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M. D. Anderson Educator Dr. Michael J. Ahearn Named to Texas Science Hall of Fame

M. D. Anderson Educator Dr. Michael J. Ahearn Named to Texas Science Hall of Fame
M. D. Anderson News Release 01/22/02


To mark his numerous scientific and education accomplishments, Dr. Michael J. Ahearn, dean of the School of Health Sciences at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, was inducted into the Texas Science Hall of Fame at a ceremony held yesterday (Jan. 21) in San Antonio.

The Texas Science Hall of Fame was established two years ago as a means to recognize Texans who have played a major role in significant scientific accomplishments in the state. To date, 47 deserving Texans have been inducted.

With an M. D. Anderson career spanning 37 years, Dr. Ahearn’s commitment to M. D. Anderson’s educational mission has opened the doors to scientific careers for m any. For the past 26 years, he has directed the Summer Science Program in Biomedical Sciences for outstanding Texas high school graduates. The program has enabled more than 500 students to work alongside M. D. Anderson faculty mentors for eight weeks each summer. In turn, they are introduced to a research environment and have the opportunity to experience hands-on laboratory work.

In an effort to bring the latest in scientific discovery to an even greater number of students in Texas, Dr. Ahearn created a complementary curriculum for teachers in 1986. This program has brought 150 select secondary level science teachers to M. D. Anderson for a month to learn the latest developments in their educational disciplines as well as broaden their awareness of the numerous scientific careers available to their students.

"The Michael J. Ahearn Summer Workshop for High School Science Educators provided me, and well over one hundred other Texas science educators, with an opportunity to see the actual application of the science concepts that we teach in the science classroom, while keeping us current in the ever-changing world of science," says educator Charles Geach, in his nomination of Dr. Ahearn for the Texas Science Hall of Fame. "Dr. Ahearn was one of the first educators in Texas with a vision fulfilling a need for science educators to broaden their awareness of what is happening in the research realm, and thus better prepare their students."

A recent accomplishment of Dr. Ahearn’s, seeing 13 students graduate with bachelor degrees from M. D. Anderson, was a historical milestone in the institution’s educational mission. Following legislation passed in June 2000 by the 76th Texas Legislature, M. D. Anderson began offering bachelor of science degrees in cytogenetic technology, cytotechnology, medical dosimetry, medical technology and radiation therapy. All five programs are accredited by their respective national credentialing agencies, and all are vital to quality cancer care.

Actively involved in public education, Dr. Ahearn developed Project S.A.F.E.T.Y. (Sun Awareness for Educating Today’s Youth), a classroom curriculum program on skin cancer currently in use in over 5,400 elementary, middle and high schools throughout Texas. Recently, the award-winning program was converted to CD-ROM and will soon be distributed to schools nationwide.

A native Texan, Dr. Ahearn has earned three academic degrees from The University of Texas at Austin including a bachelor’s in zoology, master’s in zoology and biochemistry and a Ph.D. in cytology. In 1965, he began his M. D. Anderson career as an assistant biologist in the Department of Clinical Pathology. Since then, Dr. Ahearn has held a variety of academic positions at the institution, most recently becoming M. D. Anderson’s first dean of Allied Health Programs in 1998.

In addition to care, research and prevention, education is a significant element of M. D. Anderson’s mission to eliminate cancer. Since its creation in 1941, M. D. Anderson has trained more than 40,000 physicians, scientists, nurses and allied health professionals to address the challenges of cancer.


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center