The curriculum is comprised of seven learning blocks (0.5 credits each), three experiential rotations (0.5 credits each), and a continuous seminar series (1.0 credit). Below are descriptions for each of the courses.

MEDSCIEN 9501—Communicating Science in the 21st-Century

Communication is an essential component of scientific research. This course will discuss different types of oral and written scientific communication and how to effectively communicate to different audiences. Examples of the types of communication discussed will include proposals, abstracts, papers, and posters. Students will compare scientific and lay communication and learn how to identify an audience and target communication accordingly. The publication process will be discussed in detail so that students have a better appreciation of the steps involved and the length of the process. Students will also learn about more recent forms of dissemination such as pre-prints and they will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this form of communication. Lastly, students will learn about how social media is used to communicate science.

MEDSCIEN 9502—Designing, Analyzing, and Interpreting Medical Science Research

This course will teach the theoretical framework of experimental design and important aspects of the scientific method. Students will learn about what constitutes an appropriate experimental control, how to properly replicate an experiment, and that statistical analysis needs to be considered at design stages. The reproducibility crisis will be used to highlight how essential different aspects of experimental design are to scientific research. Students will also learn about practical applications of major experimental approaches in medical science research. Students will identity suitable experimental approaches for diverse research questions that are relevant to basic science and clinical research. Different experimental approaches will be compared, and their advantages and limitations will be discussed. Students will learn how to properly statistically analyze different types of experimental data sets and productively interpret data in the context of previously published findings.

MEDSCIEN 9503—Science Policy

This course will simulate a policy-focused work environment where students learn the foundational principles of Canadian science policy and government regulation. Students will work in “policy teams” to tackle a major health-related policy issue and gain an awareness of career opportunities in the field. Students will work through the steps a federal policy team would take to solve a national health-related problem including: 1. Identification of the issue and a setting a national vision; 2. Identification of the challenges / barriers facing the realization of the national vision through data collection, environmental scanning, and conducting both a literature review and consultations; 3. Development of potential solutions to address identified barriers using governmental levers; and 4. The implementation of these solutions / policy initiatives.

MEDSCIEN 9504—Ethical Research Practices

With the constant advancement of research technology, unprecedented moral and ethical concerns are surfacing. Who owns medical and genetic data? What rights do animals have? What are the ethical implications of human cloning? This course will aim to demonstrate that research excellence is not possible without ethical principles. Students will apply ethical principles to discussions and analyses of basic science and clinical research. Students will review ethical issues and policies addressed by ethics committees to increase their competence in addressing ethical questions. Students will also review various approaches to addressing ethical challenges within the regulatory framework of research. Cases of animal and human ethics will be used so that students will provide interpretation, discussion, and recommendations about the scenarios.

MEDSCIEN 9505—Academic Integrity and Professionalism

This course will look at ethics and academic integrity in research. We will openly discuss what constitutes ethical behaviour and the implications of academic misconduct. Students will explore the importance of doing research in an ethical manner and how to establish an environment that supports that behaviour. Despite the importance of doing ethical research, evidence strongly suggests that misconduct is not particularly rare and often overlooked. The students will discuss multiple examples of ethical lapses and motivations that might drive misconduct. Ethical conduct in experimentation, animal studies, human studies, publishing, and collaborations will be specifically detailed including emerging threats such as predatory journals. The goal of the course will be to identify ethical issues early and develop mechanisms that ensure exemplary research.

MEDSCIEN 9506—Data Science

Data science is emerging as an important tool for integration of the increasingly voluminous and heterogeneous data acquired in biomedical and clinical settings. The purpose of this learning block is to provide students with a foundational understanding of the role data science plays in research design, data collection, analysis, interpretation, and visualization of findings to a wide variety of audiences. Students will explore the ethical and legal implications of data privacy, security, and storage of data collected in biomedical and clinical settings in the context of big data, artificial intelligence, and open science research practices. Students will develop an appreciation for the potential data science skills and tools have for propelling scientific advancement forward in the 21st century while also understanding the implications for the responsible conduct of research.

MEDSCIEN 9507—Research Excellence Through Diversity

To solve complex medical problems in an increasingly global environment, inclusion of diverse ideas, perspectives, and study populations are vital. In this block, students will learn foundational knowledge on what diversity means when applied to medical science research and why it is essential to strive towards equitable diverse and inclusive medical science. Implicit bias, diversity of research teams, and inclusion of diverse study populations will be explored in terms of implications to medical research excellence. Students will gain practical approaches to engineering equitable, diverse, and inclusive medical science research and how to implement this in research groups and health research organizations.

MEDSCIEN 9508—Intellectual Property, Implementation, and Commercialization

Approximately 90% of therapeutics that successfully navigate preclinical studies still fail to be translated to the clinic. This course will examine the intellectual property (IP) and business challenges that need to be overcome for successful clinical translation. What is a patent? What is the importance of obtaining patent protection for a new therapeutic? What is required for a patent to be granted? What patent strategies are commonly employed and why? Students will study and report on successful and unsuccessful pharmaceutical patent strategies. IP strategies often form part of the overall business strategy that is needed to make a business case that would attract investments to develop a new pharmaceutical or therapeutic device. How do market considerations weigh in on whether and how to develop new therapeutics? How are possible markets for a new drug or a new device evaluated? Students will investigate these challenges as they write a business plan for a new arising therapeutic under development.

MEDSCIEN 9601/9602/9603—Experiential Rotations

Students will be expected to complete three experiential rotations throughout the program. The rotations will include a basic science, clinical science, and community-engaged focus so that students get a breadth of exposure to a field in medical science research. Students will complete several tasks that are associated with the rotations that will include a needs assessment before they go out on rotation and a summary when they return. The experiential rotations will provide an opportunity for students to connect theory and practice in the program.

MEDSCIEN 9700—Interdisciplinary Skill Development

This course will provide students with a series of workshops focused on the personal and professional skills needed to work in collaborative interdisciplinary environments. Students will meet with the course instructor and guest lecturers to engage in self-reflection, self-assessment, and skill development using a variety of formats. By the end of this course, students will be able to articulate the skills needed to successfully navigate interdisciplinary collaborations, identify their personal strengths, and specify actionable steps they will take throughout the duration of the program to develop areas of growth.

MEDSCIEN 9701—Career Development and Communication Skills

Students will begin this series by first deconstructing how emerging research is shared in a seminar format. Specifically, students will learn about different levels of evidence in scientific research and the scope of knowledge claims inherent to each. Building upon the learning outcomes of previous learning blocks, students will then apply their knowledge of the use of models to communicate complex scientific concepts quickly and simply by preparing brief seminar presentations for their peers. Students will be mentored in giving effective feedback to their peers and self-reflection to support professional development. Presentations will be video recorded, and students will have multiple opportunities to incorporate the feedback of their peers in the production of a polished video presentation for their ePortfolio. Next, students will gain an appreciation for the different methods of presenting emerging research by selecting, attending, and submitting a reflection on various presentation series hosted by departments and programs of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Finally, the Seminar Series will culminate in the presentation of student capstone projects in front of peers, faculty, and community members.