Feinstein Institute Hosts Academic Commencement and Confers Honorary Degrees

Elmezzi School of Molecular Medicine graduates three physician scientists and presents established physician scientists with honorary degrees

MANHASSET, NY – The 2015 Commencement Exercises for the Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine and the presentation of two honorary degrees were held Thursday at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. The honorary degree is given to outstanding physicians who have advanced biomedical research and improved medical treatment for patients. This year’s honorees were Ulf Andersson, MD, PhD, professor in pediatric rheumatology at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and Carla J. Shatz, PhD, Sapp Family Provostial Professor of Biology and Neurobiology and the David Starr Jordan Director of Bio-X at Stanford University.

During the commencement exercises for the Elmezzi Graduate School, students who have completed their dissertation studies are granted the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Molecular Medicine. The Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine is a PhD program for physicians who wish to pursue careers in biomedical research. During their training, Elmezzi students conduct research in Feinstein Institute laboratories to advance biomedical knowledge and to pursue new therapeutic approaches and diagnostic tools. Three graduate students received their degrees:

  • Adam Khader, MD, for his work on stimulating energy metabolism in ischemia-reperfusion injury. His thesis is entitled “Sirtuin 1 Stimulation in Ischemia-Reperfusion.”
  • Anthony J. Hesketh, MD, for his work on investigating the mechanisms involved with tumor progression and metastasis of the childhood cancer Ewing Sarcoma. His thesis is entitled “The Macrophage Inhibitor CNI-1493 Blocks Metastasis in a Mouse Model of Ewing Sarcoma Through Inhibition of Extravasation
  • Ali Afzal Rana, MD, for his work on epithelial cells of the skin and throat and their expression and release of cytokines that regulate immune responses. His thesis is entitled “Regulation of IL-36γ Expression and Release in Keratinocytes.”

Drs. Andersson and Shatz were presented with honorary degrees, Candidate for Degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa, from the Elmezzi Graduate School. Dr. Andersson is a professor in pediatric rheumatology at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. He received his MD and PhD at the Karolinska Institute and has spent 41 years in pediatrics with a particular interest in treating children and infants with acute and chronic inflammatory diseases. He has collaborated with Feinstein Institute President and CEO, Kevin J. Tracey, MD, since the eighties, and was a pioneer in the late nineties in the treatment of chronic arthritides in children with TNF blocking agents, which changed the outcome in a dramatically positive way in a majority of pediatric patients. Dr. Andersson is the co-discoverer with Dr. Tracey of the central role of extracellular HMGB1 as the prototypical alarmin molecule, and has collaborated with Dr. Tracey’s lab on the identification and exploration of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway since 2001. Dr. Andersson is the former chairman of the pediatric unit at the Department of Women´s and Children´s Health at the Karolinska Institute. He is also a former member of the Karolinska Hospital Research Ethical Committee and a current member of the Henry Kunkel Society in New York. In addition, he has received an annual scholarship in pediatric research from the Foundation Barnhuset, which has been awarded by Queen Silvia of Sweden, since 1989.

Dr. Shatz is Sapp Family Provostial Professor of Biology and Neurobiology and the David Starr Jordan Director of Bio-X at Stanford University. She received her PhD in neurobiology from Harvard Medical School and is a neuroscientist who has devoted her research career to understanding the dynamic interplay between genes and environment that shapes brain circuits. Her lab found that the spontaneous activity of neurons in utero is critical for forming and then tuning up precise neural connections in the central nervous system. Her ongoing dissection of molecular mechanisms of circuit tuning has identified novel genes. Her research on cellular and molecular mechanisms of how the early-developing brain is transformed into adult circuitry has relevance not only for disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, but also for understanding the synapse loss in Alzheimer’s disease and how nervous and immune systems interact. Dr. Shatz is past president of the Society for Neuroscience. She has received many awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Institute of Medicine. In 2011 she was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London. Recently, she received the Sackler Prize for Distinguished Achievement in Developmental Psychobiology and she shared the Robert J. and Claire Pasarow Foundation Award in Neuropsychiatry Research with Karl Deisseroth and Helen Mayberg.

About The Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine

Located in Manhasset, NY, The Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine is part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System and functions in partnership with The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. The Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine was established in 1994 and is a PhD program for physicians who wish to pursue careers in biomedical research. The program is an individually tailored program with a strong emphasis on translational research. For more information, visit ElmezziGraduateSchool.org.

About The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Headquartered in Manhasset, NY, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is home to international scientific leaders in many areas including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sepsis, human genetics, pulmonary hypertension, leukemia, neuroimmunology, and medicinal chemistry. The Feinstein Institute, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, ranks in the top 6th percentile of all National Institutes of Health grants awarded to research centers. For more information, visit FeinsteinInstitute.org.

Media Contact:
Emily Ng
(516) 562-2670
eng3@nshs.edu

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