Students in a science class

Year 1

Scientific Trunk

The science behind the medicine.

The Scientific Trunk is your M1 preclinical year, the starting point in a journey of continuous learning. Integrating foundational science and related clinical experiences simulates what you will do throughout doctorhood. Regular practice now cements a valuable lifelong habit while building your knowledge and skill base. Pass/fail grading gives you some breathing room to figure it all out.

Faculty teaches in a lecture hall

The main features of the Scientific Trunk include:

  • One-week Launch orientation featuring M-Home house sorting and Doctoring small group assignements.
  • Foundational courses in molecular medicine, diagnostics and therapeutics, microbiology and immunology, and fused normal/abnormal organ sequences.
  • Chief Concern Course and Optimizing Patient Care Curriculum modules.
  • Development of patient care and information management skills throughout the year.
  • Additional longitudinal elements that start at this stage.
  • Histology lab.

Foundations of Molecular Medicine

This is your first sequence in medical school. It covers a general introduction to the biochemical, cellular and molecular process of the organ systems. Histology and anatomy also start during this course.

Foundations of Diagnostics and Therapeutics

This course provides an introduction to Pharmacology, Pathology and Radiology - disciplines core to the diagnosis of disease and the treatment of patients. You will learn how to approach looking at xrays and microscopy images, and gain an understanding of how drugs work.

Principles of Microbiology and Immunology

In this course, an overview of the immune system and its primary targets is laid out.

Students in an anatomy lab

Fused Normal/Abnormal Organ Sequences

One of the features of the updated curriculum is that normal and abnormal physiology content is combined into one sequence by organ system over the year versus one year of normal and one year of abnormal by organ system.

Consolidating the foundational material for each organ system, combined with related clinical cases, anatomy and histology all at the same time makes for deeply integrated content that reinforces what you learn.


  • Cardiovascular system
  • Respiratory system
  • Renal system
  • Gastrointestinal System/Nutrition
  • Endocrine System
  • Reproductive System
  • Neuroscience
  • Ear/Nose/Throat/Eye
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Infectious Diseases/Microbiology
  • Immunopathology/Skin
  • Hematologic System
  • Behavioral Science

By the end of the Scientific Trunk, you will have gained a comprehensive skill set that prepares you for expanded clinical time in the Clinical Trunk rotations.

As a physician, you never stop learning. By focusing on foundational knowledge from the beginning, we help students continue to learn and understand that medical school is not an endpoint in itself. It is a huge advantage to acquire the skills for asking questions and figuring out how to go about finding the answer if it hasn’t been given to you.

Michelle M. Daniel, MD, Assistant Dean for Curriculum and Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine

At a Glance

Please note, these diagrams are provided for reference only. Curriculum details are subject to change. Updated January 2019.