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School of Medicine 2009 Teaching Awards
May 5, 2009, Volume 55, No. 32

Robert Dunning Dripps Memorial Award for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education

Ramchandani Weinberg

Dr. Parvati (Parvi) Ramchandani is a professor of radiology and surgery in the School of Medicine, and currently serves as chief of the genitourinary radiology section. She came to Penn in 1990, and is involved in the education of radiology residents, abdominal imaging and interventional radiology fellows, urology residents, urology nurse practitioners, and nephrology fellows.  She is consistently rated one of the best teachers by residents in both the radiology and the urology departments. Dr. Ramchandani’s trainees speak of the transformative role she has played in their lives as well as the enduring effect of her teaching;  her students especially appreciate her energy, enthusiasm, encouragement, and genuine interest in and concern for their education and well-being.

Dr. Paul M. Weinberg is professor of pediatrics and pediatric pathology and laboratory medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), School of Medicine. He is a senior physician and director of the Fellowship Training Program and of resident education in the division of pediatric cardiology. Dr. Weinberg joined the Penn faculty in 1977 and has been fellowship director for 18 years, building the pediatric cardiology training program to one of the largest in the world. An expert on the morphology of congenital heart disease, he is a frequent lecturer nationally and internationally.  Each cardiology fellow studies cardiac morphology with Dr. Weinberg one-on-one. His weekly pathology teaching sessions and service as inpatient and outpatient attending cardiologist make him an integral part of fellow and resident education. He has trained more than 100 fellows in his career.

This award was established by the department of anesthesia in honor of Robert Dunning Dripps, the former chair of the department from 1943 to 1972. It recognizes excellence as an educator of residents and fellows in clinical care, research, teaching, or administration.

Leonard Berwick Memorial Teaching Award


Dr. John Maris is an associate professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine, and currently serves as both the chief of the division of oncology and director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research. Dr. Maris came to Penn in 1983, and maintains a large research laboratory focused on the molecular genetics of human neuroblastoma, and also leads clinical research efforts in this disease locally and nationally. His students and colleagues note his unique ability to teach in diverse forums, and consider him a true physician-scientist able to translate discoveries into clinical advances.

The Leonard Berwick Award, established as a memorial, recognizes “a member of the medical faculty who in his or her teaching, effectively fuses basic science and clinical medicine.” It is intended to recognize those who are outstanding teachers, particularly among the younger faculty.

Blockley-Osler Award


Dr. Nicholas Tsarouhas, is an associate professor of clinical pediatrics, attending physician in emergency medicine, and medical director of the Emergency Transport Service at CHOP. He completed his Pediatric Residency at CHOP. In 1995, he was appointed as head of pediatric emergency medicine at the Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center.  After five years in that role, he returned to CHOP in 2000 as an attending physician in the emergency department. Dr. Tsarouhas enthusiastically embraces the role of “teacher,” whether with medical students, residents, fellows, nurses, or his peers. From some of his most recent evaluations: “…one of the best teachers at CHOP! …always allows residents to think on their own and formulate a plan; …a wonderful teacher… fantastic!, warm, encouraging, and very dedicated to make sure we all learn and feel like integral parts of the team …he made sure to involve all of us in teaching.”

Created in 1987 by the Blockley Section of the Philadelphia College of Physicians, this award is given annually to a member of the faculty at an affiliated hospital for excellence in teaching modern clinical medicine at the bedside in the tradition of Dr. William Osler and others who taught at Philadelphia General Hospital.

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching


As the John Morgan Professor of Medical Education and deputy chair of the department of biochemistry and biophysics, Dr. Mitchell Lewis has been actively involved in both graduate and medical education since coming to Penn in 1990.  He has transformed the medical school’s course on intermediary metabolism, integrating biochemistry and clinical medicine to where now it is considered one of the most popular courses in the curriculum by the first year medical students. Serving as chair of the Biophysics Graduate Group from 1993-1998 and the principal investigator of the Structural Biology Training Grant for the past 15 years, Dr. Lewis demonstrates his commitment to biomedical graduate education. For several years, he taught courses on macromolecules, methods in structural biology, and molecular biophysics. Acknowledging that the future of translational research demands that students are well versed in human disease, Dr. Lewis, along with Dr. Carolyn Cambor, established the Med into Grad Scholars program at Penn, which integrates focused medical education into the graduate curriculum. While teaching is of paramount importance, Dr. Lewis also has an active research program that focuses on gene regulation.

The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching was established in 1987 to recognize teaching excellence and commitment to medical education in the basic sciences. One or more Dean’s Awards are made annually, the recipients being selected on the advice of a committee composed of faculty and students.

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching (at an Affiliated Hospital*)


Dr. Cyndia Choi is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine.  Dr. Choi  has over 20 years of experience in clinical education at Penn, starting by teaching medical students as a psychiatric resident at HUP’s Psychiatry Residency Program.  During her career at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, she has continued to enjoy the privilege of teaching the School of Medicine’s medical students and residents through her positions on both the psychiatric inpatient unit and the outpatient Mental Health Clinic. Colleagues state that “she is an extraordinary clinician and teacher,” and that they feel “very fortunate to work with her.”  Students have stated that working with Dr. Choi has been “one of the most enriching experiences in my medical school career,” and that she is “tremendously supportive and a great mentor.” 

Dr. Dennis J. Dlugos is an associate professor of neurology and pediatrics at CHOP and the School of Medicine. He is currently the director of the Pediatric Regional Epilepsy Program and the Epilepsy/Clinical Neurophysiology Fellowship at CHOP, as well as section head for clinical neurophysiology in the division of neurology at CHOP. Dr. Dlugos is a co-investigator on NIH grants involving epilepsy genetics, pharmacogenetics, and epilepsy surgery. He is course director of brain and behavior, part of the pre-clinical curriculum at the School of Medicine. “Dr. Dlugos is an indispensable leader in the education of our residents and our students, and a model clinician-educator for the junior faculty. As the course director for the Module 2 Brain and Behavior course, he has done an outstanding job organizing the didactic program for the medical students. The lectures have been improved, some redundancy has been reduced, and he has successfully challenged ‘special interests’ when appropriate to further the medical students’ education. He has trained many outstanding pediatric neurologists who have gone on to develop academic careers of their own.”

The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching was established in 1987 to recognize clinical teaching excellence and commitment to medical education by outstanding faculty members from affiliated hospitals.  One or more Dean’s Awards are made annually, the recipients being selected on the advice of a committee composed of faculty and students.

*Affiliated Hospitals are all hospitals except HUP.

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Medical Student Teaching by Allied Health Professional


Dr. Martin Franklin is associate professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine and clinical director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. According to comments from his nomination letter, Dr. Franklin is an accomplished clinical researcher in the treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. “He has gained tremendous accolades from his students/trainees for his teaching on behavioral interventions for obsessive compulsive disorder. His approach to teaching is highly entertaining, informative and innovative.”Over the past two decades he has conducted clinical research projects on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), trichotillomania, Tourette Syndrome, and related disorders across the developmental spectrum. As part of an NIMH-funded R21 project, Dr. Franklin completed the first randomized controlled trial of any psychosocial treatment for pediatric trichotillomania (TTM).     

This Award was established in 1996-97 to recognize outstanding teaching by allied health professionals (e.g.; nurses, physicians assistants, emergency medical technicians). The recipient is selected on the advice of a committee composed of faculty and students.


The Scott Mackler Award for Excellence in Substance Abuse Teaching


Dr. Charles A. Dackis is the medical director of clinical services for the department of psychiatry at HUP, Penn Presbyterian and the clinical practices of the University of Pennsylvania.  He is also the director of the O’Brien Center for Addiction Treatment.. Dr. Dackis joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998.  He has been a principal investigator in several clinical trials within the Penn Center for Studies in Addiction, primarily involving the treatment of cocaine dependence. Dr. Dackis is actively involved in education and directs the Addiction Course for Penn medical students. He“is an extremely well informed psychiatrist who enjoys explaining both neuroscience mechanisms and psychodynamic mechanisms to medical students and residents. Although he has many clinical and research responsibilities he always makes time for medical students. He exemplifies the dedication to both teaching and research that marked the career of Dr. Scott Mackler. He does a tremendous amount of teaching and he is highly deserving of the distinction of receiving the Mackler Award.”

This award was established in 2000 by the Penn/VA Center for Studies of Addiction and the department of psychiatry.  Dr. Mackler is known for his excellence in teaching medical students, residents, post doctoral fellows, nurses and other Penn faculty in many different departments in the area of substance abuse.

The Special Dean’s Award


Dr. Richard H. Ochs is adjunct clinical professor of pathology and laboratory medicine in the School of Medicine. After retiring from clinical practice in 2006, Dr. Ochs joined the adjunct clinical faculty of the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he lectures and teaches small student groups in the interdisciplinary courses taught to first and second year medical students. “Dr. Ochs has expanded his teaching role and does extensive teaching in both histology and pathology. “He does the most extensive amount of medical student teaching in the department of pathology. He is committed to the development of excellent teaching materials and has been instrumental in revising all forms of our small group teaching materials (text, images, virtual slides). He demonstrates the ability to explain complicated subjects at an appropriate level for any audience; as well as patience and respect for the learner.”

The Special Dean’s Awards, established during the 1989-90 academic year, honor special achievements by Penn faculty members, particularly in the development of new and innovative educational programs. The Vice Dean for Education, in consultation with the Teaching Awards Selection Committee, identifies faculty members who have made unique contributions to medical education at Penn during the previous year.


Dean’s Award for Excellence in Biomedical Graduate Student Training


Dr. Dan Kessler is an associate professor in the department of cell and developmental biology. He received his BS in biology and genetics at Cornell University in 1986 and his PhD in molecular biology at Rockefeller University in 1990.  He came to Penn in 1995 as an assistant professor to the same department.  Dr. Kessler’s lab researches Signal Transduction and Transcriptional Regulation in the Vertebrate Embryo. He is a member of the cell and molecular biology graduate group in the developmental biology program, to which he is also the program chair, and the neuroscience graduate group. He currently serves as the educational director for the Center of Excellence for Regenerative Medicine here at Penn. According to his peers and students, Dr. Kessler is an outstanding teacher and mentor who has an infectious enthusiasm for research and teaching, as well as a remarkable dedication to his graduate students.

The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Biomedical Graduate Student Training was established in 1992 to recognize excellence in biomedical graduate education.


Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award


Dr. John L. Esterhai, professor of orthopaedic surgery and chief of the Section of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, came to Penn as an orthopaedic surgical resident over 25 years ago and has been on the faculty ever since. He specializes in orthopaedic trauma and he has trained countless medical students and residents throughout his time at Penn.  “He has been such a remarkable mentor for the orthopaedic residents at Penn that several years ago, they honored him by creating the annual John L. Esterhai, MD Award for service to the department and health system which goes beyond the call of duty.”  “John has enormous patience and spends a great deal of time listening to both patients and family to be sure that all of their concerns are addressed…”  “Everyone gets excellent care and attention from John Esterhai.” “He represents the model for professional and ethical standards in our Department.”  

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation is given annually to a faculty member in the School of Medicine who “illustrates professional behavior by example, who displays cultural sensitivity in working with patients and family members of diverse ethnic or religious backgrounds, and who demonstrates the highest standards of compassion and empathy in the delivery of care to patients.” 



Medical Student Government Awards

MSG Basic Science Teaching Award


Dr. James White is an adjunct associate professor of cell and developmental biology in the School of Medicine where he teaches a number of introductory courses including gross anatomy. Dr. White also teaches neuroscience and histology. He is universally praised as a great teacher whose excellent skills span the lecture room and the laboratory. One student describes his anatomy class as an “interactive learning journey throughout the human body.” Another references Dr. White’s “dynamic style,” “his commitment to transferring enthusiasm” and “his genuine warmth” as evidence of his great “collection of skills” as a teacher. A colleague says that despite the overwhelming amount of material, Dr. White “does not ‘spoon feed’ our students; he gives them the tools and the confidence to learn independently.”


MSG Clinical Teaching Award


Dr. Tom Faust is an associate professor of clinical medicine in the School of Medicine. He reorganized and significantly improved the pathophysiology course and Residency Scholar Program in Gastroenterology, which he now directs, impressing colleagues and students alike with his energy and enthusiasm for teaching. Several mention that his teaching encompasses the entire hospital environment, including fellows, residents, students, nurses, nurse practitioners, and medical assistants. Despite his knowledge and expertise, he comes across as “humble and easy to approach” in his devotion to students and patients.


Related: SEAS Teaching Awards 2009


Almanac - May 5, 2009, Volume 55, No. 32