Two UC Davis School of Medicine faculty have been recognized with the C. John Tupper Prize for Excellence in Teaching and the Hibbard Williams Extraordinary Achievement Award as part of this year’s commencement events. At an awards luncheon today, the 2013 Tupper prize was given Michael Wilkes, professor of internal medicine; the Williams award went to Kit Lam, professor and chair of biochemistry and molecular medicine, and a professor of hematology and oncology.
Created by the founding dean of the medical school, the Tupper prize recognizes sustained and enduring contributions to medical education. An important factor in the selection of award recipients is the widespread recognition of them as outstanding teachers.
Wilkes is a highly distinguished educator who has been called one of the elite faculty members among American medical schools. Many of the teaching innovations he initiated at UC Davis are now the bedrock of the School of Medicine’s curriculum, including the award-winning Doctoring curriculum, the college system of advising, and the Objectively Structured Clinical Examination system for assessing a student’s clinical skills and competence.
Wilkes creativity, leadership and teaching ability have brought him numerous regional and national honors. Joseph Silva, former dean of the School of Medicine, noted in a letter nominating Wilkes for the award that “it is clear that students think extremely highly of him, are stimulated by his teaching, and value him as a mentor.” Those sentiments were reflected by students who also wrote letters praising him for his teaching abilities, insights and passion for medicine and patient care. Fourth-year medical student Paul Moore said that Wilkes “brings a creative energy to medical education that is consistently grounded in a wealth of experience, student feedback and research. He inspires students to trust their reflections and think critically about their education and what it means to be a good doctor.”
Named for the second dean of the medical school, the Williams award recognizes exceptional faculty contributions beyond traditional teaching and research roles.
Lam came to UC Davis in 1999 as a professor and chief of hematology and oncology. A medical oncologist and laboratory investigator, he has helped revolutionize cancer diagnosis and treat-ment. He is acclaimed for his pioneering role in the field of combinatorial chemistry and developing the novel one-bead-one-compound technology, which rapidly screens millions of chemicals at one time to identify those that bind to diseased cells.
Lam's research includes working on a blood test for ovarian-cancer detection, utilizing nanoparticle carriers for drug delivery, and designing and synthesizing cancer-fighting molecules with less-toxic side effects. His expertise has been extensively sought by other scientists, and he is currently collaborating on projects to identify the molecular pathogenesis of and treatments for osteoporosis, primary biliary cirrhosis, asthma, cardiomyopathy and Alzheimer's disease. As Hsing-Jien Kung, former deputy director and associate director for basic science at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in his letter to the awards committee, “Dr. Lam has maintained an exceptional program that is distinguished by consistency, extraordinary productivity and innovation. His contributions to the scientific community and institution are trailblazing...”