VCU School of Medicine professor recognized with Outstanding Achievement Award by Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Joann N. Bodurtha, M.D., M.P.H., professor of human and molecular genetics in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and director of the Virginia Leadership in Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities program, has been awarded the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities for excellence in teaching, scholarship and serving the community at-large.

Bodurtha was recognized for her significant contributions to the association and the field of disabilities. Throughout her career, Bodurtha has worked to form communities more welcoming to persons and families with disabilities. In 1990 she helped launch the Masters in Genetic Counseling program at VCU, and in 1995, played a key role in establishing the Virginia Leadership in Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, or Va-LEND, program.

In addition to being a dedicated clinician and educator, Bodurtha, who also serves as a professor in the VCU departments of Human and Molecular Genetics, Pediatrics, Obstetrics-Gynecology, and Epidemiology and Community Health, is active on the research front and in the past 15 years has been responsible for VCU grant funding totaling more than $15 million.

As stated in one of her nomination letters,“Joann pushes herself and others to find new ways of learning and teaching, to incorporate the newest scientific information and concepts, and, above all, to make leadership visible and dynamic, infusing it into all aspects of the program.”

Bodurtha was presented with the award during the Association of University Centers on Disabilities annual meeting and conference held in Washington, D.C., in November.

The Va-LEND, program is in its 15th year of training future leaders in the health care system and community. The program has been funded by a federal grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration since 1995. Through the program, the faculty has trained 136 long-term trainees in 18 different disciplines.

Va-LEND is a program of the VCU Partnership for People with Disabilities and the VCU schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Allied Health, Education, Social Work and with the College of Humanities and Sciences.

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities was established in 1971 and is a membership organization comprised of three national networks of interdisciplinary, university-based Centers dedicated to research, education, leadership training, policy development, and direct service for people with disabilities.

In addition to Bodurtha’s award, the faculty, students and graduates of the training program earned several notable honors this past year. These include:

  • Outstanding Public Advocacy Award, Friends of the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research – Frank Farrington, D.D.S, Va-LEND faculty
  • Public Policy Fellowship sponsored by the American Society of Human Genetics and the National Human Genome Research Institute 2009 – Selvi Sriranganathan, M.S., VCU Genetic Counseling, and Va-LEND graduate
  • Fulbright Scholarship 2009 - Jessica Jagger, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, VCU School of Social Work, and Va-LEND trainee
  • VCU Emerging Leader Award 2009 (student award) - Abigail Vo, doctoral candidate, Va-LEND graduate
  • VCU 40 Acts of Caring – Va-LEND Family Mentorship Experience
  • Disability Policy Fellowship, Association of University Centers on Disabilities – Samantha Marsh, MT, Doctoral Candidate, VCU School of Education, and Va-LEND graduate
  • Young Professional Award, Association of University Centers on Disabilities - Melissa Bellin, Ph.D, MSW, LCSW, VCU School of Social Work, and Va-LEND graduate
  • Skirt! Magazine (June 2009) “My Shero” - Elaine Shurie Ogburn, Va-LEND faculty
  • Participation at a White House meeting on restraints and seclusion in schools, representing the Association of University Centers on Disabilities - Donna Gilles Ed.D, Va-LEND Training Director
  • Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, Autism Supplement (2009-2011) funded
  • Art of Listening Award, Genetic Alliance - Joann Bodurtha, M.D., M.P.H, Va-LEND Director

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see

Joann N. Bodurtha, M.D., M.P.H.
Joann N. Bodurtha, M.D., M.P.H.