May 2024

UMSOM Graduates Have ‘Toolkits to Transform Human Health’

May 29, 2024    |  

Graduates in the Class of 2024 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) gathered at the Hippodrome Theatre on May 16, along with their families, friends, and UMSOM faculty and staff, to celebrate their official transition from medical students to physicians. UMSOM Dean Mark T. Gladwin, MD, vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, presided over the ceremony marking his second UMSOM graduation as the 31st dean of the school. The graduating class of 142 physicians received their doctoral hoods, and several graduates earned combined MD/Master's and MD/PhD degrees.

In his address to the class, Gladwin focused on the “gray tsunami” that would be confronting this new generation of doctors and require a deep understanding of geriatrics and age being a primary risk factor for disease.

“As physicians, even as newly minted interns on the wards, you will be considered role models in what you say and do,” Gladwin said. “You will have to communicate what you’ve learned through the COVID-19 pandemic about science, and knowledge, and compassion.”

From left, Associate Dean Joseph Martinez, graduate Zachary Brilliant, and Dean Mark Gladwin

From left, Associate Dean Joseph Martinez, graduate Zachary Brilliant, and Dean Mark Gladwin

In addition to remarks from Gladwin and selected faculty and students, the ceremony featured a keynote address to the Class of 2024 by Martine Rothblatt, PhD, JD, MBA, chairperson and CEO of United Therapeutics and inventor of SiriusXM Satellite Radio. She was presented with a Dean’s Distinguished Gold Medal in recognition of her high-impact contributions to medicine and science and in acknowledgment of her commitment to significantly improving the health and well-being of humankind.

(See photo gallery below.)

United Therapeutics, the biotech company founded by Rothblatt, helped fund and establish the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program at UMSOM, which led to the world’s first two transplants of genetically modified pig organs into living patients.

Rothblatt’s inspiring keynote address focused on the need for doctors to pursue new treatments for “incurable” diseases despite formidable odds of success and forces pushing against them. She spoke movingly of the fight she waged to find a cure for her young daughter’s life-threatening illness, which led her to found a biotech company and raise money to test a potential treatment. “Two decades later, she is still alive,” Rothblatt said.

She provided this advice to the graduating students: “You have 360 degrees of application for the medical degrees you are receiving today. In them you will find the toolkits to transform human health, from one-on-one patient care visits, to unfairly neglected communities, to our ongoing battle against literally thousands of diseases, many of which do not yet have cures.”

Zachary Brilliant was presented with the Balder Scholarship Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. He will complete his residency in urology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Steven Joseph Gercken, Katherine Potocka, and Emma Hannah Silverman were awarded the Faculty Gold Medal for Outstanding Qualifications for the Practice of Medicine. Gercken will complete his residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Potocka will complete her residency in internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Silverman will complete her residency in internal medicine/emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

UMSOM Graduation 2024