Inquiry for Current Students

Comprising 30% of the total medical degree program, Inquiry starts with weekly half-day sessions in Year #1 and culminates in up to 20 weeks of mentored project time during Career Launch during Year #4.

Introducing Core Inquiry Curriculum:

Spanning Years 1 & 2, these weekly facilitated small groups and targeted didactics explore current, complex, and cutting-edge problems in healthcare and science through the lens of two or more disciplines embedded in the Foundations 1 Curriculum. For example, groups of 6-8 students analyze the appropriate response to electronic cigarettes, new approaches to antimicrobial resistance, or using multiple frameworks from each of the Domains of Understanding. Through this component, learners build competency in evidence-based medicine, biostatistics, study design, medical ethics and clinical reasoning.

Michelle Hermiston, MD, PhD
Director, Core Inquiry Curriculum          

John Turnbull, MD
Co-Director, Core Inquiry Curriculum 

Welcome to Inquiry Immersion:                                                               

Aligned after Winter Break, Immersion is a two-week period of reflection and planning for future research for students in Year 1. In addition to protected time for Inquiry, students also participate in research-focused didactics, skill-building experiences, and interprofessional Mini-Course selectives offered by preeminent UCSF faculty scholars. Through this component, students experience the breadth of biomedical science, continue to refine skills in inquiry, connect to a community of practice, and begin forging their own independent scholarship. 

Nilika Singhal, MD
Director, Inquiry Immersion           

Designing and Conducting Research (DCR) Course:

Designing and Conducting Research (DCR) is an updated version of the month-long Designing Clinical Research course that has been offered at UCSF for over 30 years. Today, all medical students receive the course as part of the Bridges Curriculum's Career Launch phase, which begins in March of the fourth year. 

DCR is an introduction to the process of conceiving and conducting scholarly projects. Lectures offer general tools helpful for understanding biomedical literature and conceptualizing projects. Small groups allow for discussion about students’ specific projects, and workshops focus on niche topics relevant to specific scholarly pursuits. Across activities, students will be exposed to overarching concepts and essential vocabulary for interpreting and executing scholarly work. Weekly coursework will culminate in the creation of a proposal for the Deep Explore project.

Rebecca Graff, ScD
Director, DCR


The Deep Explore Experience:                               

Inquiry is the lifelong process of challenging current concepts and creating new knowledge, or comparable scholarship. Each step of the UCSF Inquiry Curriculum advances the learner -- first to a sophisticated consumer of biomedical science and then, in Deep Explore, to a producer of new knowledge. Deep Explore has three aims:

  • To support students in a project, ordinarily of at least 12 weeks’ duration, that speaks to their own passions and advances the frontiers of knowledge;
  • To give students a mentored experience that offers them a bond with a faculty member;
  • Through the experience, to help students attain competencies in proposal-writing, critical thinking, scholarship and communication.

Rita Redberg, MD, MS
Director, Deep Explore Curriculum                                                                              

GME Pathways Courses:

The Pathways to Discovery program was built in 2009 in recognition that advancing health worldwide requires leadership, expertise, and vision that goes beyond the excellent care of individual patients. The Pathways were the “seed” that sparked what is now the four-year Inquiry Curriculum! The sunset of the Pathways to Discovery program in 2019 paved the way for the re-imagined GME Pathways program. Bridges Curriculum students can participate in this program during the Career Launch phase by enrolling in the elective courses provided by Pathways. 

The GME Pathways program offers four for-credit courses ranging from one – four weeks in length that are themed around education, global health, health equity and racial justice, and clinical informatics and data science. Deep Explore students can receive Deep Explore research week credits for these courses, while others receive elective credits. In addition to the courses that are led by content experts in these areas, students have the opportunity to enrich their project experience through mentored project, engaging in longitudinal learning and skill building opportunities, garnering a community of praxis, and a network of peers and mentors in the selected areas of interest. 

Kristina Sulivan, MD
Director, GME Pathways