The AANEM’s Innovation Award honors forward-thinking members for designing and developing products, services, or processes to enhance patient care and/or transform the quality of patient care through technology and innovation. Zachary N. London, MD, is this year’s Innovation Award recipient.
Dr. London was chosen for the award based on his focus on developing interactive educational tools. He created EMG Whiz, a popular web-based EMG training simulator, reaching over 500,000 users from 2015-2019. His work was fundamental in the development of two mobile applications to teach the tenets of neuroanatomic localization, Nerve Whiz and Neuro Localizer. He also co-designed and published The Lesion: Charcot’s Tournament, a tabletop strategy board game about neuroanatomy. He has published online learning modules for the American Academy of Neurology and other national organizations, in addition to traditional publishing research regarding medical education, safety, and pain in EDX studies. Dr. London also developed a curriculum in electromyography, adopted by the AANEM.
"I love medical education, and enjoy working on tangible products, so being part of examination and self-assessment examination committees with the AANEM and ABEM has been particularly fulfilling for me.,” said Dr. London. “In general, job satisfaction is all about taking advantage of opportunities. Young physicians soon realize that there are opportunities that will come to you, and those that you seek for yourself. Try to maximize the ones you seek for yourself, because those are going to be much more likely to align with your interests.”
One of Dr. London’s most influential mentors in the field of electrodiagnostic medicine was Jim Albers, MD, PhD, who received the AANEM’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
“After I finished my fellowship, I worked in the EMG lab with Dr. Alberts every other Wednesday afternoon for almost 10 years, during which time I had the privilege of watching him teach residents and fellows. These afternoons were profoundly influential on how I think about and teach EMG,” Dr. London said.
He frequently recalls the enthusiasm Dr. Albers brought to the lab.
“Without fail, he would find the interesting thing in every case, and I would hear him say to the trainees something like, ‘Isn’t this cool?’ Even when he didn’t say those exact words, he conveyed that enthusiasm about EMG, localization, interesting diagnoses, and the unique stories our patients had to share. It’s something I have tried very hard to emulate, and I find it’s a magical thing to say. Not only does it work when I’m talking to residents and fellows, but when I’m taking to myself,” said Dr. London.
Another mentor, John Harting, a PhD neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, pushed Dr. London to pursue neuroscience and education.
“He taught the neuroscience course. He inspired me to pursue both neuroscience and education. He was a likeable and animated speaker, but what made his teaching style so unique was that he taught the same material in as many ways as possible, so he could effectively reach all learners. Besides didactics, there was a text, a workbook, flashcards, small group discussion, a video review, and one-one-one office hours. I have tried to emulate this in my own role as an educator, and find new interactive modalities to teach foundational topics and electrodiagnosis,” Dr. London said.
Dr. London has been recognized with numerous national teaching awards, including the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) A.B. Baker National Honor Roll of Neurologic Teachers in 2009, the Consortium of Neurology Program Directors Recognition Award in 2014, and the American Neurological Association’s Distinguished Teacher Award in 2017. At the University of Michigan, he received the 2013 Silver Shovel Award, the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize in 2015, and, The Kaiser Permanente Award in 2017. Departmental honors include the Status Pedagogicus Award in 2008, and the James Albers Collegiate Professorship in 2018. He serves as faculty advisor for UM neurology students, and faculty liaison for UM’s Student Interest Group in Neurology.
Dr. London graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brown University in 1997. He attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, graduating in 2001. He completed a preliminary medicine internship at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor in 2001, followed by neurology residency and a 1-year fellowship in clinical neurophysiology/EMG at the University of Michigan. He joined the University of Michigan faculty as a neuromuscular neurologist in 2006, and has served as Program
Director of the neurology residency program since 2007. He has been an AANEM member since 2007.
Dr. London regularly speaks at national meetings, provides service to national organizations, committees, and workgroups. He is the immediate past chair of the AAN’s Consortium of Neurology Program Directors and the chair of the ABEM Medicine Examination Committee. Dr. London believes AANEM is a great tool for young physicians to grow their network and expand the scope of their careers.
“I would encourage new members to get involved with the AANEM. Whatever your strengths and interests, there is a committee that is a good fit for you,” Dr. London said.