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.


50th Anniversary Logo

ContributeHonor your HSC hero today! Please make a tribute gift, submit a photo or share a story that you value.

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.

Diana Cervantes. Assistant Professor Biostatistics & Epidemiology
Dr. Diana Cervantes named among Fort Worth’s ‘most influential’ for public health service during the pandemic

By Sally Crocker Dr. Diana Cervantes has spent the last year keeping people informed and updated on all things coronavirus, and now she’s being recognized as one of Fort Worth Inc.’s “400 Most Influential People” for helping protect the community’s health during the pandemic. Dr....Read more

Jun 8, 2021

Opal Lee photo by Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Celebrating Juneteenth

By Diane Smith-Pinckney On June 19 1865, Major General Gordan Granger marched into Galveston with a critical message: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”  This was the opening se...Read more

Jun 8, 2021

Dr. Scott Walters
The realities of ‘breaking bad’ and how one HSC researcher is attacking the opioid crisis

By Sally Crocker He didn’t know it at the time, but when Dr. Scott Walters was growing up in San Diego in the mid 1980s, a next-door neighbor was concealing a homemade meth lab just across the fence and mere steps away from his bedroom window. For quite some time, concerned parents in his fa...Read more

Jun 8, 2021

MET Building at UNTHSC
HSC Health Diabetes Education Service Merits ADA Recognition

The prestigious American Diabetes Association (ADA) Education Recognition Certificate for a quality diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) service was recently awarded to the HSC Health Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support Program. ADA believes that this service offers high...Read more

Jun 8, 2021