2005: The beginning

The first MEDscience Summer School was held in 2005. Officially known at the time as the Harvard Summer PreMedical Institute, it was a simulation-based bioscience immersion program for high school students and for college students. It was created to inspire and engage traditionally under-represented learners in the field of medicine -- minorities, women and the socio-economically disadvantaged. Creators of this innovative concept, Nancy Oriol, MD and James Gordon, MD, MPA, with funding from the Provost of Harvard University ran the original program for two sessions as a 40 hour summer immersion program - free of charge.  It was offered for one week for college students and one week for high school students. Students came from local communities on the recommendation from their teachers that they might benefit from such a summer enrichment experience.

Dr. Nancy Oriol & Dr. Jim Gordan, co-founders of HMS MEDscience

These students came to the Harvard Medical School simulation laboratory and experienced first-rate medical science classroom instruction, in conjunction with the opportunity to apply what they were learning to simulated patient experiences through the use of sophisticated technology. 

Harvard Summer PreMedical Institute proved to be highly successful. Students kept journals of their week’s journey, and their inspiring reflections provided stirring evidence of the program’s impact on these young students’ intellectual and moral development. Participating faculty included volunteer physicians, educators and simulation specialists from within Harvard Medical School. 


2008: Key expansion

Julie Joyal, RN, MEd, Executive Director of HMS MEDscience

Julie Joyal, RN, MEd, Executive Director of HMS MEDscience

In 2008, Julie Joyal, an educator and nurse, partnered with Dr. Oriol and expanded the summer immersion program into a longitudinal credit-bearing, semester course. They developed a rigorous curriculum with clear objectives of what the students should know and be able to do as a result of their learning, and tied these objectives to standards-based assessments. Ms. Joyal began teaching the program at a local public high school, where she taught daily classroom lessons in anatomy & physiology. Then once a week, brought her students to the HMS Gilbert Simulation Laboratory where students had the opportunity to put their classroom lessons to use and solve authentic medical problems on their simulated patients. 

Present day: Expanding our reach 

Starting with the original single high school, Ms. Joyal and Dr. Oriol expanded the network of partners and trained a host of area teachers, garnering the support of the Boston Public School district. HMS MEDscience has also obtained its very own Simulation Laboratory at Harvard Medical School.

Currently the curriculum is offered in 4 local school districts, 30 high schools, in partnership with 6 simulation centers, 6 hospitals and both Harvard and Tufts medical schools. We educate up to 1000 students a year and are growing. The original summer immersion program is now offered for nine sessions each summer. 

Graph of school participants since 2008 to present

Graph of school participants since 2008 to present

Participating Boston Public High Schools     

  • Madison Park Technical Vocational High School

  • Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers

  • Community Academy of Science & Health

  • Boston Green Academy

  • Urban Science Academy

  • Boston Latin School

  • Greater Egleston High School

  • Boston Community Leadership Academy

  • John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science

  • Bunker Hill Community College P2P

  • Boston Day & Evening Academy

  • Dearborn STEM Academy

  • Margarita Muniz Academy

  • Charlestown High School

  • Boston International Newcomers Academy

  • Fenway High School

  • Mary Lyon Pilot High School

  • The English High School

  • McKinley Middle School

  • Frederick Douglass Academy

  • Roxbury Latin School

Participating Other High Schools

  • Brookline High School

  • Watertown High School

  • Cathedral High School

  • Dexter Southfield

  • Boston College High School

  • The Rivers School

  • Beaver Country Day School

  • Codman Academy

  • Newton South High School

  • Fessenden School

  • Buckingham Browne & Nichols

  • Excel Academy

  • Notre Dame Academy

  • Prospect Hill Academy Charter School