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PhD Lab Coat Ceremony

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai hosted the 6th Annual PhD Lab Coat Ceremony on Monday, September 18th at 4:00pm. This Ceremony celebrated the newly matriculated PhD students in the Biomedical Sciences, Neuroscience and Clinical Research programs.

On Monday, September 18, 2023, first year PhD and third year MD-PhD students from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai were celebrated at our 6th annual Lab Coat Ceremony. It was a rainy day, but spirits were high as the students, faculty, family, and friends arrived at Goldwurm Auditorium for the presentation of lab coats.

Marta Filizola, PhD, the Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Sharon & Frederick A. Klingenstein-Nathan G. Kase, MD Professor, started the ceremony by highlighting the significance of providing the lab coats to students. “We hold this ceremony to mark the start of our students’ journey in academic research and training. The lab coats we present to them are a symbol of the professionalism and authority that trainees develop and foster during their time in our programs.” Mount Sinai offers PhD degrees in biomedical sciences, neuroscience, and clinical research, and a dual MD/PhD medical scientist training program degree.

Dr. Filizola next invited Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Dean for Academic Affairs at Icahn Mount Sinai, and Chief Scientific Officer for the Mount Sinai Health System, to the podium to welcome our students and their guests. Dr. Nestler advised students “As you embark on your graduate school studies and choose a lab for your PhD research, we want you to aim high. Imagine a body of original research that will have an important impact on your field of interest. Don’t settle on a project because it’s easy and doable. Instead, take a chance by working on something that in its own small way will change the world.” Dr. Nestler emphasized that the key ingredients to success in these programs are novelty, importance or relevance of the work, technical innovation, creativity, collaboration, perseverance, and utilizing PIs and peers as a support system.

Bruce Gelb, MD, the Gogel Family Chair and Director of the Mindich Child Health and Development, has known and been a colleague to our keynote speaker Brynn Levy, MSc, MD, and had the honor of introducing him for his speech. He spoke about their shared mentor, Kurt Hirschhorn, Professor of Pediatrics, Genetics and Genomic Sciences, and Medicine Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Gelb also talked about Dr. Levy’s professional journey, from being the first student to get a Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling in South Africa to his current role as the Co-Director of the Division of Personalized Genomic in the Department of Pathology & Cell Biology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Levy’s presentation was interactive and entertaining, and his remarks generated smiles and laughs throughout the audience. He encouraged students to be active participants in their education and to build a professional network. Dr. Levy’s presentation shared highlights of his work, including an example of a biopsy on a human embryo, screening for genetic disorders through blood tests, and how he has traveled around the world for his research. He told students “Treat every day as a learning experience. Identify great mentors and embrace them, as great mentors teach you more than just medicine and science.”

Each student received a lab coat with their name embroidered on the front left. Basil Hanss, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Student and Postdoc Affairs, and Talia Swartz, MD, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for MD-PhD Education, read the names of students to come up and be coated by our Multidisciplinary Training Directors. Dr. Hanss then led the students in reciting the Oath for Doctoral Students to “to uphold the highest levels of integrity, professionalism, scholarship, and honor.” The ceremony concluded with all the coated PhD students turning to face the audience and showing their appreciation of the support they receive with a round of applause.

The ceremony was followed by a reception, which  was filled with newly coated PhD students taking selfies, enjoying food, and being celebrated by family and friends. Congratulations to all of our participating students!