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Analysis in Brief

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Medical colleges -- United States -- Reorganization, Medical colleges -- Curricula -- United States, Medical sciences -- Study and teaching -- Assessment


The past several decades have seen a rapid and profound expansion of knowledge within the biomedical sciences. Achievements in molecular biology, human genetics, and neuroscience, among others, have contributed to the realization that the complexity of science now lends itself to interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts. This transformation of biomedical science has led to questions regarding the organization of academic departments in U.S. medical schools around traditional basic science disciplines. Some have proposed that the discipline-based department impedes scientific progress and a new structure that breaks down boundaries is needed. Others believe that traditional basic science departments continue to foster valuable and distinct contributions to research and education. To examine the ways in which basic science departments have evolved in this larger pattern of change in biomedical science, previous research analyzed the restructuring of medical school basic science departments from 1980 to 1999. This Analysis in Brief extends those findings with five additional years of data from 2000 to 2004 and explores two specific questions on recent trends in these reorganizations. Data tracking the numbers of basic science departments and specific changes occurring within them were triangulated among the AAMC Faculty Roster, the AAMC Directory of American Medical Education, and individual institutional information (Web sites and personal correspondence). The data reflect departments designated as basic science by their home institution, but do not include any pathology departments because of the widespread variation in the classification of these departments as basic science or clinical.


© 2006 Association of American Medical Colleges


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