St. George’s University honored a new class of medical school graduates from 38 countries and bestowed honorary doctorates and service awards on four individuals during its commencement ceremonies this past weekend.
“It is my pleasure to be here once again at one of these ceremonies to recognize your accomplishments,” said Dr. Charles Modica, Chancellor and Chair of the Board of Directors at St. George’s University, in his opening remarks.
Doctorates of Humane Letters were awarded to Dr. Mark Lanzieri, a Massachusetts cardiologist and 1985 St. George’s alumnus, and José Sánchez, President and CEO of Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago.
For 20 years, Dr. Lanzieri has returned to Grenada to provide cardiological care free of charge to Grenadians. He encouraged the Class of 2019 to stay connected to the St. George’s community. “We need your involvement more than ever,” he said. “I would encourage you that this is not your last interaction with SGU or Grenada, and that you become involved early with the alumni association.”
Dr. Sánchez has managed healthcare and hospital systems for more than three decades. He is a member of the Illinois State Board of Health and helps lead several other state boards, councils, and commissions.
Marty Lyons, a philanthropist and former defensive lineman for the New York Jets, and Congressman Max Rose received Distinguished Service Awards.
In 1982, Lyons founded the Marty Lyons Foundation, which has 11 chapters across the United States. The non-profit grants wishes for terminally ill children.
“Life is about making opportunities and choices,” Mr. Lyons said. “You’ve made one that started four years ago, when you started to chase a dream of helping other people, and making a difference in this world.”
Congressman Rose is a decorated war veteran who represents New York’s 11th congressional district, which includes Staten Island and South Brooklyn. Prior to his election to Congress, he was Chief of Staff for Brightpoint Health, a non-profit dedicated to meeting the healthcare needs of New York City’s underserved populations.
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Animals of all shapes and sizes gained caretakers and advocates on Saturday morning as St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine granted Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees to 83 new veterinarians in New York City.
By reaching this milestone, the Class of 2019 joins an alumni network of 1,670 veterinarians who built a foundation for their careers at SGU.
“One of the greatest honors I have each year is to be here at this ceremony honoring you, respecting you, and with family and friends in the room who have helped you get to where you are today, to tell you how proud we are of you,” said Dr. Charles Modica, chancellor of St. George’s University.
This year’s graduates hailed from six countries—the United States, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. Many new alums will go straight into practice while others have committed to residency programs across 22 United States in such fields ranging from small animal medicine and neurology to oncology and food animal ambulatory and production medicine.
Dr. Richard Liebowitz, vice chancellor of St. George’s University, noted that this year marked the 20-year anniversary of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
“Our graduates are recognized in the US, Caribbean, and around the world, and now you leave the university with the same clinical abilities as they did,” Dr. Liebowitz said. “The question is ‘where do you go from here?’ With the training you have received, my only advice is to follow your passion, put no barriers in front of you, and shoot for the moon. I congratulate you all. I know you all will be extremely satisfied and successful in your careers.”
One of those charter class members was Tara Paterson, DVM ’03, who has gone on to become an associate professor of small animal medicine and surgery at her alma mater, while also serving as president of the School of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Association.
“On behalf of SGU faculty, I want you to know that we are very proud of you all,” Dr. Paterson said. “I’m honored to welcome you to our fraternity of SGU alumni, and I’m proud to call you my colleagues.”
St. George’s University Provost Glen Jacobs emceed the ceremony, and implored the newest SGU alumni to pursue knowledge and training throughout their careers.
“This ceremony is a symbol of our confidence that you are now equipped for the world in which you are entering,” Dr. Jacobs said. “You are equipped with the basic skills necessary for your profession. You must continue learning to keep learning in order to keep pace with the changing world around us.”
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This summer, St. George’s University School of Medicine’s Class of 2019 will go their separate ways, joining residency programs throughout the United States, Canada, and the world. But before doing so, the newest class of physicians reconvened once more in New York City for SGU’s annual commencement ceremonies at Lincoln Center.
The atmosphere inside David Geffen Hall was festive as family and friends gathered to watch this year’s graduates join an alumni network of more than 17,000 physicians who have gone on to practice in all 50 United States and in over 50 countries worldwide.
In addressing the crowd, Dr. Charles Modica, chancellor of St. George’s University, marveled at the aptitude and commitment of this year’s graduates, also noting that approximately 100 members of the 2019 class had some kind of familial tie to an SGU alumnus. Among them was Tracey O’Brien, MD ’19, daughter of SGU charter class grad John O’Brien, MD ’81.
“Our charter class graduates faced the same trials and tribulations that you have had in studying medicine,” Dr. Modica said. “They didn’t have quite the same facilities that you had, but they had the same attitude, the same thirst of knowledge, and the same quest to succeed.”
On that quest was Henry McGee, MD ’19, who was excited to rejoin his colleagues at Lincoln Center just weeks prior to beginning a pediatrics residency at Case Western Reserve University’s MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, OH. It was his top-choice program.
“I’m from northeastern Ohio, and it’s the community that I wanted to serve,” he said. “As a doctor, it’s all about the people that you’re taking care of, and for me, it was Ohio. I’m glad that I’m able to do what I always wanted to do.”
For his success, Dr. McGee credits the strong bond he made with fellow aspiring physicians, as well as the support of his family.
“Today is really exciting, to be honest,” he said. “This day is for us, but it’s also for my parents and all the people who helped us get to where we are. I can’t believe the person that I’ve become compared to where I was when I started medical school.”
Randolph DiLorenzo, MD ’19, followed in the footsteps of his father, Randolph, who graduated from SGU in 1988. He has gone on to become the medical director at Syosset Hospital on Long Island.
The newest DiLorenzo alum will begin his internal medicine residency at Staten Island University Hospital in New York. SIUH is part of Northwell Health, for which he had previously served as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and done bariatric surgery research.
“Every day I tried to set out to accomplish a goal, and all of those goals have added up to this one big goal—graduating from medical school,” he said. “Now that I’m here, there’s more to accomplish.”
St. George’s University also honored four special guests at the weekend’s festivities. Mark Lanzieri, MD ’85, a cardiologist at Central Maine Heart Associates, was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for providing visiting cardiological services at no charge to hundreds of Grenadian citizens through SGU’s Physician Humanitarian Network for 20 years. Jose Sanchez, president and chief executive officer at Chicago’s Norwegian American Hospital, was honored for his extensive contributions to improving healthcare in Chicago as well as New York, where as a senior executive with NYC Health + Hospitals, he helped establish its network of hospitals as a hub for St. George’s University clinical students.
SGU also presented distinguished service awards to Marty Lyons, former New York Jets defensive lineman and founder of the Marty Lyons Foundation, as well as Max Rose from New York’s 11th Congressional District. Congressman Rose has also received a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his service in the United States Army.
“Never in the history of this country have we asked more of doctors, and never have we needed primary care doctors more,” Congressman Rose said. “You’re going to be asked to do something over the course of your profession that doctors have never been asked to do. You will be asked to look beyond the four corners of your own office to analyze and treat every part of a human being. Elected officials, bureaucrats, and everyone in between are going to ask you of that. So I say to you today, as we peer as well, that I look forward to working with you. I look forward to being in the trenches with you. We have a lot of work to do.”
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More than 350 educators from Grenada and around the world descended on St. George’s University for the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC) 2019 annual conference. Highlighting the presentations at the two-day event, titled “Students: Our Common Wealth – A Focus on Student Success,” was a keynote address by The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, the second secretary-general of the Commonwealth from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.
“Students who are educated to think creatively will have a distinctive advantage,” Secretary-General Scotland said. “They will be equipped to master the new ideas and new areas of knowledge and will have truly portable, flexible, applicable skills for the future. They will be able to collaborate across cultural and disciplinary boundaries and thrive in enterprises that have not yet even been invented.”
To this end, she proposed four pillars for building a “common wealth” among Commonwealth students:
Learning for life – with readily available skills-based training and higher education programs that respond to market needs
Employment – as a focus for ensuring brighter prospects and widening opportunity within the global development agenda
Entrepreneurship – so that enterprise and innovation create employment and sustainable growth
Engagement – to encourage well-informed consultation and responsiveness to the needs and aspirations of all.
“This can only be achieved through education,” the Secretary-General said. “Through firm commitment always and everywhere to do our utmost to treasure and support students our common wealth.”
The 2019 conference marked the first time that the CEC’s annual event had been held in the Caribbean region.
“A conference of this nature does one thing—it inspires,” said Samantha Antoine-Purcell, Principal, Westmorland Secondary School. “It inspires you to think beyond the usual. It inspires you to try new things, new approaches, and new perspectives so that at the end of the day, the student wins. Judging from the high caliber of presenters, which included educators, principals, students and others in the industry, we were able to have a really rich discourse because the perspectives were so varied. I believe the biggest takeaway for me and my fellow educators is to make sure that what we learn here today, we adapt, and we follow through.”
“We were honored to host the first-ever CEC annual conference in the Caribbean,” said Dr. Glen Jacobs, Provost, St. George’s University. “SGU’s faculty and students represent over 140 countries across the globe, including more than 20 percent of our students who hail from Commonwealth countries. This conference provided the kind of association and diversity we value on our campus. We were delighted to welcome international and local representatives from throughout the commonwealth to share their ideas on addressing how educational institutions can make a difference and ensure students get the most out of their studies and be successful.”
Currently celebrating its 60th anniversary, this year’s Council for Education in the Commonwealth conference was designed to explore the main challenges facing education provision across the 53 member states. In addition to the CEC annual conference being held for the first time ever in the Caribbean, it was also the second-ever held outside of the United Kingdom. The Council’s 2021 conference will be held in Kenya.
– Ray-Donna Peters
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In a riveting speech, H.E. Mrs. Akima Paul Lambert, Grenada’s Ambassador to the Holy See and keynote speaker at the 2019 Grenada commencement ceremony at St. George’s University, encouraged the new graduates to see that their past struggles often provided the best teaching moments.
“Graduands, I beseech you to go forth in your authentic selves, bring your light of change to the world,” said Ambassador Paul Lambert, who as both a diplomat and solicitor advocate, champions issues related to international economic development and human rights. She was one of the youngest awardees of the United Nations Global 500 Award for services to the environment.
She went on to reference three Grenadian sayings that share lessons that benefited her in her much accomplished life. “Do not succumb to the shadows of regression or prejudice and frame your challenges as your finest teachings. Burn bright around the globe as proud agents of change, proud citizens of the world and proud graduates of St. George’s University. Bloom in your dry season.”
In addition to the three lessons imparted by the keynote speaker, in her valedictory address, Nanditha Guruvaiah, BSc ’19, offered three ingredients in order to succeed at SGU—willpower, a plan, and not enough time in the day.
“The will to succeed, the aspiration to win, and the impulse to maximize your full potential are the keys that will unlock the pathway to individual greatness,” said Ms. Guruvaiah. “St. George’s University has given us the key that will unlock a future of endless opportunities. Let us use it to solve global issues and become the change we want to see in this world.”
Also addressing her fellow graduates was the class speaker for the School of Graduate Studies, Tyann Gabriel, MD ’15. She too offered up her own nine lessons as reminders for the students as they continued along their journeys. Her words of wisdom included having goals but remembering to be flexible, making time for self-reflection, seizing the moment, creating change, and knowing that the journey doesn’t end here today.
“Today I urge you, I challenge you to continue to think beyond,” said Dr. Gabriel. “I challenge you to go beyond. Go beyond all your uncertainties. Go beyond all your fears. I challenge each and everyone one of us to go beyond excellence.”
– Ray-Donna Peters
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Following visits to NU’s campus in Newcastle, United Kingdom, by the dean, Professor Aqeel Al-Barqawee and nine other Al-Qadisiyah faculty members; Drs. Nahidh Al-Jaberi, clinical instructor; Gordon Bourne, MD ’17 clinical tutor; and James Coey, assistant dean of basic science were invited to deliver keynotes at a conference attended by more than 1,000 participants. Delegates included Professor Emad Aldin Toma, chairman of the Iraqi Medical Council, representatives of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Minister of Health, as well as participants from nations including Australia, India, Turkey, and Pakistan.
“The attendance at conference of our international friends from SGU has reinforced our commitment to strengthening academic collaboration between Iraqi medical schools and international counterparts,” said Professor Ferdous Al-Tarahi, president of University of Al-Qadasiyah. “We are now developing plans to send students and faculty members for training in UK hospitals and medical schools.”
Dr. Al-Jaberi is a graduate of Al-Nahrain College of Medicine in Baghdad, and trained as a physician at Al-Kadhimiya Teaching Hospital. He went on to head of Department of Histology and Embryology at the hospital, and is now a discipline manager and clinical instructor at SGU/NU. He pointed out that Iraq has historically been a center of medical education going back to the establishment of Mesopotamia.
“That rich history means that, in spite of the recent past, its medical practitioners and educators remain committed to excellence and keen to engage with the international medical community,” he said.
Dr. Coey is a firm proponent of enabling future physicians to provide evidence-based medicine through “evidence-based medical education.” The advancement of medical education in Iraq has been hindered by the academic isolation brought about by conflict, sanctions, and terrorism over the past 30 years.
“As physicians working in the field of medical education, we have a moral and ethical obligation to share best practice so as to enhance patient outcomes across the globe,” he said.
The SGU/NU program (formerly the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program) was established to provide students with the opportunity to study within and experience a different healthcare environment and culture. Sharing and exchanging knowledge internationally are at the heart of the program’s ethos.
SGU has been an innovator in the field of medical education over the past 40 years, being the first medical school of its kind in the Caribbean. It has now educated more international medical students than all US medical schools combined and contributed more than 16,000 physicians from over 140 countries to the global physician workforce.
The SGU MD program is underpinned by small group sessions of 6-8 students facilitated by medically qualified clinical tutors and instructors. Gordon Bourne, MD ’17, clinical tutor and grandson of Geoffrey Bourne, SGU’s first vice Chancellor, believes that “using clinical tutors not only reinforces the clinically relevant aspects to prehospital studies but also engenders professionalism through near peer mentorship.”
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A total of 61 abstracts have been submitted for consideration to the annual conference of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC), which is to be hosted by St. George’s University on May 21-23, 2019. The conference, titled “Students: Our Common Wealth – A Focus on Student Success,” will hear from international representatives from throughout the commonwealth on how educational institutions can ensure students get the most out of their studies.
Submissions include oral presentations, poster presentations, and workshops, and cover a range of topics based on delegates’ extensive experience working in education. Topics on accessibility include “Inclusive Education in Ghana: Barriers Faced by Deaf and Blind Students in accessing Higher Education”; “An exploration of the inclusion of students with special needs in traditional schools in the Eastern Caribbean region”; and “Supporting Individuals with dis(Abilities) Through Universal Design in Learning”. Those interested in early years learning will have the chance to listen to presentations including “Designing a STEM Program for Delivery in Primary Education Settings; and “Can Reflection Help Junior Educators Teach Better?”. Extracurricular measures will also be up for discussion, as attendees consider an “Assessment of Pet Ownership on Student Academic Performance.”
The conference will also showcase a Technology Test Kitchen, an interactive space offering a hands-on experience for attendees to learn and explore how to integrate and apply technologies for educational purposes.
Conference attendees will include The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, who will deliver a keynote address. It is hoped that a delegation from the University of Nairobi will also be in attendance to prepare the ground for the CEC’s conference in 2021, which it will host. A delegation from the University of Namibia, which hosted the 2019 conference, will be led by Professor Kenneth Matengu.
“We are delighted to welcome international delegates from across the Commonwealth to our conference on the theme of student success,” said Sonny Leong CBE, Chairman of the CEC. The fact that these include representatives from the University of Namibia, our former hosts, and the University of Nairobi who will host us in two years’ time, demonstrates the value of these international events in creating lasting pan-Commonwealth networks.”
Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University, said, “I am pleased that the response to our call for abstracts has resulted in so many responses on a wide range of topics. SGU’s faculty and students represent some 140 countries around the world, and this conference is an excellent opportunity for them to share their experience with Commonwealth education leaders, as well as hearing new perspectives from our esteemed attendees.”
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As part of its mission of diversifying the face of medicine, St. George’s University chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) hosted a mini medical school for students from Westmorland Secondary School (WSS) in hopes of sparking their interest in becoming Grenada’s future physicians.
SNMA members set up interactive medical stations that allowed the 22 high schoolers to receive hands-on lessons such as listening to a person’s heartbeat and lungs, identifying signs of anemia, and learning to take a patient’s pulse rate. WSS students also enjoyed the physical education station, where they participated in a relay race promoting physical fitness.
“Our students always enjoy learning outside of a classroom setting,” said Mr. Frankie Noel, chemistry teacher and lab technician at WSS. “Sharing in the mini med school experience and hearing directly from SGU medical students what it’s like becoming a doctor has definitely convinced many of our students to strive to become physicians at St. George’s.”
Along with a presentation on sickle cell disease and diabetes, two common conditions affecting many Grenadians, the visiting students learned about the different components of the blood, how to perform CPR, and how to conduct mini objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE). At the end of the day, the young visitors took part in a mini-graduation ceremony and were treated to taking photos while dressed in the white coats of the SNMA members.
“One of the primary purposes of SNMA is to serve the health needs of underserved communities and communities of color,” stated fifth-term medical student Michelle Adibe, who serves as president of SNMA. “Through our outreach and education programs like the mini med school program, we give students of our host country a chance to feel what it’s like to be a doctor for a day. We hope that by exposing them to medicine as an occupation we can show them that it is possible and that we’re rooting for them.”
SNMA chapters based at allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the US are committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians. In addition, SNMA serves as a credible and accurate source of information relevant to minority issues in the field of medical education.
– Ray-Donna Peters
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Faculty, students, and local and regional citizens recently descended on Louis and Marion Modica Hall for the 18th St. George’s University Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day, during which a record 145 presentations were showcased.
Of the presentations, 79 were posters and 66 were oral presentations. A faculty panel made up of judges from SGU and outside of the University reviewed the submissions, choosing three to four winners for each category based on originality, scientific merit, and level of involvement. Three winners were selected for Best Faculty and four for Best Student Oral Presentations, and three for Best Faculty and Best Student Poster Presentations each.
“This year’s Research Day received the largest number of submissions of both poster and oral presentations in its 25-year history,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, director of research at St. George’s University. “This event saw the sharing of scholarly contributions from students, faculty and collaborators. Many thanks to all who presented, attended, or assisted with this year’s Research Day and made it such a memorable one.”
In addition to the faculty and students from all four schools at SGU, faculty from T.A. Marryshow Community College, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the University of the West Indies also presented at the conference. Co-authoring the work featured was an impressive list of collaborators from 14 countries and representing more than 50 institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Oxford, the University of Sydney, Temasek in Singapore, and Pretoria in South Africa.
St. George’s University Research Day began in 1994 as a means to disseminate outcomes of research being conducted by faculty and students at the University, which at the time comprised the Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies. With the expansion of the University’s programs and the development of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, the Alpha Delta Chapter of Phi Zeta Honor Society for veterinary medical students held its first Research Emphasis Day in February 2010 combining with the University-wide Research Day. The Society aims to foster the constant advancement of the veterinary profession, higher education, and scholarship, and to promote research in matters pertaining to the welfare and disease of animals. In keeping with the emphasis on One Health One Medicine, Phi Zeta conducts its Research Emphasis Day in collaboration with the other schools at the University. The next SGU Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day is scheduled for October 24, 2020.
Best Faculty Oral Presentation
Dr. Bhumika Sharma – SVM
Dr. Damian Greaves – SAS
Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson – SOM
Best Student Oral Presentation
Amber Lee – SVM
Masha Phillip – SAS
Matthew Carvey and Paul Feliu – SOM
Best Faculty Poster Presentation
Dr. Naudia Dundas – SVM
Gwen Burbank – SAS
Rachael George-St. Bernard – SOM
Best Student Poster Presentation
Lauren Kiebler – SVM
Zoya Buckmire – SAS
Jennifer Nguyen – SOM
Phi Zeta plaques/certificates were awarded to the following students for their participation: Yu Wang, Sarah Tabin, Chris Memonagle, Monica Tetnowski, Caitlin Moraland, Lindsey Hattaway, Andy Hsueh, Teresa Monroe, Dexton St. Bernard, Jaelene Haynes, Katelyn Thille, Nia Rametta, Shekinah Morris, Vishakha Vasuki, Devin Cruz-Gardillo, Haidi Janicke, and Alexandra Baker.
– Ray-Donna Peters
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With 390 million dengue infections per year and 96 million more individuals showing symptoms, half of the world’s population is now at risk of contracting dengue virus, this according to Dr. Timothy Endy at the 20th annual WINDREF Lecture at St. George’s University. In his address, the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at SUNY Upstate Medical University outlined the history of dengue research in Thailand and shared his key findings and the future directions in the study of the disease.
Additionally, Dr. Endy not only came to Grenada to provide an overview of his research across almost three decades but as part of a proposed incidence study titled “Dengue in a Travel Population: Prospective Cohort Study of Primary Dengue Infection.” The study will examine dengue-naïve individuals who move to an endemic dengue area and are now at high risk for infection, while also offering an opportunity to study the immunology of primary infection.
Dr. Timothy Endy
“The Grenada prospective dengue study is the first of its kind, in that a primary prospective study has never been done,” stated Dr. Endy. “Understanding what happens during that first infection is so key and so understudied that it’s one of the main reasons why we’re doing it here at SGU.”
Funded by Janssen Global Public Health, a division of Janssen Pharmaceutica, the study began on August 2018 and will run until May 2021. Approximately 600 students are enrolled. They will provide blood samples for research surveillance throughout the year with the primary objective of determining what the incidence of dengue is within the student population, as well as the feasibility to support a prophylactic dengue efficacy trial.
“The study will focus on the incidence of infection of the dengue virus in the student body with hopes of providing a better understanding of the host response to the first dengue infection,” explained Dr. Endy. “Additionally, we hope it will help to refine diagnostic assays for dengue which is essential for diagnosing acute dengue and vaccine development; and be a platform in which to test the effectiveness of drugs and vaccines in a traveler’s population.”
As professor and chair of microbiology and immunology and vice chair of research in the Department of Medicine at Upstate, Dr. Endy is considered a renowned expert in the field of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever and emerging viral pathogens. During his longstanding career, he has conducted basic science research in the field of virology, developed vaccine field and epidemiological study sites in Southeast and Central Asia, conducted phase I and II clinical vaccine trials, and is active in the development and management of research programs that are product oriented towards developing vaccines and diagnostics that meet FDA regulatory requirements.
Formerly known as the annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture, the WINDREF Lecture attracts the attention of world experts willing to share their expertise on topics such as climate change, health needs, and drug abuse and addictions. Past speakers have included Dr. Robert C. Gallo, best known for his role in the discovery of the HIV’s link to AIDS; Dr. Ruth Macklin, a bioethics pioneer; and renowned cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster.