From Wayne M. Yokoyama, MD
Director, Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Phew! You made it. You got into one of the world’s great medical schools, and certainly the most selective. Things are going great; you’re excited about meeting new classmates, decorating your new apartment, starting classes, learning to be a doctor … You will learn how the human body works from head to toe, from gross anatomy to subatomic structures, at least as we understand it, circa 2018. This complete systems overview will be invaluable in helping aspiring scientists, not just MSTP students, relate research findings to the clinic. However, some of the current concepts and “facts” you will learn will prove to be wrong. That’s right (actually still wrong). We just don’t know our ignorance (yet). It is certainly much easier to learn the materials if you just absorb it verbatim and don’t spend any time thinking about what you’re being taught.
But I can now reflect on the lectures I heard as a medical student touting that the cause of peptic ulcer disease was too much acid. In retrospect, that couldn’t be right because acid is always there! I didn’t think about it then, but I should have, because now we know (I think pretty conclusively) that ulcers are mostly caused by a bacterial infection! (More on that in second year.) Pause to think about what you are learning, and keep track of things that don’t make sense to you. They will be great projects to work on in the future. (I am tempted myself to sit in on your classes to not only catch up but also to find great opportunities and problems on which to work!)