Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards
This award celebrates clinicians who demonstrate exceptional commitment and effectiveness as a mentor to health care providers.
More in 2022 Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards
The 2022 Winners:
David Gerber, M.D.
Professor of Internal Medicine and in the Peter O’Donnell Jr. School of Public Health
Division of Hematology and Oncology
An oncologist who champions translational research as a key element of clinical care for cancer patients, Dr. Gerber is a mentor for trainees who also wish to pursue the bench-to-bedside approach.
His nominator called Dr. Gerber “the Mentor-in-Chief of the Simmons Cancer Center” and cited numerous examples of up-and-comers whom Dr. Gerber has encouraged and advised.
When Mitchell von Itzstein was a fourth-year medical student, he met Dr. Gerber at an oncology conference in Chicago. He was inspired by their meeting to work with Dr. Gerber and came to UT Southwestern Medical Center to continue his training. Now an oncology fellow, Dr. von Itzstein has published 19 manuscripts with Dr. Gerber – 14 as first author – in journals such as Cancer, JAMA Oncology, and the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. An impressive number for a physician/researcher at any level, but especially for an individual at such an early stage of his career.
“As a mentor, David is the best at conveying the principles of hypothesis generation, data collection, and analysis, so I was not surprised when David told me that Mitch functions near the level of an independent investigator,” said Dr. Gerber’s nominator.
Dr. Gerber doesn’t just mentor physicians, but also works with nurses, advanced practice providers, Ph.D. students, and clinical researchers. One such mentoring relationship led to a change in national policy. In working with nurse practitioner Alyssa Macchiaroli, M.S.N., APRN, AOCNP, Dr. Gerber noted that the National Cancer Institute had prohibited advanced practice providers from prescribing treatments in clinical trials, even though most states allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to place orders for standard cancer treatment. Dr. Gerber encouraged Ms. Macchiaroli to push for a change, guiding her through the process of publishing an article and petitioning National Cancer Institute leadership.
Dr. Gerber encourages colleagues as well. When Sawsan Rashdan, M.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, told Dr. Gerber that she had started lecturing oncologists in the northern Syria war zone via Zoom, he suggested that she develop a formal educational program. He guided her to the UT Southwestern Office of Global Health, urging her to create an elective in which medical students hear these physicians’ experiences firsthand.
His nominator said Dr. Gerber is always generous with those with whom he works, empowering them to pursue their own research. Over the past 10 years, he has mentored 10 predoctoral students and 23 postdoctoral trainees. Of Dr. Gerber’s 197 published and in-press manuscripts, his trainees served as first author on 68. As a result of this track record, he received an NCI Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research in 2016. At the time, he was the only UT Southwestern faculty member to hold this NIH grant, which specifically supports mentoring.
Dr. Gerber, who also serves as Associate Director of Clinical Research at UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, earned his medical degree at Cornell University Medical College in New York.
In his words: “Despite remarkable medical advances, there are so many things we could do better in health care today. The best place to ask these questions is an academic medical center, and clinicians are optimally poised to identify and address these issues. If I can pass on this interest to others, then I have made a meaningful and lasting difference.”
Dr. Gerber holds the David Bruton, Jr. Professorship in Clinical Cancer Research.
Myra Wyckoff, M.D., FAAP
Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
It’s hard to say what Dr. Wyckoff values most – resuscitating newborn babies or teaching trainee physicians how to do this important work, knowing there will be many more hands to carry the mission forward.
Said a colleague and one of several individuals who nominated Dr. Wyckoff, Professor of Pediatrics, for this award, “Myra is the clinical mentor that everyone hopes to impress and never wants to disappoint.”
Dr. Wyckoff is a newborn intensive care specialist who cares for babies who are born too early or enter the world with serious health issues. She is the Director of the Neonatal Resuscitation Program at Parkland Memorial Hospital.
As part of that role, she developed and coordinates an educational rotation in newborn resuscitation for the senior pediatric house officer, second-year emergency medicine residents, neonatal-perinatal medicine fellows, and obstetrics anesthesia fellows. Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine fellows begin their fellowship working on the Newborn Resuscitation Team, learning the algorithm for high-risk delivery. Dr. Wyckoff expands that learning with a biweekly conference that includes the entire Neonatal-Perinatal Division and the Parkland Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Both positive and negative outcomes are studied during the conference, focusing on key learning points. The neonatal resuscitation conference is widely considered to be the best conference of the Division. Through this biweekly learning experience, Dr. Wyckoff ensures that everyone – faculty and fellows, advanced practice providers, and nurses – is working synchronously in managing high-risk deliveries.
One nominator offered a personal example of Dr. Wyckoff’s mentorship. “When I began as an attending at Parkland, the sheer volume of patients and differences in practice were overwhelming. Myra patiently taught me the [ways of] Parkland and helped ensure that I was incorporated into the team.”
Dr. Wyckoff has high expectations of her trainees, but at the same time she is approachable.
In recognition of her superior mentorship skills, Dr. Wyckoff has been honored with the Pediatric Faculty Teaching Award on three separate occasions and is also one of several women featured on the Celebrating Breakthroughs Together wall on South Campus, which recognizes groundbreaking female leaders who have made an impact in advancing the sciences, education, and clinical care missions at UT Southwestern. Dr. Wyckoff explained that her passion for mentoring physicians in training comes from having overcome obstacles on her own path to her medical career. As she was studying and learning, she found that requests for additional instruction were always graciously met, and now she enjoys giving back to those who are coming up.
Said another nominator, “Through Myra's creation and oversight of the Parkland Newborn Resuscitation Program, her clinical mentorship has reached thousands of learners over her 22-year tenure and positively impacted the lives of countless newborns who have reaped the benefits of these well-trained residents and fellows.”
After completing a degree in engineering, Dr. Wyckoff earned her medical degree at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
In her words: “I am honored to serve and be considered as a mentor to my colleagues, friends, and trainees. I am the physician I am in great part due to the humble, dedicated, awe-inspiring mentors who showed me the way over my many years at UTSW as a student, resident, fellow, and faculty member. Even now, those physicians offer me wise counsel and I am grateful for their presence in my life. Mentors like Charles Rosenfeld, who taught me to work hard but always enjoy the most important things in life like family, a good vacation, and sharing a great bottle of wine with friends; Phil Shaul, who taught me that the best scientists remain humble in the face of so much unknown; Abbot Laptook, who taught me the value of listening to all sides before talking loudly and to examine each patient as though my own life depended on it; and particularly to Jeff Perlman, who demonstrated passionate servant leadership for the babies and parents at Parkland and underresourced regions of the world and championed me for leadership opportunities every chance he got. If I can give back in even half-measure what I have received from my UTSW community, I will be at peace.”