This award celebrates clinicians who demonstrate exceptional commitment and effectiveness as a mentor to health care providers.

The 2019 Winner:

Ponciano Cruz Jr., M.D.

Professor of Dermatology
Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

As Residency Director in the Department of Dermatology at UT Southwestern since 1991, Dr. Cruz has mentored dozens of young physicians and also worked diligently to create a groundbreaking dermatology curriculum – one that has become a model for institutions nationwide. Today, as a recognized international expert in medical education and a Distinguished Teaching Professor at UT Southwestern, Dr. Cruz still conducts side-by-side mentoring and on-the-job training and continues to act as a career adviser to generations of clinicians, physician-scientists, and academic leaders. 

He founded the Dermatology Teachers’ Exchange Group (DTEG) and served as the leader of the national organization for 20 years. He has also made comparable contributions to educational initiatives by the Society for Investigative Dermatology (SID), the Association of Professors of Dermatology, and the American Contact Dermatitis Society, for which he has served as Editor-in-Chief of its home journal, Dermatitis, for over 20 years.

Dr. Cruz’s achievements in clinical and investigative dermatology are just as impressive. He is Vice Chair of the Department of Dermatology, holder of the Paul R. Bergstresser, M.D. Chair in Dermatology, Director of the Contact Allergy Clinic at UT Southwestern, and Chief of Dermatology at the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center. 

He and Dr. Kiyoshi Ariizumi, Professor of Dermatology, discovered a novel immune checkpoint that can be targeted for treating melanoma and other solid cancers.

Dr. Cruz is the recipient of numerous awards and grants for research and teaching, including the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Excellence in Education Award, the American Skin Association Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Education, and a UT Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award. He was also included in D Magazine’s Best Doctors list for 2018 and 2019. 

In his words: "At best, mentorship is a bi-directional affair that benefits the mentee and the mentor, produces synergisms neither party can achieve alone, and lays a foundation for succeeding generations to give back perpetually. I accept the Mentorship Award on behalf of those I helped train who in turn have trained others."

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Dr. Ponciano Cruz