Christopher Howard

Pre-Health Specialized Studies ‘16


Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine ‘23
Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate Programs, University of Pennsylvania ‘16
Bachelor of Science in Biology, Ursinus College ‘12

“I began to love research and pushing the boundaries of human knowledge through my experiences in Penn’s Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate Programs,” shares Christopher Howard (Specialized Studies ’16), a research specialist for the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Penn Vet. There, he studies how maternal stress is passed on from the mother to the child before and during childbirth in mammals. A two-sport athlete in college, Christopher came to Penn when he discovered his true calling was in medicine.

With an undergraduate degree in biology, Christopher dove into upper-level coursework and took advantage of hands-on opportunities in the Specialized Studies Program. He shadowed and scrubbed in with Dr. Sean P. Harbison in the Department of Surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Dr. John D. Kelly in Orthopaedic Surgery at Penn Orthopaedics. “It was so helpful to see how physicians interact with patients and be able to observe first-hand how one of the best medical systems in the country works,” he adds.

When Christopher wasn’t studying or working in the field, he was a teaching assistant for the Pre-Health Histology course. “I am grateful for that experience because I will study histology again in medical school,” he continues, “so having such a strong foundation in it will help me go far.”

Reflecting on his time at Penn, Christopher shares, “It was a fresh start for me. I visited Penn for a walk-in enrollment counseling session, and I haven’t looked back since. Now that I’ve completed the application and interview process, I feel very prepared to take on the challenges of medical school.”

For future Pre-Health students, Christopher advises, “This is such a unique opportunity to prepare for medical school, so give it all you’ve got.”


After completing the Specialized Studies curriculum, Christopher continued to work with the Penn lab where he conducted research during the program, even moving to Baltimore when the lab was relocated to the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “I had the opportunity to see how science is truly conducted,” he explains. “Being on the leading edge, pushing science forward, was really exciting.” Now Christopher is back in Philadelphia to attend the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). Although Christopher first focused on allopathic medical schools, he shifted his focus after learning more about osteopathic medicine. “I identified with the philosophy,” he says. “It’s about looking at the whole person, and how structure and function are related. That’s who I am as a person.” 

“I was as prepared as I could be,” he says of his first trimester at PCOM, taking courses in cell biology that build on his post-baccalaureate coursework. “When you get to where you want to be, you get to look back and see how far you’ve come. And Penn was there when I needed them.”

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