Dr. Ruth D. Thornton was named Professor and Chair of the Biochemistry/Molecular Biology department in 2002, having first joined the PCOM community in 1992 as an Assistant Professor.
Dr. Thornton teaches various topics in Biochemistry to Osteopathic medical students and to Biomedical Sciences students. The major medical course is Molecular and Cellular Basis of Medicine (CMBM), an integrated course taught in conjunction with other disciplines at PCOM (including histology, pathology, molecular biology, metabolism, immunology, microbiology, oncology, and pharmacology). Dr. Thornton also lectures in the systems courses, Cardiovascular Medicine and Gastroenterology.
Dr. Thornton is a strong advocate for use of cases in teaching. Her research interests also involve case development. CMBM has incorporated 6 small group case conferences, as well as other cases in a "non-linear" Powerpoint format. She has ongoing research with Dr. Susan Hingley (Microbiology) and Dr. Katherine Galluzzi (Geriatrics) on using pairs of cases in the curriculum, the first of the pair offered to medical students in one of the earlier courses in the curriculum and the second revisiting the same patient in a geriatric setting, presented in the Geriatrics course at the end of the second year. A new grant proposal with Dr. Galluzzi and others involves introducing medical students to End of Life issues during their Geriatrics rotation in the 4th year.
Dr. Thornton serves as the chair of the Biomedical Sciences Committee which oversees the program. She is primarily involved with the first, certificate year of the program, although she also takes Biomedical students who are working toward their MS degree. She teaches Biomedical Sciences students in the Biochemistry course, Molecular Basis of Medicine.
Dr. Thornton has been writing questions for the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) since 1999 and travels to Chicago each spring to evaluate banks of questions. She is the chair of the Appointment, Promotion and Tenure faculty committee. She also sits on a number of other committees, including the Student Outcomes Committee, the Research Committee, Program Curriculum committee, and the DO Curriculum committee. Dr. Thornton was elected by the PCOM Faculty Senate as faculty representative to PCOM's Board of Trustees.
In 2003, Dr. Thornton was recognized for her excellence in teaching and received the distinguished Lindback Award. Dr. Thornton has served as faculty mentor for many students throughout her career. She is the faculty advisor to the Student National Medical Association of PCOM and received this group's mentoring award in 1996 and 1998. She is also faculty advisor to the Genetics in Medicine club at PCOM. She served as President of the Association for Women in Science in 1996, and is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Society of Human Genetics and the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
She received her PhD in Biochemistry from the Temple University School of Medicine in 1987 and served as a postdoctoral research fellow at several prestigious research institutes in the Philadelphia area, including the Cardeza Foundation of Thomas Jefferson University and the Fox Chase Cancer Center.