Student Corner: Matthew Timberlake

March 1, 2011

Matthew Timberlake
Matthew Timberlake
  • Fourth-year medical student
  • Creator of StepStone Med, a web-based medical school teaching tool

Timberlake returned to medical school after spending two years in the Medical Student Research Track (MSRT) developing StepStoneMed. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a residency in urology.

StepStoneMed is based on the premise that medicine is best learned by interacting with patients, not reading textbooks. The program bridges the gap between classroom and clinic and facilitates long-term retention as it teaches clinic medicine to students and residents.

Memorable patients

Users have the opportunity to meet engaging virtual patients – memorable characters custom-created to elicit reminders of the diseases they represent – make assessments, consider management alternatives and obtain feedback.

The educational design also offers self-assessment, repetition and review. Complex management algorithms are presented as a series of simple choices, and learners are provided with immediate feedback and frequent opportunities to read more on selected topics. An end-of case review forum provides opportunity for repetition and reinforcement of key topics.

Initial studies on the effectiveness of the program show markedly-enhanced learning and long-term retention of important clinical concepts compared to traditional educational techniques.

Custom teaching tool

The ultimate goal is to enhance the platform and case creation software to the point that any attending or resident can efficiently create their own interactive cases to use for teaching, lectures, and presentations. Funding and investment is being sought to help achieve this goal.

Baylor students and faculty are encouraged to visit the site at and send feedback to A email and high speed connection with Adobe Flash are required.

Timberlake's mentors on this project are Dr. Mary Brandt, department of surgery, and Dr. David Eagleman, department of neuroscience.