Einstein Marks 50th Anniversary of 1st Graduating Class at 2009 Commencement

Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, director of NHLBI, to deliver keynote speech.

May 27, 2009 — (BRONX, NY) — Fifty years after the first graduating class of Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University received their degrees, the College of Medicine will confer more than 200 diplomas during its 2009 commencement ceremony.  In honor of Einstein's more than half-century of educational excellence, dedication to diversity, and commitment to patients and community, representatives of its inaugural class of 1959 will take part in the hooding of this year's graduates.

Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D.
Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D.
These august alumni, along with the founding faculty, were pioneers at the distinctive institution which, from its inception, offered a world-class education to students of all races and creeds — something vitally important to renowned physicist and humanitarian Albert Einstein, who lent his name to the College of Medicine in 1953.

The class of 2009 includes 40 individuals from 19 countries and a group of 23 students who identify themselves as belonging to groups considered underrepresented in medicine. The class represents a wide array of prior work experience in business, engineering, and publishing. Many students have changed careers to follow their passion of becoming knowledgeable and caring doctors.

Bat Sheva Maslow with twins
Bat-Sheva Maslow with her
twin daughters. 
Einstein's 2009 commencement ceremony will take place on Tuesday, June 2 at 10:00 a.m., at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. 

Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, will deliver the commencement address. Dr. Nabel will highlight the continuing importance of the doctor-patient relationship in modern medical care. Her talk, "People First," will address the responsibility of today's doctors and medical researchers to understand and advance the health of all citizens globally. Dr. Nabel, a proponent of value-based and personalized medicine, will discuss how getting the right treatment to the right person at the right time involves a mix of modern technology, clinical research, community engagement, and participation in research.

Among the noteworthy and diverse students receiving their medical degrees are:

  • Bat-Sheva Maslow — The first year of medical school is challenging for any student, but for 27-year-old Bat-Sheva, news that her husband Jon had Stage IV Hodgkin's disease (lymphoma) created hardship and tough choices. Fortunately, Jon responded well to aggressive therapy. Once he was in good health, the two decided to start their family. During her fourth year of medical school at Einstein, while juggling a busy clerkship, Bat-Sheva gave birth to healthy twin girls. Bat-Sheva will do her residency in obstetrics-gynecology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
  • Vikram Padmanabhan — 29-year-old Vikram made his literary mark in 2008 with the publication of "My Condolences." The moving essay was published in Annals of Internal Medicine. A powerful and thoughtful look at his experiences with his first terminal patient, Vikram's essay provides insight into the difficult and emotional process medical students go through to become compassionate practicing doctors. Vikram believes strongly in supporting the families of his patients who've died. He has written condolence letters to those families and has even attended patient funerals. Vikram will do his residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. 
  • Debbie Hana Yi — By 2001, Debbie had secured a coveted position at Goldman Sachs and was making impressive progress towards her career goal — establishing self-sustaining healthcare clinics in developing countries. Yet she was dissatisfied. After a serious accident put her sister in the ICU, Debbie decided to become a doctor in order to more personally and directly help those in need. The 30-year-old will begin a residency in emergency medicine this summer at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

class of 09
Members of the class of 2009
Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., The Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean of Einstein, will join Yeshiva University President, Richard M. Joel, in presenting the diplomas at the June 2nd ceremony.  This year, Einstein will confer 181 M.D. degrees, 59 Ph.D. degrees and 10 M.S. degrees. Fourteen graduates will receive both an M.D. and a Ph.D. degree.

The graduation ceremony will also honor the teaching excellence of seven Einstein faculty members:

  • Lifetime Achievement Awards for Excellence in Teaching: Leslie Howard Bernstein, M.D. (professor emeritus of medicine) and Dr. George J. Fruhman, Ph.D. (associate professor of anatomy & structural biology)
  • Harry Eagle Award for Outstanding Basic Science Teaching: Lloyd D. Fricker, Ph.D. (professor of molecular pharmacology, assistant professor of the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience)
  • Harry Gordon Award for Outstanding Clinical Teaching: Maria Teresa M. Santos, M.D. (assistant professor of family & social medicine and of psychiatry & behavioral sciences)
  • Samuel M. Rosen Award for Outstanding Teaching in Preclinical Curriculum: Amanda C. Raff, M.D. (assistant professor of medicine)
  • Samuel M. Rosen Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Clinical Curriculum: Amy E. Kesselman, M.D., Class of 1997 (assistant clinical professor of obstetrics & gynecology and women's health)
  • LaDonne H. Schulman Award for Excellence in Teaching: Pamela Stanley, Ph.D. (professor of cell biology, Horace W. Goldsmith Professor)

Five individuals will be honored with awards from Einstein's Alumni Association:

  • Dominick P. Purpura Distinguished Alumnus: Robert Ritch, M.D., Class of 1972 (chief of glaucoma service and surgeon director, New York Eye & Ear Infirmary)
  • Distinguished Ph.D. Alumnus: Carl Franzblau, Ph.D., Class of 1962 (associate dean for graduate biomedical science studies and chairman of biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine)
  • Honorary Alumnus:Todd R. Olson, Ph.D. (professor of anatomy & structural biology and course director of clinical and developmental anatomy, Einstein)
  • Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award: Alan Fleischman, M.D., Class of 1970 (senior vice president and medical director, March of Dimes; chair, Federal Advisory Committee and ethics advisor, National Children's Study, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health)
  • Alumni Lifetime Service Award: Peter Barland, M.D., Class of 1959 (professor emeritus of medicine and pathology, Einstein; former director of rheumatology, Montefiore Medical Center)