Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology

The goal of the advanced graduate oral and maxillofacial pathology (OMP) program at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) is to train a specialist who is able to:

  • provide the highest level of microscopy diagnostic skills utilizing when appropriate, new technologies in immunohistochemistry and molecular studies;
  • diagnose and manage patients with salivary gland and mucosal diseases, diseases of the jaw bones, and head and neck pain syndromes where the primary treatment modality is nonsurgical;
  • perform and/or collaborate in scientific or clinical research projects; and
  • excel as an medical educator and leader in the specialty.

Students in this program work toward a certificate in OMP as well as a Master in Medical Sciences (MMSc) or a Doctor of Medical Sciences (DMSc) degree in Oral Biology. In this program, students develop their microscopic, clinical and critical thinking skills in a resource-rich, supportive, collegial and collaborative environment. 

Didactic Training

The oral and maxillofacial pathology program begins with an intensive didactic curriculum lasting 1 to 1.5 years that provides a broad understanding of the pathophysiology and behavior of disease and a strong theoretical background in the area of students’ research interests. All students are expected to complete oral biology core courses at HSDM. In addition, based on the research interest of each individual, students are required to take elective basic science courses offered at Harvard Medical School, the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Each student must demonstrate competency in statistical methods by successful completion of a course in biostatistics at HSDM.

Clinical Training

Clinical training in oral and maxillofacial pathology includes two components: diagnostic histopathology and patient care. Students receive rigorous histopathology training in oral, head and neck, and general pathology. They also learn to diagnose and treat patients with mucosal diseases in block rotations at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Students are encouraged to take the fellowship examination in the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology by the end of third year and all are expected to take the board examination at the end of training. Students are also encouraged to take the Fellowship examination offered by the American Academy of Oral Medicine.

Research

Research is required of all advanced graduate students in this program. For the MMSc degree, all students are required to write a research proposal in NIH format as part of their didactic requirement in their first year. For the DMSc degree, students are required to successfully write and defend an original thesis based on independent research. This research may be performed at any of the laboratories in the Longwood Medical Area, where students work with nationally- and internationally-renowned researchers, and are mentored by the principal investigators in those laboratories.

All students are encouraged from the first year to familiarize themselves with the scope of research opportunities available to Harvard postdoctoral students and they are given opportunities to identify a project that is suited to their individual interests and needs. By the middle of the second year, students are expected to identify a research mentor and to begin their research activities. Research occupies an increasing portion of the students’ time after the beginning of the third year, but students will continue to participate in histopathology sign-out and histopathology seminar. Costs of research equipment, reagents, and facilities are funded through the support mechanisms of the research sponsors. Students are also encouraged to present their research at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology.

Teaching

We believe that effective teaching is both a science and art. An outstanding teacher must study and practice teaching as well as the subject matter of their discipline in order to achieve excellence. Thus, students in the program are encouraged to learn about effective teaching pedagogy and techniques. They are involved in teaching some undergraduate courses and in teaching OMP to oral medicine residents and graduate students.  Students give presentations to faculty and peers throughout the year during Oral Medicine Grand Rounds and Boston Children’s Hospital Plastic and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Grand Rounds. Students also moderate discussion groups in all of the courses that are taught by the division. Students with a specific interest in teaching are offered opportunities to participate in formal teaching programs and educational projects run for faculty development both at HSDM and at Harvard Medical School.

Please see the program manual for more details.