each other their research findings and ideas. Those latter students will have access to the clinical presentations mentioned above, while students in the new program in Biomedical Theory and Practice will have access to the student research presentations.
MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM
During the past 25 years, the University of Pittsburgh has become a major research institution in the United States. During the same time period, and not incidentally, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has become very prominent and well-respected, both locally and nationally. Among many consequences of these developments, the University of Pittsburgh now receives a great number of applications for admission into its undergraduate programs from students with research and clinical interests in the biomedical area.
A consortium of faculty from the medical school, the biomedical sciences, and the renowned Department of the History and Philosophy of Science has put together a program to integrate knowledge, strategy, and perspective in a new program that focuses on Biomedical Theory and Practice. The program is intended to be especially attractive to undergraduate students with career goals in the health sciences.
Notes: The three courses that comprise the new program have not been previously taught at Pitt; instead, they will be new courses designed specifically for this program and administered by the University Honors College. The instructors of each course will be senior faculty members rather than junior faculty, adjunct faculty, graduate students, or postdoctoral fellows.