About us



The Department of Learning Health Sciences is a basic science department focused on the sciences that can make learning effective, routine, and scalable, from individuals up to systems that span states and nations.


The concept of learning has become transcendent. Once narrowly associated with attainment of knowledge and skills by individual persons, entities that learn now can be individuals, groups, organizations, regions, states, and entire nations. Once restricted to a specific time and location, learning now occurs everywhere and continuously. Once achievable only through lectures, books, and apprenticeships, learning now is promoted through active immersion into simulated worlds. Learning is no longer seen as an activity with a single endpoint, but rather as the product of a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement.

Learning can be seen as a state of mind, as an efficient process supported by an infrastructure, or in the broadest sense, as a culture unto itself. A learning state of mind is an openness to new information and a readiness to change on that basis. An efficient learning process, supported by an infrastructure that exists in the world, is one that actually enables continuous improvement to be embedded in routine practice without being seen as a kind of burdensome overhead. A learning culture is one recognizing that continuous improvement is “what we do here” —akin to the well-documented safety culture in aviation—so much so that we don’t routinely talk about it.

Learning in this transcendent sense can itself be seen as a field of trans-disciplinary scientific investigation that develops deep understanding of learning processes and their supporting environments. Behavioral, social and organizational science; cognitive, information and computer science; industrial and systems engineering and other fields combine to create the rich intellectual tapestry forming the learning sciences.


The Department of Learning Health Sciences has a long history of research, education, and service in the process of translating medical knowledge into practice to produce a better state of health and clinical performance. This department has had several names over time: the Department of Postgraduate Medicine; the Department of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Professions Education; the Department of Medical Education; and, since May 2014, the Department of Learning Health Sciences.


1850 University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS) founded
1892 UMMS offers first continuing medical education (CME) courses on medical science and patient care
1927 UMMS establishes the Department of Postgraduate Medicine, the first academic department in the U.S. to focus on CME
1969 UMMS opens the Towsley Center for Continuing Medical Education to house the department and expand CME offerings
1972 Department becomes the Department of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Professions Education
1982 UMMS becomes one of first nationally accredited CME providers by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)
1997 Department becomes the Department of Medical Education
1998 Department establishes the Medical Education Scholars Program to train UMMS faculty in educational theory, practice and research
2004 UM Clinical Simulation Center opens in the Towsley Center
2011 UMMS transfers CME functions to individual clinical departments
2013 Department launches the Master of Health Professions Education, the first-in-the-world competency-based program for health professionals, and the Patient Safety and Quality Leadership Scholars Program
2014 Department becomes a basic science department, expands its mission to become the Department of Learning Health Sciences, and moves to Victor Vaughan Building (the Clinical Simulation Center remains in the Towsley Center)

Department Chair

Charles P. Friedman, PhD

Department Chair of Learning Health Sciences
Josiah Macy Jr. Professor of Medical Education
Division Chief, Learning and Knowledge Systems
Professor of Information
Professor of Public Health