At Elmezzi, it’s the thought (not the size) that counts

Degrees of separation: A major-league assortment of academicians and researchers took the stage May 24 to honor the 2018 graduates of the Feinstein Institute's Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

At its 58th commence exercises on May 18, counting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, Stony Brook University conferred 7,185 total diplomas upon happy graduates – a school record, a Long Island-based-graduating-class record and a proud achievement indeed.

And then there were two, at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

That’s the size of the 2018 graduating class of the Feinstein Institute’s Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine, which on May 24 conferred Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Medicine degrees upon graduate students Caroline Maloney and Ibrahim Mughrabi.

The handpicked PhD candidates earned their stripes through three years of full-time enrollment-in-residence at the Manhasset-based Elmezzi School, highlighted by some seriously next-level research.

Maloney, a doctor in Northwell Health’s Karches Center for Oncology, led research into repurposing the FDA-approved drug gefitinib to prevent metastasis associated with a common form of bone cancer, following surgical removal of a tumor. Maloney detailed her research in her thesis, “The Role of Receptor Interacting Protein Kinase 2 in Macrophage-Promoted Invasion Metastasis in Osteosarcoma.”

Mughrabi, also an MD, authored the thesis, “The Suppression by Chronic Pharmacological Vagus Nerve Stimulation: In vitro and In vivo Evaluation of Galantamine in a Model of Auto-inflammation,” detailing his research examining the potential of the FDA-approved drug galantamine as an inflammation reducer, when used as a pharmacological vagus-nerve stimulator.

It’s heady stuff for sure, but right in the wheelhouse for the Elmezzi School, where the hyper-focus is on the causes, diagnoses and treatment of human diseases.

Annette Lee: Germ warfare.

Northwell Health’s exclusive graduate school features a unique academic program geared specifically toward translational research. Built more around individual effort than classroom learning – course requirements are rounded and minimal – the Elmezzi School challenges highly qualified physicians with a proven commitment to disease research to create a thesis and then have it, spending years in an environment thick with individualized mentoring and training.

Annette Lee, dean of the Elmezzi School and director of the Feinstein Institute’s Laboratory of Translational Genetics, said her school is zeroed in on one mission only, and both Maloney and Mughrabi carried it out.

“The Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine transforms physicians into scientists who cure disease,” said Lee, also an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. “Our two most recent graduates personify this mission through their research in inflammation and bone cancer and the promise of discovering new treatments for these conditions.”

In addition to conferring new PhDs upon Maloney and Mughrabi, the Elmezzi School this year handed out two honorary degrees to non-Northwell Health researchers who “advanced biomedical research and improved medical treatment for patients,” according to the Manhasset institution.

Honorary degrees were presented to Mina Bissell, a distinguished scientist in the Division of Biological Systems and Engineering at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, and Anthony Zador, a professor of biology and neuroscience program chairman at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Bissell has led paradigm-shifting research into the role of “extracellular matrix” and microenvironment in regulation of tissue-specific gene expression, particularly in breast cancer cases.

Zador, who studies how brain circuitry affects complex behaviors, is developing new DNA-sequencing-based methods to determine “the complete wiring instructions of the mouse brain,” according to the Elmezzi School.

The school has now conferred 26 honorary degrees dating back to 1997, honoring researchers from across the United States and as far afield as Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands.


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