Department Descriptions

Department of Anatomy

Through a comprehensive course of study in Gross Anatomy, Histology, and Neuroscience, the Department of Anatomy provides instruction in the morphology of the human body. The study of anatomy is particularly germane to osteopathic medicine because the relationship between structure and function is a fundamental tenet of the osteopathic philosophy. Direct observation of human structure is the essence of the anatomy courses. In Gross Anatomy, all students participate in supervised dissection of anatomical donors supplemented by the study of anatomical models, bones, and medical images. In Histology, students apply the principles presented in lecture to the microscopic identification of normal human cells, tissues, and organs while Neuroscience is a clinically oriented course that integrates neurobiology, neuroanatomy, and physiology with clinical case presentations on neurological disorders and diseases.  

The Department of Anatomy is multidisciplinary in nature and offers teaching and research elective opportunities in diverse scientific fields, including anatomy, anthropology, paleontology, physiology, neuroscience, and cell biology. The teaching elective allows CCOM students to work with faculty in small-group, donor-based anatomy education experiences. The research elective gives students the opportunity to participate in ongoing research projects. Faculty research interests include human and non-human primate anatomical variation; the effects of bio-environmental factors on cranial and post-cranial development and aging in modern and past populations; vertebrate paleontology and evolution; craniofacial developmental genetics; plasticity of the peripheral nervous system during development and adulthood; inner ear development and regeneration; myelination and demyelinating diseases; macronutrient metabolism; tissue repair; and inflammatory response.

Department of Behavioral Sciences

It was Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who was quoted as saying, "One must know of the person who has the disease as much as one must know of the disease the person has." Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, in the Hippocratic tradition, emphasized and expanded the integration of structure and function. The Behavioral Sciences curriculum provides the coursework and clinical rotation that builds the foundation for the practice of holistic medicine. An emphasis is placed upon the importance of treating each patient in the context of that individual's unique biopsychosocial matrix.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics

First-year medical students complete a required, two-quarter sequence in medical biochemistry, the educational goals of which are to understand the major biochemical concepts of cell, tissue, and organ function in health and disease.  These goals are achieved through lectures, small group case studies, and readings in the biomedical literature.  Faculty members accept students into a research elective program.

Department of Clinical Integration

Clinical Integration is a department structured to provide oversight for the clinical aspects of the years one and two curriculum. Courses are designed to acquaint the osteopathic medical student with the clinical knowledge required for the practice of medicine, enabling them to integrate the knowledge gained in the basic science courses in order to formulate diagnostic decisions.  Faculty in this department are physicians, clinicians and education specialists.

Department of Emergency Medicine

Medical emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time. It is imperative that an osteopathic physician be prepared to provide emergency care not only in an emergency department or a physician's office, but also in social settings where little or no emergency equipment or supplies are readily available.  

The members of the Department of Emergency Medicine are all specialists in the field of emergency medicine. They are engaged in clinical practice of emergency medicine as well as in clinical research in the field.  

Department of Family Medicine

Family Medicine

Family medicine physicians personify osteopathic medicine. Departmental members endeavor to instill respect for holistic, osteopathic medicine, particularly in primary care. The basics of the art of medicine are included in the family medicine curricula. Medical students are expected to master the continuum of the biopsychosocial aspects of medicine, and then apply these concepts in clinical settings. These basic experiences provide the background necessary for the selection of a medical specialty.

Members of the Department of Family Medicine serve as role models and are actively engaged in teaching and clinical research. Departmental members help medical students understand the principles of osteopathic medicine. Further, they foster the development of the skills necessary to apply the osteopathic concepts in all aspects of patient care.

Section of Pediatrics

Pediatric patients present opportunities, challenges, and rewards that are unique in medicine. The members of the section of Pediatrics are all specialists in the field. They are engaged in clinical practice of Pediatrics as well as in clinical research in the field.  

Department of Internal Medicine

The core of an osteopathic physician's knowledge and treatment of disease entities is found in internal medicine. The basics learned here pervade primary care, surgery, and the subspecialties of medicine. At CCOM, medicine is taught on the floors of affiliate hospitals. Because much of the teaching in medicine is one-on-one or with small groups, the members of the department are able to provide individualized instruction for the medical students. This enables the faculty to ascertain whether or not the medical students can incorporate the material mastered in the basic science courses into their practice of clinical medicine. Medical students can gain significant ambulatory experience in general internal medicine and subspecialty clinics while rotating through their required and elective clerkships in internal medicine.

The members of the Department of Internal Medicine, all of whom are highly trained general internists or sub-specialists, are engaged in clinical as well as bench research. Medical students may assist in these projects by monitoring patient progress and helping to collect the data for these studies. Consistent with our osteopathic principles, students will learn about the whole patient approach to medical care. Students will also understand how to partner with the patient care team to assist with the promotion of health.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology 

More than one-third of the cases seen by family practice physicians involve infectious disease or immunologically related disorders. Medical students complete a required two-quarter sequence in the fundamental principles of microbiology, immunology and medical microbiology. The goals of this sequence are to provide students with the fundamental information necessary for the diagnosis, rational management and control of infectious disease, as well as immunologic disorders. These goals are achieved through problem-based interactive clinical case studies, computer-based case modules and lectures. The material presented in lecture is reinforced in the mandatory laboratory sessions that help students develop the skills they will find necessary to perform the most commonly used microbiologic techniques. The laboratory also allows students to become familiar with the general operations of a clinical microbiology laboratory.

In addition to the required courses, the Microbiology faculty also accept students into a research elective program. Areas of ongoing research include microbial communication, viral infection and entry, viral impact on immune system function, immune mechanisms of protection and pathology in microbial infections, and autoimmunity.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Obstetrics and Gynecology remains an essential part of the practice of all primary care osteopathic physicians. The basics of good prenatal care, office gynecology and the indications and options for appropriate surgical care of the female patient challenge physicians on a daily basis. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology provides the student with a dynamic educational experience, combining traditional fundamentals with fresh, innovative thinking and technology. Our primary goal is to train students to solve clinical dilemmas by applying clear, concise thinking to a solid foundation of knowledge in women's health. The members of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology are all specialists in the field. They are engaged in clinical practice of OB/GYN as well as in clinical research in the field.  

Department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine

The Department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine is designed to serve as a focal point of osteopathic uniqueness within the Downers Grove Campus, Midwestern University. In addition to the traditional role of teaching the osteopathic courses to students, the Department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine is a resource to provide leadership to facilitate the demonstration of this osteopathic approach. A continuum of osteopathic training is essential, and the Department works to facilitate this continuity in the training process. The Department recognizes the necessity for a base of scientific research to support osteopathic theory and practice, as well as the necessity of clinical studies to document the efficacy and cost effectiveness of osteopathic care.

Department of Pathology

The Department of Pathology introduces students to the study of human disease. The department faculty are all Anatomic and Clinical pathologists, some of whom are actively engaged in clinical practice.

Through a lecture and reading based format, the department teaches students to focus on the human body as a group of integrated systems, and provides them an understanding of the pathophysiologic mechanisms that underlie disease manifestations. Students are familiarized with the vast spectra of human diseases using an organ system approach. They are taught to understand the relationships between basic scientific principles and the practice of clinical medicine, while integrating these principles into the study of human pathology. This approach provides students a complete overview of human illnesses as they affect organ systems and the patient as a whole. Through faculty guidance, students explore pathophysiologic, anatomic, histologic, cellular, and genetic alterations unique to these conditions. Skills are fostered that allow students to incorporate and interpret laboratory data in diagnosis and treatment. The department is strongly aligned with osteopathic principles and perspectives, which are incorporated into the curricula of its courses. Because the faculty are experienced anatomic and clinical pathologists, they are able to draw upon their vast experiences, sharing them as part of the curricula. The department recognizes the value of research, and some of the faculty are able to provide students with research opportunities. Additionally, faculty engaged in clinical practice may provide students opportunities for shadowing and practical experience.  

Department of Pharmacology

The instructional program in Pharmacology focuses on the actions of clinically-important drugs and toxicants in humans.  The primary goal of the program is to provide the osteopathic medical student with a firm understanding of the general pharmacology of the major classes of drugs and toxicants, so that the student can begin his/her clinical training at the highest possible level of preparedness and pursue a career of life-long learning as an osteopathic physician.  The pharmacology courses will be presented over the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters of the academic year. The various classes of drugs will be considered on an organ system and disease-group basis supplemented with the incorporation of symptoms and clinical cases.  In addition, students will receive instruction on a variety of related topics including general principles of drug action, pharmacokinetics, therapeutics, toxicology and drugs of abuse.  Throughout the course sequence, the faculty will consider the various drugs and topics from a holistic, osteopathic perspective. 

Department of Physiology

Physiology is the branch of the life sciences concerned with the function of living systems. Health is customarily defined in physiologic terms: disease is perceived as a deviation from the normal physiologic states of the body. Disease states and the associated signs and symptoms are understood through a refined appreciation of the diverse regulatory processes that maintain the normal, functional status of the human body.

The Physiology Department offers courses that present the physiological principles and regulatory processes that underlie the normal function of the human body. These core principles provide a foundation upon which to develop an understanding of the physiologic mechanisms engaged in response to homeostatic imbalance and of pathophysiologic alterations that occur in disease. In addition to conventional didactic instruction, osteopathic medical students participate in small group clinical case discussions that are used to promote critical thinking, problem solving and application of physiologic concepts and principles to clinically relevant problems. Medical students interested in research are encouraged to participate in ongoing research projects as a part of CCOM's Kenneth A. Suarez Research Fellowship Program, research electives and through work-study opportunities. Current research interests of the faculty include a variety of areas associated with intracellular signaling; cardiorespiratory reflexes; endocrine, intestinal stem cell, and exercise physiology; neuromuscular disorders; and mechanisms underlying osteopathic manipulative medicine. Additional teaching electives introduce medical students to the basic techniques utilized in facilitating small groups in an academic setting.

Department of Surgery

All osteopathic physicians must be trained to understand surgical diseases as presented in a clinical setting. They must master pre- and postoperative assessment of patients so they can function in any medical setting as an important and integral part of the patient care team.

The members of the surgery department are committed to CCOM's precepts of teaching, healing, and serving. The academic mission of the department is to provide each student with both didactic and clinical training in the surgical arts. The members of the department provide comprehensive surgical care for the patients throughout CCOM's affiliated clinical facilities. The members of the department serve as mentors for all medical students in addition to identifying and supporting those who have the ability and interest to become osteopathic surgeons.