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Perelman School of Medicine Teaching Awards

May 1, 2012, Volume 58, No. 32

The Leonard Berwick Memorial Teaching Award


This award recognizes outstanding teachers, particularly among the younger faculty. This year’s recipient is Dr. Paul R. Forfia, assistant professor of medicine at HUP, a member of the heart failure and transplant section within the cardiovascular division and medical director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program. He is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Forfia’s research interests include noninvasive assessment of right ventricular function, hemodynamics, and pulmonary vascular function as well as novel treatment strategies for pulmonary hypertension. “Dr. Forfia is recognized as one of the most outstanding teachers in the department of medicine and division of cardiology who is uniquely gifted at teaching at all levels of the curriculum.”

The Robert Dunning Dripps Memorial Award for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education

RostainThis award recognizes excellence as an educator of residents and fellows in clinical care, research, teaching, or administration. This year’s winner is Dr. Anthony L. Rostain, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics, and director of education for the department of psychiatry where he is responsible for overseeing medical student education, residency and fellowship training.

Dr. Rostain has dedicated his entire career to improving clinical education in psychiatry in both academic, professional and community settings. A colleague noted, “Tony is a wonderfully creative, energetic and inspiring colleague and teacher who brings out the best in others, generating enthusiasm, curiosity and excitement in students, residents and peers.”

Blockley-Osler Award

BaldassanoThis award is given 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.

Dr. Robert N. Baldassano has been recognized by his peers and trainees for his enthusiasm for patient care, dedication and excellence in bedside teaching and patient/family oriented rounds. He is currently the Colman Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and director of the Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease at CHOP. Dr. Baldassano’s research focuses on improving the care of children suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). He has been instrumental in developing an international consortium for the study of the genes responsible for causing pediatric inflammatory bowel disease and has chaired multiple national and international programs relating to pediatric IBD.

A faculty member commented, “Doctor Baldassano has distinguished himself by his outstanding commitment to teaching medical students, residents and fellows.”

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching

Forfia Weibe

This year there are two recipients of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching: Dr. Larry Palmer and Dr. Douglas Wiebe. This award recognizes teaching excellence and commitment to medical student teaching in the basic sciences.

Dr. Larry Palmer, a professor in the department of neuroscience, became the first chair of the graduate program in neuroscience and served in that capacity for 10 years. Dr. Palmer has been teaching Brain and Behavior, a first year medical school course, since 1970, initially as a graduate student. He directed the basic science portion of the course for five years in the eighties and again from 2007 to the present. Every winter, for a period of 10 years, Dr. Palmer also taught a Laboratory Computing course for scientists and physicians at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Dr. Palmer feels that working with students, either one-on-one or in the classroom, is the greatest reward in academia.

A student wrote, “Not only does Dr. Palmer have an uncanny ability to distill the most complex topics, he has a track record of dedication to teaching medical students, both inside and outside the classroom.”

Dr. Douglas Wiebe is assistant professor in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology where he teaches a course on Measurement Methodology to fellows and residents pursuing a master of science in clinical epidemiology (MSCE). He also teaches a course on Geography and Health in the master of public health (MPH) degree program. With secondary appointments in the division of trauma and in the department of emergency medicine and as a visiting scholar in the department of geography at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Wiebe’s program of research includes clinic-based studies of disease and trauma treatment as well as community-based studies of disease and trauma prevention. His teaching aims to help students understand inherent methodologic challenges that are unique to studies conducted in one or the other of these settings, and then apply techniques for managing those challenges when they are conducting studies of their own. 

Dr. Wiebe was described by a fellow as “one of the most talented, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and caring professors I have encountered. He has the superlative ability to integrate basic science and clinical medicine in his teaching and makes his lectures relevant to students in various fields of pediatric and adult medicine.” His impact extends well beyond formal classroom teaching. Trainees from different fellowship programs at HUP and CHOP and from different degree programs across the Penn campus contact Dr. Wiebe to advise them.

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

Treat Weiss

This year there are two recipients of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching: Dr. James Treat and Dr. David Weiss. This award recognizes clinical teaching excellence and commitment to medical education by outstanding faculty members from affiliated hospitals.

Dr. James Treat is an assistant professor of pediatrics and dermatology. His major clinical activities are at CHOP, where he serves as the education and fellowship director of pediatric dermatology. Dr. Treat has previously won several teaching awards from CHOP including the Edward Potash Fellow Teacher of the Year and the Faculty Teacher of the Year. He also was a recipient of Penn’s Bernett L. Johnson, Jr. Faculty Teaching Award from Penn’s department of dermatology.

A faculty member wrote that “Dr. Treat commands an incredible knowledge of his subject matter as a regionally and nationally recognized expert in pediatric dermatology.”

Dr. David Weiss is a clinical associate professor in the department of psychiatry. He is the medical director of the 6 Spruce inpatient psychiatry unit and psychosomatic medicine service at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Dr. Weiss has served on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania since 2003. Dr. Weiss has been the recipient of numerous department teaching awards including receiving the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award for all four residency years in 2007. Dr. Weiss is a clinical geriatric psychiatrist and neuropsychiatrist and has a passion for medical education. Appreciated for his humor and critical analytic skills, Dr. Weiss is known for his unique teaching style. He encourages independent thinking and makes his students’ intellectual growth a top priority.

“He is a multi-talented psychiatrist whose intelligence, clinical experience, warmth and engagement make him an irresistible teacher,” wrote a faculty member.

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

Boczar Fitzpatrick

This award recognizes outstanding teaching by allied health professionals (e.g. nurses, physician’s assistants, emergency medical technicians). This year’s recipients are: Betty Ann Boczar and Kate FitzPatrick.

Betty Ann Boczar has been the nurse manager for Founders 14, an acute care medical unit. since 1999. She was one of the first nurse managers to successfully implement the Unit Based Clinical Leadership Model that has been adopted throughout the Health System. Furthermore, Ms. Boczar completed the Emerging Leaders Program through the Penn Medicine Academy in 2011.

Since 2007, Kate FitzPatrick has served in the role of nursing clinical director and leads the division of nursing operations and Women’s Health & Neonatal Nursing at HUP. In 2010, Ms. FitzPatrick co-led the development of an innovative inter-professional program jointly sponsored by the Perelman School of Medicine and the HUP department of nursing that eases the transitions of clerkship level medical students into the hospital setting. The program has increased the understanding of medical students and nurses about each other’s roles and has had a positive effect on collaboration and healthy work environment.

A colleague noted, “These two highly respected members of the HUP nursing staff created and implemented the Nurse Mentor program for Penn medical students doing the Internal Medicine clerkships… This program, perhaps the only in the country, stresses interdisciplinary models of patient care.”

The Scott Mackler Award for Excellence in Substance Abuse Teaching

NordstromEstablished by the Penn/VA Center for Studies of Addiction and the department of psychiatry, this award is in honor of Dr. Scott Mackler who 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.

Dr. Benjamin Nordstrom is this year’s recipient. He graduated from Dartmouth Medical School in 2001.  He continued his education at the New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute psychiatry residency program. He was selected as chief resident in his final year of training. He then stayed on at Columbia University and completed a fellowship in addiction psychiatry in 2007. Following his fellowship, he was awarded a Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award to come to the University of Pennsylvania to pursue a doctoral degree in criminology. While at Penn, Dr. Nordstrom joined the faculty of the Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Nordstrom has served as the medical director of the Addiction Treatment Services at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center before moving to the Psychosomatic Medicine service at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  

“Although we have many fine teachers in this area, Ben Nordstrom has stood out as highly exceptional,” wrote a faculty member.

The Special Dean's Awards

Boczar Fitzpatrick

This award recognizes outstanding achievements in medical education by faculty members, particularly in the development of new, innovative educational programs. The two recipients are Dr. Charles O’Brien and Dr. Ernest Rosato.

Dr. O’Brien is the Kenneth E. Appel Professor of Psychiatry and the director of the Penn Center for Studies in Addiction. Dr. O’Brien offered to teach a required course on substance abuse, which became part of the first year curriculum in 1989. The course is now taught, mainly by VA psychiatry faculty. It is believed to be the only full course on substance abuse at any medical school and consists of lectures on pharmacology and treatment of addiction, seminars with physicians recovering from addiction, interviews with patients, discussions of ethical issues raised by substance abuse and a final exam. The course stresses the latest in research on the treatment of addiction including discoveries that originated at Penn, such as the use of naltrexone to treat alcoholism and the measurement of addiction using the Addiction Severity Index. 

A post-doctoral fellow wrote, “Dr. O’Brien is an outstanding clinician, researcher, teacher and a very kind and supportive mentor.”

Dr. Ernest Rosato, former professor of surgery, received the Special Dean’s Award posthumously (Almanac January 17, 2012). Recognized as the premier general surgeon at HUP for decades, Dr. Rosato always placed great emphasis on medical education, integrating medical students and housestaff seamlessly into the care of his surgical patients. His teaching abilities resulted in an unprecedented array of teaching awards during his years at Penn. He received the Mary F. and Christian R. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and numerous other awards. In 1980, the Penn Medicine yearbook, Scope, was dedicated to Dr. Rosato where the students succinctly and accurately noted that “his clinical and technical expertise are well known… over and above these skills stands his strength of purpose… he is willing to face those difficult patients whose problems require both innovation and persistence to attain successful results.”

Jane M. Glick Graduate Student Teaching Award

MuzykantovThe Jane M. Glick Graduate Student Teaching Award was established by the Glick family in remembrance of Dr. Jane Glick and her dedication to the Biomedical Graduate Studies programs. This year, the award is presented to Dr. Vladimir Muzykantov, professor of pharmacology.

Dr. Muzykantov received his MD in internal medicine at the First School of Medicine in Moscow, Russia in 1980 and then received his PhD in biochemistry at the National Cardiology Research Center in Moscow in 1985. In addition to being the founding director of the ITMAT Center for Targeted Therapeutics and Translational Nanomedicine, Dr. Muzykantov  has been the chair of the Pharmacology Graduate Group (PGG) since 2006 and has helped the PGG seminars flourish.

Students consistently praise his teaching style, which they say emphasizes the history of scientific discovery. He is regarded among students and his peers as an exceptional mentor and innovative scientist.

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award Presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation

RuskThis award is given to a faculty member who illustrates professional behavior by example, displays cultural sensitivity in working with patients and family members of diverse ethnic or religious backgrounds, and demonstrates the highest standards of compassion and empathy in the delivery of care to patients.

The recipient is Dr. Matthew H. Rusk, an associate professor of clinical medicine and program director of the department of medicine’s Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency. He is the recipient of several awards for his outstanding teaching and was designated a “Top Doc” by Philadelphia magazine in 2011.

As the director of the Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency, Dr. Rusk has developed a new curriculum in community outreach, patient-physician communication and patient-centered care. He mentors eight interns a year and is constantly available to students and trainees all day, every day.

A resident commented, “I came to Penn not sure of what type of career I wanted in medicine. Without Dr. Rusk’s constant and unwavering support, I am not sure I would have found my way. I can only hope to become half the clinician, teacher and mentor for others that he has been for me.”

Another resident wrote, “Dr. Rusk remains one of my true heroes in medical practice. He is an exemplary primary care physician—brilliant, kind and committed to his patients. Dr. Rusk is a deeply humanistic physician whose sensitivity and compassion are unparalleled in my experience.”

A third resident added, “I came to view Dr. Rusk as a dedicated role model and mentor for his residents, an enthusiastic teacher for each trainee who crossed paths with him, a supremely gifted clinician both in the hospital and in the clinic, and a compassionate caregiver to his patients.”


Medical Student Government Awards

Basic Science Teaching Award

WhiteDr. James White is an adjunct associate professor of cell and developmental biology where he teaches a number of introductory courses, including Gross Anatomy. He also teaches Neuroscience and Histology. He is universally praised as an “extremely passionate and dynamic teacher whose extensive knowledge of the subject matter combined with his friendly and approachable demeanor make him a student favorite.” This is the third year in a row that Dr. White has received this award.

Dr. White’s lecturing style is described as very student-friendly: organized, clear and engaging. One student wrote, “Dr. White has the rare quality of excelling both in the lecture hall as well as on an individual level.  I think this stems from his sincere commitment to student education.” Dr. White is often praised for his commitment to teaching. Students comment that not only did Dr. White deliver lectures that were “works of art” in their grasp of how best to convey a point, he “took the time to personally get to know all of us, which made him that much more special.” “He can make even the most lost student feel like they ‘get it’ by the end of 10 minutes in the anatomy lab—and often did!”

Clinical Teaching Award

GorenDr. Eric Goren is assistant professor of clinical medicine in the division of general internal medicine. He is described as an outstanding mentor who has a passion for education. This is the third year in a row that Dr. Goren received this award.

One student commented, “He made the learning experience enjoyable and is an example of the type of physician I would like to be.” Another said, “There is truly no one as compassionate and generous as Eric Goren.” And a third student remarks, “As a physician, he uses his vast medical knowledge and remarkable clinical skills to provide the highest quality care for his patients, but his true gift is his ability to form relationships with patients from every walk of life.  As a teacher, he becomes a partner in learning with his students and challenges them to expand their horizons; every moment on service with Dr. Goren is a teaching moment, and he uses every opportunity to help his students grow.”



Almanac - May 1, 2012, Volume 58, No. 32