2022 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Academic Convocation and Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Commencement

Established in 2004 with a landmark gift from Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., Vice Chair of the MSK Boards of Overseers and Managers, the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSK) admitted its first class in the summer of 2006. The school offers the next generation of biomedical scientists an intensive PhD program that trains them to investigate and attack cancer through the twin lenses of basic research and real-life clinical challenges.

GSK faculty are nationally recognized scientists working at the forefront of biomedical research, and the curriculum takes advantage of the unique integration of the basic science and clinical arms of Memorial Sloan Kettering. An intensive lab-work model, along with the opportunity to observe firsthand how research findings are applied, ensures that GSK graduates are well positioned to close the gap between basic and clinical research.

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On Wednesday, May 18, Memorial Sloan Kettering and the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School celebrated the annual Convocation and Commencement event, recognizing academic award winners and new PhD graduates.

2022 Honorary Degree and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Biomedical Research

Levi A. Garraway, MD, PhD

Levi A. Garraway, MD, PhD

Levi A. Garraway, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President, Head of Product Development, and Chief Medical Officer, Genentech/Roche

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Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, is Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President for Roche and Genentech, where he leads product development, oversees all aspects of late-stage clinical development, and co-chairs the late-stage portfolio committee. He is also a member of Genentech’s Board of Directors. Prior to joining Genentech and Roche, Dr. Garraway served as Senior Vice President, Oncology Research and Development and Novel Target Research, at Eli Lilly and Company. Before that, he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, an associate professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Harvard Medical School, and an Institute Member of the Broad Institute, where he led a research group that studied cancer genomics and drug resistance and developed a platform for systematic cancer mutation profiling. While in Boston, he also served as the inaugural director of the Joint Center for Cancer Precision Medicine. Dr. Garraway is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the American Association for Cancer Research Academy, and the National Academy of Medicine and has received numerous awards, including the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). He serves on several advisory boards and committees, including the Board of Scientific Consultants at MSK. He received AB, MD, and PhD degrees from Harvard; completed postdoctoral training in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital; and trained as a fellow in medical oncology at DFCI.

Past GSK Honorary Doctorate of Science Recipients

  • 2021: Dr. Joan Steitz
  • 2020: Dr. James P. Allison
  • 2019: Dr. Kenneth J. Marians
  • 2018: Dr. Cori Bargmann
  • 2017: Dr. Robert Langer
  • 2016: Dr. Joan S. Brugge
  • 2015: Dr. Robert A. Weinberg
  • 2014: Dr. Thomas J. Kelly
  • 2013: Dr. Paul A. Marks
  • 2012: Mr. Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., and Dr. Harold E. Varmus
Corina Amor Vegas, PhD

Corina Amor Vegas, PhD
From Cancer to Aging: Harnessing CAR T Cells
Mentor: Scott W. Lowe, PhD

Kevin Michael Boehm, PhD

Kevin Michael Boehm, PhD
​​​​Multimodal Models to Stratify Ovarian
Mentor: Sohrab P. Shah, PhD


Jacob A. Boyer, PhD

Jacob A. Boyer, PhD
​​​​​​Estrogen Receptor Alpha Translation: Mechanistic Insights and Therapeutic Implications
Mentor: Neal X. Rosen, MD, PhD


Hsuan-An Chen, PhD

Hsuan-An Chen, PhD
Senescence Rewires the Microenvironment Sensing Program to Facilitate Immune Surveillance
Mentor: Scott W. Lowe, PhD


Rui Gao, PhD

Rui Gao, PhD 
Novel Approaches for in vitro and in vivo Manipulation of the Mouse Genome
Mentor: Andrea Ventura, MD, PhD


Emily R. Kansler, PhD

Emily R. Kansler, PhD
​​​​​​An Innate Lymphocyte Cancer Cell Sensing Program Governs Immunosurveillance of Human and Murine Malignancies
Mentor: Ming Li, PhD


Amy Shyu, PhD

Amy Shyu, PhD
Metabolic Regulation of T Lymphocytes in Infection and Cancer
Mentor: Ming Li, PhD


Sarah Shiann Tang, PhD

Sarah Shiann Tang, PhD
Molecular Mechanisms of BTK Dependency in Primary CNS Lymphoma
Mentor: Ingo K. Mellinghoff, MD


Recognition of the Doctoral Dissertation Research


Sloan Kettering Division/Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences
  • Oyindamola Adefisayo
    Transcriptional and Post-Translational Regulation of the DNA Damage Response in Mycobacteria
    Mentor: Michael Glickman, MD
  • Anthony C. Antonelli
    Mechanisms of Anti-Tumor Immunity Induced By Mycobacterium Bovis BCG Therapy for Bladder Cancer
    Mentor: Michael Glickman, MD
  • Craig M. Bielski
    The Evolutionary Significance and Clinical Ramifications of Mutant Allele Imbalance
    Mentor: Nikolaus Schultz, PhD
  • Gabriele Campanella
    Diagnostic Decision Support Systems for Computational Pathology in Cancer Care
    Mentor: Thomas J. Fuchs, Dr.Sc
  • Ruoyao Chen
    Entosis is Induced by UV Radiation
    Mentor: Michael H. Overholtzer, PhD
  • Karen L. Chu
    Identifying the MUSASHI-2 Targeting Network and its Functional Impact in Normal and Malignant Blood
    Mentors: Michael Kharas, PhD and Christina Leslie, PhD
  • Stanislav Dikiy
    The Role of Epigenetic Regulation of Foxp3 Expression and Regulatory T cell Differentiation in Supporting Immune Tolerance and Organismal Homeostasis
    Mentor: Alexander Rudensky, PhD
  • Madeline A. Dorso
    Characterization of the FOXA1-Glucocorticoid Receptor Complex as a Therapeutic Target in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
    Mentor: Sarat Chandarlapaty, MD, PhD
  • Arijh Elzein
    Predicting Oncogenic p110δ Mutants Using A Quantitative Paralogy Algorithm
    Mentor: David B. Solit, MD
  • Sofia Elena Vaccarino Gearty
    Autoimmune CD8 T cell Differentiation and Fate Diversification in Type 1 Diabetes
    Mentor: Andrea Schietinger, PhD
  • Andrew Griswold
    Characterization of the DPP8/9 Pyroptotic Checkpoints
    Mentor: Daniel Bachovchin, PhD
  • Sara Lynn Haddock
    Phenotypic and Molecular States of IDH1 Mutation-Induced CD24-Positive Glioma Stem-Like Cells
    Mentor: Timothy Chan, MD, PhD
  • Jakob M. Hebert
    The SWI/SNF-related Protein SMARCA3 is a Histone H3K23Ubiquitin Ligase that Regulates H3K9me3 in Cancer
    Mentor: Yael David, PhD
  • Emiliano J. Hergenreder
    Phenotypic Screen Identifies a Combined Small Molecule Strategy to Accelerate the Maturation of Human Stem Cell-derived Neurons
    Mentor: Lorenz Studer, MD
  • Pei-Ching Huang
    Chromatin Remodeler Fun30 Promotes Efficient DSB End Resection and Recombination During Yeast Meiosis
    Mentor: Scott Keeney, PhD
  • Chenura D. Jayewickreme
    Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cells in Glioma: An Exploration
    Mentor: Luis F. Parada, PhD
  • Jaclyn Marie Kubala
    The Role of NDUFA4L2 in Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma
    Mentor: Daniel A. Heller, PhD
  • Rachel Langenbacher
    In Situ Hybridization Nanoprobes to Investigate Mu Opioid Receptor Alternative Splicing
    Mentor: Daniel A. Heller, PhD
  • Thomas Li
    The Regulation of Gamma Secretase by Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1α: Implications for Alzheimer’s Disease and Cancer
    Mentor: Yueming Li, PhD
  • Christy Y. Li
    Activation of Acid Sphingomyelinase Signaling via Single-Dose Radiotherapy Converts Radiation-Resistant LGR5+ Cancer Stem Cells into Radiation-Sensitive Cells
    Mentor: Richard N. Kolesnick, MD
  • Xiang Li
    Preclinical Modeling and Assessment of CDK9 Inhibition in Chronic Liver Disease and Cancer
    Mentor: Scott W. Lowe, PhD
  • George Liao
    The Role of γ-Glutamyltransferase1 in the Regulation of γ-Secretase Activity in the Healthy and Diseased Kidney
    Mentor: Yueming Li, PhD
  • Igor Maksimović
    A Chemical Toolbox to Study Histone Glycation
    Mentor: Yael David, PhD
  • Allison G. Moyer
    Tumor-immune Crosstalk in a Recently Characterized Form of BAX/BAK-dependent Cell Death
    Mentor: Emily Cheng, MD, PhD
  • Hassan Muhammad
    Leveraging Deep Learning on Medical Imaging and Digital Pathology for Disease Detection and Prognostic Modelling
    Mentor: Thomas J. Fuchs, Dr.Sc
  • Veronica L. Nagle
    ImmunoPET Imaging Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes in Brain Tumors
    Mentors: Ingo K. Mellinghoff, MD and Jason S. Lewis, PhD
  • Elizabeth L. Orth-He
    Aminopeptidase Inhibition Activates the CARD8 and NLRP1 Inflammasomes
    Mentor: Daniel A. Bachovchin, PhD
  • Adewola Osunsade
    Biochemical and Biophysical Characterization of Human Linker Histone Variants
    Mentor: Yael David, PhD
  • Sahana D Rao
    Discovery and Characterization of NLRP1 Inflammasome Activators
    Mentor: Daniel A. Bachovchin, PhD
  • Sara E. Schad
    Tumor-Induced Double Positive T cells Display Distinct Lineage Commitment Mechanisms and Functions
    Mentor: Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD
  • Ramya Sridharan
    Caveolin-mediated Transport as a Driver of Drug Delivery in KRAS Mutant Cancers
    Mentor: Daniel A. Heller, PhD
  • Lisa Standke
    Development of Pharmacologically Optimized Inhibitors of M. tuburculosis MbtA as Novel Antibiotics
    Mentor: Derek S. Tan, PhD
  • Evan P. Stater
    Improving the Response of a Treatment-refractory Cancer to Monoclonal Antibody Immunotherapy by Nanodelivery of an Immunostimulatory Adjunct Drug
    Mentor: Jan Grimm, MD, PhD
  • Colin P Tang
    Paradoxical GCN2 Kinase Activation Enhances Antitumor Activity of Kinase Inhibitors
    Mentor: Ingo K. Mellinghoff, MD
  • Kathryn Margaret Tully
    Radioimmunotherapy and ImmunoPET Imaging Targeting Delta-like Ligand 3 in Small Cell Lung Cancer
    Mentors: Jason S. Lewis, PhD and Charles Rudin, MD, PhD
  • Mitchell S. Wang
    Mechanoregulation of Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Killing
    Mentor: Morgan Huse, PhD
  • Joshua M Weiss
    Anatomic Position Determines Oncogenic Specificity in Melanoma
    Mentor: Richard M. White, MD, PhD
  • Nicole Weiss
    Leveraging BPPM Technology to Investigate Noncanonical Histone Targets of Protein Methyltransferases DOT1L and NSD2
    Mentor: Minkui Luo, PhD
  • Chensu Xie
    Cutting the Edge of Computational Pathology: From Domain Knowledge Representation to Explorative Modelling
    Mentor: Thomas J. Fuchs, Dr.Sc

2022 Award Winners


Research Awards
  • Dorris J. Hutchison Graduate Fellowship
    • Recognizes outstanding research under the mentorship of an MSK faculty member
    • Awarded to Paolo Giovanelli
  • Barbara and Stephen Friedman Graduate Fellowship
  • Bruce Charles Forbes Fellowship
  • General Atlantic Award
  • MERIT Mandel Graduate Fellowshop
  • MERIT Mandel Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • MERIT Sawyers Fellowship
  • Marie-Josée Kravis Women in Science Endeavor Graduate Fellowship
  • Marie-Josée Kravis Women in Science Endeavor Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Postdoctoral Research Awards
  • Tri-Institutional Breakout Prize for Junior Investigators
    • Established by leaders from The Rockefeller University, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to recognize exceptional current postdoctoral trainees at each of the three institutions who have made significant research contributions
  • Louise and Allston Boyer Young Investigator Award for Basic Research
    • Honors researchers at the Associate level or below who have demonstrated great promise and accomplishment in laboratory investigations
    • Awarded to Lydia Finley, PhD
  • Katharine Berkan Judd Award Lectureship
    • Recognizes an individual who has made great advancements in the understanding of cancer through basic discovery
    • Awarded to Carol Prives, PhD
Clinical Awards
  • Louise and Allston Boyer Young Investigator Award for Clinical Research
    • Honors physicians at the Associate level or below who have demonstrated great promise and accomplishment in clinical investigations
    • Awarded to Alex Drilon, MD
  • Willet F. Whitmore Award for Clinical Excellence
    • Honors a clinician whose talent, dedication, and compassion reflect the standards set by Willet F. Whitmore during his more than 46 years of service at Memorial Sloan Kettering
    • Awarded to Mini Kamboj, MD
  • C. Chester Stock Award Lectureship
    • Given annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the advancement of cancer therapy
    • Awarded to Kevin M. Shokat, PhD
    • Join the Stock Award lecture titled, “Targeting Undrugged Driver Oncogenes and Tumor Suppressors”, on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 9:00-10:00 a.m. RRL Auditorium or Zoom Webinar (Passcode: 272314)
  • The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Prize
    • Recognizes individuals who have made significant or groundbreaking contributions to pediatric oncology, highlighting the long-standing and future-facing partnerships between The Society and MSK and affirming the global leadership of MSK in the field of pediatric oncology
    • Awarded to Richard Gilbertson