PhD Lab Coat Ceremony

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will hold its 2nd annual PhD Lab Coat Ceremony on September 9, 2019 beginning at 4:00 pm in the Goldwurm Auditorium. This Ceremony celebrates newly matriculated PhD students in the Biomedical Sciences and Neuroscience programs and recognizes our graduate students who have confirmed their PhD candidature by successfully defending their thesis proposal exams.

The keynote speaker for this year's 2019 PhD Lab Coat ceremony will be Francesca Cole. Dr. Cole received her PhD training in biomedical sciences from the Icahn School School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2003 where she studied the roles of CDO in midline development and skeletal myogenesis with Dr. Rob Krauss. Dr. Cole was recruited to University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as an Assistant Professor in 2012 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2018. Her laboratory studies how DNA repair by homologous recombination ensures accurate chromosome segregation into sperm and eggs. She is a CPRIT Scholar, R. Lee Clark Fellow, and NIH New Innovator awardee.

In 2018, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences held its inaugural PhD Lab Coat Ceremony, making Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai the first school of its kind to host a PhD Lab Coat Ceremony in New York City. Marta Filizola, PhD, Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, said of the ceremony: “At the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, we are excited to be the first in New York City, and one of the few institutions in the country, to hold a PhD Lab Coat ceremony to celebrate this important milestone in the lives of PhD students.” Highlights from the inaugural 2018 PhD Lab Coat Ceremony are below.

The ceremony opened with welcome remarks by Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System.  Dean Charney said of the new PhD matriculating class, “This is the strongest class academically that we have ever admitted to Mount Sinai, which means it’s one of the top PhD classes in the United States.”

Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs and Director of the Friedman Brain Institute, addressed the new class and explained the importance of conducting this inaugural and unique event for our PhD students: “We believe this is a very important milestone because of the increased scrutiny placed on the nation’s biomedical research enterprise and the unique responsibility that each of you will take once you complete your training.” Dr. Nestler concluded with “We owe our fellow citizens meaningful research that we can trust and that will matter, that means research that will contribute to the fundamental advances of science and medicine.”

Peter Palese, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at Mount Sinai, introduced the keynote speaker, Vincent Racaniello, PhD, Higgins Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Palese told the compelling story of his first PhD student, Dr. Racaniello, and the progression of his education, career and accolades.

Dr. Racaniello is a renowned member of the scientific community. Currently, he is an active researcher at Columbia University and creator of the social network for scientists, BioCrowd. Dr. Racaniello is also the recipient of several awards including the Searle Scholars Award and the Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award.  During his keynote address, Dr. Racaniello addressed the new class:

“You are just beginning what I think is the best career you can have: a career in science. Notice that I didn’t call it a job, because it’s not. Nor are you entitled to a career in science: it is a privilege, not a right. You have to earn that right, and to do so won’t be easy. You’ll work harder than most of your peers, and for less money. But a career in science is not about money: it’s about changing the world.”

Dr. Racaniello continued with advice for our PhD students derived from his own experience, “43 years in science have taught me many other important lessons. One worth telling you is that science is not about you. It is not about building a big lab, scoring many research grants, publishing papers in prominent journals, or even winning a Nobel Prize. It is about discovery. It is about understanding how life works. Everything else is second to that goal.”

Congratulations to all students who were honored in this inaugural ceremony and a warm welcome to our new matriculating PhD class! We look forward to conquering more milestones with you.