Published May 9, 2016
The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences graduated 143 medical students during its 170th commencement on April 29.
Thirteen students in the Class of 2016 earned dual degrees:
Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school, presided over the afternoon ceremony at the Center for the Arts on the North Campus.
Mukesh K. Jain, MD ’91, professor of medicine and Ellery Sedgwick Jr. Chair at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, was the honored speaker.
The topic of his address was “The Privilege to Impact.”
Jain gained international recognition in the early 2000s when his laboratory identified a family of factors called Kruppel-like Factors (KLFs) that regulate critical aspects of cardiovascular biology, innate immunity and metabolism. Since then, he has translated this work into animals and humans and identified KLFs as important therapeutic targets for a broad spectrum of inflammatory and metabolic disease states including cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative.
The immediate past-president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), Jain has received numerous awards and honors for his clinical and academic contributions.
A native of Buffalo, Jain received his medical degree in 1991 from UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and completed a cardiology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Jason Edwards, the class speaker, mixed humor and passion to detail his journey through medical school as the self-described “last member of the class.”
He began his speech by noting he was “very, very close to not being your classmate.”
Four years ago, the Western New York native was on UB’s waiting list, which had just been closed, and he had turned down an acceptance offer from a medical school in the South because he didn’t want to move. Edwards said his big plans for the day were focused on adjusting the height of the seat on his new bicycle, but that all changed with an early morning phone call.
“Apparently, on the second day of orientation someone had dropped out of the class, so UB had to turn back to the waiting list to fill the vacant spot — and that was me,” he said. “I threw on a blue button-down and some jeans, drove 80 miles an hour and was 20 minutes late for the first class of the first day.”
Edwards said the manner in which he was accepted into medical school continues to remind him of what an opportunity he has had, and he urged his classmates to be more than physicians, but also advocates “to be a voice for those who don’t have their own.”
He urged his classmates to take extra steps in developing meaningful relationships with their patients and reminded them that “life is better for everyone when you are nice.”
Edwards also reminded classmates to remember the coveted initials they are getting at the end of their names are not for them and aren’t intended to be used as bragging rights or to get dinner reservations or good parking spaces.
“Those initials are a beacon of light alerting the community that it can trust you when they are sick, depressed, scared, abused, overwhelmed and famished.”
Edwards will undertake his residency in internal medicine at NSLIJ/Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
He had some words of advice for getting through overwhelming moments that are sure to occur during residency.
“Find a quiet corner, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing, focus on the present, realize how fortunate you are in that moment,” he said. “Unless somebody is coding, then go save that person, and then do that.”
Edwards closed by saying “if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fix my bike. I’ve been putting it off for four years.”
The Class of 2016 dedicated the Iris medical school yearbook to the late Avery K. Ellis, MD ’77, PhD ’79, MBA, former senior associate dean for medical curriculum and associate professor of medicine and physiology.
Ellis was chosen because his contributions as both dean of the medical curriculum and as a cardiology professor were essential in preparing the class for graduation, said yearbook editors Steven Gangloff and Nathan Olszewski.
The official dedication, in part, read, “We were all deeply saddened when we found out one of our most passionate, articulate, energetic and professional educators passed away last year. This loss left a hole in our hearts, and he will forever be remembered.”
“We hope his loved ones understand our appreciation of his knowledge and that his legacy will live on in our careers. Thank you, Dr. Ellis.”