Course Description

A nine-week block covering reproduction, sexuality and endocrinology related to the gonadal, growth hormone, prolactin, adrenocortical, parathyroid and thyroid axes. In addition, behavioral health and the biological basis of the major psychiatric disorders will be covered. Normal physiology across the life span with particular attention to unique stages of the human lifespan — such as pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence and aging — will be included. In addition, selected pathophysiological and pharmacological aspects relevant to unique stages of the human lifespan listed above will be covered.

Learning Objectives

Educational Program Objectives are a subset of more broadly defined physician competencies, which represent general domains of performance for which the profession and the public hold physicians accountable.

Upon completing the Reproduction, Endocrine & Behavior Through the Lifespan (REBLS) Block, students should be able to:

  • Describe the key events in the embryology and development of the reproductive organs, as well as in the following endocrine organs: pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids and adrenals. 
  • Describe the normal histology and understand the common manifestations of pathology in the following organs: ovary, testis, female and male internal and external reproductive systems, breast, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids and adrenals.
  • Describe the early embryological events in gamete development, fertilization and implantation. In addition, understand how alterations in embryologic development during gestation can lead to developmental disorders identified in the fetus or infant and describe the etiology of these disorders and syndromes based on genetic, environmental and biochemical processes.
  • Understand the normal physiology of the female and male reproductive systems and articulate clinical presentations, formulate differential diagnoses and describe the pathophysiology for common female and male reproductive disorders, including disorders of infectious diseases and neoplasms/cancer. 
  • Describe the approach to testing and treatment for patients who desire fertility and are experiencing subfertility and for those who desire contraception. 
  • Understand the normal physiology of the prolactin, growth hormone, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenocortical endocrine axes. Articulate clinical presentations, formulate differential diagnoses and describe the pathophysiology for common disorders of these systems. 
  • Describe the mechanism of action and potential side effects of the medications that are used to treat disorders of the following endocrine systems: male and female reproductive, growth hormone, thyroid, adrenal glucocorticoid and prolactin axes.
  • Explain the physiological basis of sexual activity and discuss the factors that contribute to gender identity and sexual preferences. Understand the treatment strategies for patients with DSDs (diverse sexual development), as well as patients who identify as transgender/gender-diverse and desire medical and/or surgical treatment. 
  • Understand the structure and physiology of the normal breast and the changes that occur with puberty, pregnancy, lactation and menopause. Outline the key features of breast pathology and neoplasms and the common treatment strategies.  
  • Understand the biological basis of common psychiatric/behavioral disorders and explain the mechanism of action and possible side effects of the pharmacological agents used to treat these conditions. 
  • Describe the unique features of the physiological and psychological functioning of normal infants, children, adolescents and aging adults. In addition, understand the physiological and psychological alterations that occur during pregnancy, lactation and the puerperium. 
  • Articulate clinical presentations, formulate differential diagnoses and describe the pathophysiology for common disorders during different stages of the life cycle including: pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence and aging. Understand pharmacological management of diseases within the context of life span stages such as pregnancy, infancy and aging.
  • Understand the epidemiology of common disorders across the life span, current prevention strategies, including vaccines and recommended screening tests. 
  • Critically appraise and discuss issues related to public health, clinical ethics, sociopsychobiologic factors, delivery of health care and biotechnology as they apply to the reproductive, endocrine or behavioral health arenas. 
  • Understand the impact of sex and gender, as well as cultural and ethnic factors on patient’s health and well-being. Understand ways in which research and health care delivery can inform a culturally competent approach to patient care.