Medical Science Educator

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 315–324 | Cite as

Integration of Microbiology, Pharmacology, Immunology, and Infectious Disease Using Active Teaching and Self-Directed Learning

  • Natalie Steinel
  • Gregory C. Palmer
  • Emily Nowicki
  • Ernestine Lee
  • Elizabeth Nelson
  • Marvin Whiteley
  • Michael W. LeeEmail author


In an era of decreasing basic science curriculum at medical schools, we sought to re-imagine how to optimally deliver three core basic science disciplines (microbiology, pharmacology, and immunology) together with infectious disease in a 5-week course. This course, developed as part of a new 1-year pre-clinical basic science curriculum at the recently established Dell Medical School (DMS) at the University of Texas at Austin, featured a fully integrated curriculum in which the majority of the sessions were team-taught. This course, in line with the goals and missions of DMS, presented material using primarily self-directed and active learning approaches. Here, we describe the format and content of the course. We present our strategy and rationale for selecting these particular learning modalities and topics for pre-class and in-class coverage, using educational and cognitive psychology literature as a guide. We also discuss how, based on feedback from both student evaluations and performance data, the course evolved over the first two iterations.


Integrated curriculum Co-teaching Self-regulated learning Self-Direceted learning Flipped classrooms Basic sciences Active learning Problem based learning 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval


Informed Consent


Supplementary material

40670_2018_689_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (76 kb)
Supplemental Fig. 1 Overview of the 2016–2017 “Foundations of Disease” course. Shown here is a breakdown of the daily topics and cases covered during PILLARS and LGI sessions for the first iteration of the course. PILLARS cases are highlighted in blue. (PDF 76 kb)
40670_2018_689_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (85 kb)
Supplemental Fig. 2 Overview of the 2017–2018 “Foundations of Disease course. Shown here is a breakdown of the daily topics and cases covered during PILLARS and LGI sessions for the second iteration of the course. PILLARS cases are highlighted in blue. (PDF 84 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Association of Medical Science Educators 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental SustainabilityLoyola UniversityChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Science and MathCurry CollegeMiltonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Population Health, Division of Family Medicine, Dell Medical SchoolUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  5. 5.Department of Medical Education, Dell Medical SchoolUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  6. 6.College of SciencesGeorgia Tech UniversityAtlantaUSA
  7. 7.Department of Oncology, Dell Medical SchoolUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  8. 8.Live Strong Cancer Institutes, Dell Medical SchoolUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  9. 9.Department of Medical Education and Live Strong Cancer InstitutesThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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