Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo presents the Freeman Award to Dr. Han Zhang, who is accompanied by his family.
Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo presents the Freeman Award to Dr. Han Zhang, who is accompanied by his family.

Han Zhang, M.D., associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy, is this year’s winner of the John H. Freeman Award for Faculty Teaching.

Chosen by the senior class, this is the fourth time Zhang has received the award, which is given annually to recognize the Medical School’s outstanding basic science faculty member. Recipients may not win the award in consecutive years.

“I feel very honored to receive this award again; the students make my job all worth it,” he said.

Zhang came to the Medical School as a visiting scientist from China in 1992 to pursue research with Dr. John Byrne, chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, and Dr. Len Cleary, senior lecturer in the department. He stayed as a postdoctoral fellow and was appointed to the position of lecturer in the department in 2002.

Zhang teaches gross anatomy for both the dental and medical students and the fourth-year anatomy dissection elective.

He is known for working every Saturday with students, always being available for questions, and helping students excel.

“Dr. Zhang embodies all the things that UT Houston is about: support and family,” wrote a student nominator.

Zhang graduated from Yangzhou Medical School. In each year since 2001, he has won the Best Gross Anatomy Teacher Award and the Dean’s Teaching Excellence Award. He also was inducted into the Medical School’s Academy of Master Educators.

“His superb teaching methods, as well as his dedication to student performance, set the standard for teaching in the (gross anatomy) course,” wrote a nominator.

“He is a bastion of academic excellence at the UT Medical School at Houston and one of the most inspirational and educational teachers that has taught me,” wrote a student nominator. “Without a doubt, nearly every incoming student has heard of the sage-like ‘Yoda-esque’ genius anatomy savant who is able to identify any part of the human body within a split second. After only one session in the anatomy lab, Dr. Han Zhang’s name and talent are cemented in each student’s mind.”

The recipient of this award, which was established by university funds named in Freeman’s honor, must exemplify enthusiasm and drive toward effective teaching, have a personal interest in students’ problems and their educational goals, and set an example that serves as a high standard for students.

Previous winners include Joanne Oakes, M.D., 2012; Elizabeth Hartwell, M.D., 2007; Zhang, 2010, 2008, 2006; Margaret O. Uthman, M.D., 2011, 2009, 2005, 2001, 1999, 1997; Kent Heck, M.D., 2004, 2002; Norman Weisbrodt, Ph.D., 2003; Barry Van Winkle, Ph.D., 2000, 1998; Marsha L. Eigenbrodt, M.D., M.P.H., 1996; Ron C. Philo, Ph.D., 1995; Harley D. Sybers, M.D., Ph.D., 1994, 1992, 1990; Frank W. Booth, M.D., 1993; and Karmen L. Schmidt, Ph.D., 1991.

-Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School