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In-person Celebration Honors the 14th Graduating Class: The Class of 2022


Together with Lerner College of Medicine faculty and staff, the 33 students in this year’s graduating class gathered, along with their respective family, friends and loved ones, to acknowledge and celebrate in person their hard work and remarkable accomplishments over the last five years.

In his address to the students, Bud Isaacson, MD, Professor of Medicine and Executive Dean of the Lerner College of Medicine, emphasized the importance of speaking up as part of a physician’s professional responsibility. In today’s landscape, the work of public health officials and physician scientists is not universally accepted, and, through social media, misinformation spreads too easily and quickly. Science and physician scientists are under threat. “As a physician, you need to speak up – we all need to speak up — for science and scientists, collectively our voices can be strong” said Dr. Isaacson.

To illustrate how one person can be a catalyst for change, Dr. Isaacson shared some stories about the late Bernadine Healy, MD, former Chair of the Research Institute at Cleveland Clinic and Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), among many other high-level roles. One such story involved her time at the NIH, where she highlighted the fact that women were excluded from most research studies.

“She helped launch the Women’s Health Initiative over the objections of many traditionalists at the NIH. She spoke up respectfully, but forcefully and the study moved forward. The Women’s Health Initiative proved to be a landmark study and paved the way for including women subjects in research,” said Dr. Isaacson.

In her role at the NIH, Dr. Healy also defended scientists and the integrity of scientific research when both came under attack from Congress. She spoke up, often as a lone voice, when it would have been easy to remain silent. “Dr. Healy was a role model whose actions can guide us today,” said Dr. Isaacson.

Tom Mihaljevic, MD, Professor of Surgery, and CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic, addressed the students via video. He noted that the students experienced significant change over the course of their time at CCLCM, from new academic leadership and a new learning environment to the COVID-19 pandemic. He recognized their eagerness to pitch in during the pandemic, their resilience and their leadership.

“Because this career is about so much more than providing medicine. It is about being a leader, both within healthcare and the communities we serve,” said Dr. Mihaljevic. He closed by reminding them that they will always have a job at Cleveland Clinic.

Debra Linfield and Arbaz Momin presented a thank-you book to both Mrs. Norma Lerner and Dr. Mihaljevic for their ongoing support of the program and its students.

The alumni and class gift to the college, presented by Joan Nambuba and Jatin Narang, was a donation to the Darlene Gray Memorial Student Life Emergency Fund in memory of the late Darlene Gray, who worked in the administrative office.

Sophia Figueroa Katz introduced the student video, a reflection on the students’ last five years. View the student video.

This year’s faculty speaker, introduced by Ryan Zhang, was Charles Tannenbaum, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular Medicine. Dr. Tannenbaum spoke about the extraordinary clinical and scientific sophistication of this class of students, noting with good humor that over the years of teaching CCLCM students he has “become a much more knowledgeable immunologist, researcher and grant editor by virtue of the student-induced pressures to anticipate every possible question you might ask when I’m giving my seminars.”

On behalf of the class of 2022, Spencer Seballos delivered the student presentation, recounting the significant events over the past five years, from the presidential debate held at the Health Education Campus to the Black Lives Matter movement, and noting the many important lessons learned while training to become a physician investigator. He thanked the faculty and administrative/admissions staff for their time and attention, saying, “We are indebted to your commitment to us students.”

Several faculty members were recognized with awards:

Kaiser-Permanente Excellence in Teaching Award for Outstanding Basic Science Educator: Jessica Fesler, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology

Kaiser-Permanente Excellence in Teaching Award for Outstanding Clinical Educator: Courtney Smalley, MD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine

These once-in-a-lifetime honors recognize the faculty members’ exceptional contributions to student learning and professional development.

Outstanding Faculty Contribution Award: Kendalle Cobb, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine

Outstanding Non-faculty Contribution Award: Given posthumously to Darlene Gray, CCLCM administration team

These two awards are presented by each graduating class to the non-faculty and faculty members who most embody the ideals of CCLCM and demonstrate the highest level of commitment to students.

Excellence in Research Award: Marvin Natowicz, MD, PhD, Professor of Pathology

Established in 2010, this award recognizes exceptional contributions to student learning and professional development in research.

Elaine F. Dannefer, PhD Award: Beth Bierer, PhD, Professor of Medicine

Established in 2017 in memory of Elaine F. Dannefer, PhD, this award recognizes a faculty member who exemplifies and advances the ideals of mentoring and reflective practice at CCLCM.

Fourteen students received additional awards for outstanding performance and contributions during their five years of medical school. View the graduating senior awards.

Nineteen graduating students earned a master’s degree in addition to their degree that reads “Medical Doctor with Special Qualifications in Biomedical Research”:

  • Frederick Allen
  • Salam Bachour
  • Ellen Brinza
  • Melissa Coronado
  • Emily Durbak
  • Jessica Jones
  • Kaur Navkiranjot
  • Lee Maxwell
  • Debra Linfield
  • Shreya Louis
  • Arbaz Momin
  • Frederick Morgan
  • Jatin Narang
  • Deborah Park
  • Daniel Santana
  • Megan Sheehan
  • Vigneshwar Subramanian
  • Alexia Zagouras
  • Ryan Zhang

Two students earned a PhD in addition to their degree that reads “Medical Doctor with Special Qualifications in Biomedical Research”:

  • Daniel Leonard
  • Briana Prager

Each graduating student was then introduced and recognized by Christine Warren, MD (’09), MS, Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs.

View the entire graduation celebration video from May 14.

On behalf of the entire Lerner College of Medicine, we congratulate the Class of 2022. We are deeply proud of you and all that you have accomplished during your five years with us. We wish you all the very best as you embark on the next stage of your medical career.

Navkiranjot Kaur

Bud Isaacson, MD, Executive Dean, CCLCM

Marvin Natowicz, MD, PhD, Excellence in Research Awardee

Joan Nambuba

Wenting Ma

Bud Isaacson, MD, with Beth Bierer, PhD, Elaine F. Dannefer, PhD Awardee

Metabel Markwei

Bud Isaacson, MD, and Alexia Zagouras

Joan Nambuba and Jatin Narang

Charles Tannenbaum, PhD, faculty speaker

Bud Isaacson, MD, and Metabel Markwei with Kendalle Cobb, MD, Outstanding Faculty Contribution Awardee

Metabel Markwei and Navkiranjot Kaur

Sophia Figueroa Katz

Arbaz Momin (third from left)

Spencer Seballos, Sophia Figueroa Katz, Joan Nambuba and Frederick Allen

Emily Durbak (third from left)

James B. Young, MD

Photo credit: Lisa DeJong and Shawn Green

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