Claire E. Hulsebosch, Ph.D.
Claire E. Hulsebosch, Ph.D.

Claire E. Hulsebosch, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, is the 2018 winner of the John H. Freeman Award for Faculty Teaching.

Chosen by the senior class, the Freeman Award is given annually to recognize the Medical School’s outstanding basic science faculty member. The winner 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.

Hulsebosch said she was delighted to be named this year’s winner, particularly as she was chosen directly by graduating students through voting.

“For them to have remembered a faculty member for the impact they saw in their first two years at medical school is, to me, such a great honor and very rewarding,” Hulsebosch said.

Hulsebosch, who specializes principally in spinal cord injury, worked for nearly 40 years at The University of Texas Medical Branch before retiring, however the retirement didn’t last long. She joked that the retirement was only 30 days long and that she was not a “happy, retired person.”

“I enjoyed the interaction with students,” Hulsebosch said. “It is a privilege to teach such bright, dedicated young people.”

With her CV in hand, Hulsebosch approached McGovern Medical School and with nearly 40 years of teaching experience in gross anatomy, and returned to teaching in the late 2000s. She is part of the scientific advisory board for both the Neurological Recovery Network and the North American Clinical Trials Network, scientific advisor to the National Institute of Health for Neuroscience Initiatives, on study section for National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, and various other organizations, editorial and review boards for scientific journals.

Hulsebosch said she has been continuously humbled by McGovern Medical School, receiving Dean’s Teaching Awards each year since she has been at the school. Her guiding principle for teaching is treat each student as if they were her when she was younger and draws on her own experience as a freshman at Rice University years ago.

“For the first time I was competing with people on the same intellectual caliber as myself,” Hulsebosch said. “I thought I was hot stuff, but there were people there that were brilliant. I can remember the feeling and I can see it in my medical students.”

She recalled the feeling of being in competition with her peers and how it can be emotionally taxing. Catching students before they hit a period of self-doubt is what Hulsebosch aims to achieve in her classes and assuring them they have the talent and characteristics for success to be a great doctor.

“I can tell when students are struggling,” Hulsebosch said. “Sometimes the thing about having a competitive edge is that it’s not that we’re competing against each other but rather against ourselves.”

Hulsebosch praised the administration and staff at McGovern Medical School for fostering a flexible learning atmosphere, where curriculum can change to suit the needs inside and outside of the classroom and can respond quickly to innovative and new teaching techniques.

“The administration here allows me the freedom and latitude to do things that are innovative and make the medical school learning experience more meaningful for the students,” she said. “The staff and faculty here are extremely supportive of one another. I could have gone to another medical school, but I had already collaborated with McGovern faculty and knew they were very open and positive about collaboration.”

Previous winners include Chris Mackenzie, Ph.D., 2017; Han Zhang, M.D., 2016, 2013, 2010, 2008, 2006;  Mackenzie, Ph.D., 2015; Dawnelle Schatte, M.D., 2014; Joanne Oakes, M.D., 2012; Elizabeth Hartwell, M.D., 2007;  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.