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Celebrating collaboration, UMass Chan launches the ‘Advancing Together’ brand

At the Advancing Together launch event, members of the UMass Chan community were invited to share how they are advancing the mission together. Hundreds responded. (photo: Faith Ninivaggi)

Collaboration and collegiality are the qualities that help UMass Chan Medical School advance innovation; attract some of the world’s greatest minds; and train the next generation of physicians, nurse leaders and scientists. On Sept. 6, faculty, staff and students gathered to celebrate the launch of UMass Chan’s new brand, Advancing Together.

Activities took place in the lobbies of the Medical School building and Albert Sherman Center, where selfie and button-making stations were set up, along with giveaway tables and an invitation to members of the UMass Chan community to share stories of how they are advancing the UMass Chan mission together.

Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Marlina Duncan, EdD, takes a moment to peruse the Advancing Together brochure.
(photo: Faith Ninivaggi)

“We have the opportunity to attract learners, faculty and staff who could really go anywhere in the world. But they choose to come here because the culture of collaboration is something they see from the very beginning,” Chancellor Michael F. Collins said.
“The ability to change the course of the history of disease is right before us. The faculty come together knowing that. They come to a place where they can dream again, where they can know that they’re going to be among the finest minds that exist anywhere in the world, and where each person in the community cares for the other. That’s a very special place to be.” ■


Katie Couric delivered a warm, frank and humorous address that encouraged grads to challenge an inequitable health care system and maintain a human connection with their patients.
(photo: Rob Carlin)

UMass Chan Medical School welcomed graduates, family, friends, alumni and faculty to the campus green in June for the 50th Commencement, celebrating classes from the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the T.H. Chan School of Medicine. 

Katie Couric, former host of NBC’s Today Show and anchor of CBS Evening News, and co-founder of cancer research charity Stand Up To Cancer, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and delivered the Commencement address.

Couric shared her personal story of overcoming the tragic losses of her husband to colon cancer and her sister to pancreatic cancer, as well as her own battle with breast cancer. She encouraged graduates to challenge an inequitable health care system and to maintain a human connection with their patients, especially as technology in medicine continues to evolve.

“You are my heroes,” Couric said. “You save lives. Your work changes lives. You are there for others in times of great joy and times of tremendous sadness. Whether you’re delivering difficult news or delivering a baby, encouraging a patient to take
their meds or checking their vitals, discovering a new drug for ALS or overseeing a promising clinical trial, you matter so much.”

Honorary degrees were awarded to Luke O’Neill, PhD, chair and professor of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin and trusted voice for science and public health in Ireland; and Tania Issa Semaan, chair of Blu Stone Management Ltd, and co-founder and director of The Semaan Foundation, a philanthropic organization supporting efforts in the fields of education, health care and social welfare.

Chancellor Michael F. Collins presided over the ceremony, presenting 151 Doctor of Medicine degrees, 10 MD/PhD degrees, 62 Doctor of Philosophy degrees, five Master of Science in Clinical Investigation degrees, 54 Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees, three PhD in Nursing degrees, and one postgraduate certificate.

“There is a simple truth. Nursing, science and medicine at their best are what our graduates represent,” said Chancellor Collins, remarking on the extraordinary challenges many of the students faced when the COVID-19 pandemic hit within months of their arrival at UMass Chan. “Today, all of you are bound by an unmistakable realization that you have been changed by your time at this medical school and by once unimaginable challenges. Throughout our time together, we have been guided by a mission to change the course of the history of disease.” ■

Stole ceremony renamed to honor longtime diversity advocate

Back row, left to right: Sarah Ferreira, Dalton Mourao, Dr. Hines, Xingchen Liu, Jen Velasquez, Badu Adjei. Front row, left to right: Linh Nguyen, Salome Funes, Kelly Garcia, Karina Michaela Del Mundo. (photo: Rob Carlin)

The UMass Chan chapter of White Coats for Black Lives and the Diversity and Inclusion Office presented vibrant stoles to graduating students of color at the Deborah Harmon Hines, PhD, Commencement Celebration on June 2.

Students from the three schools chose from two stole options made of Kente fabric from Ghana, West Africa, to wear at UMass Chan’s 50th Commencement.

While this UMass Chan tradition was established in 2021 by Abiola Ogunsola and Zach Dyer, MD/PhD students and co-presidents of the UMass Chan chapter of White Coats for Black Lives, this year the ceremony was named in honor of Dr. Hines, who retired as vice provost for school services and professor of radiology and nursing in 2017.

“Something isn't real until it has a name,” said Marlina Duncan, EdD, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, as she kicked off festivities. “This ceremony needed to have a name that exemplifies what it means to get to this level of success
from an underrepresented and marginalized background. What name would exemplify strength, passion, perseverance, community and love? What name exemplifies that your dreams are no longer deferred? That name is Dr. Deborah Harmon Hines.”

Milestone year for the UMass Cancer Walk

Dean Terence R. Flotte; UMass Cancer Center Director Jonathan Gerber, MD; and UMass Cancer Walk co-founder Dottie Manning (front row from left) join the UMass Chan Cancer Research Team at Polar Park.
(photo: Phil Smith)

More than 2,500 people took part in the 25th annual UMass Cancer Walk presented by Harr Toyota at Polar Park on Sept. 24. Participants raised nearly $750,000 to support adult and pediatric cancer research and clinical trials at UMass Chan Medical School.

Dottie Manning, co-founder of the walk, who has personally been touched by cancer, spoke before the event about what brings everyone together.

“I know you! And while I might not know your name, I know you and see you when I go for my yearly mammogram. I recognize your face in the grocery store, at the doctor’s office and see you going to school. I know you as someone who has or is dealing with cancer, possibly your own cancer, your family member’s, your loved one’s, or your best friend’s cancer,” Manning said.

Since its establishment, the UMass Cancer Walk has raised more than $16.7 million. ■

Convocation and Investiture celebrate symphony of collaboration at UMass Chan

The 2023 Chancellor’s medal recipients, from left, are Kathryn Edmiston, MD, for clinical excellence; Jill Terrien, PhD, for distinguished service; Susan Zweizig, MD, for distinguished teaching; and Douglas Golenbock, MD, for distinguished scholarship, with Chancellor Collins, center. (photo: John Gillooly/pei)

In his annual Convocation address to the UMass Chan Medical School community on Sept. 14, Chancellor Michael F. Collins embraced the Medical School’s new brand, “Advancing Together,” and was supported by an ensemble of local musicians who helped illustrate the symphony of collaboration that exists across the UMass Chan campus.

“As we gather for this convocation . . . we are surrounded by the spirit of innovation and the pursuit of excellence,” Chancellor Collins said. “We are reminded of the transformative power of collaboration, which at UMass Chan is not a marriage of convenience, but a purposeful and intentional commitment to a greater good.”

A highlight of the ceremony was the announcement of the recipients of the 2023 Chancellor’s Medals for excellence in teaching, scholarship, service and clinical excellence. Additionally, four faculty members were invested into endowed chairs.

Andres Schanzer, MD, professor of surgery and population & quantitative health sciences and chief of the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, was invested as the inaugural Cutler Chair in Vascular and Endovascular Surgery.

Michael A. Brehm, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine, principal investigator of the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence and co-director of the humanized mouse core facility, was invested as the inaugural Harvey A. Shultz Chair
in Diabetes.

Sharon B. Cantor, PhD, professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology, was invested as the Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Oncology.

Vaikom S. Mahadevan, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, was invested as the Edward Budnitz, MD, Professor in Cardiovascular Medicine. ■

Newly invested faculty members Vaikom S. Mahadevan, MD; Sharon B. Cantor, PhD; Andres Schanzer, MD; and Michael A. Brehm, PhD, flanked by Dean Terence R. Flotte (left) and Chancellor Collins (right). 
(photo: John Gillooly/pei)

New education and research building nears completion

(photo: Faith Ninivaggi)

The new education and research building under construction at UMass Chan in Worcester is now weather-tight and connected to the campus utility systems. Up to 300 people are working in the building daily to complete the labs, offices and common areas so the building will be ready to open in June 2024. ■