About Inquiry

Roots of Inquiry at UCSF

Research, scholarship, innovation and creativity are essential ingredients of life in the San Francisco Bay Area and Uniquely UCSF. The Inquiry Curriculum grew from the elective Areas of Concentration Program for medical students, which was founded in 2004 and transformed into Pathways to Discovery in 2009. 

These programs recognized that advancing health worldwide required leadership, expertise, and vision beyond excellence in caring for individual patients. The Pathways provided optional career training and mentorship for students, residents, and fellows in innovation, leadership and research. The Bridges Curriculum builds on these precedents to create training grounded in understanding health care systems, team-based care, and inquiry into the roots of health and the causes of disease.

 Student presenting research poster at summer explore symposium 2018 Summer Explore Symposium student award winners with inquiry faculty student presenting poster at Inquiry Symposium 2019

Inquiry Curriculum Competencies

Built upon a foundation of leadership and expertise, the Inquiry curriculum is designed to develop the following competencies:

Read, critically understand, and apply literature using LEAD framework in the six Domains of Science (Locate, Evaluate, Assemble, Make Decisions)

Demonstrate the ability to formulate the right question using the FINER criteria: feasible,  interesting, novel, ethical, and relevant

Critically analyze and evaluate study design and data

Demonstrate the ability to apply ethical principles to medicine and research

Effectively communicate and disseminate medical knowledge

Effectively engage in Team Science

Demonstrate an Inquiry "Habit of Mind" (e.g., curiosity, skepticism, appreciation for ambiguity)

Aims of the Inquiry Curriculum
  • Extend student understanding of biomedical sciences to the edge of what is known and recognize the limits of current knowledge;
  • Provide individualized, four-year project advising to every student, small group teaching in every course, and Designing and Conducting Research, a course in experimental design and proposal-writing, for all students;
  • Offer the widest range of choice in the exploration of scientific and creative domains;
  • Integrate learners from different UCSF schools and levels of training into the primary experience of all UCSF medical students;
  • Enable 12-20 weeks of flexible, protected time to complete an independent mentored project;
  • Simplify the grant-finding and funding process for all learners.