Implementation of an education-focused PhD program in anatomy and cell biology at Indiana University: Lessons learned and future challenges

James J. Brokaw, Valerie D. O'Loughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


In 2008, the Indiana University School of Medicine, in collaboration with the School of Education, admitted its first student to a newly approved PhD program in Anatomy and Cell Biology focusing on educational research rather than biomedical research. The goal of the program is twofold: (1) to provide students with extensive training in all of the anatomical disciplines coupled with sufficient teaching experience to assume major educational responsibilities upon graduation and (2) to train students to conduct rigorous medical education research and other scholarly work necessary for promotion and tenure. The 90 credit hour curriculum consists of biomedical courses taught within the School of Medicine and education courses taught within the School of Education, including courses in health sciences pedagogy, curriculum development, learning theory, quantitative, and qualitative research methods, statistics, and electives. To date, 16 students have entered the program, seven have passed their qualifying examinations, and five have earned their PhD degrees. Four students have received national recognition for their educational research and four graduates have obtained faculty appointments. Going forward, we must adapt the program's biomedical course requirements to incorporate the new integrated curriculum of the medical school, and we must secure additional funding to support more students. Overcoming these challenges will enable us to continue producing a small but stable supply of doctoral-level anatomy educators for a growing academic market. Anat Sci Educ 8: 258-265.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-265
Number of pages8
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Anatomy education
  • Educational research
  • Graduate education
  • PhD curriculum
  • Scholarship of teaching and learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Embryology

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