Ecology in the Pre-medical Curriculum


Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians, a 2009 report of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), proposes eight core competencies that pre-medical students should fulfill in their undergraduate education, as an alternative to the traditional required courses in the pre-medical curriculum. More recently, changes have been proposed for the MCAT to reflect this shift to core competencies. Despite the positive change toward core competencies, the proposed competencies largely ignore the importance of evolutionary biology, biodiversity, ecology, and environmental science in the pre-medical and medical curriculum.

In the AAMC-HHMI report, evolutionary biology is included to a limited degree in the pre-medical core competencies (Competency E8). In addition, the report includes ecological principles in the competencies for the medical curriculum (Competency M6), such as:

  • "Apply the principles of host–pathogen and pathogen–population interactions and knowledge of pathogen structure, genomics, life-cycle, transmission, natural history, and pathogenesis to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious disease."
  • "Apply the principles of symbiosis (commensalisms, mutualism, and parasitism) to the maintenance of health and disease."

However, these ecological principles are not reflected in the pre-medical competencies.

What's New?

"Add Ecology to the Pre-Medical Curriculum," a letter initiated by members of EHRC and led by Dr. Chris Beck of Emory University in response to MCAT changes.

Dr. Chris Beck, et al. 2012. Add Ecology to the Pre-Medical Curriculum. Science: 1301. Science: 1301. doi: