Medical and Dental Student Teaching
The Department of Pathology and Cell Biology is both a clinical and basic science department dedicated to clinical care, education, and research. Our diverse faculty teaches in all phases of medical school instruction throughout the four years of medical education. Our faculty provides instruction in the Basic Science Fundamentals curriculum that includes Histology, Gross Anatomy, Human Development, Basic Pathology, Neuropathology, and Organ System Pathology in the Pathophysiology course The Body in Health and Disease. During the major clinical year we provide instruction in Surgical Pathology during the Surgery clerkship and in other clinical specialties when medical students and their clinical teams consult our pathologists regarding specific patient diagnoses. In the fourth year, our faculty provides the opportunity for further one-on-one instruction in Pathology with elective months in Anatomic Pathology, Neuropathology and Clinical Pathology. Pathology faculty also serve as mentors for senior (fourth year) medical students pursuing a 4-month scholarly project. During the four months, the faculty member meets with the student on a weekly basis to design and execute a specific investigation, culminating in a thesis paper that undergoes further review by faculty in the medical school Office of Curricular Affairs.
The Department has a deep commitment to teaching for all of our students in the MD, DDS and PhD programs and offers several integrated programs providing instruction in Organ System Histology, Pathophysiology, and Pathology. The dental school curriculum includes the Fundamentals basic science curriculum augmented by a course in Oral Pathology associated with systemic disease as well as a course in Advanced Oral Pathology during the dental clinical year.
Courses in the Basic Sciences
Clinical Gross Anatomy
The Clinical Gross Anatomy course is divided into three blocks each with a series of anatomical lectures, dissection laboratories, and non-dissection small group exercises. Each block ends with a written and practical examination. The first block introduces the basic principles of Gross Anatomy using the upper limb, back, and lower limb as a paradigm. The second block focuses entirely on the head and neck. The thorax, abdomen, and pelvis will be studied during the third block.
The goal of Clinical Gross Anatomy is for student physicians to acquire the knowledge and language of Anatomy necessary to practice medicine and facilitate discussion of problems and medical findings among colleagues. Anatomy is taught using different methods that emphasize concepts, not memorization, as well as an appreciation of the association between structure and function. Students learn Anatomy through dissection, discussion of clinical cases, palpation, and examination of prosected materials, radiographs, and cross-sectional images. Clinicians are involved both in and out of the dissection laboratory and reinforce Anatomy through Radiology, Surgery, and Clinical Procedures.
College of Dental Medicine Faculty
Molecular Mechanisms is given during the first semester of the medical and dental curriculum. This segment consists of multiple basic science components, including Histology and Basic Pathology which are taught by faculty members of the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. Lectures and laboratories in the Histology course present the general structure and organization of tissues, with specific coverage of epithelium, connective tissue, bone and cartilage, nerve, muscle, blood and hematopoietic elements, lymphoid tissue, and blood vessels. The Basic Pathology course introduces students to the principles, pathophysiologic mechanisms and gross and microscopic pathology of inflammation, repair, and neoplasia. The course includes lectures, laboratories, and microscopic tutorials. These principles of basic pathology are then further applied, developed and integrated into the subsequent pathophysiology organ system course, The Body in Health and Disease (see below).
The Body in Health and Disease
This pathophysiology segment of the medical and dental school curriculum integrates pathology instruction in the neuroscience and organ system sections. The lectures, laboratories, and small groups in this segment cover the basic histology and pathology (including pathogenesis and gross and microscopic pathology) of the nervous system as well as cardiac, pulmonary, renal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and hematologic systems, with a separate segment on organ system oncology.
3rd Year (Major Clinical Year)
Surgical Pathology (in Surgery Clerkship)
Students on the surgical clerkship at CUMC meet weekly for an hour in our surgical pathology unit to review classical and current examples of surgical specimens, emphasizing clinic-pathologic correlations.
4th Year (Electives + Scholarly Project)
- Anatomic Pathology: Students on this elective experiences the breadth of activities in the field of anatomic pathology as practiced in a major medical center. The activities including one-on-one sessions with pathologists reporting gross and microscopic diagnoses for surgical and autopsy specimens, liver biopsy and explant specimens, observation of adult and pediatric autopsies, special tutorials in renal, gynecologic and other pathology specialties, didactic lectures in organ system pathology, case conferences in surgical pathology, and introductory overview and shadowing of the clinical pathology service (including blood bank, transfusion medicine, pheresis, clinical chemistry, and microbiology). Students have the opportunity to assist in teaching first-year medical students in histology and pathology laboratories, to present a clinical case at selected early-morning autopsy conferences for medical students and to prepare a short slide presentation of a diagnostic case or clinicopathologic topic (presented to attending and resident staff at surgical pathology conference). The overriding focus of this elective is to provide the student a strong correlation of the clinical presentation, patient signs and symptoms, laboratory test results, and radiologic investigations with morphology and current concepts in specific disease pathogenesis.
- Neuropathology: Students on this elective attend daily microscopic reporting sessions for diagnostic neuropathology cases (including biopsy specimens of muscle and brain tissue), weekly gross reviews of recent postmortem brain and spinal cord specimens, neurology tumor board conferences, weekly autopsy conferences, and may accompany neuropathologists to the operating room for evaluating frozen sections.
- Clinical Pathology: Students are exposed to the many subspecialties within clinical pathology, including transfusion medicine, pheresis, precision medicine, blood bank, hematology, and microbiology. This curriculum includes didactic lectures, weekly clinical conferences, morning attending rounds with a clinical pathologist and shadowing resident and attending staff.
The pathology faculty members are available and eager to mentor senior students on their 4-month scholarly project. The scholarly project aims to develop the student’s abilities to generate hypotheses, exhibit curiosity, and develop a pattern of life-long learning and to participate in the process through which new knowledge is generated, and assess the importance of novel ideas. The student and faculty mentor initially meet to determine the topic of their investigation, which may range broadly, involving basic science investigations, clinical research, aspects of global health, medical education, and/or population health. The intersection of these areas with pathology mentorship may involve histology, gross pathology and light microscopy, electron microscopy, immunohistochemical studies, precision medicine studies, basic science laboratory investigations, and demographic and clinicopathologic diagnostic correlations. Once the project is established (with oversight by the Office of Curricular Affairs), the student and faculty mentor meet on a regular weekly basis over the four months to review the student’s independent work, culminating by the end of four months in a thesis paper which is reviewed by the faculty mentor and the Office of Curricular Affairs. The results of scholarly projects are often suitable for submission for publication in peer-reviewed medical and educational journals.