Health and Pre-Medical Studies

The study of science at Hampshire College engages students in scientific processes rather than mere observation.

Each science course offers students the opportunity to work closely with professors in small, inquiry-based classes, conduct original research, develop individual projects, and utilize Hampshire's unique open labs and exceptional equipment.

As in graduate school, students build a foundation of technical and analytical skills that they apply to sophisticated research projects. These skills are becoming increasingly valued in the field of medicine, which has been undergoing rapid changes.

Currently, medical schools look beyond the required science courses to a range of skills in applicants: the ability to collaborate, to work across disciplines, to be innovative: the very skills built into the Hampshire curriculum.

Student Project Titles

  • The Potential Benefits of Coconut Oil: a Clinical Study of the Effects of Medium Chain Triglycerides on Cholesterol and Satiety
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine in a Modern Biomedical Context: Ganodyrma lucidum and its Polysaccharide Derivatives as Immunomodulators
  • HIV Prevalence in Nicaragua: A Mixed-Method Analysis of the Perspectives of Physicians, Advocacy Groups, and International Organizations
  • Sex Differences in Muscle Response After Forced Eccentric Exercise
  • In My Genes
  • Beyond Barriers: Power, Risk, and HIV Prevention
  • Nutrition and Type II Diabetes in the White Mountain Apache

Sample First-Year Course

Human Biology

Students in this course will learn about the biological function of selected human organs and systems through the study of actual medical cases. Not all human systems will be covered, but students will gain a good understanding of how diseases affect the body and how they are diagnosed. Working in small teams, students will develop diagnoses for medical cases through reviewing descriptions of patient histories, physical exams, and laboratory findings. A human biology text, medical texts on reserve, and Internet resources will help students track down information they need to solve these medical mysteries. Students will also learn to find and read scientific research articles on topics of their choosing and will learn to write analytical reviews of these articles. These reviews will form the basis of final papers in which students choose particular diseases or treatments to investigate in detail and present their findings to the class.

Sample Courses at Hampshire

  • Advanced Skeletal Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • The Biology and Sociology of Sports
  • Bodies, Guts, and Bones: A Biocultural Approach to Health
  • Calculus
  • Contemporary Issues in International Nutrition
  • The Epidemiology of Women's Health
  • General Chemistry
  • Healing: Western and Alternative Medicine
  • Healthy Hormones and Modern Ills
  • Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Reproduction and Infant Development
  • Human Biological Variation
  • Human Biology: Selected Topics in Medicine
  • Human Gene Therapy
  • Human Physiology
  • Immunology
  • Integrative Seminar in Environmental and Health Education
  • The Making of the Modern Body
  • Migration and Health
  • Natural History of Infectious Diseases
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Plants and Human Health
  • Race, Science, and Disease in Tropical America
  • The Social Determinants of Health
  • Women's Bodies, Women's Lives: Biocultural Dialogues of Women's Health in America

Through the Consortium

  • Cancer and AIDS (AC)
  • Food and Health (UMass)
  • Immunology (MHC)
  • Medical Ethics (UMass)
  • Molecules, Genes, and Cells (AC)
  • Women and Exercise-Muscles (SC)
  • Your Genes, Your Chromosomes (SC)

Facilities and Resources

Cole Science Center
Cole Science Center at Hampshire College boasts some of the most up to date laboratories at any liberal arts college nationwide. Hampshire's open lab policy makes these facilities available to students at all levels. First-year classes regularly use our chemistry, physiology, and osteology laboratories, gaining hands-on experience and learning basic experimental procedures, while students at the Division II and III levels design their own original research experiments in such fields as nutrition or genetics.

Students have full access to the labs outside of classroom hours in order to perform and analyze their experiments, and are given appropriate training in the use of complex and sophisticated equipment encountered elsewhere only at the graduate and post-grad level.

Hampshire's laboratory equipment includes a laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer, an inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometer, myographic equipment, molecular biology and genetics instruments, a gel electrophoresis and documentation system, polymerase chain reaction instruments for immunology research, and a bone densitometer.

Five College Certificate Program in Culture, Health, and Science
The Five College Certificate Program in Culture, Health, and Science allows students an opportunity to explore human health, disease, and healing from an interdisciplinary perspective. The study of human health requires theoretical frameworks and research strategies that integrate physical and socio-cultural aspects of human experience. Students in the program study health and disease by linking the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Students interested in pursuing health careers will benefit from interdisciplinary programs in sociomedical sciences and medical humanities. The best health practitioners, researchers, and policy analysts will understand how behavior influences disease distribution and how biomedical categories change across time and culture. They will understand how to communicate research results to audiences of policy makers and to the general public.

Health Careers Advising Center
Hampshire's on-campus Health Careers Advising Center is available to help interested students and graduates learn about various health-related professions, evaluate career goals, and, ultimately, gain admission to professional schools when appropriate. The center also provides standardized test preparation, as well as assistance in obtaining clinical and research experiences.