Elizabeth Armstrong, PhD, Harvard Macy Institute and Harvard Medical School
An expert in curricular design and instruction, Elizabeth Armstrong, PhD, has been instrumental in shaping medical education curricula across the nation and throughout the world for more than three decades. She has influenced, inspired, and mentored thousands of medical educators, deans, department chairs, and faculty as founder and director of the Harvard Macy Institute (HMI).
Since its inception in 1994, HMI has fostered a global community of more than 4,500 health care professionals, educators, and leaders dedicated to improving how health care is provided and taught. Participants in HMI courses brainstorm innovative solutions and apply what they learn in their institutions. Through this model, Dr. Armstrong has had a “profound impact on institutional change, [having] developed and mentored a network of change-agents,” asserts Thomas Viggiano, MD, MEd, emeritus dean for faculty affairs at Mayo Medical School.
In addition to her development and leadership of HMI, Dr. Armstrong was instrumental in the design and implementation of the New Pathway curriculum for Harvard Medical School, which integrates the biological, behavioral, social, and clinical aspects of medicine across all four years. She has popularized case-study methodology, problem-based learning, interprofessional education models, and other learner-centered designs in medicine, allowing her to influence and shape medical education well beyond Harvard. S. Jean Emans, MD, director of the Office of Faculty Development at Boston Children’s Hospital, calls Dr. Armstrong the “‘pied piper’ of innovation in medical education” because she has pioneered these models long before they were ‘in vogue.’” Dr. Armstrong also makes a point to incorporate often neglected topics, such as women’s health, nutrition, and environmental medicine, as curricular themes and embrace digital platforms in her designs.
Dr. Armstrong has taught and mentored scholars across the world and partnered with institutions to enhance medical education in Australia, China, Germany, India, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, among others. For her contributions, she has been honored with an honorary doctor of medicine from the University of Lund Medical Faculty in Sweden. A colleague summarizes that Dr. Armstrong has created “a social network of inspired educators that literally illuminates the world of medical education.”
In 1979, Dr. Armstrong’s career in medical education began at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, where she pioneered the use of case-study method teaching for their core required clerkship and residency. Prior to her tenure at Stony Brook, Dr. Armstrong was working to improve science education in America within K–12 institutions and with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among others.
Dr. Armstrong is a graduate of Cornell University and received a master of arts in teaching from Harvard University. She earned her PhD with highest distinction in curriculum design and instruction from Boston College.