University of Pittsburgh


Combined Clinical Years

Molecular Medicine (PEDS 5720)

4 weeks

Course Director
Jonathan Finder, MD
Department of Pediatrics


Course Description

This course is designed with the future of medicine in mind.  Physicians practicing in the 21st century (and that is all of us) have to deal with an increasing body of medical literature, diagnostic testing, and disease screening that is molecular in nature.  This course is not designed to create future researchers.  Rather, we would like to give students the skills necessary to understand molecular diagnostics, molecular biomedical literature, and the direction that medicine is proceeding in the age of the human genome project.  This is a course designed as a small-group seminar.  The course is composed of a mixture of lectures (from some of the best and brightest researchers and clinicians the University has to offer) and student presentations.  Although there is an emphasis on genetic disease, we will also be exploring molecular aspects of diseases traditionally not tied to classical genetics.

Interpretation of medical literature that uses molecular techniques will be stressed.  Students who select this ILS course will graduate with an enhanced ability to critically read and understand the biomedical literature.

Lectures will focus on diseases that have been well characterized at the molecular level.  Forensic use of DNA will also be featured, and one lecturer will be the director of DNA forensics of the Allegheny Crime Lab.  This course will have 3–4 lectures per week in addition to student journal presentations.  Each student will be obliged to give a class presentation on 2 clinical/scientific journal articles that employ molecular techniques. 

This course satisfies the Integrated Life Science requirement and is limited to 20 students.

The goals of this course are that the student will:

  1. gain a knowledge of basic molecular biology in the context of the practice of medicine. 
  2. gain an intensive understanding of several diseases that have been well characterized at the molecular level.  
  3. be able to read and critique a biomedical paper,  understanding the techniques employed.

Educational Methods


Lectures Journal article presentations and critiques        



Evaluation is based on fulfilling course requirements, which include attending classes and giving two oral presentations.

Grading is pass/fail.

Faculty Note

Course Director Jonathan Finder, MD, is a recipient of the Sheldon Adler Award for Innovation in Medical Education and the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring. In addition, Dr. Finder is a member of the UPSOM Academy of Master Educators.