By Wendy Sarubbi | January 12, 2015 5:30 pm

The College of Medicine honored Dr. David Balkwill January 12 for his teaching and leadership contributions as he retires as Chair of Medical Education and remains a part-time faculty member in his beloved field of microbiology. Dr. Juan Cendan has accepted the role of chair after serving the past five years as Assistant Dean for Simulation and Medical Director of the college’s Clinical Skills and Simulation Center.

Dr. Balkwill was a founding faculty member at UCF’s new medical school, arriving two months before the matriculation of the charter class. He came to Orlando from Florida State University, where he helped begin its new medical school. He earned his B.S. in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin and his M.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology at The Pennsylvania State University.

“Students talk about Dr. Balkwill’s love of microbiology – many joke that he made them germophobes in HB-3 – and his ability to teach the complex topic in understandable, fun ways,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of UCF’s College of Medicine. Microbiology is a foundational topic for tomorrow’s healthcare leaders because “they need to know the ‘bugs’ that make their patients sick in order to treat disease and even more importantly, prevent it,” she said.

Nadine Dexter, director of the medical school’s Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library, spoke at the retirement event of how Dr. Balkwill had turned her into a germophobe by doing a scientific experiment when both were at FSU that showed all the germs on a countertop. “I never looked at a countertop the same way again,” she said, noting that thanks to Dr. Balkwill’s teaching, the medical school’s library countertop is disinfected every week. In honor of his specialty, the library presented Dr. Balkwill with a giant multi-legged stuffed green bug. .

Dr. Balkwill was named Chair of Medical Education in 2011 and as he retires his administrative post, he thanked the medical school’s outstanding faculty and supportive staff. He said he would now focus all his career energy on what he loves most – teaching – plus have time for outside activities. “Bungee jumping,” he joked. “Actually that’s not going to happen. I’ll think of something.”

Dr. Cendan was unable to attend the celebration because he was at a national simulation conference but asked Dr. German to read a statement in which he thanked Dr. Balkwill for his guidance during the past nine months as Dr. Cendan prepared to take over as chair. “The ability to learn from Dr. Balkwill in real time has been extremely beneficial to me. Dr. Balkwill has been a generous mentor and a great example, and I have learned much from him,” he wrote.

Dr. Cendan brings a diverse background in simulation, medical education, research and patient care to the chair role. A surgeon and biomedical engineer by training, Dr. Cendan joined the medical school in 2010 as leader of simulation training. This year he was promoted to full professor. An accomplished researcher, his development of a virtual patient who can display symptoms of cranial nerve injury received two National Institutes of Health grants. And this year, he received a prestigious grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation’s Institute on Medicine as a Profession for a mobile app that will facilitate real time assessment of professionalism in medical students and residents. As a clinician, he specializes in minimally invasive general surgery and cares for patients at the Orlando VA Medical Center.

Dr. Cendan received his M.D. at the University of Florida, where he also did his surgical residency and his research fellowship. He maintained a surgical practice in Gainesville for four years, where he was recognized as one of the “Best Surgeons and Doctors in America” and was recently honored by Orlando Magazine as one of our community’s Top Docs. Before joining UCF, he was Assistant Dean for Simulation at the University of Florida.

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