Thomas L. Pazdernik, PhD, University of Kansas School of Medicine
Thomas L. Pazdernik, PhD, has developed a reputation as an innovator, top-notch teacher, and exceptional mentor over more than four decades as professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutics at the University of Kansas School of Medicine (KUSOM).
Dr. Pazdernik was an early adopter of computer-assisted instruction (CAI) for health professionals, pioneering CAI at the University of Kansas Medical Center and beyond. In the 1970s, the department developed a computer-assisted teaching system (CATS) for pharmacology by coordinating the efforts of 65 domestic and foreign medical schools into one consortium to ensure the innovation would benefit learners at many institutions. Dr. Pazdernik has since improved and adapted CATS, transitioning CATS pharmacology courses for medical, nursing, and graduate students from mainframes to minicomputers to desktops to today’s web- and cloud-based apps and handheld devices. To date, he has authored or coauthored 70 CAI programs that have taught countless health professionals around the world.
Since joining the faculty at KUSOM, Dr. Pazdernik has taught pharmacology and toxicology to more than 10,000 medical, nursing, and graduate students. These students recognize that his “experience and authoritative mastery of subject allow him to convey key concepts in a way that no textbook can teach.” They also attest to his lasting impact on their careers. One former student said, “He inspired me to return to KUSOM as a faculty member, where now I hear my own residents and medical students lauding him as an outstanding professor.”
Dr. Pazdernik has been honored many times for excellence in teaching and mentoring. Students at the University of Kansas Medical Center have awarded him Student Voice awards 19 times. Students also recognized his department for outstanding basic science teaching 13 times when he was director. He has been selected to serve as graduation marshal by eight graduating classes. In 2007, Dr. Pazdernik was selected as a Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professor; in 2012, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award.
At KUSOM, Dr. Pazdernik has held various leadership positions, including acting chair for the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutics; associate dean for student affairs; and director of the Pharmacology Graduate Program. Currently, he serves as director of educational activities for the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutics. Dr. Pazdernik has also authored more than 100 publications in neuropharmacology, neurotoxicology, and pharmacology education and is the author of an esteemed pharmacology board review book.
Dr. Pazdernik earned his BS in pharmacy from the University of Minnesota and his PhD from the University of Kansas in medicinal chemistry. After completing his PhD, he received additional training in immunopharmacology as a postdoctoral research associate at KUSOM. Dr. Pazdernik also trained in neuropharmacology as a visiting scientist at the University of Helsinki in Finland.