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OU-HCOM physiology professor named educator of the year

(ATHENS, Ohio – May 10, 2012) Richard Klabunde, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM), received the 2012 Arthur C. Guyton Physiology Educator of the Year award from the American Physiological Society (APS).

The award recognizes full-time faculty members of an accredited college or university and member of the APS who excels in classroom teaching, is committed to the improvement of physiology teaching, and contributes to physiology education at the local, national and international levels.

In an interesting twist of fate, Guyton authored a textbook, Textbook of Medical Physiology, which had a major impact on Klabunde’s decision in 1968 as an undergraduate physiology student to pursue a Ph.D. in the field.

“It was also Dr. Guyton’s example as a superb teacher and communicator that inspired (Klabunde) in his career to someday write a physiology textbook that reflected his love for cardiovascular physiology,” said Joe P. Granger, Ph.D., president of the APS, while presenting the award at the society’s annual meeting held last month.

During his presentation of the award to Klabunde, Granger noted his contributions to physiology and the impact he has made upon students.

 “His contribution to physiology education is quite expansive as it includes innovative technology coupled with engaging teaching methods such as debates and case-based instruction,” Granger said. “Many students commented about his extraordinary ability to simplify complex physiology concepts in a relevant context.”

Klabunde was nominated for the award by Thad Wilson, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology at OU-HCOM, with support from several current and former students and OU-HCOM Dean Jack Brose, D.O.

“I work directly with Richard Klabunde and have not met a more committed and effective teacher,” Wilson said. “I have personally spoken with other colleagues, students and even the Dean of our medical school about this Guyton Educator of the Year award nomination and all strongly support it.”

“To have such strong support from students, faculty and the administration is telling of Richard’s strengths as a teacher and as a person,” Wilson said.

In his nomination letter, Wilson cited several reasons for why Klabunde deserved the honor, including his:

  • contribution to physiology education by authoring the textbook, Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts,

  • contribution to the field of physiology through innovative and interactive on-line teaching materials,

  • educational scholarship and mentorship at APS

  • efforts at curriculum development and leadership at OU-HCOM.

An early user of the internet to supplement his teaching, Klabunde began posting course materials on-line in 1998. Those initial postings turned into a website,, a 300-page teaching website that became the basis of his textbook, Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins in 2004 with a second edition issued last year. Although aimed at first- and second-year medical students, nurses, physician assistants and other allied health students find the book beneficial. Klabunde created more than 140 drawings and illustrations in the book’s first edition, but revised or redrew more simplified versions of more than 70 of those in the newest edition. Klabunde also created a second website in 2006,

“When I was the medical physiology course director at another institution, these websites were frequently used by my year-one medical students to expand the class topics and understanding,” Wilson said. The two websites receive on average 2.5 million hits and 180,000 unique visitors per month, Wilson noted.

In addition to his textbook and websites, Klabunde has published more than 50 research articles and held several teaching and lecturer positions. Before coming to OHIO, he taught at six different medical schools, worked for a pharmaceutical company as a senior cardiovascular researcher and directed cardiovascular research connected with Deborah Heart and Lung Center in New Jersey. Besides his teaching duties at OU-HCOM since joining the faculty in 1998, he served as director of the Clinical Presentation Continuum curriculum at the college from 2007 until recently. In 2007, he served as president of the Ohio Chapter of the APS.

Klabunde earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Pepperdine University in 1970, a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 1975, and conducted postdoctoral training in pharmacology at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine from 1976 to 1978.

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