Announcing the 2021 Awardees for IPE INNOVATION & EXCELLENCE

The highly regarded annual awards were presented virtually this year, with one award unexpected but richly deserved.

At University of Michigan Health Professions Education Day on April 6, the 3rd-annual IPE Awards for Innovation and Excellence were presented. The awards honor students and faculty who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, scholarship, and/or leadership with regard to implementing and/or developing innovative, effective, and sustainable interprofessional education (IPE) or interprofessional practice (IPP) across the University of Michigan health sciences schools. 

Faculty Awardee: Laura Smith

Laura Smith
Physical Therapy

Laura Smith is an associate professor in the UM-Flint College of Health Sciences, and she is chair of the group of faculty responsible for U-M IPE foundational offerings, including the new Longitudinal Interprofessional Family-based Experience (LIFE for short), which gives student teams the kind of interaction with patients they have asked for. One of her nominators said: “Laura provides tremendous leadership – vision, organization, facilitation, and spirit – for our IPE 101 Work Group. She is the champion for our work to innovate educational delivery and generate scholarship for IPE teaching and learning. Her enthusiasm is contagious. She is able to motivate and harness our individual skills to achieve the collective goals through synergy and collaboration – that might sound hokey but she’s an ace at it.”

Student Awardees: Vidya Thirumoorthi and Alexis Green


Vidya Thirumoorthi and Alexis Green are the U-M Ann Arbor School of Nursing’s co-representatives on the Center for IPE Student Advisory Committee, where they helped organize a symposium at the University of Michigan Student-Run Free Clinic based on a case study about diabetes. They also worked on the clinic’s Wellness Initiative, where medical, nursing, and social work students created a phone-based protocol and called all clinics patients to check on medical, social, or physical needs and schedule follow-up. One of their nominators pointed out that these two student leaders worked resourcefully on a multi-part strategy for improving dissemination of information about IPE initiatives within the School of Nursing. 

Distinguished Leadership in IPE Awardee: Frank Ascione

Ascione_Frank J Ascione

To acknowledge his groundbreaking role as founding director of the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education, Frank Ascione was surprised at HPE Day with a Distinguished Leadership in IPE Award. In more than six years at the helm, he has grown partnerships between ten health science schools on U-M’s three campuses, as well as U-M Ann Arbor schools of Law, Business, and Engineering. One of his colleagues noted: “Frank Ascione has an undeniable determination and passion for growing IPE at the University of Michigan. But our success in this area has not just been built on his dedication. As a former dean, Frank understands the intricacies of influence, organizational structure, and how you bring diverse people, units and cultures together to achieve consensus. It is rare that IPE movements benefit from this type of expertise, and this type of leader.”
Another said: “Frank is a true visionary who pointed our community in a direction and then empowered people to be innovative in the journey towards that horizon. To the U-M IPE movement, he has been the igniter, without which we would not be where we are today. He has been a mentor and friend to me.”

Meet the 2020 and 2019 awardees.