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Laboratory Descriptions

The Medical Teaching Labs house a variety of laboratories, workshops and pathway programs to support current medical students, as well as those interested in pursuing careers in medicine.

Diagnostic Labs


Diagnostic Radiology is a new part of the 1st-year curriculum that aims to introduce students to the basics of radiology as well as illustrate and reinforce concepts from anatomy, histology, and structure/function through a series of lectures and guided lab activities over the course of the 1st-year (Foundations Block). 


Histology is not your average, common or garden MS1 course, it is visual. It is keen on self-directed and discovery learning. It has a course philosophy — possibly involving a tomato. It is mainly about shades of pink. Some things to ponder as you join the ride:

  1. The histology component of the Diagnostics Course runs September – May. You will get better at it as the year progresses.
  2. You will learn to process 2D visual data and think in 3D, which is helpful for using both the old (microscopes) and new (scalable images, fMRI, ultrasound etc) imaging tools used in modern medicine.
  3. Histology is a cellular-level companion to anatomy (histology = micro-anatomy), radiology (non-invasive imaging of the structures  we view at biopsy/autopsy) and physiology (structure follows function).
  4. It will give you a sense of "normal" that is a prerequisite for spotting diseased tissue in the MS2 pathology course.

The way we teach histology has changed dramatically over the past few years in response to student feedback. We hope you find our new approach to this critical component of your education as enjoyable and rewarding as it is entertaining for us.

"Having been some days in preparation, a splendid time is guaranteed for all..."  (Lennon & McCartney)


All first-year medical students at University of California San Diego School of Medicine take the Anatomy Lab course. 

 Learn More about the Anatomy Lab


Pathology is the foundation upon which all health professions are built. Pathology = disease. Pathology is a natural progression after having completed Histology — the essence of the course is visual, recognizing normal from abnormal and benign from malignant. During the lab you will view glass slides, gross specimens and discuss cases studies to help prepare for Step I, all guided by a faculty member.


Pathology-216 (pre-clerkship experience in laboratory medicine) includes 2 hands-on laboratory experiences:

  1. a blood-drawing lab in which students have opportunity to learn venipuncture techniques using several phlebotomy systems; and
  2. a urinalysis lab during which students will learn how to perform a manual urinalysis.


Surgery 401 is a core clerkship that is required for all 3rd year Medical Students.The Suture Lab portion takes place in the Medical Teaching Lab. It inlcudes a mini bootcamp-style skills lab designed to give the 3rd year students hands-on training in the basics of suturing skills. Students learn how to handle tools, expected operating room behavior, and types of sutures: simple interrupted, deep buried interrupted and subcutaneous sutures.


Suture Workshops

The second year surgical skills program at UC San Diego is designed to provide second year students with some of the skills they will use during their third year clerkship. Students attend 2 classes and learn specific suturing skills including proper handling of instruments and tissues, and specific types of skin closure.

A 3rd class introducing students to basic laparoscopy techniques is planned for Spring 2024 and review sessions will be held just prior to the third year. Classes are limited to 8 students at a time and are taught by a surgery faculty member assisted by one or more 4th year student(s) and surgery residents as well as MDL staff. The program is coordinated by a 2nd year class representative.

Pathway Programs


Doc-4-A-Day is a biannual one-day educational empowerment event for local high school students organized by UC San Diego School of Medicine students. We host ~150 high school students from around San Diego County, most of whom are underrepresented in medicine, lower income, first-generation, or from underresourced schools. We aim to promote exposure to medicine and inspire students to see their potential in healthcare professions and future pursuits. We run several workshops for the students, including cardiology to practice ultrasound, gastroenterology to learn about digestion, first aid to learn emergency skills, and activities discussing students' unique journeys to their future goals.

More About Doc-4-A-Day

Summer Research Methodology Training Labs for Middle School and High School

The purpose of the UC San Diego Research Methodology Training Lab (RMTL) is to teach students from disadvantaged backgrounds to conduct research in a biochemical science lab to prepare them to enter graduate programs in the health sciences and/or pursue careers in health care in order to address health disparities. For more than 20 years the Center of Excellence – Research Methodology Training Laboratory has trained and inspired young, low-income and underrepresented minority students to pursue their careers in the biomedical and health sciences.


More About RMTL

Introduction to Microbiology

This 3-week science program for 9th and 10th grade high school students provides the opportunity to learn research, science methodology, and much more. The students develop a research project, execute it and create a poster, which they present at the completion ceremony.