Inquiry Immersion

Graphic describing the domains of understanding (epidemiology & population science, clinical science, biomedical science, systems science, social & behavioral science, global science, education science). Inquiry immersion as the process of discovery beginning by selecting core, enhanced, or advanced skills, summer explore, and deep explore, which all work to advance healthcare and improve worldwide health

Inquiry Immersion is a two week pause in the Foundational Science curriculum during Year 1 when students join together for selectives, didactics, and practical workshops. The goal of this mini deep dive is to help shift students conception of medicine from a series of facts to be learned, to a vision of medical practice as a consistent engagement with an ever-evolving and imperfect body of knowledge.

Mini-Courses offer the chance to delve into the unknown of scientific knowledge and explore the boundaries of existing research and scholarship. Faculty experts from across the university participate and represent a wide spectrum of perspectives and scholarship at UCSF. Each course delves into a current controversy or unmet need in healthcare and includes teamwork and collaboration, capstone presentation, and the showcase event.

In addition, School of Medicine students begin preparing to undertake their own Summer Explore during Inquiry Immersion. Inquiry Inspiration sessions provide a broad context of exposure to antecedent learners projects, and skill-building sessions are dedicated to mentor finding, grant application, and ethical conduct of research. Throughout Inquiry Immersion, medical students have the opportunity to meet with interested potential mentors and plan their own future scholarly work.

Mini-Course Overview

The goal for Inquiry Immersion and the Mini-Courses is to help first year students in the healthcare professions shift their conception of medicine as a series of facts to a vision of medical practice as consistent engagement with an ever-evolving and imperfect body of knowledge.  Focused Mini-Courses offer students the chance to take a deep dive into a controversy or dilemma and explore the boundaries of existing research and scholarship with expert researchers.

Mini-Course Elements
  • First two weeks of January, after Winter Break.
  • 12 hours of class time, mainly after 1:00pm, spread over 2-4 days/week.
  • 4-12 students maximum.
  • Students choose their Mini-Course from a “menu” of options using course summaries and titles – not schedules and speakers.
  • No other homework is assigned during Inquiry Immersion to enable focus on Mini-Course topic.
  • Students present at a Showcase at the culmination of Immersion.​​​​​​

Faculty who interested in proposing a Mini-Course course, please contact the Inquiry Team.  

Previous Mini-Course Examples
Previous Mini-Course Examples

Research Domain

Research Question

Faculty Lead(s)

ACADEMIC HEALTH & HEALTH REFORM How are recent health care reforms impacting UC Health? John Stobo, MD & Garen Corbett
ALZHEIMER'S Why and how do neurons die in dementia and what can we do about it? Panagiotis Theofilas, PhD
AGING Can the aging process be reversed? Saul Villeda, PhD
AID IN DYING How do you want to die? Attitudes and Ethics Surrounding Physician Aid in Dying Elizabeth Dzeng, MD, PhD, MPH
DRUG DESIGN Why is it so hard to design new small molecule drugs? James Fraser, PhD
E-CIGARETTES What should you tell patients and providers about e-cigarettes? Stanton Glantz, PhD
E.H.R Are EHRs destined to drive physicians away from medicine? Shobha Sadasivaiah, MD, MPH
GENDER AND DISEASE If Diseases are “Sexist” do we have to be? Dena Dubal, MD, PhD
GERIATRICS Does Medicare have cognitive impairment when it comes to caring for patients with dementia? Jessica Eng, MD, MS
HEALTH HUMANITIES Can the humanities save health care, help patients, or make you a better clinician? David Elkin, MD & Shieva Khayam-Bashi, MD
HIV & CANCER Cancer in HIV-positive men and women: why is it increasing and can we stop it? Joel Palefsky, MD
HOLISTIC MENTAL HEALTH Can integrative healthcare heal the mind-body split in western medicine? Sudha Prathikanti, MD & Selena Chan, DO
IMMIGRATION How does immigration policy impact health in our communities? Juliana Morris, MD
MEDICARE Should Millennials have Medicare? Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD & Mark Atalla
MENTAL ILLNESS Mental Illness and Dangerousness: Fact or Stigma? Mikel Matto & Alissa Peterson, MD
MICROBIOME Can the Gut Microbiome Be Harnessed to Facilitate the Goal of Personalized Medicine? Susan Lynch, PhD & Renuka Nayak, MD
MINDFULNESS MEDICINE What does mindfulness have to offer health professions education? Carter Lebares, MD & Joe Cook, MA
NEXT GEN SEQUENCING How do we use Next Generation Sequencing in the clinical setting? Eric Chow, PhD
PRECISION MED DISPARITIES How will precision medicine affect health disparities? Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, MAS
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH “Are flame retardants in my furniture affecting my kids’ IQ?” How does a health practitioner respond? Annemarie Charlesworth, MPH
SLEEP Is sleep a critical pathway to health? If so, why do medical providers ignore it? Aric Prather, PhD
SURGICAL PERSONALITY Is the Stereotype of the “Surgical Personality” a Myth or Reality? Wen Shen, MD
TUMOR RESISTANCE How should we tackle primary and acquired resistance to personalized cancer therapy? Emily Bergsland, MD
VIOLENCE AND TRAUMA Can physicians help prevent multiple forms of violence simultaneously? Leigh Kimberg, MD
VULNERABLE POPULATIONS Is it right for students to participate in care of the undeserved globally and locally? Rochelle Dicker, MD, Sharad Jain, MD & Rachel Brim, MD
ZIKA How can we control the Zika virus epidemic? George Rutherford, MD
CANCER How can we use the immune system to treat cancer? Peter Sayre MD, Ph.D.
CLIMATE What should physicians know and do about climate change, sustainability and health? Thomas B. Newman, MD. MPH & Arianne Teherani, PhD
COSMETIC PSYCHIATRY What if you could boost your brainpower and ace the exam? David Elkin, MD, MSL, Tobias Marton, MD, PhD & Erick Hung, MD
DRUG PRICING What should sovaldi cost? Ari Hoffman, MD
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH Can We Turn Fiction into Reality? Hao Li, Ph.D & John Newman, MD, Ph.D
MARIJUANA Is it medicine yet? Donald I. Abrams, MD
MINDFULNESS Can mindfulness decrease stress and improve performance in medicine? Esme Shaller, Ph.D.
MS Why don't monkeys get multiple sclerosis? Riley Bove, MD
PUBLIC POLICY Should marijuana be advertised on the MUNI? Stanton Glantz, PhD
SEQUENCING How do we use next generation sequencing in the clinical setting? Eric Chow, Ph.D.
VIOLENCE Can physicians help prevent multiple forms of violence simultaneously? Leigh Kimberg, MD
BIOENGINEERING Can we recreate the function of organs using nanotechnology? Tejal Desai & Shuvo Roy
ENTREPRENEURSHIP I have a great idea for a product, service, or business that will change health Kevin Rodondi, PharmD
GENE & CELL THERAPIES A New Pillar of Medicine? Theodore Roth & Alexander Marson, MD, PhD
GENOMIC TESTING To Sequence or Not to Sequence? Are We Ready for Universal Genomic Sequencing in 2019? Kathy Hyland, PhD & Shannon Rego, PhD
HEALTH ECONOMICS Should all FDA-approved medications be covered by health insurance plans in the US? Rosa Rodriguez-Monguio, PhD
HEALTH POLICY How are recent health care reforms impacting UC Health? John Stobo, MD & Garen Corbett
HOUSING FOR OLDER ADULTS Is there such a thing as Housing-Sensitive Conditions? Anne Fabiny, MD
INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE How can integrative medicine address the need for non-pharmacologic pain management options? Shelley Adler, PhD & Anand Dhruva, MD
LGBTQ HEALTH Of Mice, Men and Women - Do Sex and Gender Matter in Research and Clinical Care? Marcus Ferrone, PharmD, JD
MALARIA Control or Elimination? Phil Rosenthal, MD
NUCLEIC ACID THERAPIES A route to personalized medicines? Frank Szoka, PhD
OPIOID CRISIS Can We Respond Humanely to the Opioid Crisis? Phil Coffin, MD & Tasce Bongiovanni, MD
PARASITIC DISEASES Why are parasites so successful? Judy Sakanari, PhD
PERSONALIZED MEDICINE What’s the cutting-edge of cancer therapeutics using genomic sequencing? Theodore Goldstein, MD & Phil Febbo, MD
PRECISION MEDICINE Will Precision Medicine Revolutionize Health Care? The Looming Impact on Clinical Practice, Access to Care, Societal Costs, and Patient Outcomes Kathryn Phillips, PhD
PROTEIN DISEASE Protein Homeostasis, Aging and Protein Aggregation Diseases: Can we develop new cures? Jason Gestwicki, PhD
HEALTH DISPARITIES What's it gonna take to eliminate racial health disparities in your lifetime? Zea Malawa, MD, PhD
REGULATORY SCIENCE Are Inactive Ingredients in Medications Really Inactive? Kathy Giacomini, PhD
Example Course Overviews

Why Don't Monkeys Get Multiple Sclerosis?


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative human disorder. While the last few decades have seen a revolution in the treatments available for MS, we still don't know its cause, or why rates appear to be increasing, especially in women. Is MS triggered, as it is in animal models, by a specific agent/pathogen? Or does MS arise spontaneously in humans, as a result of disruption of the normal homeostatic mechanisms regulating humans' prolonged period of myelin production and maintenance? This course will apply the lens of evolutionary medicine to examine the rise of MS in the modern world.

What if You Could Boost Your Brainpower and Ace the Exam?


The emerging field of cosmetic psychiatry, namely the enhancement of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional processes in persons who do not suffer from illness or disease, is already upon us. But what is the efficacy and safety of neuro-enhancement interventions (medications, neuro-modulation, or cognitive gaming)? What are the ethical tensions at play? This Inquiry mini-course will explore the topic of cosmetic psychiatry and the challenging clinical, ethical, and public health questions in this emerging field.



Download Files
Mini-Course Proposal Overview & Proposal Worksheet