Anatomy and Cell Biology

Darren S. Hoffmann, PhD


Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Contact Information

Primary Office: 1-B046 E ML
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-7704



BA, Biology, Concordia College
Certificate, Graduate Certificate in College Teaching, University of Iowa
PhD, Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa

Research Summary

My research is divided between several dimensions of teaching and learning. Since I teach primarily in the Anatomical Sciences, I am particularly interested in discovering ways to improve the quality of learning and the student experience in Anatomy coursework. I have worked with a company in Iowa City called Cyber-Anatomy to develop a 3D Anatomy atlas that can be used to interact with Gross Anatomy ideas away from the dissection lab. We are now working to develop materials that will help students engage with the software and guide their self-directed study toward meaningful anatomy learning goals. This relates to a broader interest in the field of self-regulated learning. I believe that most students need help understanding their self-regulated learning process and providing guided activities for independent work can greatly improve learning outside of the classroom. Whether these activities take the form of sophisticated online modules or simple worksheets, students seem to respond to having clear goals and specific tasks in their independent work. Creating these materials and helping students integrate them into their own custom strategies is an ongoing, and probably life-long process.

I am also very involved in the broader field of curriculum. I have found that course or curriculum design is one of the fundamental skills that many new faculty members will have to use upon getting their first teaching assignments, yet there are frequently no training opportunities to acquire and develop these basic, and highly learnable skills. To that end, I've developed a 9-week workshop for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows called "Teaching Your Research" that provides interested trainees with an opportunity to learn the skills of curriculum design and build a full college course based on their research topic. The workshop runs annually during the summer months. I also seek to constantly improve the curriculum design in my anatomy courses, in both small and big ways. One large-scale project in this area was designing and implementing an integrated Gross Anatomy and Histology course for Dental Students, called "GRISTO," with a Histologist in the department, Dr. Nathan Swailes. What came out of our efforts was a streamlined course with improved learning outcomes and greater student satisfaction. Currently we are working to design integrated assessment for this combined course, and establish principles for what it means to understand Histology and Gross Anatomy on the same conceptual spectrum.

Lastly, as an educator who studies education, I feel that it is my responsibility to help other educators. To that end, I participate in many different areas of faculty development in many areas on campus. Higher education is filled with many challenges and problems, but each one can be studied and solved. It is a lifetime goal for me to see an improvement in the quality of higher education in this country, and to be able to contribute to that improvement in my own way.

Selected Publications

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Hoffmann D, Lenoch S.  Teaching Your Research: A workshop to teach curriculum design to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.  Medical Science Educator.  2013. 23(3):336-345.

Woods A, Hoffmann D, Weydert C, Butler S, Zhou Y, Sharma R, Davisson R.  Adenoviral delivery of VEGF121 in early pregnancy prevents spontaneous development of preeclampsia in BPH/5 mice.  Hypertension.  2011. 57(1):94-102.

Hoffmann D, Pizzimenti M, Brydges R.  Development and assessment of strategies to enhance self-regulated learning of anatomy through a virtual platform.  AAMC CGEA.  2011. 

Hoffmann D, May N, Thomsen T, Holec M, Andersen K, Pizzimenti M.  Medical students using plastinated prosections as a sole learning tool perform equally well on identification exams as compared to those performing dissections over the same regions.  FASEB Journal.  2010. 24.

Hoffmann D, Swailes N.  GRISTO: An integrated approach to teaching Gross Anatomy and Histology for Dental students. 

Date Last Modified: 06/06/2016 - 13:17:48