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    2017 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award

    Richard C. Vari, PhD, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

    Over a 30-year career, Richard C. Vari, PhD, has developed a reputation as an outstanding teacher, medical educator, and leader of curricular innovation.

    Dr. Vari has been instrumental in directing major curriculum developments at two medical schools. First at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences (UNDSOMHS), Dr. Vari was a leader in the transformation of the lecture-based medical education curriculum to a case-focused, problem-based, patient-centered learning curriculum. In 1998, the curriculum was redesigned to reinforce the values of professionalism, humanism, and relationship-centered medicine and later earned recognition as an exemplary medical education program in the Carnegie Foundation’s report Educating Physicians: A Call for Reform of Medical School and Residency. Dr. Vari introduced the school’s first interprofessionalism course as part of the redesign.

    Second, in 2008, Dr. Vari was recruited by Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) to lead development of the new school’s curriculum. In keeping with the school’s founding as a partnership between a research-intensive university and a private clinical system, Dr. Vari initiated a novel medical education program that deploys a hybrid problem-based learning (PBL) approach and delivers both an intensive research experience and a longitudinal interprofessionalism component.

    Dr. Vari’s success in implementing curricular reform is, in part, a result of his passion for education and talent as a teacher. Students at VTCSOM, UNDSOMHS, and Tulane University—where he held his first faculty appointment— have bestowed on him more than a dozen awards and accolades for his teaching and mentorship. In addition to his

    work as senior dean for academic affairs, he continues to teach students as a PBL facilitator, course lecturer, and facilitator of the Ethical and Legal Practice in Healthcare course.

    “Dr. Vari is one of a kind. He teaches his students from his heart, his passion for his work is infectious, he leads his faculty by example, and he is revered by the students,” says Cynda A. Johnson, MD, dean of VTCSOM.

    Dr. Vari is also involved in enhancing medical education across the United States and the world. He has served on the board of the International Association of Medical Science Educators, on the physiology committee of the National Board of Medical Examiners, and on the American Physiological Society education committee. Dr. Vari  is a founding member of the Society for Interprofessional Healthcare Education and a reviewer for the American Journal of Physiology and Medical Science Educator.

    Dr. Vari received a BS, MS, and PhD from the University of Kentucky and completed his postdoctoral research in physiology at the University of Missouri–Columbia.