Graduate School Marks 10th Commencement Milestone
On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, Michelle Jones walked onto the Harvey Morse Auditorium stage to receive her doctor of philosophy degree in Biomedical and Translational Sciences at the inaugural commencement of the Cedars-Sinai Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Fast forward nine years.
On Wednesday, June 22, 2022, Jones attended another commencement ceremony for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. This time, Jones wasn't receiving a degree—she was being recognized for mentoring a graduating doctoral student.
Now a principal investigator heading her own laboratory in the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics at Cedars-Sinai and co-director of the PhD in Biomedical Sciences Program, Jones reflected on this full-circle moment.
"To have received my doctorate as a member of the first graduating class, and to then attend this year's milestone graduation as a PI and mentor, was a dream situation," said Jones.
The milestone Jones was referring to is the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences' 10th commencement. Sixty-six doctorates have now been awarded, along with 55 master degrees in health delivery science and 18 master of science degrees in magnetic resonance in medicine.
In opening remarks, Thomas M. Priselac, Cedars-Sinai president and CEO, noted another milestone. "This commencement marks the first time since the pandemic arrived that we have been able to celebrate our graduates in person. Whether you're here with us at Cedars-Sinai North Campus or watching the livestream, it is a welcome gift that we're together for this special occasion."
A recording of the 10th commencement is available for viewing.
"When you began this journey, you made a commitment—to your family, your faculty mentors, Cedars-Sinai and, most of all, to yourselves—to graduate from a very rigorous graduate program. You kept your promise, and today it is my great pleasure to welcome you into the Cedars-Sinai family," said Priselac.
Cedars-Sinai President and CEO Thomas M. Priselac noted in welcoming remarks, "This commencement marks the first time since the pandemic arrived that we have been able to celebrate our graduates in person."
James Lippman, who chairs the Cedars-Sinai Board of Directors, applauded the students' commitment to their graduate studies and thanked them "for the hope and healing their work will create. This isn't possible, but I wish that in your careers you could meet every patient who benefits from your work and see the lives of every person who suffers less and lives longer because you turned science into healing."
In his dean's address, Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, executive vice president of Academic Affairs, dean of the Medical Faculty and distinguished professor of Medicine, shared the concept of a "learned professional," which Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis defined as the keeper of a body of knowledge who is responsible for passing on that knowledge to the next generation after he or she has advanced it.
As learned professionals, Melmed told the graduates, "We in academic medicine are responsible for shepherding new medical knowledge, moving it forward by creating new knowledge and passing it on to the next generation. Today, we celebrate your own creation of new knowledge."
The keynote address was presented by Donna Ferriero, MD, MS, the W.H. and Marie Wattis Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, who shared her career journey and offered tips to help guide graduates as they pursue their professional paths.
Ferriero emphasized the importance of being flexible, having excellent mentors, finding your passion and staying focused. She also urged graduates "to pass on what you have learned to the next generation coming down the road behind you. My biggest joy is seeing the success of my mentees as they choose their career path and succeed in it."
Before the conferment of degrees, Jeffrey A. Golden, MD, vice dean of Research and Graduate Research Education, director of the Burns and Allen Research Institute and professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, advised graduates to "embrace the unknown and venture into places where you are a little uncomfortable—that is where biomedical science lives and that's where you will make a difference. Go after what you are passionate about and advance our knowledge, understanding and capacity for improving the health of individuals and our global community."
In his address, Class of 2022 Speaker Kiel Peck, PhD, said, "In your science, be fearless. Do not be held captive by dogma. Do not live with the results of other people's thinking. Do not let the noise and chaos of opinion and rhetoric drown your inner voice. That voice that asks 'how?' and 'why?'" Peck additionally urged his fellow graduates to avoid complacency. "Do not let your science become staid and stagnant. Let your science make waves."
The ceremony also featured the presentation of four distinguished awards:
- Teaching Award in the Master's Degree in Health Delivery Science Program—New this year, this award—based on nominations from the program's students—recognizes an educator for exemplary work and mentorship. The inaugural recipient is Celina Shirazipour, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine.
- Teaching Award in the Master of Science in Magnetic Resonance in Medicine Program—New this year, this award—which is voted on by the program's students—recognizes an educator for exemplary work and mentorship. The inaugural recipient is Wafa Tawackoli, PhD, research assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
- David L. Rimoin Teaching Excellence Award—The recipient of this award—named after the late David Rimoin, MD, PhD, founder and director of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Genetics Institute, accomplished scientist and respected academician—is selected by doctoral candidates. The 2022 honoree is Jorge Giani, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
- Cedars-Sinai Prize for Research in Scientific Medicine (PRISM)—The highest honor bestowed by Cedars-Sinai, this prize recognizes a scientific breakthrough or critical medical insight made by a Cedars-Sinai faculty member within the past five years. The award is chosen by an external review committee. The 2022 recipient is Moshe Arditi, MD, professor and executive vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics for Research, director of the Infectious and Immunologic Diseases Research Center and the GUESS?/Fashion Industries Guild Chair in Community Child Health.
Congratulations to the class of 2022:
Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical and Translational Sciences
- J.R. Caldera
- Saeideh Torabi Dalivandan
- Amber DeVries
- Paul Linesch
- Robbin Nameki
- Kiel Peck
- Savannah Sawaged
Thesis projects completed by the doctoral graduates focused on a broad range of biomedical science subjects, including breast cancer, coxsackie virus pathogenesis, extracellular vesicles, genetic engineering of stem cells, immune-regulation, interaction between the non-coding genome and nuclear proteins, ovarian cancer, RNA-based therapeutics and Staphylococcus aureus.
Master's Degree in Health Delivery Science
- Khaled Alsabaawi
- Anthony Ricardo Gonzalez
- Jason Healy
- Alena Johantgen
- Zoe Krut
- Katherine Makaroff
- Brian Minton
- Clarence Monteclaro, MD
- V. Krishnan Ramanujan, PhD
- Aryabod Razipour, MD
- Lindsey Ross, MD
- Taiwo Togunloju
- Janette Zetina
- Connie Shaffer
Master of Science in Magnetic Resonance in Medicine
- Sehrish Javed
- Michael Ocasio
- Luis Froylán Zamudio Rivero
Founded in 2007, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences earned accreditation in 2012. The rigorous program combines basic scientific and medical exploration with an emphasis on research relevant to understanding, preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases. The school is supported by a robust Department of Biomedical Sciences and a diverse faculty of physicians and investigators from all other departments who provide world-class training in state-of the-art laboratories.