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24 honored at the 2008 Presidential Award Ceremony

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2008 · Volume: XLI · Issue: 3

The 2008 Presidential Award winners stand with President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., (third from right on front row) following the ceremony.
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The 2008 Presidential Award winners stand with President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., (third from right on front row) following the ceremony.clear graphic

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Twenty-four faculty, staff and students from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio were honored at the Presidential Award ceremony on Jan. 31. President Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., presented awards for excellence in research, volunteer service, scholarship, clinical skills, employee excellence and teaching.

A video of the awards ceremony is available for viewing, as well as the printed program from the event.

2008 Presidential Distinguished Scholar Award
World-renowned diabetes researcher Ralph A. DeFronzo, M.D., received the universityís highest honor, the 2008 Presidential Distinguished Scholar Award. Dr. DeFronzoís work has produced novel ideas about how diabetes develops and progresses, including the concept of insulin resistance. He also is leading the development and testing of new diabetes therapies, including the drug metformin, which is used by thousands of diabetes patients worldwide.

Dr. DeFronzoís wife, Toni, accepted the award and $5,000 prize on his behalf, because he had already accepted an invitation to teach a postgraduate course at the Endocrine Fellows Foundation in San Francisco.

Presidential Junior Research Scholar Award
Robert Brenner, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology, received the Presidential Junior Research Scholar Award for his work involving epilepsy, particularly the genetics that underlie temporal lobe epilepsy, a common form of the disease. His research group also studies the genetics of asthma.

Volunteer Service Awards
This is the first year the UT Health Science Center has presented awards for volunteer service. In 2002, President George W. Bush asked Americans to help their neighbors, communities and nation through volunteer service. The University of Texas System, including the Health Science Center, instituted the Presidentís Volunteer Service Awards Program in 2007 to recognize employees who have exemplary records of volunteer service.
  • Michelle Batilla, academic coordinator in the Department of Microbiology, received the gold medal for 1,825 hours of volunteer service.
  • Carolyn Fralix Gold, M.S.N., R.N., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Acute Nursing Care, received the silver award for 1,512 hours.
  • Kim Head, administrative assistant in the Department of Pediatrics, received the bronze medal for 1,252 hours of volunteer service.
Ambassador Scholar Awards
Five ambassador scholars, representing their respective schools, also received special recognition. The students were recommended by their deans for exemplary scholarship, leadership and service. The Presidentís Council provides scholarships for these outstanding students:
  • Llena Caldwell from the Dental School
  • Ellis Goins from the School of Allied Health Sciences
  • Katherine Grimaldo Pavo from the School of Nursing
  • Angela Shedd from the School of Medicine
  • Duane Winkler from the School of Biomedical Sciences
Clinical Excellence Awards
Three faculty members were recognized for their clinical excellence, representing the very best in patient care, collaborative teamwork, independent leadership and compassionate care. These award winners include:
  • Alison Beck, Ph.D., O.T.R., associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy
  • Wayne Schwesinger, M.D., professor in the Department of Surgery
  • Ian Thompson Jr., M.D., professor and endowed chair in the Department of Urology
Employee Excellence in Service Awards
Five employees were honored for excellence in service. They are individuals who regularly and consistently exceed expectations, significantly improving productivity and cost savings for the Health Science Center:
  • Linda Clark, administrator in the Department of Physiology
  • Kris Doyle, director of strategic communications in the Office of Development
  • Judith Livingston, M.Ed., project director in the Department of Pediatrics
  • Sherece McGoon, conference coordinator for nursing continuing education
  • Rene Torres, Web specialist in the Office of External Affairs
Teaching Excellence
Six faculty members received awards for excellence in teaching. They were selected because of their extensive knowledge of the subjects they teach and awareness of current developments in their fields, as well as their significant contributions to the education and development of future health care professionals. They include:
  • Sandra Adams, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Medicine
  • Magda de la Torre, M.P.H., R.D.H., assistant professor in the departments of Dental Hygiene and Community Dentistry
  • Glen A. Medellin, M.D., assistant professor and clerkship director in the Department of Pediatrics
  • Susan Naylor, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology
  • Jean Petershack, M.D., associate professor and director of neonatal education in the Department of Pediatrics
  • Omid Rahimi, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology

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