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The Great Diseases Project: A Partnership Between Tufts Medical School and the Boston Public Schools

Jacque, Berri PhD; Malanson, Katherine PhD; Bateman, Kathleen MEd; Akeson, Bob MEd; Cail, Amanda MEd; Doss, Chris MEd; Dugan, Matt MEd; Finegold, Brandon MEd; Gauthier, Aimee MEd; Galego, Mike MEd; Roundtree, Eugene MEd; Spezzano, Lawrence MSc; Meiri, Karina F. PhD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31828b50fb
Articles
AM Rounds Blog Post
Abstract

Medical schools, although the gatekeepers of much biomedical education and research, rarely engage formally with K–12 educators to influence curriculum content or professional development. This segregation of content experts from teachers creates a knowledge gap that limits inclusion of current biomedical science into high school curricula, affecting both public health literacy and the biomedical pipeline. The authors describe how, in 2009, scientists from Tufts Medical School and Boston public school teachers established a partnership of formal scholarly dialogue to create 11th- to 12th-grade high school curricula about critical health-related concepts, with the goal of increasing scientific literacy and influencing health-related decisions. The curricula are based on the great diseases (infectious diseases, neurological disorders, metabolic disease, and cancer). Unlike most health science curricular interventions that provide circumscribed activities, the curricula are comprehensive, each filling one full term of in-class learning and providing extensive real-time support for the teacher.

In this article, the authors describe how they developed and implemented the infectious disease curriculum, and its impacts. The high school teachers and students showed robust gains in content knowledge and critical thinking skills, whereas the Tufts scientists increased their pedagogical knowledge and appreciation for health-related science communication. The results show how formal interactions between medical schools and K–12 educators can be mutually beneficial.

Author Information

Dr. Jacque is research assistant professor, Great Diseases Project, and codirector, Center for Translational Science Education, Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Malanson is postdoctoral fellow, Great Diseases Project, Center for Translational Science Education, Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ms. Bateman is director of science and math, Boston Latin School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Akeson is a teacher, Boston Latin School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ms. Cail is a teacher, Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Doss is a teacher, Boston Latin School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Dugan is a teacher, Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Finegold is a teacher, Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Ms. Gauthier is a teacher, Boston Latin School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Galego is a teacher, Boston Latin School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Roundtree is a teacher, Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Spezzano is a teacher, Boston Latin School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Meiri is principal investigator, Great Diseases Project, professor, Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, and director, Center for Translational Science Education, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Meiri, Tufts University School of Medicine, 136 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02111; telephone: (617) 636-2445; e-mail: karina.meiri@tufts.edu.

© 2013 Association of American Medical Colleges