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Honoring Katz School of Medicine Professors Who Distinguished Themselves This Year

News May 14, 2024

Eleven members of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine’s esteemed faculty were recognized for their achievements in the classroom and beyond during the annual Katz School of Medicine Educational Excellence Awards reception on May 14. 

The awards were launched in 2018 to honor faculty for exceptional work across various phases and categories of teaching, mentorship, and service throughout the Katz School of Medicine community. 

The Educational Excellence Awards Committee solicits nominations from Katz School of Medicine medical and graduate students, residents, fellows, program directors, clinical and graduate faculty and the North Philadelphia community. Faculty are also welcome to nominate themselves. The award winners are selected by the committee. 

Of this year’s recipients, Amy J. Goldberg, MD, FACS, the Marjorie Joy Katz Dean of the Katz School of Medicine and the George S. Peters, MD, and Louise C. Peters Chair and Professor of Surgery at the school, said, “These individuals are not only extremely talented, but they work very hard for the benefit of our students, trainees, patients, and the communities we serve. They contribute to education, clinical care, and research, often exceeding their required duties.” 

Seven awards were presented during the reception, over which Dr. Goldberg presided. 

Jill Allenbaugh, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and General Internal Medicine, received the Medical Program Teaching Award (Phase 1), which recognizes a faculty member for their contributions to the education of medical students. 
Dr. Allenbaugh serves in many Phase 1 roles, including Course Director for Systems 5, 6, and 7 and Doctoring 1 and 2. She was also a member of the Anti-Bias Task Force. Her curricular review work has touched more than half the Phase 1 courses.  

As an educator, Dr. Allenbaugh is regarded as compassionate and supportive. 

One of her students said, “She shows a lot of empathy in workshops and opens up to us by sharing her own struggles throughout her medical education. It helps me feel less alienated and keeps medicine grounded in humanity.” 
Another said, “She validates our concerns and provides input in a constructive and supportive way.” 

Mercedes P. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Neurology and Vice Chair of Education for the Department of Neurology, and Joanna Choi, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Family and Community Medicine, were presented with the Medical Program Teaching Award (Phase 2/3). 

Dr. Jacobson has been the Clerkship Director since 2004. She also serves on the Dawn B. Marks College faculty, teaches in the Physician’s Assistant preclinical and clinical programs, and is the Phase 3 Elective Course Director. 

She is regularly recognized for her devotion to her students. 

A student said of Dr. Jacobson, “She took the time to listen and give feedback. And she was always a friendly face that said hello and checked in on me during the rotation, even when I was not directly on her service.” 

Dr. Choi is a Family Medicine student advisor and an advisor for the Katz School of Medicine’s Family Medicine Interest Group. She’s also the Family Medicine Clerkship Director. 

Dr. Choi’s student and clerkship evaluations routinely rate her extremely high. One respondent said, “Dr. Choi was very receptive to feedback about the rotation and went above and beyond to expose me to areas of clinic I was interested in, such as TRUST clinic.” 
Another said Dr. Choi’s tireless work ethic and thorough and efficient patient care made her a valuable role model. 

Ruby H. Barghini, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and Director of the Psychiatry Residency Program, received the GME Program Teaching Award, which recognizes excellence in the Katz School of Medicine’s residency and fellowship programs. 

Dr. Barghini has created a positive and inclusive learning environment for residents that recognizes and accommodates different learning styles. In an evaluation, a resident said that she is a wonderful advocate. Another noted that she genuinely values residents’ feedback. 

Dr. Barghini was widely praised by residents and peers alike for how she navigated Covid-related challenges and an ACGME site review. As a result of her efforts, the Department of Psychiatry residency program today features full ACGME accreditation without citation and with higher survey scores; higher in-service exam scores; increased scholarly activity; a higher proportion of residents from underrepresented-in-medicine backgrounds; and expanded lecture and course offerings. 

Brian Tuohy, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Center for Urban Bioethics, was presented with the Graduate/Non-Medical Professional Program Teaching Award. 

Dr. Tuohy joined the Katz School of Medicine in 2021 as lead instructor of two Urban Bioethics master’s courses and thesis advisor to more than 20 Urban Bioethics students. In the time since, he’s become known for his kindness, openness, accessibility, and seemingly boundless enthusiasm for his subject matter. 

A colleague who was an MD/MAUB student in three of Dr. Tuohy’s courses said that his course, Immigration, Health, and Urban Life, has helped her become a better advocate for her patients. 

This year, two of his MD/MAUB students were matched with highly competitive residency programs. 

Riyaz Bashir, MD, FACC, Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, and Program Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Fellowships; Steven R. Houser, PhD, FAHA, the Vera J. Goodfriend Chair of Cardiovascular Research and Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences and Medicine and Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences; and Cherie P. Erkmen, MD, Professor of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery, received the Research Mentoring Award, which recognizes excellence in the mentoring of non-faculty and non-staff research trainees across different career levels, from undergraduate students to postdoctoral fellows. 

Through Dr. Bashir’s meticulous training plans and mentoring, he thoughtfully educates medical students, residents, and fellows on the standards of rigor and reproducibility in a supportive environment. 

A former trainee said of Dr. Bashir, a member of the Temple University Research Council, “[He] made it clear to me and my colleagues that his goal for us was to strive to truly learn, understand the methods, and always connect the work we were doing to patient care. While publishing in medical journals was essential, developing the skills necessary to become an independent investigator was more important.” 

During Dr. Houser’s tenures as Senior Associate Dean of Research and Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at the Katz School of Medicine, all 53 of Dr. Houser’s research students and fellows published their Temple work in peer-reviewed journals. 

A former trainee said, “Importantly, Steve is fiercely loyal to his trainees, and he remains a strong advocate for them well beyond their time in his lab. Notably, Steve has demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion that has spanned his entire career, leading by example in this regard long before the importance of such dedication was recognized at the national and institutional level. As a female scientist, I felt empowered by Steve and developed a degree of confidence and belief in myself that has served me well in my career thus far.” 

Dr. Erkmen is a T32 Research Advisor at the Katz School of Medicine and Fox Chase Cancer Center. She’s also a Research Advisor for the MPH program, and leads the Thoracic Surgery residency and ACGME-accredited Thoracic Surgery fellowship programs. 

She’s mentored 75 medical students, graduate students, residents, and fellows who have presented their Temple research at various venues and had it published in peer-reviewed journals.  

Her emphasis on providing equitable care has profoundly impacted many of her trainees. 

One such trainee said of Dr. Erkmen, “Through her guidance and support, I have been empowered to contribute meaningfully to the field and strive toward addressing the urgent healthcare needs of underserved populations affected by lung cancer.” 

Rebecca Petre Sullivan, PhD, Vice Chair of the Department of Biomedical Education and Data Science, Professor of Biomedical Education and Data Science, and Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences, was presented with the Educational Service Award, which recognizes a faculty member for the essential educational activities they performed beyond their required duties. 

Since joining the Katz School of Medicine faculty in 2015, Dr. Sullivan has participated in numerous initiatives, serving on the Phase 1 Curriculum Committee, Education Strategic Planning Committee, and Department/Center Restructuring Committee, among others. 

A colleague who nominated her for this award said, “I have sat in meetings with her and have always been amazed at the combination of her passion to continually improve our educational programs, as well as the attention to detail that she pays to the process and product.” 

“She mentors new faculty members and graduate students and has been a wonderful advocate for colleagues looking to further their educational skills and training,” they continued. “I honestly believe that Dr. Sullivan does not do this to bolster her own reputation but to improve the educational climate at the Katz School of Medicine and make all of us better.” 

Ana M. Gamero, PhD, Associate Professor of Medical Genetics and Molecular Biochemistry, as well as Cancer and Cellular Biology, and Sam J. Stern, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, received the Community Outreach Award, which recognizes outreach on behalf of the Katz School of Medicine within North Philadelphia and, more specifically, a faculty member’s dedication to improving the lives of others through leadership, social responsibility, and mentorship. 

Dr. Gamero has served as the Faculty Advisor for the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) chapter since 2019. The group organizes a variety of outreach and mentorship activities across North Philadelphia. As a result of these efforts, it was named LMSA Northeast Chapter of the Year for three years running. 

Dr. Gamero also mentors Latinx students applying to medical school and underserved undergraduate students pursuing a biomedical research career through SALUD+, the pre-health undergraduate student organization. 

What’s more, a colon cancer awareness event she helped organize earned an American College of Gastroenterology Service Award for Colorectal Cancer Outreach. 

Dr. Stern is the Director of Street Outreach and Addiction Medicine at the Center for Urban Bioethics. As lead physician of the Begin the Turn van, a mobile clinic in Kensington, he has provided medical and suboxone treatment to more than 850 patients. 

A colleague said of Dr. Stern, “He is out multiple days a week, usually standing on the street with his patients, in rain, snow, and hot and cold weather, making sure that he provides them with the best clinical care.” 

Dr. Stern also directs the experiential community engagement curriculum for internal medicine residents, through which residents engage with a spectrum of local organizations, including a men’s shelter, a meal service for chronically ill people, an immigration navigator, and a syringe exchange and wound care program. 

Also recognized during the reception were Anjali Vaidya, MD, FACC, FASE, FACP, Professor of Medicine, Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Fellowship, Associate Program Director of the Cardiology Fellowship, and Assistant Program Director of the Internal Medicine residency program; and Robert Bettiker, MD, FACP, MGA, Professor of Medicine, who were honored at the annual Temple University Faculty Awards Ceremony in April. 

Dr. Vaidya was presented with the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching,  given to faculty who epitomize the highest levels of sustained teaching excellence in a classroom, laboratory, or clinical setting. 

“We are proud that our learners have someone with the gravitas, respect, and effectiveness of Dr. Vaidya as an educational innovator and leader,” Dr. Goldberg said. 

Dr. Bettiker was presented with the Great Teacher Award, given to faculty whose extraordinary teaching leads to extraordinary learning. 

Over the last 23 years, Dr. Bettiker has excelled at virtually every aspect of teaching, including didactic lectures, small-group bedside training, and one-on-one clinical instruction. 

He has also played a central role in advancing equality at the Katz School of Medicine and making the institution a safe place for all students, in part by providing a social nexus for LGTBQ students on campus, through which he helps them advocate for their community. 

“Being able to count on Dr. Bettiker day in and day out has truly made Temple greater,” Dr. Goldberg said. 

Finally, Scott Rawls, PhD, Professor of Neural Sciences and Biomedical Education and Data Science; Noah Levinson, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology; Carly Sokach, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, and Dr. Sullivan were each presented with The Golden Apple Award, which is voted on by members of the graduating class.  

The recipients have distinguished themselves through their commitment to the school and their skillful and enthusiastic teaching. They received their awards at the Awards Day ceremony on May 9.