Brian Higgins, PhD, has been named one of the few medical educators across the world selected for this year’s prestigious Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators in Health Professions.

Through the annual Harvard program, Dr. Higgins will learn evidence-based teaching strategies, tips for effective curriculum design, leadership styles, and other skills that will be useful not only for his own teaching, but for the University of Kentucky College of Medicine as a whole.

Dr. Higgins’s selection to the program demonstrates his excellence in medical instruction, his interest in advancing his teaching, and his potential to grow in his profession through the pedagogical project he will complete as part of his participation.

Dr. Higgins is an assistant professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics at the College of Medicine. Understanding the effectiveness of engaged learning, he uses a “flipped classroom” approach to teach medical students in the preclinical curriculum.

Through this innovative style, Dr. Higgins focuses more on problem solving than traditional lecturing. He emphasizes the importance of students not just getting to the right answer, but the methods they use to reach the right answer. He encourages medical students to show their work when building a diagnosis.

“Dr. Higgins has been a leader in active learning, flipped classroom, and overall ability to effectively engage students in both large and small classroom settings during his time at the College of Medicine,” Charles Griffith, MD, acting dean of the College of Medicine, said. “Skills and ideas he will take from his time at the Harvard Macy Institute course will not only make him into an even more stellar educator, but he will share those tips with all of us, enhancing all of us in the College of Medicine.”

Dr. Higgins has served as an instructor and researcher at the College of Medicine for nearly seven years. His active learning approach, which has benefited many medical students in this time, is explained in his 2015 TED-Talk presentation posted on YouTube.

He will begin the Harvard program this fall with a five-day session in residence at Harvard and another next spring.

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