Michelle Barton receives Rogers Award for Excellence in Education

Esteemed educator strives to ‘put the students first’

MD Anderson News Release 09/01/2015

Michelle Barton, Ph.D., professor, Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is the 2015 recipient of the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in Education.

The annual award recognizes employees who consistently demonstrate excellence in their work and dedication to MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer. The award’s focus rotates each year among patient care, research, education, prevention and administration.

Barton will be honored at 11 a.m. Sept. 17 on the eighth floor of the Dan L. Duncan Building, 1155 Pressler St., rooms 6-8. MD Anderson President Ron DePinho, M.D. will present Barton with a framed certificate of merit and $15,000. She is one of five finalists selected from approximately 100 nominations. The remaining four finalists will each receive $1,500 and a certificate of merit:

    •    Kathleen Denton, Ph.D., associate director, Nursing Programs
    •    Kelly Brassil, Ph.D., director, Nursing Programs
    •    Mahsa Dehghanpour, Ed.D., program director, School of Health Professions
    •    Crystal Franzese, program coordinator, Hematology

Teacher, mentor and educator

A long-time faculty member with a deep passion for teaching, Barton is committed to recruiting first-class students, improving and updating the teaching curriculum, and creating a community of scholars that reflects diversity and innovation.

“The simple focus I try to maintain in all aspects of education is to put the students first,” says Barton. “None of these interactions in education is one-way. I gain so much from my students and hopefully continue to grow as a teacher, mentor and educator every day.”

Barton first came to MD Anderson in 2000 as an associate professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In addition to her duties in Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, Barton also serves as co-director of the Center for Stem Cell and Developmental Biology. She also serves as dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences along with Michael Blackburn, Ph.D., of UTHealth. From the moment she joined MD Anderson, Barton began participating in student committees and spearheaded a multi-institutional approach to offer bioinformatics to graduate students.

“Over the years I’ve served in multiple areas of teaching and training,” says Barton. “I’ve been a classroom teacher, a graduate program director, a charter member of the Graduate Education Committee at MD Anderson, a member of a vast array of advisory committees, and a mentor to graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty. I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have numerous opportunities to contribute to education, to work with an amazing team, to interact with great students and inspired colleagues, and to have leaders who believe in MD Anderson’s mission of education.”

History of commitment

For the past 28 years, the Rogers Award has recognized excellence and commitment among the finest MD Anderson faculty and staff. Regina Rogers, a senior member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors, established the award in 1987 in honor of her parents, the late Julie and Ben Rogers.

Ben Rogers served on the Board of Visitors from 1978 until his death in 1994. Regina and her mother established the Julie & Ben Rogers Breast Diagnostic Clinic shortly after, in his memory. Julie Rogers died in 1998.

“My parents were a constant source of inspiration and love,” said Rogers. “It was my privilege to establish this award in their honor. They would be proud that it recognizes MD Anderson employees who reflect their own genuine concern for others.”

The award also signifies the Rogers family’s appreciation for the treatment Regina’s brother Arvey Rogers, M.D., received at MD Anderson in 1960 when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 25.

“After a lengthy surgery, performed by Dr. Edgar White and Dr. Lee Clark, he continued to lead a normal life,” said Rogers. “In 1987, our mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to the surgical expertise of Drs. Richard Martin and Fred Ames, her recovery was good and reinforced our family’s commitment to MD Anderson. I’m grateful for the opportunity to recognize excellence at an institution that’s played such an important role in ending cancer as a major health threat.”

Rogers says she’s thrilled to honor Barton at this year’s ceremony.

“Education is a crucial component of MD Anderson’s mission,” said Rogers. “It’s an honor and a privilege to recognize the amazing educators who contribute so much to this wonderful institution and who provide a foundation of knowledge for the next generation of clinicians and researchers.”