Department of Molecular Medicine  

Department of Molecular Medicine Education

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Faculty in the Department of Molecular Medicine participate in the preclinical curricula through teaching in three Foundation courses and two Distribution courses

Foundation Courses

Foundation courses are interdisciplinary and represent approximately 70 percent of the professional curriculum. In Foundation courses I, III, and IV (VTMED 5100, VTMED 5300, VTMED 5400), students work in small groups under the guidance of a faculty tutor. Case-based exercises are used to facilitate the understanding of basic science concepts within the context of clinical medicine. In some courses, three two-hour tutorial sessions are scheduled each week. These are complemented by lectures, laboratories, and discussion sessions or other organized learning opportunities specific to the individual course. Faculty members are available to respond to questions that arise as a result of the case-based exercises.


VTMED 5100 - The Animal Body (Foundation Course I)
Designed to enable students to understand the principles of veterinary anatomy at the gross, microscopic, and ultrastructural levels. Emphasizes developmental anatomy to the extent that it reflects determination of adult form and species differences. Radiologic and related imaging techniques are used throughout the course to assist in the understanding of normal structural anatomy. Understanding of the anatomic basis of common surgical procedures is achieved during the various dissection procedures. The course is based on tutorials with significant emphasis on practical laboratories. Lectures and modules complement student learning.

Participating Faculty: Natasza Kurpios, Tutor, Course Design Group member


VTMED 5200 – Cell Biology and Genetics (Foundation Course II)
Designed to develop an appreciation of the molecular and cellular basis of animal health and disease. Students gain an understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate cell function, the molecular signaling processes that form the basis of integrated function and the response to disease, and the mechanisms underlying inherited traits and genetic disease. Students are introduced to the pathologic basis of disease and the immune response by studying cellular responses to injury. Emphasis is placed on defining and characterizing normal cell function and on understanding how mutations in specific genes promote disease. Fundamental biological processes as revealed by gross and microscopic pathological changes are emphasized. The course is divided into two parts separated by a midterm exam. The first part is made up of three sections: Principles of Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, and Medical Genetics. The second half of the course builds upon and expands these principles, using examples from veterinary medicine including wound repair and cancer. In both parts, clinical cases are utilized to illustrate the concepts presented.

Participating faculty:
Richard Cerione, Lecturer, Group Discussion Leader
Ruth Collins, Lecturer, Group Discussion Leader
Clare Fewtrell, Lecturer, Group Discussion Leader
Natasza Kurpios, Group Discussion Leader
Roy Levine, Lecturer, Group Discussion Leader, Cell Biology and Cancer Sections Leader, Course Design Group member
Maurine Linder, Lecturer, Group Discussion Leader
Robert Oswald, Group Discussion Leader, Course Design Group member
Carolyn Sevier, Lecturer, Group Discussion Leader
Geoffrey Sharp, Group Discussion Leader
Holger Sondermann, Lecturer, Group Discussion Leader
Gregory Weiland, Lecturer, Group Discussion Leader, Cell Signaling Section Leader, Course Design Group Member, Course Leader


VTMED 5300 - Function and Dysfunction (Foundation Course III)
Designed to develop students' understanding of how an animal maintains itself as a functional organism; how the maintenance of function is achieved through the integration of different organ systems; how tissue structure relates to tissue function; how injury alters structure and leads to dysfunction, manifested as clinical signs; how organ function can be assessed; and how organ function can be modulated pharmacologically. The course incorporates aspects of physiology, biochemistry, cell biology, histology, pathology and histopathology, clinical pathology, and pharmacology.

Participating faculty:
Clare Fewtrell, Lecturer, Tutor, Course Design Group member
Toshi Kawate, Lecturer
Roy Levine, Tutor
Linda Nowak, Lecturer, Tutor, Course Design Group member
Robert Oswald, Lecturer
Geoffrey Sharp, Lecturer, Tutor, Course Design Group member
Gregory Weiland, Lecturer, Tutor, Course Design Group member


VTMED 5400 Host, Agent, and Defense (Foundation Course IV)
This course seeks to develop an understanding of the interplay between the immunological system of the host and the most significant bacterial and viral agents that cause disease in animals. Lectures focus primarily on adaptive and innate immunity, as well as bacterial and viral pathogens and the diseases they cause. Autoimmunity, epidemiological methods to investigate infectious disease at the herd and single animal levels, and techniques and tools to control infectious disease are also important components of the course. In the laboratory, animals are used to illustrate some aspects of infectious diseases.

Participating faculty:
Wayne S. Schwark, Lecturer


VTMED 5500 Animal Health and Disease (Foundation Course V)
Integrates the clinical sciences of medicine, surgery, anesthesiology, radiology, and theriogenology, which are themselves integrated subjects, with systems pathology and relevant aspects of applied pharmacology. The course is presented on a systems basis moving from clinical signs of alteration of function, to pathophysiology of clinical signs, to strategies of diagnosis and treatment. Specific examples are used to establish a cognitive framework and knowledge of most important diseases. This course provides a sound foundation for clinical rotations in Foundation Course VI. It builds upon the strengths developed in earlier courses by an increased exposure to case examples in a more directed way, taking advantage of the diversity of skills and special knowledge of both faculty and students. A variety of educational techniques are used, including lectures in which interaction is encouraged, laboratories, demonstrations, case discussions, and autotutorials.

Participating faculty:
Wayne S. Schwark, Lecturer


Distribution Courses

Distribution courses comprise 30 percent of the curriculum and are usually scheduled during the first half of each spring semester. During the first two years, many of the distribution courses are oriented to the basic sciences. During years three and four, students have additional distribution course offerings from which to choose. Some emphasize clinical specialties, whereas others integrate basic science disciplines with clinical medicine and are co-taught by faculty members representing both areas.

The department of Molecular Medicine offers the following electives in Clinical Pharmacology:


VTMED 6550 - Clinical Pharmacology
Spring. 0.5 credits. (May be repeated for credit max. of two times.) - grades only.
Enrollment limited to: third- and fourth-year veterinary students.
Offered after Foundation Courses I–V and formal exposure to pharmacology course work is completed. The course is designed to familiarize students with drug use in the clinical setting and uses ongoing cases in the Cornell University Hospital for Animals as a teaching tool. Pharmacological concepts are emphasized, with a focus on the rationale for drug choice, alternative drug choices available, pharmacokinetic considerations, and potential drug interactions/toxicities. This course is offered at the time students are about to embark on their clinical rotations. It is designed to emphasize practical aspects of pharmacology in the clinical setting, using basic concepts obtained during formal course work. The onus is placed on the student to explain/rationalize drugs employed in clinical cases in the teaching hospital.

Participating faculty: Gregory Weiland, Course Leader


VTMED 6324 - Antimicrobial Drug Therapy in Veterinary Medicine
Spring. 1 credit. (May be repeated for credit a maximum of two times) Letter grades only.
Enrollment limited to: second-, third-, and fourth-year veterinary students.
Familiarizes students with antimicrobial drugs used in veterinary practice. Builds on fundamental pharmacological and microbiological principles covered in Foundation Courses III and IV and considers antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and anticancer drugs from the point of view of unique pharmacokinetic properties, indications for clinical use, and potential toxicities as the basis for rational use.

Participating faculty: Wayne S. Schwark, Course Leader


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