Health, Technology, and Engineering

HTE@USC: An interdisciplinary program in Engineering and Medicine

Curriculum for MD Students

Medical Student Program

Information for prospective MD student applicants. 

To prepare motivated Keck School medical students to be successful innovators equipped with new technology and demonstrated methodological skills, we have created a program that involves close collaboration at all stages with students and faculty in the Viterbi School. Our vision is that graduates of this new educational program will be experts in collaboration. Through interdisciplinary teamwork, graduates will be able to identify and solve the most important healthcare problems more rapidly and more effectively than has previously been possible.

First and foremost, medical students in this program must become excellent clinicians with a strong devotion to the humanism that guides and inspires all medical work, both clinical and engineering. Medical students enrolled in the HTE@USC program will therefore complete all components of their medical training along with their non-HTE peers at the Keck School of Medicine. During the first-year Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) course, HTE@USC medical students will be joined by PhD students from Viterbi enrolled concurrently in the HTE@USC program. Team learning with graduate engineering students will be enhanced by their different perspective on the medical history and physical examination.

In addition to changes in the first year of ICM for medical HTE@USC students, two additional courses will be required for all HTE@USC students. “Topics in Health Technology and Engineering” will be taught by faculty from multiple USC schools and will cover ethics, regulatory requirements, intellectual property, methods of collaboration, rapid prototyping, basic clinical trial design, reimbursement, intellectual property, licensing, and commercialization. “Case Studies in Health Technology and Engineering” is a seminar course that will discuss opportunities for innovation and lessons learned from successful and unsuccessful attempts to solve particular medical problems. Through this seminar, students will gain experience with the identification of important medical challenges and critical analysis of potential solutions. Group exercises within these two courses will be aimed at building effective design-team experience that will sustain participation in student group projects throughout their training.

The following summary lists the full requirements for becoming a graduate of the HTE@USC program:

Topics in HTE

A two-year lecture course that covers multiple topics affecting the successful development of collaborative projects. Topics will include techniques for collaboration and brainstorming, principles of design, ethics, regulatory controls on research and device development, intellectual property, creation of a business plan, strategies for approaching potential manufacturers, technology transfer, distribution, legal issues, licensing, and medical reimbursement. The course will be taught by faculty from several different schools at USC, including the Gould School of Law and the Marshall School of Business.
Case Studies in HTE: A one-year seminar course with in-depth analyses of specific healthcare problems and the factors that contribute to successful technological solutions. Under the close supervision of faculty from both Keck and Viterbi, students will discuss examples of successful and unsuccessful examples of technological devices for healthcare. Discussion will include elements from design and prototyping, through regulatory, research and development, technology transfer, manufacture, marketing, and reimbursement. Invited speakers from small and large corporations will discuss their personal experiences and the decisions that were made in their teams.

Elective Block

During year 4, medical students will take a 4-8 week elective working either in a laboratory at Viterbi or in an industry laboratory. Faculty will assist students with selection of an appropriate elective. In some cases, the elective time will be used to pursue additional testing or development of the health technology project.

HTE Project

The project will run throughout the time enrolled in the program. During the first year, HTE@USC students will identify a list of medical needs and opportunities and each will belong to a project group around a particular problem. All project groups will consist of two students from Keck and two students from Viterbi. During the summer between the first and second year of the program, project groups will start to develop plans for prototypes and assess challenges to manufacture, distribution, and clinical use. Appropriate laboratories at Keck and Viterbi will be identified. During the second to fourth years, project groups will continue to work together under close faculty supervision to develop and test prototypes or candidate methods, obtain preliminary clinical data, and work toward development of commercializable products, methods, or systems. We anticipate that the projects will form the core of the PhD students’ theses, and the medical students will be closely involved with testing, usability determination, and needs assessment throughout the second through fourth years of their training. Students will be closely mentored by faculty from both Keck and Viterbi, and as part of their projects they are likely to be involved in more than one laboratory. Projects are intended to solve real unmet healthcare needs, and groups are expected to file preliminary patents or submit descriptive manuscripts by the end of their training, with the intent that commercialization will be possible shortly thereafter. Our goal for the projects is to give students the experience and familiarity with the entire design process, from development of the initial concept through to technology transfer.