MD/PhD Commencement: ‘An Unfinished Mosaic of Learning’


“We come here today, a petri dish of emotions.  We’re excited and afraid, proud and uncertain, hopeful and apprehensive.  As we acknowledge this huge accomplishment, we recognize this equally vast step we are making into the real world,” said School of Medicine PhD candidate Liz Moses at the 170th Commencement exercises on Thursday, May 18.

BUSM conferred 150 medical degrees, six MD/PhDs, three MD/MPHs, and 46 PhDs; 23 students earned Latin honors – 16 cum laude, five magna cum laude, and two achieved summa cum laude: Samih Nassif Abudinen and Samuel Miller.

“Over the past four years, I have learned how to observe people, most notably, my classmates. I believe that these observations have had a stronger influence on my personal development than any clinical rotation,” shared MD class speaker Samuel Miller.

“My classmates constantly remind me that the raw materials for building a great physician are present in all of us,” he said. “They teach, support, listen to, impress and humble me in countless ways, far beyond what I have listed.”

Dean Karen Antman, MD, said, “You are becoming scientists and physicians at a time of great change and uncertainty.  We have had epidemics of MERs, Ebola, Zika and more. Wars and tensions around the world have escalated with a growing numbers of refugees, many of them in our own patient population. US health outcomes are lower than that for other developed countries and our health-care costs are high. You will figure it out. We have great confidence in your creativity, resilience, intellect and innovation.”

As is custom, the graduating class selects their graduation speaker. The invited speaker was Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).  Fauci has served as NIAID director since 1984 and oversees an extensive portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat established and emerging infectious diseases, such as Ebola and Zika. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.

Fauci discussed the dynamic nature of medicine and the biological sciences. “You will have one foot in the past as you take gigantic leaps into the future.

“You will bear witness to a constant and at times seemingly overwhelming evolution of scientific and technologic advances,” he said. “You will feel both exhilarated and intimidated.  The evolution in medicine and biological sciences will be beyond your control, but you will be part of it, hanging on seemingly for dear life to keep up with it.  Rest assured that being bored will not be a problem for you.”

“For in the field of Medicine and the Biological Sciences we are all perpetual students.  We may graduate from whatever institution of learning that we attended, but that is not the end game,” Fauci continued. “The scope of what we have learned and what we still need to learn is like a giant mosaic and this mosaic of our knowledge and experiences is eternally unfinished, as well it should be.”

“You will leave here today as professionals in a most noble field.  You have been privileged and with this privilege come responsibilities. May you carry these responsibilities with pride and conviction and I strongly hope that you will experience great joy and satisfaction in our shared profession,” Fauci concluded.

Commencement ceremonies included the presentation of faculty awards.  This year’s honorees were:

Stanley L. Robbins Award for Excellence in Teaching
R. Jarrett Rushmore III, PhD
Anatomy & Neurobiology

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award
Edward B. Feinberg, MD, MPH

Committee on Faculty Affairs Educator of the Year Awards

Educator of the Year in Preclinical Medical Sciences
Elizabeth Whitney, PhD
Anatomy & Neurobiology

Educator of the Year Clinical Sciences
Boston Medical Center
Jessica Levi, MD
Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery

Kaiser Permanente, California
Janna Doherty, MD
Obstetrics & Gynecology

Educator of the Year in Graduate Medical Sciences
Doctoral Degree Program
Christopher Gabel, PhD
Physiology & Biophysics

Master’s Degree Program
Aaron Young, PhD
Physiology & Biophysics

Laurie Craigen, PhD

See more images from the day on our Facebook album.