Elizabeth L. Frank, PhD, has earned the 2021Outstanding Contributions to Education in Clinical Chemistry Award from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC).
“I’m honored to be in the company of all those who received recognition,” said Frank, who directs ARUP Laboratories’ Analytic Biochemistry and the Calculi and Manual Chemistry Laboratories and is co-medical director of the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. She is also a professor of pathology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
The award recognizes individuals who have devoted themselves to enhancing the practice and profession of clinical chemistry through education, and who have made significant, innovative, and/or cumulatively outstanding contributions to education in clinical laboratory science. Such contributions include the recipient's excellence in teaching, directing, mentoring, writing, and speaking.
“I have made education, teaching, and mentoring a part of my work for a long time,” said Frank, adding that she has always wanted to inspire excitement about science and chemistry in others, just as some of her teachers and mentors did for her.
Following graduate school, she taught for four years at St. Cloud State University. After completing her clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine fellowship in the U’s Department of Pathology, she immediately went on to direct this same fellowship program for the next 13 years (2002–2015). In that position, she developed the first formal program syllabus for the accredited postdoctoral training program in clinical chemistry.
Throughout her career, Frank has been elected to and helped direct organizations that influence education in clinical chemistry. Some of these organizations include the American Board of Clinical Chemistry, the Commission on Accreditation in Clinical Chemistry, the AACC (Education Core Committee), and the Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists—an organization of academic pathologists and clinical scientists with a primary focus on education, mentoring, and support of students and trainees.
“I commend this year’s award recipients for the outstanding contributions they’ve made to clinical laboratory testing and healthcare,” said AACC President David G. Grenache, PhD. “Their tremendous accomplishments have strengthened the ability of lab experts to provide crucial insights so that patients get the care they need, which is more important than ever as the coronavirus outbreak enters its second year, and lab experts continue to work heroically on the pandemic’s frontlines.”
“I’ve learned that teaching is a constant reevaluation, particularly when you must consider different audiences,” said Frank, who recalls many demanding and rather gruff teachers from her childhood growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas. “I knew I wanted to teach, but to do it in a less rigid way.” Two of her neighbors in Little Rock worked as medical laboratory scientists, which first made her aware of careers in laboratory medicine. Before earning her PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Frank completed a clinical internship and worked for two years as an American Society for Clinical Pathology-registered medical technologist in a community hospital laboratory in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After she arrived at ARUP, she benefitted from the guidance of many different mentors.
Frank and other 2021 AACC and AACC Academy Award winners will be recognized during the opening plenary session of the 2021 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on September 26, 2021.
Peta Owens-Liston, Senior Science Communications Writer