GMS Associate Dean Dr. Stearns-Kurosawa Welcomes Students Back

Welcome to new GMS students and Welcome Back to those returning to campus and classes.  It is a pleasure to see familiar faces again and meet new ones, both virtual and in-person.  This semester those of us in class are linked to some of you remotely– across cities, across the US and across the globe.  Many of you are participating from many time zones and some from other countries.  This is the great strength of BU’s Learn from Anywhere model as we move into the fall semester.

It is a strength, but it may also feel like we are scattered.  I remind you of what ties us together in the GMS community.  At the heart of all of us, we share a fundamental passion for the biomedical sciences, a relentless need to satisfy curiosity and a commitment to service for the betterment of others.

Whether studying the microenvironment of tumors or training in mental health assessment and diagnosis, GMS students make a difference.  This pandemic has brought this out with resounding clarity.

Richard Giadone was only days from his PhD defense when the enormous pandemic surge hit Boston in April.  He immediately pivoted and was a leader on the team that developed the virus test used by Boston Medical Center, our partner hospital. Other GMS students contributed to sourcing reagents, finding PPE and making media for the tests because supply chains were broken and patients were pouring in to a hospital under siege.  Our students made a difference.

The battle continues now in the research laboratories.  PhD candidate Ellen Suder has established new quantitative imaging assays to test antiviral compounds against SARS-CoV-2.  Others are developing new strategies to study the virus, its impact on our immune system, and the complex reasons why lungs are so susceptible to this infection.

This is where you will make a difference-  connecting with patients, advancing understanding in the biomedical sciences, learning analytical and critical thinking strategies and turning these into your path to a successful career.

These values of passion, teamwork and selfless commitment to others are the foundation of GMS and BU.  Within these, we embrace diversity of all peoples and cultures, diversity of thought, perspective  and experience, and unfailing respect for our differences.  We do not tolerate racism or discrimination in any form on any platform.  Not just because it’s the law, but because it’s the right thing to do.  It is what we all must do.

And I’m obligated to remind you that while BU’s Learn from Anywhere is an education model, it is also an enormous experiment.  Thousands of hours of planning have gone into the design and execution of this experiment so that you will have choices in your graduate education.  From a scientific perspective, I have to say that BU’s virus testing, monitoring and contact tracing programs are unbelievably impressive.  A capacity of 5,000 tests per day rivals that of most cities and the process is working-  it is organized, simple, easy and the data sharing is transparent to the community.  There is no question of the university’s commitment to your education and your safety.

That said, it has been a winding journey to get here.  All of you have my sincere thanks for your patience and resilience over the last few months as we worked through the logistics of this experiment.  These first few weeks will ask more patience from you as we continue to hammer out remaining details and make adjustments.  Again, I thank you for your continued professionalism and commitment to your graduate education.

And now it is your turn to contribute.  For those of you who will be coming to campus, we are absolutely delighted to see you so long as you wear a mask, keep your social distance, fulfill your daily monitoring and any required testing, and help us keep classrooms clean.  It will take all of us to make this work, whether we’re on campus or off campus, in the classroom or at home.

For those of you who will participate remotely, thank you for your patience as the faculty become comfortable with new modalities of teaching.  Some of which, I have to say, have resonated greatly with faculty and students and are likely to be continued into the future.  Indeed there is great potential for progress even in the midst of darkness.

At last count we have 409 new Masters students and 46 new PhD students for our many and diverse programs, well above our enrollment from last year.  This is a great and brave class for GMS.  On behalf of all the faculty and staff in GMS, I welcome you and look forward to working with you in this academic year.

With warm regards,

Dr. S-K


Deborah J Stearns-Kurosawa, PhD

Interim Associate Provost, BUMC and Associate Dean, GMS

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