• Press Release

At Commencement, Mount Sinai Celebrates Distinguished Service of Kenneth L. Davis, MD, CEO for 20 Years

  • New York, NY
  • (May 16, 2024)

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai commemorated its 55th Commencement at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center on Friday, May 10. The ceremony honored the class of 2024 while paying a very special tribute to Kenneth L. Davis, MD, who served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Mount Sinai Health System for 20 years. Dr. Davis left the CEO role at the beginning of 2024 to become Executive Vice Chairman of the Mount Sinai Health System Boards of Trustees. 

Icahn Mount Sinai granted degrees to 191 graduates of the following programs: 115 MD, 57 PhD, and 19 Dual Degree (8 MD/PhD, 2 MD/MPH, and 9 MD/MSCR). Master’s degree candidates will receive their degrees at a ceremony on Friday, June 21. 

Members of the Class of 2024 have made scientific discoveries that will improve our understanding of how cancer cells grow and why they become resistant to treatment, worked to improve community health around the world and in their own community through theEast Harlem Health Outreach Partnership, a student-run free clinic in East Harlem, and much more. 

Notably, this year, 50 members of the graduating class matched to residencies at the Mount Sinai Health System. Richard A. Friedman, Co-Chairman of the Boards of Trustees of the Mount Sinai Health System, for whom The Friedman Brain Institute at Mount Sinai is named, underlined this point of pride in his remarks: “We couldn’t be happier to have such a large cohort of great talent remaining with the Mount Sinai family.” 

Honorary degrees were bestowed on four researchers in the field of medicine, including Dr. Davis, who was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters. Icahn Mount Sinai conferred Doctor of Science degrees on Charles M. Rice, PhD, Maurice R. and Corinne P. Greenberg Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Diseases at The Rockefeller University; Alice Y. Ting, PhD, Professor of Genetics, Biology, and by courtesy, Chemistry, Stanford University; and Feng Zhang, PhD, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Core Member, Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. 

In his opening address, Brendan G. Carr, MD, MA, MS, Chief Executive Officer of Mount Sinai Health System, reminded his audience that they are entering a health care system that is deeply complex and unfair. “And within health care—the very business of kindness, compassion, and reason—there is a growing divide between those who can afford quality health care and those who are being left behind,” said Dr. Carr.  

Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and presiding official of the 2024 ceremony, proudly named the graduates “the Pandemic Class,” observing that these students volunteered more than 12,000 hours to the COVID-19 student work force. He commended the Class of 2024 for making major contributions to therapeutic innovation involving RNA and DNA-based drugs, development of vaccines for cancer, and disease-modifying treatments for dementia. Finally, he commended them for publishing more than 1,000 papers. 

Dr. Davis, who delivered this year’s commencement address, has been affiliated with Mount Sinai since early childhood, when he received emergency surgery at the age of seven at The Mount Sinai Hospital. As a young adult, he attended what was then the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and received the Harold Elster Memorial Award for highest academic achievement in the School’s second graduating class. 

Dr. Davis underscored the dysfunction in health care, a message he has candidly brought forward throughout his distinguished career. In our broken health care system, he said, the United States spends more on health care than any other nation while having the lowest life expectancy among large, wealthy nations. “It must change, and it will change in your lifetime. I want you to help drive that change,” he said. 

You are now graduates of one of the world’s great medical schools. You have trained at a hospital that Newsweek ranks the best in New York State and one of the five smartest hospitals in the world. Your clinical professors attract patients from around the globe, and your school’s research scientists regularly generate breakthrough discoveries,” said Dr. Davis. 

Candida Marie Camacho Damian, MD, who delivered one of the student addresses, has had a distinguished career at Icahn Mount Sinai as a mentor to students who are from underrepresented groups and first-generation medical trainees. Dr. Damian spoke about her own personal health journey while in medical school and the outpouring of support that helped her bounce back. “I am a healer and I am a human. I am a doctor and I am a patient,” said Dr. Damian. 

But realizing that a healer needs to ask for help, too, just like everyone else, was not her only message. She also described her childhood as a young Black girl, growing up in Alabama and never seeing a doctor. While she dreamed of becoming a doctor who could bring quality care to underserved patients like herself, she was told she couldn’t do it. Her inspiration came one day, three years into nursing school, when a teen patient in her care spoke bluntly: “You know more about me than the doctors.” And it was those words that catapulted her forward to pursue her dreams. 

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with 48,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 600 research and clinical labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 9,000 primary and specialty care physicians and 11 free-standing joint-venture centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals, Best in State Hospitals, World Best Hospitals and Best Specialty Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report's® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2023-2024.

For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.