Van Andel Institute Graduate School (VAIGS) was founded to prepare biomedical research scholars with an emphasis on translation to clinical medicine. The essence of this doctoral training program is the experimental research project that becomes the student’s dissertation. This learning brings students to the cutting edge of what is known in fields of biomedical research; our curriculum, therefore, demands relevancy and updates on a monthly basis.

To prepare students for the intensity and originality of their research projects, VAIGS adopted an innovative problem-based learning approach for the core curriculum in cellular and molecular biology. Early on, the faculty chose to adopt a distinct training method in which students engage problems in a manner reflecting how scientists genuinely work. To accomplish that goal, the faculty designed an integrated curriculum in which no discipline is taught in isolation. Instead, the disciplines are interwoven into a fabric of “problems” that students use as the context and motivation for their learning. The students strive to gain the knowledge necessary to approach each question and to propose a mechanism whereby an answer could be obtained. These problems form the backbone of the first-year core modules in “Strategic Approaches to Biomedical Research” (SABR).

Eight disease-centric modules focus fundamental knowledge, integrating the traditionally separate disciplines of biochemistry, genetics, pathology, immunology, and microbiology, as well as cellular, molecular, and developmental biology. The Curriculum Organizer demonstrates the integration of the SABR modules.

Please navigate our curriculum through this online tool using the left menus.