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Human Biology and Disease

Summer course: May 2 – May 24, 2024, 9 am until 11 am each day (in-person)
Credit: 1-3 hours
Registration: Opens March 25, 2024
Enrollment limit: endless

HuBD Flyer


Description: requirements and attendance


Course organizers
The course has been organized by Dr. Mark de Caestecker MB BS, Ph.D., Dr. Matt Luther MD MSCI, nephrologists and physician scientists who direct the ASPIRE Program for Molecular Medicine (APMM), and Dr. Bradley Richmond MD Ph.D., a physician scientist from the Division of Pulmonary Medicine at Vanderbilt. Stephanie Gober is a Senior Administrative Assistant in the Department of Pathology Microbiology and Immunology as well as the course coordinator.

Please address any enquiries about the course and registration to Mary Gray Lindstrom at:

Course Description
The aim of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive, organ-based overview, of human biology and disease pathophysiology from a clinical perspective. What distinguishes the proposed course from any other courses or programs that are currently offered at Vanderbilt, is that it will be comprehensive, covering all the major organ systems in the human body, and will be taught by clinicians from a clinical, rather than a basic science, perspective. There will be 15 topics taught covering 12 organ systems, each over 2-hour blocks coordinated by a physician or physician scientist involved in treating patients with common diseases affecting that organ system. Students will be instructed to register with Medscape (or UptoDate), on-line portals for students, physicians and healthcare professionals, and use to read about and write brief reports on clinical topics being discussed each day. The last session of each block will be in a case report format in which instructors bring along a patient suffering from the disease being discussed, so that students can develop an intimate understanding of what it is like to suffer from the disease being discussed during that teaching block.

To complete three credit hours (quality hours for full credit), students will be expected to attend 15 mornings of didactic and interactive teaching blocks over the three-week Human Biology and Disease immersion course. Some students may elect to attend 5 to 10 selected morning blocks for 1 or 2 credit hours rather than complete the 3 credit hour course. There are no prerequisites for attending this course other than being a Ph.D. student or post-doctoral fellow enrolled in one of the biomedical sciences programs at Vanderbilt University. The course will be graded based on attendance and on grading daily entries for each of the topic areas using a time stamped, on-line course management system.

Grading and attendance
The course will be graded for quality credit hours based on attendance and grading of daily entries for each of the topic areas using a time stamped, on-line course management system that has been developed for the Vanderbilt Program of Molecular Medicine. These will include a brief entry before each of the daily sessions summarizing their reading about the condition being presented that day (based on their reading on Medscape or UptoDate). These entries will be graded by the course organizers accompanied by feedback. Students will be allowed no more than four missed sessions for excused and unexcused absences to complete the course requirements for 3 credit hours. This may include one unexcused absence on first day of the course (allowing for a small number of the students who are unclear about instructions from the start of the course), and one unexcused absence due to misunderstanding about course requirements later. It will be the responsibility of the student to find out from the course organizers what are acceptable reasons for excused absences if they are unclear about this. Examples of excused absences would include health problems, family emergencies, but not vacations or attendance at a friend’s wedding. While conflict with research activities will generally not be acceptable as an excused absence, first-year students who have just joined their lab may be inexperienced regarding how long procedures take.  They will be allowed to miss a maximum of two sessions for compelling research reasons (with a note from their PI).  Examples may include team-based lab procedures (e.g. a lab protein prep or animal experiment), an important lab meeting, required seminars/presentations, or receipt/processing of time-sensitive clinical specimens.  In addition, unless there are exceptional circumstances (as judged by the course organizers), an excused absence will require that the student enters the reason for his/her absence into the course management system before the topic block starts. An excused absence submitted after the block will be considered unexcused. Finally, excused absences must be accompanied by approved entries into the course management system by the student based on reading about the conditions being discussed on that day. These entries will be approved or rejected by the organizers.

Finally, for those students taking only 5 or 10 sessions, they may have no more than one unexcused or excused absence per 5 sessions.

Course requirements
As patients from VUMC will be participating in HuBD, all students participating in the course have to take and pass the on-line HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) training and provide Stephanie Gober with a copy of their HIPAA training certificate before being able to participate in the course (both for credit and audit).

Reading material
Before starting the course please visit and bookmark the Medscape or UpToDate websites within the Eskind Library site using the link below so you can have access to UpToDate for background reading:



Both provide excellent on-line resources for the background to the clinical cases and diseases that will be taught during the course. We suggest you visit both before starting the course and decide which one suits you best (or use both!)


Past Course Materials