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Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Selected as Piper Professor of 2008
Octavio Pinell, M.D.: ,,By Kelly Neely
The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation awards Octavio Pinell, M.D., professor of clinical psychiatry at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, the 2008 Piper Professor Award on May 1.
The Piper Professor Program, started in 1958, annually awards 15 professors from colleges and universities throughout Texas for outstanding performance and dedication to teaching. Candidates for the award must be nominated through the university president's office and participation is by invitation only. The foundation awards all Piper Professors with a $5,000 honorarium and a gold pin to commemorate the achievement.
"I think I was born to be a teacher," Pinell said. "For me, my family, especially my children and wife, and my students are the reason why I'm functioning. I have a love for teaching and I was lucky enough to win an award for it."
Pedro Ruiz, M.D., professor and interim chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, recruited Pinell in 1994 from Baylor College of Medicine where Pinell was serving as director of Undergraduate Education in Psychiatry. Currently, Pinell is the director of Undergraduate Education in Psychiatry for the UT Mental Sciences Institute.
"Dr. Pinell is one of the best teachers that we've ever had here at the health science center," said Ruiz. "He's a fantastic professor and the type of teacher the students really respect and adore because of his dedication to medical students and the advancement of medical education. Looking back over the years, I've never recruited someone like Dr. Pinell and it makes me very proud to know that I was able to retain him and bring him to UT."
Pinell, originally from Nicaragua, received his medical degree from the Universidad Nacional de Nicaragua. He conducted residency training at St. Vincent's Hospital in Harrison, N.Y., and Spring Grove Hospital in Baltimore. Pinell is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association as well as a member of the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians and the International Association of Medical Science Educators.
"I encourage students to excel not just pass," said Pinell. "I consider my students to be members of my family and I notice when a student isn't doing well. I believe most of these students want to be good doctors; so, I dedicate my extra time to help them understand all of their subjects and help them in any other way I can."
In addition to the Piper Professor Award, Pinell has received many honors including nine John P. McGovern Outstanding Teaching Awards in Clinical Sciences, the Nancy C.A. Roeske, M.D., Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Medical Student Education, and the Ruben Dario Medal, the highest honor given to civilians in Nicaragua for contributions to mankind.
This selection makes Pinell one of only six health science center faculty members to receive the Piper Professor Award. Other winners include: Ruth Bulger, Ph.D., Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; John McMahon, Ph.D., Dental Branch (DB); Kathleen Gibson, Ph.D., DB; Lu Ann Aday, Ph.D., School of Public Health (SPH); and Stephen Linder, Ph.D., SPH.
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