Regina Gandour-Edwards, M.D., '85

This pathology professor is consistently recognized locally and nationally for her innovative work in health education.

An autopsy is like the classic board game “Clue.” A pathologist gathers and examines tissue samples while trying to analyze and determine a patient's cause of death. These diagnostic mysteries of disease patterns, coupled with the challenging thrill and excitement of cracking a case, sparked a desire in one woman to break into the field of medicine.

In the decades since launching a career in academic pathology, Regina Gandour-Edwards, M.D., M.H.S., M.S., has become an expert surgical pathologist and also one of UC Davis School of Medicine's most innovative educators. Gandour-Edwards (M.D., '85) has served as the UC Davis Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine's vice chair of undergraduate education for almost 20 years, and throughout that time has been a leader in influencing pathology education here and for students nationwide.

Her leading-edge medical teaching strategies, such as interactive team-based learning modules and a Transitions to Clerkship program, have become staples in advancing and enriching the medical student experience and bridging the gap between learning and practicing medicine.

“In medical education, I teach students to be critical thinkers, to question everything,” Gandour-Edwards said. “It's okay to be skeptical and not accept the status quo!”

Due to her commitment to higher learning and consistent leadership in medicine, Gandour-Edwards is the recipient of the UC Davis School of Medicine Alumni Association's 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Passion for pathology

Nationally recognized in her field, Gandour-Edwards is the director of the nationally accredited UC Davis Pathology Biorepository and has served as chair for the Association of Pathology Chairs Undergraduate Medical Educators group. During her term she helped to create genomic pathology teaching cases, which have become a major resource for preparing the physicians of the future.

She also created the Transitions to Clerkship program about 15 years ago to prepare third- and fourth-year students for practice in a hospital setting.

“It was a whole different learning environment, with patients rather than classrooms,” Gandour-Edwards said. “It was rewarding and the students came to appreciate it, and I am very proud of that legacy of that course.”

Highest honors

Her passions for pathology and teaching have been recognized consistently at the university and on a national level. At UC Davis she is a multi-year recipient of the Kaiser Award for Teaching and Outstanding Instructor in Basic Sciences, and earned the School of Medicine's highest educational honor, the C. John Tupper Prize. Nationally, the Association of Pathology Chairs honored Gandour-Edwards with its Distinguished Teaching Award for undergraduate medical education.

When she's not teaching residents at the UC Davis Medical Center, chairing the School of Medicine's student promotions committee, leading interactive pathology lectures at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, or reviewing and collecting samples, Gandour-Edwards represents the local Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society as councilor and serves on its national board.

“Pathology is constantly evolving and it's a challenge to keep up, but there's enjoyment to teach and learn more,” she said.