Mount Sinai Honors Innovators in Scientific Research and Health Care Philanthropy at 2013 Commencement
Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman, PhD, delivers keynote address and receives honorary degree
Two Nobel Prize winners and some of the nation’s leading health care philanthropists were honored at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s 44rd commencement ceremony at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. A total of 307 degrees were granted to medical students and students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, including 142 MDs, 63 PhDs, and 98 Masters degrees. Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, PhD addressed the Mount Sinai graduates as commencement speaker.
Dr. Kahneman received a Doctor of Humane Letters for his vast contributions to advancing the understanding of cognition, motivation, and behavior and for his transformational impact on the field of economics. Also honored were Nobel Prize-winning scientist Aaron Ciechanover, MD, DSc, who was recognized for his discovery of a protein critical to the chemical processes associated with cancer and neurodegenerative disorders; Eva Andersson-Dubin, MD, and Glenn Dubin, for their dedication to improving health care through their creation of the Dubin Breast Center of The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai; and Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Editor-in-Chief of U.S. News & World Report and publisher of the New York Daily News, for his generous philanthropic support of medical research.
This year’s commencement empowered Mount Sinai graduates to embrace the challenges they will face in entering health care during a time of enormous change and uncertainty.
In his address, Dr. Kahneman encouraged the graduates to rely on a combination of expert intuition and the skills they acquired during their training to serve them in their careers.
“Expert intuition will help you recognize a diagnosis and know what to do without having to consider many options,” said Dr. Kahneman. “It will give you the confidence to act quickly, which your patients and colleagues will appreciate. Similar to the Serenity Prayer, you need the courage to act on your intuition when you trust it, the discipline to follow the rules and skills you have acquired when it’s the best you can do, and the wisdom to know when to use one or the other.”
Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, highlighted the accomplishments of the graduates, including publication in the best scientific journals; initiatives providing badly needed medical care to underserved communities; the development of the MedStart program to help middle school students get excited about science and medicine; and their heroic efforts caring for residents of the neighborhoods most devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
According to Dr. Charney, a revolution is brewing in medicine, which calls for an increased focus on new models of health care delivery and the implementation of precision medicine to better understand and treat disease. He described the Class of 2013 as the next generation of leaders in medicine and biomedical science who will advance and accelerate the revolutionary paradigm shifts that are changing the foundation of health care delivery and the promise of biomedical research.
“American medicine and biomedical research are in crisis. Health care spending is out of control and continuing to spiral skyward, our delivery systems and administrative processes are outdated and inefficient, and funding for biomedical research is inadequate and shrinking,” said Dr. Charney. “We must possess the intellectual courage to challenge tradition and dogma, the imagination to achieve true innovation, and the passion to deliver on our promise of transformative discovery.”
Peter W. May, Chairman of the Mount Sinai Boards of Trustees, discussed Mount Sinai’s culture of innovation and collaboration, as demonstrated by the opening of the Leon and Norma Hess Center for Science and Medicine during the 2012-2013 academic year. The Hess Center was designed to foster multidisciplinary teamwork among clinicians and scientists in a state-of-the-art facility featuring one of the largest supercomputers in the United States, which exponentially increases the speed and capacity at which scientists conduct medical research at Mount Sinai. Mr. May emphasized that Mount Sinai students embody that spirit of innovation and collaboration.
“Graduates, you are entering the medical profession at a watershed moment: many of the hallmarks of today’s medicine will be utterly transformed in the years to come,” Mr. May said. “Throughout your training at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, you have been exposed to the very best an academic medical center can offer: extraordinary educators, and mentors, state of the art technology, groundbreaking scientific investigation, and novel opportunities in global health and patient advocacy. Fortunately, your training has prepared you to think innovatively and work collaboratively. Seek opportunities to work together, to share ideas, to make connections. It is through these collaborations that you will conquer the diseases of our time and bring hope to future generations of patients.”
Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, scrutinized the current fee-for-service system and inefficiency in care delivery, and highlighted accountable care organizations (ACOs) and coordinated care teams as promising solutions to relieving the extraordinary burden of health care spending. For each ACO, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sets a reduced spending target and if the hospital meets that goal, it receives half of the cost savings in return. Mount Sinai’s ACO has 25,000 members and Mount Sinai has generated significant savings due to implementation of electronic health records and a coordinated care system that assigns a case manager to each individual patient to identify health concerns early.
Dr. Davis emphasized the leading role the graduates will play as part of a coordinated care team and as advocates for change. “Doctors alone cannot help patients prevent or manage chronic conditions, but a sophisticated, dedicated care team, where everyone is working to the maximum of their license, can help ensure such change. You will often be the leader of those teams, but even the best teams will sometimes have poorer outcomes because of circumstances beyond your control. In those instances, it is also your responsibility to educate our policymakers and politicians that they too must accept responsibility for poorer health outcomes in underserved communities.”
Dr. Davis also recognized Board of Trustees Member Carl Icahn for his generous commitment to Mount Sinai students and the School, as the Class of 2013 is the first to graduate under the new name: the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Mr. Icahn’s support will resonate in our classrooms, laboratories, our hospital and doctors’ offices. For nearly two decades, he has been a most generous donor. His gift to name our school reflects his continued support and belief in the preeminence of our institution.”
Thomas Flaherty, who will work as a writer for The Dr. Oz Show after graduation, represented the Class of 2013 as the student commencement speaker. “Today is a wonderful and extremely special day. After four or more years of hard work and dedication, countless hours in the library, even more countless hours on the floors of the hospital, we have finally made it. So, graduating medical, PhD, MPH, and Masters in Genetics Counseling students, you should all be extremely proud of yourselves to have arrived at where you are today.”
Honorary degrees were given to innovators in economics, science, and health care philanthropy:
- Daniel Kahneman, PhD, (Doctor of Science) is a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist whose work in applying insights about human judgment and decision-making to economic theory now forms the basis for much of the applied research in economics. He is recognized for pioneering prospect theory, an economic model of decision-making that argues that people make decisions based on factors such as fairness, past events, and aversion to loss, rather than purely on reason and self-interest. He is currently the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and Professor of Public Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University.
- Eva Andersson-Dubin, MD (Doctor of Humane Letters) is a physician, philanthropist, and breast cancer survivor who has been a transformational advocate for breast cancer care and research. Together with her husband, Glenn Dubin, she founded the Dubin Breast Center of The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai, a facility that provides comprehensive, streamlined, compassionate care to breast cancer patients from diagnosis through recovery, all under one roof.
- Aaron Ciechanover, MD, DSc, (Doctor of Science) is a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist who has made monumental contributions to the understanding of crucial biochemical processes. His pioneering work in describing the role of the protein ubiquitin revealed a vital new avenue for the development of novel therapeutics for treating some of the most devastating human illnesses. The ubiquitin system has become an important platform in drug development in many diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. He is currently a Distinguished Research Professor in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
- Glenn Dubin, (Doctor of Humane Letters) is a pioneer in investment strategies and an early adopter of fund-of-funds business models; combining stocks, bonds, and commodity assets to enhance investment returns over the long term. Under his leadership as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Highbridge Capital Management manages in excess of $30 billion in capital. He is also an active philanthropist, opening the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai with his wife, Dr. Andersson-Dubin, and as a founding Board member and former Board Chair of the Robin Hood Foundation, an organization that applies investment principles to charitable giving. He is also an esteemed Board member of The Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Museum of Modern Art.
- Mortimer B. Zuckerman (Doctor of Humane Letters) is one of the most influential voices in print news media in the last 20 years, cultivating the success and editorial direction of several prestigious publications including The Atlantic and Fast Company. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of US News & World Report and the publisher of the New York Daily News, a publication he rescued from the brink of bankruptcy in 1993 and transformed it into the largest circulation newspaper in the New York metropolitan area. He has generously supported medical research in a number of areas in which there is a critical unmet need for new therapies, including cancer and neurodevelopmental, neurodegenerative, and mood disorders.
To learn more about the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, visit www.mssm.edu/education.
About The Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Established in 1968, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Icahn School of Medicine is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty members in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report.
The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 14th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation’s top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Mount Sinai is one of just 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and by U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place.
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