Curriculum

Welcome  from Associate Provost Dr. Linda Hyman:

In the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences at Boston University we are committed to providing our students with all the tools and resources necessary to excel in biomedical research and beyond.  This means we consider not just what we teach, but how best to teach it.  We consider what knowledge, skills and experiences best prepare our students for the opportunities and challenges that await them.

GMS faculty and students redesigned some of the infrastructure around our teaching and training mission.  The result of that effort is affectionately referred to as FiBS, which stands for Foundations in Biomedical Sciences.  FiBS I focuses on first year course work while starting in the second year, focus is on professional development and mentoring.  Activities range from seminars and workshops to classes for credit and can be explored throughout a graduate student’s tenure at BUSM.  The details of both phases of the FiBS curriculum are described below.  We encourage you to read on and see the results of our efforts as a community of faculty, students and staff committed to excellence in research and training.

What is FiBS I?

What are some important features of the proposed integrated curriculum?

As a student in FiBS, what else do I need to know?

What is FiBS I?

FiBS I is a new first year PhD curriculum that was introduced in 2011 and is the result of an intensive year-long study of a committee of GMS faculty leaders in graduate education.  During its development the committee was tasked to develop integrated course work for first year students that would:

  • Encourage students to think in a rigorous and interdisciplinary fashion
  • Coordinate content across courses, programs and departments
  • Reduce redundancy in course content
  • Decrease lecture hours
  • Promote collegiality among participating doctoral students

What are some important features of the proposed integrated curriculum?

The curriculum is designed to be challenging, fast paced and interactive. In addition, because of its modular structure it can be modified to adapt to individual (or program) needs. In order to achieve these goals the following key elements have been incorporated into the FiBS I modular structure:

  • A critical thinking component is integrated into each module.

These activities are carried out in small (6-8 students + 1 facilitator) break-out groups. Example activities for critical thinking include paper discussions, structural workshops, bioinformatics sessions, etc.

  • Students can take program-specific courses beginning with their first semester of study.

The core curriculum is coordinated to span 1.5 semesters to allow for additional program specific courses. The second half of the spring semester will allow students to choose from elective offerings including translational genetics and genomics, molecular metabolism, and physiology of specialized cells.

  • Each module has a separate course number, exam(s), and grade.

Each module has co-course directors who sit on a curriculum steering committee with the other module course directors.

As a student in FiBS, what else do I need to know?

  • FiBS does not operate on the standard University calendar, so be sure to check the start and end dates for all modules
  • As this is a new curriculum we are very interested in student feedback.  Formalized, anonymous course evaluations will be made standard practice for all modules and  participation in this effort is expected
  • Students may need to engage in self-directed learning to manage deficiencies.  Tutoring and extra help from TAs and faculty will be available – but the expectation is that students will be proactive