In June, Michael J. Ahearn, Ph.D., accepted the prestigious Presidents’ Award from John Mendelsohn, M.D.
Founding dean of MD Anderson’s School of Health Professions, Ahearn is retiring after a distinguished 46-year career at MD Anderson dedicated to improving the quality of science education.
Thanks in large part to his efforts, the institution gained degree-granting status in 2000. Today, the School of Health Professions offers eight programs that lead to bachelor's degrees. Other career highlights include creating and directing The Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation Annual High School Summer Program in Biomedical Sciences. It offers graduating high school students an opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of MD Anderson faculty. Ahearn also initiated a summer training opportunity for secondary science teachers.
Ahearn developed the science-based skin cancer awareness and prevention curriculum Project S.A.F.E.T.Y. (Sun Awareness for Educating Today's Youth), now in use in many schools in Texas and beyond. The Presidents' Award is the latest of several honors Ahearn has received during his career, including the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in the area of education in 2000. He was inducted into the Texas Science Hall of Fame in 2002 and into The University of Texas Academy of Health Science Education in 2006.