University recognizes Heritage College faculty for research, teaching

Oct 30, 2018

Fabian Benencia, left, and Brian Clark

Two faculty members of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine will be honored with university-wide awards for excellence in research and teaching at an Oct. 31 ceremony.

Brian Clark, Ph.D., professor of biomedical sciences, holder of the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Harold E. Clybourne, D.O., Endowed Research Chair, and executive director of the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute, will be honored as a 2018 Ohio University Presidential Research Scholar, recognizing excellence in life and biomedical sciences research.

Fabian Benencia, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences, will receive the Presidential Teacher Award. This award, first presented in 2001, recognizes a full-time, tenured (Group I) faculty member from one of Ohio University’s campuses.

Clark is widely renowned for his research into age-related loss of muscle strength, or “dynapenia,” including the role of the brain and nervous system in this process. Much of his research aims at finding interventions to treat muscle weakness in the aging population, allowing seniors better mobility.

“Being selected for this award is personally very meaningful,” Clark said of his recognition. “Receiving validation and recognition for one’s research not only from colleagues, but also from external peers, is always significant. I am grateful to Ohio University, including my outstanding colleagues, for all of the support they have provided over the past 12 years.” 

Benencia has served as instructor of record for the blood block and the infection and immunity block in the college’s Clinical Presentation Continuum curriculum, as well as providing lectures for other blocks. He was also deeply involved in the creation of the Heritage College’s new Pathways to Health and Wellness Curriculum, which launched this fall, and has taught an immunology course in the OHIO College of Arts and Sciences. Benencia has developed a number of innovative teaching tools for use in his courses, including interactive videos and gamebooks.

Benencia said he was pleased to receive the presidential teaching award, which he considers a recognition of the Heritage College as well as of his own accomplishments. “As much as being an award to a person, it reflects the environment of the medical school, and the opportunities that we have to innovate and to generate material that is interesting and valuable for the students,” he said. “We have the freedom to do that to benefit our students.”

Ken Johnson, D.O., Heritage College executive dean and OHIO chief medical affairs officer, applauded the news of the faculty members’ accomplishments. “I congratulate Dr. Clark and Dr. Benencia on their well-deserved awards,” Johnson said. “Our college is steadily enhancing its strengths as a research institution, while maintaining our commitment to giving students a world-class osteopathic medical education. So it’s gratifying to see the university recognizing our faculty members for standout performance in both areas.”