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Katie Couric to deliver address at UMass Chan Medical School’s 50th Commencement

Milestone ceremony to celebrate accomplishments of more than 300 graduating students and award honorary degrees to Tania Semaan, Luke O’Neill and Katie Couric

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

December 06, 2022

Katie Couric, award-winning journalist and trailblazing advocate and fundraiser for cancer research and care, will deliver the Commencement address at UMass Chan Medical School on June 4, 2023, as UMass Chan celebrates its 50th Commencement Exercises.

Tania Semaan, leader of a global investment firm as well as co-founder and director of the Semaan Foundation, established by her late husband, Maroun Semaan, to provide philanthropic support to the fields of education, health care and social welfare; Luke O’Neill, PhD, chair and professor of biochemistry and immunology at Trinity College Dublin and a leading public health voice in Ireland; and Couric will receive honorary degrees as accomplishments of the Classes of 2023 are celebrated.

Katie Couric
(photo: Andrew Eccles)

Katie Couric is an award-winning journalist who anchored NBC’s Today Show, was the first woman to solo anchor the CBS Evening News and more recently founded Katie Couric Media. Her 2021 memoir, Going There, was a New York Times No. 1 best-seller. In 2008, Couric co-founded Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), which has since raised more than $746 million to advance innovative, promising and collaborative cancer research. SU2C-supported research has contributed to nine new FDA-approved treatments. Her influential public advocacy for cancer screening, care and research began, however, in the late 1990s after her husband Jay Monahan died of colon cancer at the age of 42, followed three years later by her sister’s death due to pancreatic cancer. In 2000 Couric famously underwent a colonoscopy on TV, which inspired so many Americans to schedule screenings that doctors dubbed it “the Couric effect.” In September she revealed that she was in treatment after being diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

Tania Issa Semaan

Tania Issa Semaan is co-founder and director of The Semaan Foundation, following her late husband, Maroun Semaan, who established the foundation in 2011. She has been a trustee of the American University of Beirut since 2018 and is an advisory board member for AMIDEAST/Lebanon, while also serving as the chair of Blu Stone Management, Ltd., a global investment firm. Semaan is a champion for progress and prosperity in the Middle East and beyond. The Semaan Foundation contributes to educational and cultural enrichment throughout the world, based on the belief that knowledge and culture are the most precious ingredients for human empowerment. In 2017 the foundation endowed two chairs at UMass Chan that bear the name of Semaan’s beloved late husband. She graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and lives in Dubai with her three daughters.

Luke O’Neill, PhD

Luke O’Neill, PhD, serves as the chair of biochemistry in Trinity College Dublin’s School of Biochemistry and Immunology. His current research aims to elucidate the molecular and cellular basis of the inflammatory response microphage activation and its regulation in health and disease. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. O’Neill has served his native country as a calm, clear-spoken champion of science for the people of Ireland, frequently appearing in print and broadcast news media to explain the evolution and impact of COVID-19. O’Neill is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society, has served as president of the International Cytokine Society and, in 2022, was listed in Thompson/Reuters top 1 percent of scientists in immunology and molecular biology/genetics based on citations. This year he authored two books: Keep Calm and Trust the Science: An Extraordinary Year in the Life of an Immunologist about the pandemic; and What Makes Us Human: A Scientist’s Guide to our Amazing Existence, for younger readers.

Commencement 2023 will take place on the campus green in front of the Lazare Research Building, with more than 300 students from the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing and the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences expected to receive degrees. Guest seating will begin at 11 a.m. with the processional starting at 11:45 a.m. The ceremony will begin promptly at noon and will be available to watch live at www.youtube.com/UMassChanMedicalSchool.