Shutters clicked, tears fell and faculty members waxed poetic at what Michael A. Friedman, M.D., City of Hope president and chief executive officer, proclaimed his favorite event of the year.
Eight students received doctorates in biological sciences at the City of Hope Graduate School of Biological Sciences’ ninth commencement June 8.
City of Hope leaders officiated at the event. Besides Friedman, they included John Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair, professor and chair of the Division of Molecular Biology and dean of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Theodore Krontiris, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president of medical and scientific affairs, and Art Riggs, Ph.D., director of Beckman Research Institute and professor in the Division of Biology.
Rossi also presented Stephen B. Kass, outgoing member of City of Hope’s board of directors and chair and CEO of national debt-buying company Credit Max LLC, with an honorary doctoral degree for his longstanding commitment to City of Hope and its graduate program. Kass has served on the institution’s board of directors since 1989 and currently serves as chair of its Beckman Research Institute board of directors.
“I have witnessed extraordinary progress in the research and treatment programs at City of Hope since joining the board 18 years ago,” said Kass. “The graduate school continues to grow and attract the brightest minds from around the world, and researchers who contribute significantly to City of Hope’s role as a leader in research and treatment of lifethreatening illnesses. I’m grateful to be a part of such an outstanding program.”
The ceremony began with a processional as graduates filed to the Platt Conference Center courtyard behind robed mentors and dignitaries. Following remarks by Rossi and Friedman, Krontiris enjoined students to savor their achievements, noting, “It is proper to be joyous about a job well done.”
Ernest Beutler, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., delivered the keynote speech. Beutler urged graduates to maintain collegiality, but not to follow the scientific “herd” in choosing a career path.
Beutler served as chair of the Division of Medicine at City of Hope for 19 years until 1978 and initiated City of Hope’s bone marrow transplantation program alongside colleague Karl G. Blume, M.D.
Thesis advisors then introduced each of the graduating students: Ken Dery, Yanyan Hong, Lan Jin, Ikuko Kijima, Dong-Hyun Lee, Limin Liu, Elizabeth Lobo and Jennifer Murray.
When they rose to the podium, some students recalled struggles with experiments that sometimes did not work, late nights in the lab and, for those from abroad, learning English. But the key word from all was gratitude — to friends, spouses, parents and grandparents, whether in the audience or thousands of miles away, and most of all, to mentors, faculty members and thesis advisors who taught them to be scientists.
New graduates now face their next round of career decisions. Although one has a job at a biotechnology company, most will begin postdoctoral positions, some in new lab settings at City of Hope.