May 12, 2009

Two School of Medicine Professors Honored with Jackson Award

The positive impact Case Western Reserve University professors have on the lives of their students is recognized annually with the J. Bruce Jackson, M.D. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring.

The recognition honors outstanding advising and mentoring of undergraduate students. The Jackson Award celebrates those who have guided a student toward the discovery of academic and career paths; fostered the student’s long-term personal development; challenged the student to reflect, explore and grow as an individual; and supported and/or facilitated the student’s goals and life choices.

Two professors from the School of Medicine are the recipients of the 2009 Jackson Award: Mitchell Drumm and Mark A. Smith. Read more below:

Mitchell Drumm

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Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics

Facility Director, Cystic Fibrosis Center Animal Core

Mitchell Drumm is a world-renowned geneticist who has studied cystic fibrosis for more than 20 years. Yet his two nominators agree that, though he is unarguably knowledgeable, it is his compassion that is one of Drumm's greatest assets.

"Rather than boast his expertise, he offers his passion for science and willingness to teach," says one nominator, who adds that working in Drumm's lab has helped her, as a cystic fibrosis sufferer, to better understand her own condition and motivated her to continue her own research to find treatments for the disease. "I hope that one day I can be the scientist, the mentor and the person that he is and that I can help him and others as much as he has helped me."

Another nominator says she will always be grateful for Drumm's encouragement, both professionally and personally. "Dr. Drumm has constantly been someone I go to for advice, learning and direction. He has been one of the few people in my life who has believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself," she says. "His generosity, passion for science and friendship are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life."

Drumm received his Ph.D. in 1990 from the University of Michigan, where he worked alongside Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project, to identify the genetic causes of cystic fibrosis. He joined the Case Western Reserve University faculty in 1992.

Mark A. Smith

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Professor, Department of Pathology

Director of Research, University Memory and Aging Center

Mark A. Smith is one of the most published and most cited researchers in the world, having authored more than 600 peer-reviewed manuscripts and chapters. His research focuses on the molecular and cellular pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Guiding undergraduate researchers is another specialty of his.

"I have never met a professor who is more personally invested in the success and best interest of his students," says his nominator, recounting a tumultuous freshman year that started with his evacuation from Tulane University during Hurricane Katrina and ended in his admission to Case Western Reserve University, where he was taken under the wing of the professor he calls "an incredibly influential figure."

"Dr. Smith seems to effortlessly walk the fine line between providing strong guidance and allowing room for independent discovery," he says. "His teaching style has never made me feel overwhelmed, while, at the same time, he consistently pushes me to do my very best work."

Outside the classroom, Smith also played a prominent role in helping his nominator's professional development. "Coming into college, I didn't know what I wanted to do in life, but even in an extraordinary situation, Dr. Smith came forward to lead," he says. "Through Dr. Smith's guidance, I discovered my passion for research, was able to pursue that interest with success, and ultimately decided that I wanted to pursue a career as a physician-investigator."

Smith is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. He joined Case Western Reserve University in 1992. Smith has donated the award to support future undergraduate research.

About the Jackson Award

The Jackson Award honors outstanding advising and mentoring of undergraduate students by a current employee or emeriti faculty member at Case Western Reserve University.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, May 12, 2009 02:35 PM | News Topics: Commencement, Faculty, Provost Initiatives, School of Medicine, news

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