Print This Issue

School of Medicine Teaching Awards

May 3, 2011, Volume 57, No. 32

The following 14 faculty members were chosen to receive this year’s School of Medicine teaching awards. Nominations were solicited from faculty, house staff and students. These recipients will be honored at the School of Medicine graduation ceremony later this month and at the Awards of Excellence Banquet in the fall.

The Leonard Berwick Memorial Teaching Award

This award was established in 1980-81 as a memorial to Leonard Berwick by his family and the department of pathology to recognize “a member of the medical faculty who in his or her teaching effectively fuses basic science and clinical medicine.” It is intended that this award recognize persons who are outstanding teachers, particularly among the younger medical faculty.

Dr. Steven Siegel received his MD and PhD in neurobiology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1996 after completing an undergraduate degree in neuroscience at Colgate University in 1986. He later completed a residency in psychiatry and a Fellowship in neuropsychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty in 2001. He is currently the director of the Translational Neuroscience Program in the department of psychiatry and director of the Clinical Neurosciences Training Program for the School of Medicine at Penn. He is also a practicing psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of schizophrenia. Work in his laboratory includes the establishment and development of new methods for the treatment of schizophrenia using biodegradable long-term delivery systems. The methods and technologies developed in his group are also being extended to the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. Additionally, his laboratory investigates the neurobiology of schizophrenia, autism, drug abuse and nicotine dependence using animal models to evaluate EEG and event-related brain activity in mice.



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


This award was established by the department of anesthesia. As a pioneer in the specialty of anesthesia and chair of the department from 1943 to 1972, Dr. Dripps was instrumental in the training of more than 300 residents and fellows, many of whom went on to chair other departments. This award recognizes excellence as an educator of residents and fellows in clinical care, research, teaching, or administration.

Dr. Wallace Miller is an associate professor of radiology. He earned his MD from Penn 1986  and has been on the faculty since 1991. Dr Miller has always had an interest in teaching at all levels within the medical center, is the author of two medical textbooks and has been involved in the education of countless Penn medical students, radiology residents, pulmonary and critical care fellows, thoracic imaging fellows, and nursing students. For his efforts he has previously been awarded three Penn Pearl Awards for medical student education and the Wallace T. Miller Sr. Award for Excellence in Radiology Resident Education.





Blockley-Osler Award


Created by the Blockley Section of the Philadelphia College of Physicians, this 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. Richard Rutstein, professor of pediatrics, currently serves as the director of the Special Immunology Service/Family Care Center at CHOP. After completing his pediatric residency at CHOP, Dr. Rutstein worked in Camden at an urban health center, returning to CHOP in 1989 to direct the newly developed Pediatric HIV clinic (which became the Family Care Center). His recent clinical research focuses on HIV infection and cognitive outcomes, as well as on the impact of HIV infections on childrens’ health. Dr. Rutstein 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. His teaching efforts have previously been recognized with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Clinical Education (1996), the Faculty Teacher of the Year Award from CHOP (1998), the CHOP Master Clinician Award (2011), and has been on the faculty “Honor Role” for clinical educators since its inception in 2000.




Dean’s Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching


This award recognizes 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.

Dr. Kathryn Schmitz is an associate professor in the departments of biostatistics and epidemiology and family medicine and community health, and currently serves as director of educational development for the Center for Public Health Initiatives. Dr. Schmitz came to Penn in 2005 to grow a research program on exercise and cancer rehabilitation. Along the way, she became connected to two masters training programs in the School: the Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE) and Master of Public Health (MPH) programs. She has taught epidemiology methods in three different programs at Penn, and currently co-leads efforts to obtain funding for MPH students and to seek re-accreditation of Penn’s growing MPH Program through the Council for Education on Public Health.  In 2004, she was awarded the Charles Hewitt Creative Teaching Award from the University of Minnesota. Her background as a former professional classical dancer deeply influences her teaching style. She believes that the best possible learning occurs in classrooms imbued with ample curiosity, creativity and enthusiasm.



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

Alter Khella

This award recognizes clinical teaching excellence and commitment to medical education by outstanding faculty members from affiliated hospitals (all hospitals except HUP). This year there were two winners of this award. 

Dr. Craig Alter is clinical associate professor in the department of pediatrics. He is the Fellowship Program Director and formerly the clinical director of the Endocrinology & Diabetes Division at CHOP. He has served as chair of the Educational Committee of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society. He was voted as one of the regions “Top Docs” by Philadelphia Magazine.

Dr. Alter completed his undergraduate training at Penn, majoring in mathematics and chemistry before attending Harvard Medical School. After residency at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, he did his fellowship training at CHOP where he won the Fellow Teacher of the Year Award in 1991. He served as a clinical endocrinologist at the University of Massachusetts where he was director of the Children’s Diabetes Center. At the University of Massachusetts, he won the Faculty Teaching Award in 1996 before rejoining the Endocrinology Division at CHOP in 1999. At CHOP, Dr. Alter is a clinical pediatric endocrinologist and is deeply involved in medical education.

Dr. Alter has lectured nationally on various topics in endocrinology. In addition, he enjoys studying methods of education and has taught and run workshops nationally on improving methods of teaching in medicine. He is best known for his creative style of teaching.

Dr. Sami Khella is a clinical associate professor of neurology in the School of Medicine, and currently serves as the chief of neurology at Penn Presbyterian. Dr. Khella came to the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate in 1975 and has been here ever since. Before going to medical school, he studied in the Graduate School of Fine Arts at Penn (now PennDesign). He then earned his MD from Penn in 1984 and did his residency in neurology and fellowship in neuromuscular diseases also at Penn. Dr. Khella has long had an interest in teaching medical students and undergraduates and he was recognized for excellence in teaching by the Penn Medicine Class of 1992. He continues to be a practicing artist. He combines painting and printmaking with medicine in an attempt to communicate the non-verbal aspects of caring for the sick. He shows his work regularly around the University and internationally.

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


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.

Dr. Alissa E. Silverman joined the Philadelphia VA Medical Center in 2008.  She is a clinical associate in the department of psychiatry at Penn.  Dr. Silverman consistently, compassionately, and expertly teaches medical, psychology, and nursing students,  as well as psychiatry residents, staff, and patients in group and individual therapy techniques.  Dr. Silverman teaches by example how to facilitate group therapy, individual therapy, family meetings, and milieu therapy.  She provides guidance in understanding the complex needs of the veteran population.  In a community setting, Dr. Silverman also utilizes psychodrama techniques in group drug and alcohol treatment.



The Scott Mackler Award for Excellence in Substance Abuse Teaching


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.

Dr. George Woody has been involved in treatment, research and teaching medical students, residents and fellows about substance use disorders since he began at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center in 1971. Dr. Mackler was recruited to work with the addiction treatment staff. Drs. Woody and Mackler became friends and collaborated on teaching assignments. Over the years Dr. Woody became more involved in research, retired from the VA in 2004, and is now principal investigator of the Delaware Valley Node of the NIDA Clinical Trials Network. He reviews papers for many journals, has authored or co-authored over 250 publications, has been a member of many NIH study sections, was a member of the DSM-IV Work Group on Substance Use Disorders, has been on FDA Advisory Committees, co-edited Treatment Improvement Protocols on methadone maintenance, participates in resident and medical student training, has lectured nationally and internationally, was awarded a Doctor Sui Causa from Pavlov State Medical University in St. Petersburg, Russia and received an award in honor of Dr. Alexei Alexeevich Likhachev, founder of the pharmacology department of the Women’s Medical Institute of St. Petersburg, later renamed after Pavlov.



The Special Dean’s Awards

Gasser Hirshfeld

The Special Dean’s Awards, 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.

Since 1997, Dr. Gasser, professor of genetics, has served as the course director for Module 1: Core Principles, as well as the course director for genetics, a lecturer and small group instructor. He is completely dedicated to medical student education and to Penn and has done an outstanding job with Module 1. Students comment that, “Dr. Gasser is very enthusiastic about the material and is very dedicated to making sure students understand all the concepts,” and is “Great at promoting discussion! Also, excellent timing placing the Masters in Bioethics info session immediately after the discussion!” and “Dr. Gasser is wonderful in small section.”

Dr. John Hirshfeld is professor of medicine in the cardiovascular division at HUP. He joined Penn as assistant professor of medicine at HUP in 1974. He directed the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at HUP from 1976 until 2007. He continues to be clinically active in the laboratory, performing diagnostic and interventional cardiac procedures. He has directed the Penn Medicine cardiovascular course since 1979. He was principally responsible for the overall design of Module 2 of Penn Med’s curriculum and directed Module 2 from its inception in 1997 through the completion of 2010. He continues to direct the Module 2 Cardiovascular Block. He has previously been a recipient of a Lindback Award and the Penn Cardiovascular Division Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award.


Jane M. Glick Graduate Student Teaching Award


This award was established remembrance of Dr. Jane Glick for her dedication to the Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) programs.

Dr. Marisa S. Bartolomei, professor of cell and developmental biology, received her BS at the University of Maryland in 1982, her PhD at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1987 and her postdoctoral training at Princeton University. She came to Penn in 1993 and since then has been committed to training graduate and medical students. Her lab’s research focuses on the study of genomic imprinting and X chromosome inactivation. Dr. Bartolomei has been the co-director on the Cell and Molecular Biology Training Grant since 2004, a grant that has helped mentor over 100 PhD students. Dr. Bartolomei was also the co-director and co-founder of the Biomedical Graduate Studies core course, Control of Gene Expressionfrom 2002-2006. She is regarded by students and peers as one of the most gifted BGS teachers and mentors.





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


This award is given to a faculty member 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. 

Dr. Chris Feudtner is a pediatrician, epidemiologist, historian, and ethicist at CHOP and Penn who focuses on improving the lives of children with complex chronic conditions and their families. He is the director of the department of medical ethics, and holds the Steven D. Handler Endowed Chair of Medical Ethics at CHOP, where he is also an attending physician and director of research for both the Pediatric Advance Care Team and the Integrated Care Service. 

Dr. Feudtner received his medical degree and his doctoral degree in the history of medicine from Penn in 1995, and completed his residency in pediatrics at the University of Washington in 1998. Between 1998-2000, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and earned his masters in public health degree from the University of Washington. An esteemed teacher, in 2002 he was awarded the Stanley Stamm Role Model in Medicine from the Pediatric Residency Program of the University of Washington, and in 2005 the Class of 1990 David Cornfeld Bedside Teaching Award from the House staff of CHOP.

Dr. Feudtner is described as a consummate physician, leader, teacher, mentor, colleague and friend. According to one colleague, “He has pioneered palliative care for children in the US.”  Others refer to him as “an expert at helping parents through the most heart wrenching, complicated decisions they will ever face.” Through his extraordinary skills at the bedside and in one on one teaching he has mentored and taught countless students, residents, fellows and colleagues how to better care for children and their families at the end of life. Another colleague sums it up, “He is an outstanding clinician for whom this honor seems to have been created!”

Medical Student Government Awards

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. 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.

Dr. White’s lecturing style is described as very student-friendly: organized, clear, and engaging. As one student writes, “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


Dr. Eric Goren is assistant professor of clinical medicine in the section of hospital medicine at HUP. He is described as an outstanding mentor who has a passion for education. One student comments, “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 3, 2011, Volume 57, No. 32