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July 22, 1999

Lecture program to give glimpse of medical school

Lecture program to give glimpse of medical school

Got the itch to study medicine at Pitt this fall, but can't afford the time or the School of Medicine's $9,778 per year tuition ($19,372 for non-Pennsylvanians)?

Consider enrolling in the Pitt Mini-Medical School.

The program premieres this fall. It's a series of 90-minute evening presentations, roughly modeled on the medical school curriculum, aimed at educating the public about diseases and disorders "of high population prevalence and scientific interest."

Tuition is free, although participants must pre-register by calling UPMC public relations at 1-800-533-8762, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

School of Medicine professors will serve as presenters and resource "faculty." Loren H. Roth, associate senior vice chancellor for Health Sciences, will be "dean" of the mini-school. Barbara E. Barnes, associate dean for continuing medical education, and Margaret C. McDonald, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs and special projects, will be "associate deans."

Sessions will be introduced by the dean, whose comments will provide a unifying theme for the lectures. Each session will focus on one disease or family of diseases.

The aim is to demonstrate the process of becoming a doctor, employing videotapes of patients (interviewed by their physicians with patient consent), diagnosis of the disorder, and information on the latest treatment options and new research.

Following each session, participants will be offered light refreshments and the chance to chat with medical faculty.

Assistant Vice Chancellor McDonald said, "In a series of sessions that will each be about the length of a TV program, we want to convey to the general public a basic understanding of the process of science, how new treatments and procedures are developed, and how students evolve into physicians."

Mini-medical school organizers hope to attract 200-300 people per session. Audience members may attend all of the sessions (thereby earning a graduation certificate) or pick and choose among them.

Brochures promoting the mini-medical school were mailed last week. The mailing list includes donors to Pitt Health Sciences schools, philanthropic leaders, University trustees and alumni, but McDonald said the mini-medical school isn't a fundraising project.

"That doesn't mean we aren't making sure to invite those who have a relationship with the University, whether they're alumni or trustees or whether they've made gifts in the past," she said. "But the real purpose is to give something back to the community and help people to become more empowered participants in their health care."

Organizers of Pitt's mini-medical school studied similar programs at 10 other medical schools and the National Institutes of Health, McDonald said.

The program is supported by an educational grant from Pfizer.

Sessions will be held in Auditorium 6 of Scaife Hall, 7-8:30 p.m. Free parking will be available in the UPMC Garage on Lothrop Street.

Fall sessions will include:

Sept. 7 — "Tell Me Where It Hurts: The Science and Art of Medical Diagnosis."

Faculty presenters: Robert M. Arnold and Michael P. Federle.

Resource faculty: Frank J. Kroboth.

Sept. 21 — "The Musculoskeletal System: Our Body's Framework for Life."

Faculty presenters: Georgia Duker and James D. Kang.

Resource faculty: Michelle M. Roberts.

Oct. 5 — "The Beat Goes On: The Cardiovascular System and Circulatory Physiology."

Faculty presenters: Arthur M. Feldman and Bartley P. Griffith.

Resource faculty: Conrad Smith.

Oct. 19 — "Battling Renegade Cells: Cancer and the Immune System."

Faculty presenters: Olivera Finn and Donald L. Trump.

Resource faculty: Andrew Baum.

Nov. 2 — "Journey to the Center of the Brain: From Development to Degenerative Disease."

Faculty presenters: Pat Levitt and Robert Y. Moore.

Resource faculty: William Klunk.

Nov. 16 — "Infectious Diseases: The AIDS Saga."

Faculty presenters: John Mellors and Deborah McMahon.

Resource faculty: Charles Rinaldo.

Dec. 7 — "Human Genetics: Are We Born With the Diseases From Which We'll Die?"

Faculty presenters: Michael B. Gorin and Wendy Rubenstein.

Resource faculty: Joseph C. Glorioso.

Organizers also hope to take the mini-medical school on the road to present one-day or one-evening sessions to legislators in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.

— Bruce Steele

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