Published March 2, 2023
The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ commencement ceremonies will feature a pair of impressive keynote speakers who played key roles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eric J. Rubin, MD, PhD, editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, will speak at the Jacobs School’s 177th annual medical school commencement ceremony, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. April 28.
Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine, will speak at the biomedical sciences commencement scheduled for 9:30 a.m. May 21.
Both ceremonies are at Center for the Arts on UB’s North Campus in Amherst.
“We wanted to choose dynamic speakers, esteemed physician-scientists and respected leaders who would inspire our student body. Dr. Rubin and Dr. Casadevall embody all of these qualities,” said Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School. “We are extraordinarily excited to be hosting these accomplished health care leaders at our commencements.”
Rubin is an associate physician specializing in infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is a professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
He has conducted groundbreaking tuberculosis research and helped countless patients in often neglected populations, in addition to playing an invaluable role during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dr. Rubin’s expedient identification and publication of critical studies — as well as video presentations — informed us on all aspects of COVID,” Brashear said. “Furthermore, as a member of the FDA’s scientific advisory board, he was part of the process that enabled timely approval of desperately needed vaccines and treatments. He exemplifies determination, commitment and excellence.”
Casadevall was a leading proponent of convalescent plasma during the COVID-19 pandemic, pointing to the treatment’s past successes countering epidemics like measles and the mumps. As co-author in a study on the subject, he was integral in the U.S. Food & Drug Administration reaching its 2020 decision to authorize emergency in-patient use of convalescent plasma treatment, which extracts antibodies from the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients to boost the immunity of those at risk.
“We are thrilled to be hosting this innovative scientist, an authority on biosecurity and important commentator on practicing science effectively. Dr. Casadevall's dedication to medicine and the pursuit of scientific knowledge is an exemplar for all of our graduates,” Brashear said.
A native of Cuba, Casadevall came to the U.S. when he was 11. He received both his medical and doctoral degrees from New York University. Subsequently, he completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Bellevue Hospital in New York. He then completed subspecialty training in infectious diseases at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
An author of more than 900 papers, books and chapters, Casadevall’s major research interests are defense mechanisms, how fungi cause disease, and the development of antibody-based therapies for infectious diseases.
Casadevall was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2014, and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2022.
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