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Mount Sinai School of Medicine Commencement Honors Leaders in Discovery and Innovation; U.S. Senator Gillibrand Receives Honorary Degree and Delivers Keynote Address

(PRWEB) May 15, 2011

Mount Sinai School of Medicine today honored U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and three scientific pioneers at its 42nd commencement ceremony held at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Senator Gillibrand also addressed the audience as commencement speaker.

The leaders in science included William Foege, MD, MPH, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Presidential Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Health at the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University; Leroy Hood, MD, PhD, the president of the Institute for Systems Biology; and Jonathan M. Rothberg, PhD, the founding CEO and chairman of RainDance Technologies, Clarifi Corporation, and founder of The Rothberg Institute for Childhood Diseases.

This years commencement reflected Mount Sinai School of Medicines role as a world leader in translational research, and instilling a quest for discovery in its students. Mount Sinai continues to be an international leader in this area, expanding its programs by building the Center for Science and Medicine. One of few research centers opening at an academic medical center in the U.S., the Center is set to open in 2012. This new building will bring nearly a half-million square feet of state-of-the-art medical research and clinical facilities to the area; it is designed to expand Mount Sinais world-class research programs by about one third.

Based on the distribution of degrees, this years graduating class embodies Mount Sinais dedication to translational science, as well as medical advocacy, patient care, and the mentoring spirit that has transformed medical education. A total of 249 degrees were granted including 123 MDs, 53 PhDs, 36 MPHs, and 37 MS degrees. Nearly 60 percent of this years graduating class were women.

Senator Gillibrand was honored for championing the needs of New Yorkers as their United States Senator. She is renowned for establishing a culture of accountability and responsiveness in Congress.

In her address, Senator Gillibrand emphasized that the graduates are entering one of the most challenging eras the world has ever seen and the biomedical and clinical advances they make in their career are critical to propelling the nation ahead. We will be relying on you to lead this country forward in biotechnology and cutting edge medicine, discovering the next big breakthrough in research, and unlocking cures to some of humanitys oldest and deadliest diseases, she said. We need each of you not just to meet the demands of this new era, but to lead us there, and put the knowledge, skills and talents that youve learned at Mount Sinai toward creating a better future for America.

Dennis S. Charney, MD, Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, challenged the graduates to lead the worlds biomedical revolution.

Discoveries in genomics facilitated by routine, affordable sequencing of the human genome promises to usher in a new era in the understanding of human biology, and this will lead to better ways of predicting, preventing, and treating human disease, Dr. Charney said. As the next generation of scientists and clinicians, you must be in the vanguard of such an historic transformation in biomedical research and clinical practice. Seek to become leaders of inspiring force and the curator of the dreams of others.

Peter W. May, Chairman of the Mount Sinai Boards of Trustees, encouraged graduates to keep Mount Sinais philosophy of community service central in their lives and in their practice of medicine. Seek opportunities to provide assistance, whether locally or globally, just as you have done here. Engage your scientific curiosity in the service of healing, investigating, easing pain or reviving hope. It is in giving back to those who need the expertise and compassion you offer that you will find your greatest success and inspiration, he said.

Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, emphasized to the graduates the importance of taking the lead in fixing our health care system. You are the generation that is going to change health care. This graduating class of physicians and scientists cannot simply accept things as they are, because deep and profound changes are already underway. For the sake of your patients and the vitality of the health care system in America, you must dream things as they can be, and ask the necessary questions that will get us there, to a bold and brighter future.

Doctor of Humane Letter degrees were given to two innovative women who are staunch advocates for raising awareness of common diseases and battling for better prevention strategies, education, and patient care:

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