Albany Medical College Holds 186th Commencement Ceremonies

Albany Medical College awarded more than 200 degrees Thursday, May 2, during the 186th Commencement ceremonies at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Medical degrees (MD) were awarded to 135 students. In addition, 39 received Master of Science degrees in Physician Assistant Studies, nine received either Master of Science or doctoral degrees in the biomedical sciences, 10 students received Master of Science degrees from the Alden March Bioethics Institute, and eight received doctoral degrees from the Alden March Bioethics Institute.

Speakers included Alan S. Boulos, MD ’94, The Lynne and Mark D. Groban, MD ’67 Distinguished Dean of Albany Medical College; Robert T. Cushing, chair of the Albany Med Health System Board of Directors; and student representatives of the Class of 2024.

Dr. Boulos reflected on how, having started their studies at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Class of 2024 persevered and demonstrated responsibility. He urged the new graduates to learn from their experiences and encouraged them to keep alive the college’s spirit of service to others.

The keynote address was delivered by Luciano Marraffini, PhD, the Kayden Family Professor and head of the Laboratory of Bacteriology at The Rockefeller University, and an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Marraffini reminded the graduates to trust the training they received and to prioritize empathy, compassion, and meaningful connections with peers and mentors. He urged them to embrace diversity and inclusion in all forms with enthusiasm and responsibility. “Don’t lose sight of the difference you can make in the world,” said Dr. Marraffini. “Go forth and make it a happier place for all.”

Dr. Marraffini’s work was key to understanding how the CRISPR-Cas system, which is used by bacteria and other microbes as an adaptive immune system to protect themselves from viruses, could be harnessed as a biological tool. He made the seminal discovery that CRISPR-Cas works by cleaving DNA and was the first to propose that this system could be used for genome editing in heterologous systems. He was among the recipients of the 2017 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research.

Dr. Marraffini received an honorary degree. Also receiving an honorary degree was Paul T. Schumacker, PhD, The Patrick M. Magoon Distinguished Professor in Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, where he also holds appointments in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology. Dr. Schumacker earned his undergraduate degree and a Master of Engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. He earned his doctoral degree in physiology from Albany Medical College in 1980, where he studied in the lab of Dr. Thomas Saba.