Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy wins NU teaching award

by Melissa Lee
April 02, 2018

Image with caption: Vimla Band, Ph.D.

Vimla Band, Ph.D.

University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds announced today that the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center has been selected to receive the 2018 University-wide Departmental Teaching Award.

The UDTA, one of the President’s Faculty Excellence Awards, is NU’s most prestigious honor for departmental excellence in teaching. Since 1993, the UDTA has recognized departments or units within the university that have made unique and significant contributions to NU’s teaching efforts and that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the education of students at the undergraduate, graduate or professional levels.

Honored departments, selected by a committee of faculty members from across the university, receive $25,000 to be used in a manner the department sees fit, such as for travel to a conference, instructional equipment or improvements to a classroom or student resource.

"The Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy has a long and proven record of excellence in teaching that serves our students and our university well," Bounds said. "The department’s faculty and staff are a model of collaboration and creativity, and their commitment to innovation means they’re meeting the needs of the rapidly evolving healthcare industry now and into the future. I commend the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy on this well-deserved honor."

Chaired by Dr. Vimla Band, Ardith and Anna Von Housen Professor and associate director of the Center for Breast Cancer Research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy has more than 100 years of accomplishments in teaching, scholarship and service. The department is home to a diverse faculty whose scholarly interests include biomedical and translational research, innovation in teaching, and continuing education.

Excellence in teaching is a key part of the department’s mission. The department’s 20-plus faculty, together with graduate teaching assistants, staff and others, work to enhance critical thinking and promote self-directed, lifelong learning as they train the next generation of healthcare professionals, anatomical science educators and research scientists.

The approximately 300 graduate and professional majors in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy - along with the high school students, undergraduates, professional healthcare personnel, first responders and others served by the department - have access to cutting-edge facilities and learning tools. Department faculty have introduced significant technological advances into the classroom and transformed the learning environment into an interactive experience. They promote independent learning through traditional lectures, hands-on laboratory experiences and inquiry-based discussions, and they enhance those activities with 3D visualization software, 3D printing, e-learning, interactive digital learning resources and "flipped" classrooms.

In addition, in order to maximize engagement and meet each student’s individual learning needs, the department places a heavy emphasis on laboratory and small group activities, complemented by interactive lectures and group discussions. The department is known for its culture of collaboration, particularly given that all courses involve multiple faculty who often come from different disciplines and educational backgrounds.

The NU honor, one of more than 40 teaching awards won by the department in the past 20 years, comes at a time of change and opportunity at UNMC. In recent years, graduate education and medical education programs have undergone extensive revision and reorganization. Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy faculty played key leadership roles in developing and implementing these new programs and curricula.

The department’s goal is to continue to innovate as it trains future leaders in patient care, education and biomedical research in Nebraska and around the world.

The department will be honored at a luncheon this week hosted by Bounds.