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2013 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award

Cynthia Lance-Jones, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine


Cynthia Lance-Jones, Ph.D., combines curricular design with teaching basic science to make her on of the “most committed preclinical educators” at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, says Arthur S. Levine, M.D., dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Dr. Lance-Jones serves as associate professor of neurobiology and assistant dean for medical student research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She also is the block director of the first year basic science core curriculum, where she oversees the implementation of six courses covering core principles of anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology and pathology, immunology, and microbiology. In these roles, Dr. Lance-Jones interacts closely with medical students in their first and second years and provides virtually all lectures on medical embryology. Her teaching ability is recognized by students not only with outstanding evaluations and attendance to her lectures, but also by the fact that she is one of only three faculty members students request each year to provide review sessions for the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 exam.

Teaching in small group conferences and laboratories in an earlier cell biology and histology course led Dr. Lance-Jones to perceive and act on the need for students to integrate basic and clinical material early in their medical school career. To this end, she served as the chief architect of a new, combined course in cell biology and pathology, of which she also is the director. “She recognized how student motivation was sparked by the medical significance of basic science principles,” says Dr. Levine. “Further, she recognized how beneficial it was for pathology faculty to be exposed to medical students early in the curriculum.”

Dr. Lance-Jones maintains an active research program that focuses on motor neuron development. This experience, in conjunction with her expertise in teaching and course administration, led to her appointment as assistant dean for medical student research, where she is responsible for helping students design and implement scholarly projects. The scholarly project is a longitudinal research experience required of all medical students that spans all four years of medical school. Dr. Lance-Jones has been asked to speak about medical student research programs by other medical schools interested in establishing similar programs.

With a strong commitment to testing new approaches to teaching, Dr. Lance-Jones has designed at the University of Pittsburgh a computer module on vascular structure, atherosclerosis, and the potential use of noninvasive biomarkers. She also has created and implemented a team-based learning exercise on wound healing, and introduced the use of a virtual microscope for histology workshops and laboratories.

Dr. Lance-Jones received her B.A. degree from the University of California and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Massachusetts.

Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award

This award provides national recognition to faculty members who have distinguished themselves in medical student education.