50 Heroes: Dr. Frank Papa

September 14, 2020

Frank Papa, Professor, TcomFrank Papa, DO, PhD, arrived at TCOM in 1979 with a keen eye towards education and research. One day a student’s question prompted him to develop a revolutionary way of diagnosing patients with acute chest pain.

He was asked to explain how he was using a piece of patient data, one sign and one symptom at a time, to arrive at a diagnosis.

Dr. Papa used his programming and math skills to create a crude, computer-based model that could explicitly represent how a physician might process each sign/symptom while diagnosing patients with acute chest pain.

This computer-based representation of diagnostic reasoning eventually led to the construction of an artificial intelligence tool called KBIT. Dr. Papa has since redesigned KBIT as an intelligent, web-based tutor that allows students to acquire the declarative and procedural knowledge that serve as antecedents to the development of diagnostic competence.

Dr. Papa earned his DO from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and, after developing KBIT, formalized his commitment to education and the learning sciences with a PhD in Higher Education/Computer-Based Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas.

A recipient of numerous awards for his published educational research activities from groups like the AAMC, AACOM, Decision Sciences Institute and ACEP, Dr. Papa has received funding from organizations including the United States Department of Education and NBOME.

His post-doctoral training includes three fellowship programs at the Harvard Macy Foundation.  Dr. Papa maintains an active educational technology (KBIT-based) research agenda and his role as TCOM’s Associate Dean of Curriculum Design and Faculty Development.

For his commitment to students, innovation and research, Dr. Papa is an HSC Hero.


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Join us throughout 2020 as we celebrate the people, events and innovations that made UNTHSC all it is today — and look ahead to the next 50 years.

For the 50th anniversary, team members nominated people whose contributions make them HSC Heroes. Each week, a new Hero will be revealed.

View the list of all our Hero profiles published so far this year. There is a new one each week.

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