First Year

*To continue delivering forward-thinking and innovative programming, Icahn Mount Sinai is launching a re-envisioned curriculum.  

ASCEND, the new MD Program curricular name, will debut during the 2024 academic year. For more details, visit our Change Now website.

During Year 1, we at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) expose you to foundational scientific principles and core patient-care competencies. The curriculum includes formal skills-based instruction in research methods as well as core content in global health, the health of our East Harlem community, and research skills.

Innovative opportunities in the Year 1 curriculum include:

  • Early clinical contact and longitudinal partnering with patients and their doctors
  • Exposure to imaging and surgical approaches to learning human structure
  • Instruction in personalized pharmacogenetic testing and interpretation
  • Hands-on physiology training at the simulator
  • Exposure to thought leaders and real-world science in all courses through the Frontiers in Science lecture series
  • Guidance and mentorship to develop a required research project
  • Core competency training in research methods, global health and health of our community
  • Protected half-days of Flex Time for self-directed individualized learning, discovery, self-care and leadership development

Year 1 Courses

The Art and Science of Medicine (ASM): This integrated two-year course provides the core knowledge, clinical skills, and professional attitudes essential for clinical practice. Through meaningful and sustained patient contact in a wide variety of clinical settings, supervised by a diverse faculty body of inter-professional educators, you establish a strong foundation in patient-centered, compassionate care and also practice history-taking, physical exam and clinical reasoning skills. Embedded within the Year 1 course is the Longitudinal Clinical Experience (LCE) where students become a part of the patient’s care team. Medical ethics, social determinants of health, racism and bias and other topic areas are also explored in this course.

Structures: ISMMS faculty introduce you to the intricacies of the human body, from basic development of the human embryo, to microscopic structure and function of cells, tissues, and organs, to gross anatomic structure and function.

Molecular, Cellular, and Genomic FoundationsThis interdisciplinary course includes four core content areas: biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, genomics, and metabolism. Faculty emphasizes the relationship of cellular processes to human disease through lectures, small-group discussions involving clinical cases, and presentation of patients with diseases with a well-characterized molecular basis.

Immunology: You learn about the organization and development of the immune system and how it functions to protect us from disease. You explore the organs and cells that make up the immune system, molecules that mediate immune responses, and regulatory mechanisms that amplify and limit those responses.

General Pathology: This course examines the basic and common responses of cells and tissues to various stimuli. It allows you to recognize resulting morphological changes, describe the pathogenic and molecular mechanisms underlying these changes, and correlate these processes with the clinical presentation of disease.

Physiology: Physiology is the study of normal human body function, from the cellular to the organ level. It also teaches you how the organ systems work in concert to ensure homeostasis and to adapt to different environmental and internal conditions.

Medical Microbiology: This course introduces the epidemiology, mechanism of disease, clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the major bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic pathogens responsible for human disease. You learn basic microbiologic laboratory techniques and have small-group sessions to discuss real-life cases of patients with infectious diseases acquired both domestically and abroad. The course explores the interaction between the immune system and individual pathogens, and the basic pharmacology of antimicrobials in the setting of individual pathogens.


InFocus weeks are innovative and immersive courses taught through all four years of the ISMMS curriculum. They provide learning in topics critical to medical practice and biomedical research in the 21st century. During these weeks students have no other class obligations. During Year 1, InFocus weeks are devoted to developing critical research training skills and promoting exposure to content areas relevant to scholarship and leadership. The courses are:

  • Research and Scholarship: The goal of this content is to provide you with fundamental research skills and mentored research training. You learn the principles underlying rigorous research, including fundamental concepts of study design, epidemiology, hypothesis testing, and statistical inference.

  • Global Health and East Harlem Health: This curriculum integrates regional, national, and international health and health policy, encompassing local to global understandings of disease and disease prevention. It explores the impact social determinants of health and health disparities have on individual and community health. We emphasize cost-conscious care, resource allocation, health care access, prevention, poverty, and health literacy.

Frontiers in Science

Frontiers in Science talks showcase cutting-edge translational biomedical research and real-world applications of scientific knowledge. Each Year 1 course invites a translational researcher to lead an interactive large group session.

Flex Time

A protected half-day per week allows time for you to pursue self-directed learning, discovery, self-care and leadership development opportunities. Flex Time also permits students to meet competency-based milestones and participate in relevant content sessions focused on cross-cutting themes like mentorship, feedback, and learning skills.

Nexus Learning

Nexus Learning comprises a diverse range of courses aligned with the mission and vision of ISMMS. Nexus courses are geared toward Year 1 and 2 medical students and allow you to deepen your knowledge in particular areas of interest, to discover an entirely new discipline, and to engage with faculty and other students.