(This biography from Richard L. Baron, MD originally appeared in RadioGraphics)
Gillian Lieberman, MBBCh, has made her name synonymous with radiology education not only as a teacher, but also as an innovator. Critical to her 30 years of teaching success has been her ability to capitalize on new technology to expand both her content and her audience.
Dr Lieberman is a director of Medical Student Radiological Education at Harvard Medical School, directs three Harvard clerkships at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, Mass, and is codirector of radiologic education at BIDMC. She is a senior fellow of the Cannon Society at Harvard Medical School, a charter education scholar for the Carl J. Shapiro Institute for Education and Research, and a charter scholar of the Academy at Harvard Medical School.
Teaching has always been her passion, Dr Lieberman said. “Shortly after joining the staff at the Beth Israel Hospital, I was told that I was the ‘obvious choice’ to take over the reins of our failing medical student program—only three students had enrolled in the clerkship the prior year,” she said. “I enjoyed creating a new radiology core clerkship and student enrollment rapidly increased to approximately 100 students per year. My clinical responsibilities took many more of my hours each week, but the recognition and joy I got from teaching was center stage. After fourteen years clinical experience, specializing in both abdominal and women’s imaging, I made teaching a career choice.”
Dr Lieberman received her medical degree from the University of Witwatersand in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1977. Two years later, after internships in obstetrics and gynecology and medicine in Johannesburg, she came to the U.S. for a radiology residency at Tufts New England Medical Center and Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center, where she would also complete a fellowship in gastrointestinal and general diagnostic radiology.
Dr Lieberman is a past associate residency director, chief of genitourinary radiology, and director of the radiology department of the Beth Israel and Children’s Hospital at Lexington, Mass.
Dr Lieberman is perhaps best known for her web-based interactive teaching collections known as “Lieberman’s eRadiology.” The first offering is a set of 10 interactive web-based primary care radiology textbooks known as “Lieberman’s Primary Care Radiology.” The textbooks grew out of the syllabus Dr Lieberman wrote for the primary care radiology clerkship she developed at BIDMC. “I conceptualized this original clerkship in response to the emergence of primary care medicine as a subspecialty,” she said. “I felt we needed to train generalist physicians in the use of radiology for the efficient work-up of a multitude of common problems.”
Another of Dr Lieberman’s innovations, her “Interactive Tutorials in Radiology,” have replaced the Lucy Squire tapes for teaching radiology at Harvard and are used nationally and internationally. In addition, she has developed “Lieberman’s Classics Collection in Radiology,” a compendium of images demonstrating characteristic radiologic findings of a multitude of abnormalities, and “Lieberman’s Learning Lab,” a mini-seminar presentation series developed in collaboration with medical students.
Always on the cutting edge, Dr Lieberman introduced “Lieberman’s iRadiology Classics,” a free application for the iPhone, in December 2009.
“Radiology is a visual specialty that is beautifully taught with computer-assisted instruction (CAI),” Dr Lieberman said of her focus on electronic teaching and learning. “CAI allows for the rapid dissemination of teaching materials nationally and internationally.”
Fellow RSNA 2010 Outstanding Educator Kitt Shaffer, MD, PhD, met Dr Lieberman while she was a resident at the Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center and was invited to assist with the compilation of the “Interactive Tutorials in Radiology.” Dr Lieberman is a “consummate teacher and invaluable mentor,” Dr Shaffer said.
That international focus has long been a passion for Dr Lieberman, who strives to provide global free access to effective teaching materials to improve the quality of medical training, particularly in developing and underserved nations. Physicians from Pakistan to France have praised the materials.
Dr Lieberman has found time to lend her expertise to dozens of committees at Harvard Medical School and BIDMC. She focuses her energy on community service and patient outreach as well, delivering periodic lectures on anatomy and physiology to adults and students of all ages.
Among the awards Dr Lieberman has received are the Harvard Medical School Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching (twice), the Best Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School Award (six times), and the Daniel D. Federman Outstanding Clinical Educator Award. She also has received the S. Robert Stone Teaching Award for Medical Students and Residents, the BIDMC Excellence in Teaching Medical Students Award every year since its inception in 1996, and the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Grant V. Rodkey, MD Award for outstanding contributions to medical education and medical students of Massachusetts.
Dr Gillian Lieberman’s ability to teach at all levels—to many specialties and in many formats—makes her successful. The way her work as an instructor, mentor, and career advisor has indelibly shaped the radiology specialty, and its next generation of practitioners, makes her legendary.