UMass Medical School announces 2017 Commencement speaker, honorary degree recipients

UMass Medical School Communications

April 20, 2017
  Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD
 

Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD

   
  Víctor Grífols
 

Víctor Grífols

   
  Patricia Donahoe, MD
 

Patricia Donahoe, MD

The 44th annual Commencement Exercises of UMass Medical School on Sunday, June 4, will recognize the accomplishments of ground-breaking physician, scientist and academic health leader Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD; humanitarian and businessman Víctor Grífols, president of Grifols; and Patricia Donahoe, MD, a renowned pediatric surgeon and cancer researcher.

Dr. Montgomery Rice will be the featured speaker at the commencement ceremony and will receive, along with Grífols and Dr. Donahoe, an honorary degree from UMass Medical School.

Montgomery Rice is the first woman to serve as president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, in Atlanta, Georgia. With high-level experience in patient care, research, management and public health policy, Montgomery Rice leads Morehouse School of Medicine toward its new strategic goal of “leading the creation and advancement of health equity.” Previously, she served as senior vice president of health affairs at Meharry Medical College, where she founded and directed the Center for Women’s Health Research, one of the nation’s first research centers devoted to studying diseases that disproportionately impact women of color. Montgomery Rice is a renowned infertility specialist and researcher. She earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School.

Grífols is president of Grifols, a company founded by his family in Spain three generations ago, that today has a direct presence in 30 countries around the world. It is a global leader in the manufacture and sale of plasma-derived products, and is recognized for innovations in plasma protein therapies, clinical diagnosis technology and pharmaceutical preparations for hospital use. Plasma is a component of blood that can be used in life-saving treatments for a variety of conditions and diseases. During and after the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in western Africa, the company worked with its foundations and partners, including UMass Medical School, to develop a nonprofit initiative dedicated to producing an anti-Ebola immunoglobulin using plasma from Ebola survivors to treat the population affected by the disease. It designed, built and delivered to Monrovia, Liberia—free of charge—two mobile units with laboratory testing capabilities as well as blood and plasma donation capabilities. The units remain in use today and in 2018 will be donated to the Liberian government.

Donahoe has spent virtually her entire career at Massachusetts General Hospital, where her positions have included serving as director of the pediatric surgical research laboratories, principal faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and chief emerita of pediatric surgical services. She is the Marshall K. Bartlett Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Donahue’s research in reproductive developmental biology and oncology led to the hypothesis that a protein known as Mullerian Inhibiting Substance (MIS) could serve as a potential anticancer agent against certain ovarian tumors. Recent studies of MIS in the ovary have shown that it can function as a permanent contraceptive or as a protector of ovarian reserve in young women undergoing chemotherapy. In addition, her work has focused on genetic mutations that lead to birth defects; the hope is that this research will lead to therapies that can be instituted in utero or shortly after birth to alleviate anomalies or birth defects. She earned her medical degree from Columbia University.

Two hundred thirty students from three graduate schools—the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Graduate School of Nursing—will receive their diplomas from UMass Medical School during the 2017 Commencement exercises, which will take place on the campus green on June 4, with seating beginning at 11 a.m., the processional initiating at 11:45 a.m., and the ceremony starting promptly at noon.

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