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2014 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award

Randall King, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

R King

A consummate researcher, Dr. King initiates investigation and innovation in the laboratory, classroom, and across the curriculum at Harvard Medical School (HMS) where he is the Harry C. McKenzie Professor of Cell Biology. 

“He views teaching as a profound privilege rather than an obligation and looks forward to developing new innovations in both the classroom and the laboratory,” says Jeffrey S. Flier, M.D., dean of the faculty of medicine at Harvard University.

Upon joining HMS faculty in 2000, Dr. King became a leader in educational innovation. He spurred the development of the Curriculum Fellows program, a postdoctoral training program for scientists interested in education careers. He became the first to use an audience response system at HMS, developed a fully annotated syllabus with detailed learning objectives for each activity, and established patient clinics to integrate basic science with clinical medicine. His leadership skyrocketed the course Molecular and Cellular Basis of Medicine from the lowest to the highest-rated pre-clerkship.

Dr. King was an integral member of a task force, which resulted in a major curriculum redesign of the four-year M.D. program at HMS. In partnership with the neuroscience course director, he articulated that students learn better when the material is developmentally appropriate. For example, advanced basic science instruction may be more appropriate once students gain clinical experience. Building on this theory, Dr. King is leading the design and implementation of an interdisciplinary first-year introductory course, Foundations, which integrates fundamentals of cell biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, anatomy, genetics, immunology, pathology, and microbiology.

“He is the gold standard against which we compare all other course directors,” attests one student. Another student says, “He is an accomplished researcher, and I’m amazed by how he is able to direct this course as though it is his only task.” In recognition of his contributions, students have nominated him six times for the HMS Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which he was awarded in 2005.

His laboratory discoveries are on par with his educational innovations. Dr. King’s research leverages biochemical, cell biological, and chemical approaches to understand how cell division is regulated in normal and cancerous cells, with the objective of spurring discovery of new classes of drugs. His lab has developed new screening methods for identifying new molecules or genes that regulate mitosis or ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis. For example, his discoveries associated with protein misfolding may lead to new treatment modalities for certain neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. King serves on multiple education committees for HMS and the Ph.D. program in biological and biomedical sciences and has trained and mentored dozens of young scientists. Dr. King received his B.A. in chemistry from Carleton College, his Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of California, San Francisco, and his M.D. from HMS.

Watch the video spotlight on Dr. King here.

More about Dr. King

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.