Einstein Celebrates 63rd Commencement

Special thanks to the AECOM Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Picture of six Einstein grads in group shot

Albert Einstein College of Medicine celebrated its 63rd commencement on Thursday, May 27, 2021, with a joint on-campus and virtual ceremony honoring its graduating medical and graduate students.

David Kessler, M.D., J.D., chief science officer for the COVID-19 Response task force of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, delivered the commencement address. Dr. Kessler served as special assistant to the president of Montefiore Medical Center from 1982 to 1984 and was medical director of Jack D. Weiler Hospital from 1984 to 1990, when he was appointed commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In his current role, he leads the effort to accelerate the development, manufacture, and distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

During the ceremony, Einstein conferred 173 M.D. degrees and 14 Ph.D. degrees. Eleven graduates of Einstein’s Medical Scientist Training Program received both an M.D. and a Ph.D. degree.

“This remarkable group of physicians and scientists in Einstein’s Class of 2021 overcame significant challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to complete their studies and earn their diplomas,” said Gordon F. Tomaselli, M.D., the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean at Einstein and executive vice president and chief academic officer at Montefiore Medicine. “We salute their resilience and achievements, as well as their dedication and commitment to patient care and scientific discovery.”

More than 100 graduates gathered on the lawn of the Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine and the Harold and Muriel Block Research Pavilion to receive their degrees. Due to restrictions in place for gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and guests observed the ceremony in the central courtyard via video feed. Other graduates chose to participate virtually in the ceremony.

This remarkable group of physicians and scientists in Einstein’s Class of 2021 overcame significant challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to complete their studies and earn their diplomas.

Dean Gordon F. Tomaselli, M.D

During the event, Einstein’s Alumni Association honored several alumni with awards:

  • Dominick P. Purpura Distinguished Alumnus Award: Stewart Shuman, M.D., Ph.D., ‘83, professor in the molecular biology program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Distinguished Alumna/Clinical Practitioner Award: Lauri Markowitz, M.D., ‘80, team lead for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) team in the division of viral diseases at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and associate director for science for HPV in the division
  • Lifetime Service Award: Miriam Tasini, M.D. ‘71, professor of psychiatry emeritus at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Distinguished Ph.D. Alumnus Award: Mary O’Connell, Ph.D., ‘87, professor of molecular medicine and the European Research Area chair in RNA and Immunity at the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC), Brno, Czech Republic
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Joyce Lowinson, M.D., ‘62, professor emerita of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and associate professor emerita of epidemiology & population health at Einstein
  • Einstein Honorary Alumnus Award: Robert Bases, M.D., professor emeritus of radiology and of radiation oncology at Einstein
  • Rising Star – Clinical Practitioner Award: Utibe Essien, M.D., ’13, M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine, and director of Pitt career education and enhancement for the health care research diversity program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Rising Star – Scientific Investigator Award: Opeyemi Olabisi, M.D., Ph.D., ’09, assistant professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, faculty member of the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, and nephrologist at Duke University Hospital

The graduation ceremony also honored several Einstein faculty members for teaching or research excellence:

  • Samuel M. Rosen Award for Outstanding Teaching (Pre-Clerkship): Amanda Beck, D.V.M., associate professor of pathology at Einstein and scientific director of the Histotechnology and Comparative Pathology Facility, Albert Einstein Cancer Center
  • Samuel M. Rosen Award for Outstanding Teaching (Clinical): Stephen W. Li, M.D., instructor in the department of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health at Einstein and an obstetrician and gynecologist at Jacobi Medical Center
  • Harry Eagle Award for Outstanding Pre-Clerkship Teaching: Priti L. Mishall, M.D., associate professor of anatomy and structural biology at Einstein
  • Harry H. Gordon Award for Outstanding Clinical Teaching: Jamie B. Rosenberg, M.D., associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and of pediatrics at Einstein and associate residency program director of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Montefiore
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching: Sherry A. Downie, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and structural biology and in the Arthur S. Abramson Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Einstein
  • LaDonne H. Schulman Excellence in Teaching Award for Outstanding Teaching the Sue Golding Graduate Division: Julie Secombe, Ph.D., professor of genetics and in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience at Einstein
  • Saul R. Korey Award in Translational Science and Medicine: Betsy Herold, M.D., professor of pediatrics, of microbiology & immunology, and of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health and in the Harold and Muriel Block Chair in Pediatrics at Einstein and chief of pediatric infectious diseases and vice chair for research in pediatrics at Einstein and Children’s Hospital at Montefiore