Socio-Medical Sciences and Public Health

704.0 Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights (non-clinical elective)

Instructors: George J. Annas, J.D., M.P.H. and Michael Grodin, M.D.

Location: BUMC Talbot 3W

Telephone: 617 358-3160

Number of Students: One per month

Period to be Offered: One to two months

Description of Elective:

This tutorial is designed to provide the student an opportunity to become more familiar with a specific area of health law, bioethics, and/or human rights that has a direct impact on medical practice and/or health care policy, on the state, federal, or international level. The course consists primarily of directed readings, meetings with the instructor(s), participation in formal classes that are on-going, and participation in relevant activities of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights, including working with the Department’s nongovernmental organization, Global Lawyers and Physicians (

Topics appropriate for study include defining and implementing the human “right to health”; improving patient safety through regulation; protecting patient rights, including the right to make reproductive decisions; the role of physicians in preventing torture and other human rights abuses; and other specific topics that are proposed by the student. It is expected that at least one of the products that the student will produce during this elective is a comprehensive written paper on the problem the student has chosen to study.

Programs can be tailored to specific interests, and students interested in this elective are advised to contact one of the instructors at least 3 months in advance of the anticipated starting date. A written plan for the elective must be developed and approved prior to beginning the elective.


707.0 Health Care Entrepreneurship Program  (non-clinical elective)

Instructor: Anand Devaiah, M.D.

Location: BCD Building, 5th Floor

Telephone: (617) 617-638-7933     E-Mail:

Number of Students: Two per block

Period to be Offered:  offered year round (contact Dr. Devaiah directly regarding elective requirements)

Description of Elective:

The elective at the Health Care Entrepreneurship Program (HCEP) exposes the medical student to the health care system from the perspective of the Clinician Entrepreneur. It provides insight into the world of business focusing on the start-up phase of health care companies. It offers exposure to the process of building a company from the moment of idea inception; through the stage of business plan writing, to the point of financing and initiation of operations. While at HCEP the student will join the team and contribute in one of three ways:

  • Critically evaluate new business opportunities presented to HCEP,
  • Actively assist HCEP ventures by conducting clinical and market research necessary to advance  the project, or
  • Develop the student’s own ideas for a business opportunity

In addition to the tasks above, the elective will challenge and enhance the student’s analytic abilities, written and verbal communication skills, and his/her ability to function in a professional business environment. HCEP’s current areas of business interests include information technologies, health data and informatics, quality of care, clinical guidelines, cost containment, and delivery system efficiency.

Responsibilities will include:

1) Written report to senior staff members regarding analysis of business plans, research results, and/or a business proposal outline of their own specific health care business idea

2) Interviews with HCEP staff concerning their business experiences as needed

3) Weekly meetings with  to discuss ideas, insights, and progress

Participation in this elective requires:

1) A letter of intent written by the student and submitted  along with a current resume

2) An interview

The above requirements should be met at least 8 weeks prior to beginning the elective.


025.1 Genomic Editing and the Future of Medicine: Research Advances and Ethical Controversies

Instructors: Carl Franzblau Ph.D. (

Contact Information: Dr. Franzblau: Telephone (617) 638-5320 email:

Location: The assigned classroom where the meetings will be held will be communicated to students.

Number of Students: 5-10

Length of Elective: 4 weeks

Period to be Offered: Block 19

Description of Elective:

Genomic editing is a rapidly evolving field. The development of this innovative technology and its world-wide implications has placed it by far the most important new development in medicine in the 21st century. The number of publications appearing in the scientific literature far exceeds what one might normally expect in a new area of scientific methods. Thus, the course instructors will introduce 4th year students to an elective that focuses on this new and innovative technology, known as CRISPR, while at the same time honing their critical thinking skills, as they traverse this new medical breakthrough.

This elective involves three separate but completely interdependent components related to genome editing: 1) The how and why of genome editing; 2) The resources with which to accomplish goals; 3) Role of industry, academia, government and the public including: a) Biotech companies involved; b) Finances; c) Intellectual property ownership; d) Ethics and morality.
The expected educational outcomes from this elective is to introduce an understanding of the scientific mechanisms underlying the technology of genome editing and to give the students a stimulating discussion–rich exposure to the importance of this technology to the future of clinical medicine. Further, this elective will help students enhance their creative and critical thinking regarding this new development in medicine. Following that, the instructors will provide the students with relevant publications elaborating the exquisite sensitivity of this rapidly growing field. As stated above, there will be vigorous discussion (no lectures) of carefully screened assigned readings. We believe that the educational values of this elective will encompass a) learning about the new technology, b) developing critical analysis of the impact of this technology in medicine, c) debating the ethical concerns regarding this technology and d) developing awareness and understanding of the potential impact on the future of medicine.

Students will gain insight into the manner by which such technology can be brought to the bedside. Example of potential interventions to devastating genetic diseases will be considered along with critical discussion of publications in animal models and their implications in clinical medicine. This will permit students to formulate their own thoughts regarding the potential advantages and implications of these new innovative approaches to their own interests or specialties.
Students will learn how the biotechnology community, academic community, big Pharma, and the public at large fit in to the development of these unique processes. Selected sessions of this elective will be dedicated to exploring the role of biotechnology in the future of medicine. Questions that will be asked to explore these concepts include: 1) who are the drivers of the biotechnology companies, 2) what role does the public play in this arena, and 3) what are critical issues of intellectual property ownership? A discussion of who owns the technology, and its ethical implications, will be explored through the assigned articles on these critical issues.

Students meet with the instructors 3 during sessions per week. There will be a total of 10 sessions devoted to scientific and clinical discussions of the future implication of genomic editing in clinical medicine. They will report to the assigned classroom on the first day at 10 am. The first meeting will be an introduction devoted to providing students with an overview of the elective and detailed assignments and what is expected from them. Students will also be given a set of assignments and key questions that will be addressed in each assignment and to assist with formulating their presentation/discussion, and how to prepare a summary for the assignment. Beginning with the second meeting, students will prepare a short presentation (15 minutes) on the assigned topic to present their findings and analysis of the assignment, followed by discussion by the entire group and the faculty (90 minutes). At the end of each session, a one-on-one feedback to the students who presented will be made to evaluate their performance on the presentation and their analysis and conclusions. At the end of each week, the assignment for the upcoming week will be provided.

There will be a series of 10 assignments and presentations on selected key basic and clinical science articles on genomic editing technology. The students will be given ample time to read and critically analyze and appraise the research questions, methods, results and evaluate the findings and conclusions presented in the assigned articles. The students are expected to formulate a brief oral presentation (15 minutes) and a concise written summary of their conclusions on the assigned research articles. The students will present the summary of their analyses and findings and this becomes the basis for the class discussion (90 minutes) by students and participating faculty.