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Vital Signs

Graduates don't escape without being asked a few more questions

By Amos Esty

To earn their caps and gowns, the 2008 DMS graduates had already taken their fair share of exams (and then some, a few might have asserted). Even so, the speakers at Class Day, on June 7, wouldn't let the graduates go without posing a few final questions.

The quizzing began with Dr. Stephen Atwood, who gave the keynote address. "Why are you so important?" he asked the men and women at the front of Leede Arena. Because, he continued, doctors, scientists, and publichealth officials are involved in some of the most significant events in people's lives.

True: That has certainly been true of Atwood himself, a regional advisor for UNICEF in East Asia. Atwood's career, said Dr. William Green, DMS's dean, "epitomizes what we value" in physicians.

A 1970 graduate of DMS, Atwood discussed his experiences in Vietnam, where he worked with government officials to address that nation's health-care problems. "Why am I telling you this?" he asked. Because, he said, again answering his own question, "the elements of the situation in Vietnam—half a world away—are common to almost all countries in the world today, including our own."

Atwood explained some of the consequences of globalization for those in science and medicine. The world is linked more closely than ever before, he said, so the question now "is no longer whether we should transform social agendas to create social equity, but rather 'What is the best way to do it?'"

Peers: Next came two student speakers, chosen by their peers. M.D. graduate Andrew Saunders recounted his experiences at a hospital in Tanzania, where he'd encountered a young boy with kidney problems. The condition was treatable, but the hospital and the family lacked the necessary resources. As a result, the boy was expected to die within the week. The story prompted Saunders to ask his classmates: "Why did we want to go to medical school in the first place?" Not, he suggested, to find "the eventual comfortable job."

Micah Benson, about to earn a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology, was the graduate student speaker. He pondered a question he said he's often asked: "What do you do as a scientist?" It's important, he continued, to be able to provide a good response: "We, as scientists, need to explain our discoveries and contributions to the world."

Answers: Class Day brought a few answers as well as all those questions, including the names of the recipients of the Medical School's top awards. João Pedro Teixeira received the Dean's Medal, which goes to the top M.D. graduate; Eric Arehart received the Strohbehn Medal, for the top Ph.D. graduate, for his work in pharmacology and toxicology; and Courtney McIlduff earned the Good Physician Award.

Awards were also given out to three of the class's teachers. Dr. Joshua Mancini, a surgery resident, received the Thomas P. Almy Housestaff Teaching Award; Dr. Mara Rendi the Basic Science Teaching Award; and Dr. David Nierenberg the Clinical Science Teaching Award.

Diplomas: In all, 168 DMS students were handed diplomas this year: 62M.D.'s; 25 Ph.D.'s (10 in microbiology and immunology, six in biochemistry, five in genetics, two in pharmacology and toxicology, one in physiology, and one in health policy and clinical practice); 55 M.P.H.'s; and 26 M.S.'s (one in biochemistry, one in microbiology, two in pharmacology and toxicology, and 22 in health policy and clinical practice).

At the College's graduation ceremony the next day, the honorary- degree recipients included two eminent scholars in science and medicine: Thomas Cech, a Nobel Laureate in chemistry, and Evelyn Fox Keller, a historian of science.

Oath: Class Day closed with a recitation of the Hippocratic Oath, in Greek by noted Dartmouth College language professor John Rassias and in English by the graduates and faculty.

The 2008 graduates then recessed, perhaps pondering one last question posed by Saunders: "How will you repay your obligation to a world that has granted you so much? You may enlist the help of anyone you wish; you are allotted exactly one lifetime to compose your answer."

Class of 2008
Prizes and Awards

Dean's Medal João Teixeira
Good Physician Award Courtney McIlduff
John W. Strohbehn Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research Eric Arehart
Frederic P. Lord Award in Anatomy
Jessica Hayward
Department of Anesthesiology Award Natacha Zamor
Department of Medicine Paul Gerber Award Christina Devine
American Academy of Neurology Prize Courtney McIlduff
Barry D. Smith, M.D., Award for Excellence in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Ellen Garvey, Heidi Keup
Saul Blatman Award for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Kandice Nielson
Dr. Freddie Fu Orthopaedic Surgery Award Garrett Davis
E. Elizabeth French Award in Pathology Elizabeth Fingar, Elliott Seeley
New England Pediatric Society Award Colby Wyatt
Department of Psychiatry Award
Natalie Riblet
Harte C. Crow Award in Radiology
Nicholas Telischak
Arthur Naitove Surgical Scholar Award Douglas Jones
American Medical Women's Association
Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation

Joan Hier, Jennifer Lacy, Sharon Silveira, Ashlee Walls
Julian and Melba Jarrett Memorial Prize Caitlin Stashwick
Merck Manual Awards Jennifer Frese, Heather Sateia, Ashlee Walls
Payson-Hampers M.D.-M.B.A. Scholars Award Garrett Davis
John F. Radebaugh Community Service Award Kathryn Bonafede, Kathleen Richard
John and Sophia Zaslow Prize
Kathleen Richard
Douglas P. Zipes, M.D., Research Prize Preethi Ramaswamy
C. Everett Koop, M.D., Courage Award Robert Lampman
Rolf C. Syvertsen Fellow and Scholars Elizabeth Fingar, Brian Jones, Heidi Keup, Ashlee Walls

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