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May 23, 2024

To the YSM Community:

Any medical school dean will tell you that the white coat ceremony, “Match” day, and graduation are highlights of the academic year. Days of joy, these rituals enable us to take time out from the routine and appreciate the talent, excellence, and ideals of our students. This year, listening to former director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, do a riff on COVID-19 to the melody of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence" added an additional therapeutic dose of perspective-setting humor.

Truth be told, there are many such moments and days at Yale School of Medicine (YSM). This spring has been rich with celebrations.

In April, President Salovey hosted the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, convened at Yale by Academy President David W. Oxtoby, to bestow the Francis Amory Prize on Haifan Lin, PhD, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology, professor of genetics, of obstetrics, gynecology, & reproductive sciences, and of dermatology, and founding director of the Yale Stem Cell Center. The prize is given every few years to recognize outstanding achievements in medicine and reproductive physiology and acknowledged Dr. Lin’s discovery of the Argonaute/Piwi gene family and elucidation of their function in stem cell self-renewal and germline development. The award ceremony, which was held on campus, enabled Dr. Lin’s current students, past trainees, family, and peers to join him in celebration.

Just a month later, three new faculty members were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences—Susan Baserga, MD, PhD, William H. Fleming, M.D. Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and professor of genetics and of therapeutic radiology, Marina Picciotto, PhD, Charles B. G. Murphy Professor of Psychiatry, and professor in the Yale Child Study Center, of neuroscience, and of pharmacology, and Karin M. Reinisch, PhD, David W. Wallace Professor of Cell Biology and professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry.

We also gathered to recognize the extraordinary clinical service of Richard Antaya, MD, who was awarded the 2023 David and Cindy Leffell Prize for Clinical Excellence. Dr. Antaya is a pediatric dermatologist who founded the Yale Multidisciplinary Vascular Anomalies Program (VAMP) and directs a pediatric dermatology elective. His remarks relating his own practice to his experience as a father inspired and reminded many of the attendees why we joined medicine. We also honored Joachim Baehring, MD, Morton Burrell, MD, Josh Copel, MD, and Alyssa French, MD, MPH, that evening, who received Distinguished Clinical Career Awards.

Later in the same month, we celebrated a different milestone, the retirement of Brian Rebeschi, MHA, who has served the university and YSM over a career spanning 36 years. Brian has held many roles across the university, but most notably he served as the clinical administrator for the Child Study Center and Department of Neurology, senior director of business operations for YSM, vice chair for Finance and Administration in the Department of Medicine, and interim YSM deputy dean for Finance and Administration before co-leading the OneFinance Strategic Initiative.

Also this spring, Yale MD-PhD students and physician-scientists convened in Chicago for the annual joint Association of American Physicians (AAP), American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and American Physician Scientists Association (APSA) meeting. Three faculty were inducted into the American Society of Clinical Investigation on Friday night and the students, trainees, and faculty rocked the dinner. Saturday night five additional faculty members joined the American Association of Physicians.

On our own campus, the corridors of Sterling Hall buzzed as 190 admitted students joined us from across the country for Second Look weekend. The Class of 2024 roasted our faculty in a musical mystery centered on the death of an LCME site visitor. We assembled in the Historical Library in the Sterling Hall of Medicine for the unveiling of the portrait of former dean Robert J. Alpern, MD, Ensign Professor of Medicine (Nephrology), professor of cellular and molecular physiology, to express our gratitude.

School of Medicine and university friends joined together to applaud the newly designated Department of Biomedical Informatics. There were symposia on Parkinson's disease and the new Chan Zuckerberg Biohub NY Immune Cell Engineering to name just two. There were the celebratory emails to say, “We got the grant,” “My paper was accepted,” or “Thanks to the outstanding care of Yale faculty….”

As dean, I am privileged to have a vantage point from which I can see all we have at Yale School of Medicine. Rituals such as graduation help us to separate the sublime from the mundane. Many of the events above took place because someone took the time to express gratitude or to sponsor or nominate someone. At times when we get lost in the details of getting things done, or when the events of the world overwhelm, rituals allow us to pause and to reflect on how privileged we are to do meaningful work in this community we call Yale School of Medicine.


Nancy J. Brown, MD

Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of Medicine

C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine