Diverse and Distinguished Class Receives Degrees at Weill Cornell Medical College Commencement

Drs. Gerald L. Mandell and Bonnie Jean Mathison Honored with Alumni Distinction Awards

May 20, 2002


One hundred and one newly minted M.D.'s—including 53 women and 21 members of historically underrepresented minorities—will receive their diplomas today at the commencement exercises of the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The ceremonies, held at Avery Fisher Hall, will also mark the bestowing of 35 Ph.D.'s and 10 M.S.'s in the 2001-2002 year on graduating students of the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University.

Ten of the new Medical College graduates belong to the prestigious Tri-Institutional M.D./Ph.D. program administered jointly by Weill Cornell, Rockefeller University, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

As in previous commencements, Hunter R. Rawlings III, President of Cornell University, will deliver the address.

The Medical College and Graduate School are honoring two graduates with Alumni Awards of Distinction: Gerald L. Mandell, M.D. 1962, and Bonnie Jean Mathison, Ph.D. 1975.

Dr. Mandell, whose research focus is the biology of phagocytic cells, established and still leads the superb Infectious Diseases program at the University of Virginia. Along with more than 300 other publications, he co-authored the leading textbook Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Cornell University and an Alpha Omega Alpha graduate of the Medical College, he serves on numerous editorial boards and belongs to many prestigious associations and medical societies.

Dr. Mathison has distinguished herself as a research scientist and administrator. She has an international reputation in vaccine development, with a special focus on HIV/AIDS. Currently, she serves as Chair and Health Science Administrator in the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health, and is Chair of the Interagency HIV Vaccine Collaborative Group. She has won the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Achievement Award in Basic Research, and the Office of AIDS Research Recognition and Appreciation of Special Achievement Award.

Each year, student speakers are chosen from the graduating classes of the Medical College and the Graduate School. This year, for the Medical College, the student speaker is John B. Roseman, who, after graduating from Princeton in 1993, had some success in publishing before choosing to go to medical school. At the Medical College, he has explored the use of RC2 to stain human glial tumor cells as a marker of tumor cell de-differentiation, and has worked with functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine possible brain changes in survivors of the World Trade Center disaster. The winner of several prizes, he will spend a year of training in Internal Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and then become a resident at Massachusetts General/McLean Hospital in Boston.

The student speaker for the Graduate School is Francesca Domenech. The new Dr. Domenech pursued the Program in Pharmacology at the Graduate School. Under the supervision of Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, she found a novel mechanism for HIV-associated thrompocytopenia. She has also been instrumental in the planning and development of an HIV/AIDS medical center in her neighborhood. She has traveled to the Amazon rain forest in search of natural products for fighting HIV, and also has won several awards.

Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., M.D., D.Phil., the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of the Medical College, will introduce the new Dr. Roseman. David P. Hajjar, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences, will introduce Dr. Domenech.

The Medical College graduates come from many different countries, including Kenya, Russia, China, Uzbekistan, India, Hungary, and Korea. They include a former policeman, a lawyer, a violinist, and a cantor. Fifty percent of them won "matches" for postgraduate training next year at the "most competitive" teaching hospitals.

The Graduate School graduates have published over 60 research papers in prestigious journals of biomedical science. Over 30 of them mentored New York City middle school students through the Cornell Science Challenge program.