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Alpha Omega Alpha announces 2019 Distinguished Teacher Award recipients


Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society has announced the recipients of its 2019 Alpha Omega Alpha Distinguished Teacher Award.

The four recipients are:

Susan M. Cox, MD
Executive Vice Dean for Academics
University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School

Susan M. Cox, MD (AΩA, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 2006, Faculty) For more than three decades, Dr. Susan Cox, an obstetrician-gynecologist by training, has been at the forefront of shaping medical education for learners and faculty in Texas and beyond.

In 2012, the new University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School turned to Dr. Cox to be the primary architect of a curriculum to address the changing needs of the next generation of clinicians and medical educators. The Leading EDGE curriculum Dr. Cox designed emphasizes leadership skills, collaboration, and cross-disciplinary teamwork. Students teach each other through case studies and focus on value-based health care and health systems science so they are equipped with the skills they need to help their communities get and stay healthy.

As executive vice dean for academics and chair of medical education at Dell Med, Dr. Cox employs a “very special style of leadership that emanates from an exceptional ability to translate service to medicine and medical education into innovation and useful outcomes, and further translate that innovation and problem solving into scholarship and improved training,” says S. Claiborne Johnston, MD, PhD, dean of Dell Medical School and vice president for medical affairs at UT Austin.

Before joining Dell Med, Dr. Cox spearheaded innovative medical education at the University of Kentucky, where she developed a new American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellowship program, and at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where she served in many leadership roles, including as dean for professional education, associate dean for medical education and ACGME Designated Institutional Official, and regional dean for Austin programs.

Dr. Cox has earned many awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics and the University of Texas System Regents Outstanding Teaching Award. She serves on the board of directors for the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Dr. Cox discovered her own innate love for teaching early in her medical career: “During my residency training in obstetrics and gynecology you could find me teaching the medical students all hours of the day and night both on the wards and in the call room.”

Dr. Cox attended West Texas State University on a bowling scholarship and earned an MA in cell biology and human genetics from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She earned her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor Medical Center in Houston and a two-year fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.


Mohammed K. Khalil, DVM, PhD, MSEd
Clinical Professor
University of South Carolina School of Medicine - Greenville

Mohammed K. Khalil, DVM, PhD, MSEd From his beloved horses, whom he worked with when he trained as a veterinarian in his native Sudan, to his students at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine - Greenville, whom he has gently guided, Dr. Mohammed K. Khalil has been a steadying hand in the lives of others throughout his career.

Dr. Khalil’s student-first approach to medical education led to his recruitment as a founding faculty member at the UofSC School of Medicine - Greenville in 2012. “Among our founding faculty, Mo was unique because of his training and clear understanding of educational psychology, his proven record of effectiveness and innovation in teaching, and his utilization of that knowledge and training into effective practice,” writes Jerry Youkey, MD, dean of UofSC School of Medicine - Greenville.

Dr. Khalil’s research frequently focuses on the use of technology in medical education. In one study, he compared how well students learn using traditional paper-based materials with how well they learn using computer-based information and discovered that innovative, computer-based instructional strategies were more efficient. He is considered a “histology guru” because of his intensive study and understanding of microscopic anatomy.

Dr. Khalil has received several prestigious awards from UofSC, including being the first member of the UofSC School of Medicine - Greenville’s biomedical sciences faculty in the non-tenure track to be promoted by his peers to the rank of professor. In 2017, he earned the Garnet Apple Award for Teaching Innovation for the university’s most exceptional faculty. He has also received the Innovation in Education Award, the Golden Peach Award for excellence in M1 education, and several student choice awards.

Dr. Khalil, who also serves as director of the Student Academic Success Program, is a favorite. “The thing that comes to mind as my best time is when I’m with a student; it is the most enjoyable part,” he said recently. “When I moved here from Sudan, I missed my family at the beginning; it was not an easy thing, but when I was with the students, all of those worries melted away.”

Trained in veterinary medicine and anatomy at the University of Khartoum, Dr. Khalil moved to Alabama in the 1990s to further his anatomy studies at Tuskegee University, earning a master’s degree in anatomy. He went on to earn a third master’s degree (in educational technology) and a PhD in anatomy education from Purdue University in 2002. Dr. Khalil was recruited to UofSC School of Medicine – Greenville in 2012 from the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, where he was a founding faculty member and an assistant professor.

N. Kevin Krane, MD
Vice Dean for Academic Affairs
Professor of Medicine
Tulane University School of Medicine

N. Kevin Krane, MD (AΩA, Tulane University, 1999, Alumni) In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, when the survival of the entire city of New Orleans was at stake, all educational institutions, including Tulane University School of Medicine, were at risk. Dr. N. Kevin Krane, vice dean for academic affairs, worked with colleagues to ensure the medical school would not shut down and derail medical students’ academic careers. Under Dr. Krane’s leadership, courses and clerkships resumed just one month later through supportive program partnerships with academic medical centers in Houston. Ongoing partnerships with clinical facilities and institutions across Louisiana ensured that the program would thrive once Tulane medical students returned to New Orleans.

L. Lee Hamm, MD, dean of the Tulane University School of Medicine, credits Dr. Krane’s “remarkable ability to lead and work with faculty, students, other institutions, and accreditation agencies,” as the reason that Tulane medical students and faculty were able to quickly resume their work.

This sort of adaptive approach to education is a hallmark of Dr. Krane’s work. His passion for providing innovative medical education has led to thoughtful curricular reforms that help students keep up with the rapid proliferation of information.

Beyond Tulane, Dr. Krane has provided regional and national leadership for medical student education and faculty development through committee and leadership roles for the AAMC Group on Educational Affairs (GEA), the International Association of Medical Science Educators, the Team-Based Learning Collaborative, and the National Board of Medical Examiners.

A gifted teacher and student favorite, Dr. Krane has received numerous student-nominated awards and “every possible teaching award at the medical school and university level,” according to Dr. Hamm. He has received the Clinical Faculty Outstanding Teacher Award eight times, the Innovative Use of Technology in Teaching Award, and the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has also received the AAMC Southern GEA’s Career Educator Award and the GEA’s Merrill Flair Award.

“Realizing that you could impact the lives of so many people while waking up every day excited about what you do made the decision to go into medicine easy,” Dr. Krane says. He has shared that passion throughout his career and continues to say that training the next generation of physicians in both basic and clinical science remains “more fun than ever.” Though Dr. Krane’s work at Tulane focuses on education, he maintains a robust clinical practice.

Dr. Krane completed his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and earned his MD from Tulane University School of Medicine. He completed a fellowship in nephrology and hypertension at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and a fellowship in medical education reform at the Harvard Macy Institute.

Cathleen C. Pettepher, PhD
Professor of Biochemistry and Medical Education and Administration
Assistant Dean of Medical Student Assessment
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Cathleen C. Pettepher, PhD (AΩA, Vanderbilt University, 2015, Faculty) When the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) sought to improve its curriculum, it turned to Dr. Cathleen Pettepher, assistant dean of medical student assessment. An exceptional educator and innovative leader, Dr. Pettepher led the school’s efforts to adopt a more integrated approach to the basic sciences and a more collaborative approach to content organization and academic policy.

Leading by example, Dr. Pettepher “worked tirelessly to ensure that the transition proceeded smoothly,” writes Jeffrey Balser, MD, PhD, dean of VUSM and president and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “She revised all of her own classroom presentations, assumed responsibility for a comprehensive faculty development program, and helped redesign the student promotions process.”

Dr. Pettepher also serves as director for the student assistance program and as a mentor for the scientist-educator post-doctoral fellowship program. In these roles, she directly supports students and takes a special interest in helping those who struggle academically. Dr. Pettepher’s students remarked on her ability to help them thrive, noting that she makes herself available despite her busy schedule.

Hyper-focused on outcomes rather than her own ego, Dr. Pettepher has sought to support and better others, without seeking attention for herself. “The word devotion does not do justice to the nature of her involvement with medical students,” Dr. Balser writes. “Dr. Pettepher is a genuinely humble leader,” who is “also very comfortable in the background, just making things work and getting things done.”

As a result, Dr. Pettepher has earned the enduring affection of hundreds of students and the respect of her faculty peers since she began teaching in 1993. She has also earned countless awards. She has received the John S. Sergent Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence, has been designated a Master Science Teacher, and was selected for membership in VUSM’s Academy for Excellence in Education. In 2016, Dr. Pettepher and members of the first-year team received the Denis M. O’Day Award for Team-Implemented Curricular Reform “for their extraordinary success in revising the pre-clerkship curriculum.” Her student-nominated accolades include the Jack Davies Award for Teaching Excellence and the Shovel Award, the highest honor bestowed on a VUSM faculty member. In 2015, she was elected as a faculty member to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Dr. Pettepher also shares the lessons she has learned in retooling medical education with educators across the country through her scholarship and leadership in the International Association of Medical Science Educators.

Dr. Pettepher earned bachelor of science degrees in chemistry and biomedical sciences and her doctorate in structural and cellular biology from the University of South Alabama. She completed a three-year post-doctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University.

Updated on August 19, 2019.