About the Chair
Steven N. Popoff, PhD – a nationally recognized educator and educational champion – is the Chair of the Department. He joined the Lewis Katz School of Medicine faculty in 1988 and has been promoted to a succession of leadership posts over the years. He currently holds the John Franklin Huber Chair of Anatomy & Cell Biology.
Dr. Popoff is known as a central guiding force in the ongoing quest to improve educational strategy at the medical school. He twice chaired the school’s curriculum committee, played a key role in the redesign of the MD program curriculum, and has directed courses taught by multiple faculty.
A teacher – and a teacher’s teacher – he has deep knowledge of emerging theories and modalities of education, and he uses student and faculty feedback to guide continuous advancement – not just of his own teaching but also the Department’s priorities, practices, and philosophies.
Dr. Popoff has won prestigious awards for educational excellence, including the 2020 Christian F. and Mary R. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, an honor reserved for true masters.
Dr. Popoff provides education leadership at the national level, with presentations at national educational group forums. He is a longtime grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health – which has funded his scholarly pursuits continuously since 1985. The results of his work have appeared in numerous prestigious journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association.
He’s excited about the department’s reconfiguration, which became official on July 1, 2021 – bringing together, in one department, faculty once dispersed among separate basic science departments.
“Gathering educators into one common department is clearly advantageous,” Dr. Popoff says.
Exciting interactions and collaborations to enhance teaching and learning are already underway – for example the idea of developing innovative curricula specific for each major health profession. “And spearheading a new graduate program to train future biomedical educators. Medical education is an emerging specialty, a career path experiencing exponential growth,” he says.
In the past, basic science educators were housed in departments primarily focused on research, but now they have a collective home in a department focused on education. Centralization enables faculty to fully focus their efforts on the school’s educational mission – teaching students, prioritizing educational innovation and scholarship, and participating in education-related service.
“Plans are underway to establish a tenure track for full-time faculty educators and scholars,” Dr. Popoff says.
As Department chair, he says “it’s my job is to support my colleagues in achieving their goals, to provide the encouragement, guidance, and resources they need to be productive and to innovate.”