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Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine

Science Education Home

Chair

Patrick J. Gannon, PhD
Chair

Patrick J. Gannon, PhD

My diverse and interdisciplinary professional experience is ideally suited to launch and sustain a robust science education program. Below I outline my relevant teaching, scholarship, training and leadership experience in both the basic and clinical sciences, and a more recent (> 5 years) concentration in medical education curriculum development. I also have significant (>20 years) clinical research experience and established collaborations which have resulted in publications in top-tier journals with leading clinicians and basic scientists, surgical residents, and both medical and graduate students. More recently, I was recruited to a new medical school to conduct curricular planning, design and formulation of an entirely novel, integrated organ-system based, undergraduate medical curriculum. As such, I have insight into the rewards and challenges of creating an educational program de novo, the recruitment of interdisciplinary faculty and of the professional development that is required to implement an "innovative, non-traditional curricular design."

Research

For over 15 years I served as Director of the Neurobiology of Language Research laboratory, Co-Director of the Rhinology Research Laboratory, Otolaryngology resident research rotation scientist, and as a primary collaborator with ENT surgeons and clinician scientists in the fields of Laryngology, Otology, and Rhinology. In these roles, I published numerous manuscripts as primary, secondary or lead author in both basic science and clinical science research journals, including premier high-impact journals like Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy Science, Anatomical Record, American Journal of Rhinology, Archives of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, Laryngoscope, Journal of Comparative Neurology, Journal of Human Evolution, and most recently Brain Research.

My clinical and basic science research interests have all been funded through federal grants, institutional awards, and exploratory funds from industry. Within the gradual evolution of my research interests across clinical to basic science to education, I've maintained a consistent funding history since 1996.  Moreover every research project in which a resident and/or medical student completed a training rotation in my laboratory, the learning experience resulted in scholarship (conference abstract, podium or poster presentation, and research manuscript).

Education

Medical School: My experience in undergraduate medical education includes 10 years as an Associate Course Director in the first year Gross Anatomy and as core faculty member in Histology; I've lectured and taught interactive labs in the second year Brain and Behavior course. In addition to teaching students, I feel strongly that courses should offer avenues for self-directed learning, independent projects and opportunities for educational scholarship. In Gross Anatomy, I designed and implemented a case-based subprogram "Perceived Insights into Clinical Correlates of Anatomy." Students identified disorders or anomalies in their cadavers then worked with TA's, myself and my sub-program faculty to write it up as a case report for publication on the course intranet site. Presentation of this unique program at an international anatomists meeting (FASEB-AAA) was very well received, particularly since most anatomy programs do not promote individualized study. I also designed a transition sequence between related neurobiology topics in anatomy and neuroscience, to bridge long-term interest and retention across the 9 month learning gap between these courses. 

Since 2004 I've also led didactic sessions in a Year 4 Anatomic Radiology Clerk-ship. I designed monthly 2 hour large group case-based exercises that discuss topics like "Neurologic Anatomy and Imaging: Arterial and Ventricular Indicators of Clinical Disorders - an integrated approach," with open-forum large group discussion, allowing students to reframe their basic knowledge of anatomy after having experienced clinical training. In this and all other educational endeavors, I partner with clinical and basic science colleagues to bridge the basic and clinical sciences, to ensure that our students become self-directed learners, use science to problem-solve their patient cases, and rely upon evidence-based medicine to inform their clinical decisions. 

Educational Outreach:  My sincere passion for teaching about science led to an involvement in informal and formal Science Education Outreach in New York City schools [preK to 12th grades] since 1990.  In 2001 I received funding from NASA to formalize these efforts and to educate and inspire students using the theme of space biomedicine research as a vehicle to teach and learn science. Curriculum development of my new program "Defying Gravity: Embracing Life in Space" launched in 2001 with a 5 week summer institute (2001: A Space Biomedicine Teaching and Learning Odyssey) in which I which brought together teams of high school master teachers, high performing students, and space biomedicine research scientists to design multi-media teaching modules.

Curriculum Design & Implementation

Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Otolaryngology Resident Course - Surgical Anatomy of Head and Neck – 1997-2007: As the Founding Director, I designed and conducted this course for PGY3&4 residents. It evolved with continuous refinement via learner feedback and ongoing evaluation.  The course was designed initially to refresh resident's understanding of H&N anatomy. It evolved quickly into anatomy revisits with simulated surgical procedures (on cadavers) such as neck dissection levels (radical to conserved), parotidectomy, laryngectomy and maxillectomy, that they would encounter soon in their OR training. All residents agreed that this multi-faceted hands-on learning experience enhanced their comfort level and confidence to approach complex head and neck procedures as they transitioned during residency into the role of primary surgeon.

Defying Gravity: Embracing Life in Space 2000-2007: As discussed above in the Education section, I partnered with 10 scientists, master teachers and highly achieving students through 5 weeks of workshops to construct new science lessons. Curriculum design was an unfamiliar territory for all groups in my team except the teachers, and my role was to oversee the direction and progress of the new curriculum components as they evolved from my ideas, and the results of daily workshops.  Keeping such diverse teams of people on track to meet deadlines, produce quality lessons, and achieve unified goals was both a great challenge and reward. This experience helped to forge a series of innovative lessons (and faculty development resources for teachers) that were inquiry based, hands-on and designed to align with national and NY State science educational standards. Subsequently, over the next years the lessons were delivered for beta-testing and assessment at NYC middle and high schools. After multiple rounds of national-level free-standing lesson in-class evaluation and a final teacher's workshop in 2002, the educational products were published as stand-alone inquiry based lessons on the web www.defyinggravity.net.

Touro University College of Medicine [TUCM]

Foundations of Medical Science: This was the first course I designed for TUCM. It is a 15 week, 312 hour course designed to provide students with primary exposure to seminal topics within all of the basic sciences. AAMC hot topics, and subjects that should be represented longitudinally e.g. Quantitative Methods, EBM, Nutrition, were given significant representation. The broad, interdisciplinary foundation is neither overwhelming nor superficial in its scope. Pedagogical design of FMS included extensive use of integrated case-based discussions, in both large and small-groups, Team-Based Learning methods, and significant web-based resources for self-directed learning, in addition to some traditional lectures and Inquiry-Based laboratories. Topics are designed to be revisited, to reinforce and advance within core ambulatory medicine courses across Years 1 and 2, then in the subsequent inpatient medicine blocks, electives and sub-internships.

Anatomy of Human Life - From Conception to Farewell:  As the Program Leader of AHL, a unique challenge has been to convince the community of Anatomy educators across the US that TUCM were ready to launch a program versus a course, and to differentiate the two: the former denotes a longitudinal curriculum of anatomy that inhabits systems, basic and clinical courses across all years of medical school.  This approach is optimal to promote integration of anatomy within an interdisciplinary framework and to afford students the opportunity to learn about human anatomy at an appropriate developmental level and context as they advance through phases of clinical training, from basic landmarks for physical exam to surgical anatomy and beyond.

Leadership & Mentorship

Research Laboratory Director

In my role as research laboratory director since 1995 I have directed the training of numerous technicians, graduate & medical students postdoctoral fellows and ENT residents as well as a series of high school and college summer volunteers. I've managed the progression of my own research, those of my mentees, and that of collaborations with physicians and basic scientists. As a lab leader and mentor, my philosophy on intellectual property rights was that if you pursue and develop ideas which grew from joint work, then there is an implicit responsibility to take the project to a new level and bring the work to fruition in scholarship. As such, with small but viable projects I have launched many bright young minds into independent and productive research programs. My methods served to create collaborative lab communities, using structured research meetings, that allowed all invested parties to stay connected with the progress of their own work relative to others, and to learn beyond the boundaries of their work. This is a universal paradigm for creating effective teaching/learning communities, and readily serves to unify larger enterprises such as departments. As is evident from my CV, I have fostered the professional development and research training of many physicians; in particular I've mentored residents to conduct and publish both feasible and responsible research projects that opened doors to fellowships and other career opportunities.

Course Director, Surgical Anatomy of Head and Neck [MSSM, Otolaryngology]

As described above this course was designed for PGY3 & 4 residents, and evolved from my interactions with ENT residents at all levels, particularly with chiefs. I conducted numerous meetings with residents across the PG years 2-4 to help determine the need for such a course and the components it would involve. Key lessons learned were to build around learner needs assessments, and to ask my adult learners about their perceived needs, both before and after each course. With each version I arrived at a better solution. My original idea of providing residents with a refresher course in anatomy was modified and refined over the years to ultimately become a central part of their didactic program. It regularly brought residents together from all the affiliate sites to the dissecting table with master surgeons and educators. My course endures even though I have left the institution and that marks a point of pride. 

Committee Work at MSSM

For over a decade I served as a member of the Institutional Animal Care and Usage Committee [IACUC] to enforce strict ethical guidelines and responsible use of animals in research. Members bridge every discipline and must come to agreement with the lay member on controversial issues. This setting of many contentious discussions and difficult decisions to establish new standards and policies for emerging technologies was a formative influence in my professional life and helped me to forge and balance the skills of an advocate and consensus builder. I believe both are prerequisite for effective leadership. 

After years of screening Medical School Admissions applicants and then observing their performance across Years 1-4, I have recalibrated the lens through which I see their potential success or challenges.  The Admissions committee work refined my understanding of the importance of nascent skills and attitude in training excellent physicians, rather than emphasis on grades and pedigree.  This complemented my experience (>13 years) on my department's annual residency recruitment committee through which I've come to understand the outcomes of UME training and disparities of knowledge, skills and attitude in trainees from programs around the country.  I was instrumental in helping my department move away from a subjective individual interview system, to a system that used a panel or team of faculty to interview candidates. To this end, I also created a rating instrument based upon explicit evaluation criteria to help standardize the review and selection process.  The ENT faculty as a whole appreciated this paradigm shift, and it fostered collaboration.

Course Director TouroMed - Foundations of Medical Science (FMS): 

As described in the curricular design section, I managed a group of 35 physicians and scientists from TouroMed and the Hackensack University Medical Center, whom I'd recruited to act as content experts for the new FMS curriculum.  I led this large working group to review proposed ideas and achieved a consensus via individual meetings over a period of 4 months.  While the initial tendency was to view course content from the perspective of traditional curricula, after many interactions the key pieces of this non-traditional program began to fall into place and academic relationships blossomed. As we neared a final model, I heard these statements being said by physicians many times over "I wish it would have been like this when I was in medical school; this is the only way to do it; I want to sit in on this course."

Defying Gravity: Embracing Life in Space 2000-2007:

This project and period of my career allowed me to expand my management and people skills into a new dimension of leadership. As program leader, creating functional teams with people of disparate age, experience, educational level, and differential investment in the program outcomes was an enterprise quite different from my life in academic medicine. The dynamics of coupling students-teachers-scientists were tumultuous, and involved having all parties step out of their traditional roles.  The intent of my non-traditional approach was to have the independent perspective but collective influence of content experts, teachers and learners, and to respect everyone's input into our multidimensional products. My leadership of this program was a complex, exhilarating and challenging exercise but it was successful, because I relinquished control and gave the creative reigns to many others on my team. As with any great transformative lesson in life, it was unanticipated, but giving my mentees / colleagues the opportunity to create and lead resulted in life and career-altering successes for many of those involved.

The most rewarding aspect of my unique and wide-ranging professional life is that many of the physicians, scientists, students and educators whom I have mentored have soared to thrive in their own careers. It is precisely why I feel that I am well-suited to shepherd the development of an interdisciplinary department and a fledging education program at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine at Hofstra University. As one who has had the great fortune of exploring academic and research life most fully, guiding others generously, fairly, judiciously, and recognizing the immense rewards of stewardship, I offer experience, perspective and boundless excitement over beginning a new chapter.