Faculty Highlights


Jason Higa_Exc Tchg Award 2020Congratulations to Jason Higa, Ph.D., for being selected as a 2020 recipient of the University of Hawaii’s Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching!

 Dr. Jason Higa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology who provides basic science medical education to undergraduate, graduate and medical students. His teaching strengths lie in his ability to teach students over a wide range of educational ability and subject difficulty, as well as his innovative teaching approach by using comparisons to help make physiology concepts easier to understand and relatable to his students’ daily life. Former students continuously appreciate the impact that his personal connection, fun and creative teaching efforts have made on their own educational and professional success. Dr. Higa serves as an exemplary instructor and role model to our students, we are very fortunate to have him as a member of our JABSOM `ohana.

The following is from the UH Office of Communications:

Dr. Higa teaches in a field involving volumes of information taught to hundreds of students in mass lectures, with potential long-term life-or-death implications. He augments the lecture and magnifies prerequisite knowledge through strategies of analogy, mnemonics, physical engagement and incorporation of local and Hawaiian terminology. To complement cross-sectional images of a text, Higa organizes students to rise from their seats and collectively represent elements of a process, such as the heart muscle cells pumping blood through various stages of normal to abnormal. Animating these stages of life-to-death simultaneously enlivens intellectual growth and memorializes the solemn responsibilities of future healthcare professionals. A student reflects, “I wonder if I would be where I am today, the same person I’ve become, had it not been for Dr. Jason Higa.”

The Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for a faculty and a graduate assistant recognizes dedication and demonstrated excellence as teachers of undergraduate students. It was established as a memorial to the late Frances Davis, who taught mathematics at Leeward Community College and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for 19 years.

For more information on the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, go to: https://manoa.hawaii.edu/president/awards/#davis-undergrad


Congratulations to 11 faculty who were awarded tenure and/or promotion this year!

Being awarded tenure or promotion recognizes the significant contributions that faculty have made in the areas of teaching, research and service and their commitment to our school, university, community and their field. We are indeed honored to have them as a member of our JABSOM ‘ohana.

Below is the list of faculty who were tenured and/or promoted in 2020:


Melissa Kahili-Heede, MSLIS

Promotion to Librarian III


Mark Hiraoka, MD

Promotion to Professor

Kimberly Nagamine, MD

Promotion to Assistant Professor


David Kurahara, MD

Promotion to Professor

May Okihiro, MD

Promotion to Associate Professor


Amy Brown, PhD

Promotion to Professor


Cedric Lorenzo, MD

Promotion to Associate Professor

Paul Morris, MD

Promotion to Associate Professor

Stacey Woodruff, MD

Promotion to Associate Professor


 Axel Lehrer, PhD

Tenure with Automatic Promotion to Associate Professor

Saguna Verma, PhD

Promotion to Professor