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September 01, 2022

Brooks named assistant dean for Preclinical Education

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William S. Brooks, Ph.D.will brooks, has been named assistant dean for Preclinical Education in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine, a new position created to support team-based learning in curriculum development and active learning for first- and second-year medical students.

Brooks, a professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, is currently director of both the Gross Anatomy and Surgical Anatomy Labs and director of the Musculoskeletal & Skin module.

His promotion to assistant dean is effective Sept. 1.

“I am excited to take on this role to continue finding innovative and impactful ways to engage our students in their medical education,” Brooks said. “We have an amazing group of preclinical educators and I look forward to working with them to ensure that our medical students graduate with the tools needed to apply foundational science knowledge and skills in clinical practice.”  

As assistant dean, his role will include developing and implementing the preclinical curricula consistent with LCME standards and the school’s goal to increase active, non-lecture formats; creating faculty development for preclinical educators to support their delivering curricular content in innovative formats; working with UME leaders to assess course content and helping module directors implement course improvements recommended by the Medical Education Committee; and recruiting and developing preclinical educators.

He will report to Kevin Leon, M.D., associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, and will collaborate with faculty and staff teams in medical education to promote student success and quality improvement. 

“Dr. Brooks’ leadership in medical education over his tenure at UAB makes him a great choice to lead as the school’s first assistant dean for Preclinical Education,” Leon said. “He is a fantastic educator who constantly seeks new ways to help our students learn and succeed.”

A native of Lawrence County, Alabama, Brooks earned his bachelors’ degree in chemistry from Freed-Hardeman University in 2002 and his doctorate in cell biology from UAB in 2007. He held faculty appointments in the Department of Biology at Freed-Hardeman University and then the Department of Physical Therapy at Harding University before joining the UAB faculty.

His primary research interests are in evaluating the effectiveness of novel teaching methodologies, including team-based learning, in medical education and in fostering the training of anatomy educators to fill the shortage of anatomists. He is also interested in understanding how disability awareness curricula can contribute to culturally competent clinicians.

Medical students also regard Brooks as a top educator, consistently nominating him for Argus Awards for Best Educator or Best Module. Brooks was recognized for teaching as winner of the Dale J. Benos Award for Educational Excellence in 2019 and the UAB Presidents Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2018. He was also recognized in 2020 with the Alabama Physical Therapy Advocate Award from the American Physical Therapy Association.

Among his professional work, he has served as a member of the Team-Based Learning Collaborative, International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE), and American Association for Anatomy (AAA). He recently served on the Heersink School of Medicine Self-Study Task Force as part of school’s LCME accreditation efforts and serves as a site reviewer with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), helping evaluate Doctor of Physical Therapy programs across the country. He is currently a member of the Anatomical Sciences Education editorial board and was associate editor for BMC Medical Education in 2019-2020.