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Peter Beilenson to Speak at School of Medicine Commencement - 05/20/2008

Peter Beilenson to Speak at School of Medicine Commencement

Award-winning former Baltimore Health Commissioner was chosen by 205 graduates for ceremonies May 22
Release Date: May 20, 2008

Peter Beilenson, M.D., M.P.H., health officer for Howard County and former Baltimore City health commissioner is the guest speaker at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s 113th diploma award ceremony on Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 2:30 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.

Beilenson, who received his master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, was chosen by this year’s class of 205 M.D., Ph.D., M.A. and M.S. graduates.

This year’s ceremonies will bestow 95 M.D.’s, 87 Ph.D.’s, five M.D./Ph.D.’s, 11 M.A.’s, six M.S.’s and one M.D./M.A to a class consisting of 105 men and 100 women. The M.D. class is the 113th since the school opened in 1893 and most plan to continue their medical training at 57 medical institutions in 21 states. Entry into the School of Medicine remains highly competitive: There are 4,344 applicants for 120 open slots in this fall’s entering class.

In addition to Beilenson’s selection, the M.D. graduates chose Herman Bagga, Medical Student Society president, to give the medical student address. At Johns Hopkins, Bagga pursued clinical research with the Brady Urological Institute. He will be doing his residency in the department of Urology at University of California, San Francisco.

Ph.D. graduates selected Christopher Lemmon, who earned his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering at Hopkins, to deliver their address. Lemmon’s research focused on measuring forces generated by cells and how the cells use these forces to assemble proteins into tissue.

“Once again we are proud to have some of the world’s best and brightest pass through our doors,” says David Nichols, M.D., vice dean for education at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Among the graduates is Jonathan Etheridge, a former Air Force flight medic, who served in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Etheridge will do his residency in emergency medicine at the University Hospital in Cincinnati. His wife, Morgan Etheridge, works as a cardiac intensive care nurse at Johns Hopkins.

Another graduate, Delphine Robotham, is following in her father’s footsteps as a pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins. “My earliest memories include going to Hopkins with him on my days off from school and walking around the pediatric wards,” she says. In her years as a medical student she joined and eventually was president of the Pediatric Interest Group, an organization that works with faculty members, residents and the community to assist fellow medical students who are interested in a career in pediatrics. She says The Johns Hopkins Hospital was her first choice of residency not only because of family ties, but also because it is where she first fell in love with medicine and came to admire the many physicians she knows who trained there.

Brian Cohee is a West Point graduate who will do his residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C. “I chose Walter Reed because I wanted to care for troops coming directly back from Iraq,” he says. In addition to his passion for medicine, Cohee has participated in triathlons and helped encourage 10 Hopkins Medicine classmates to try the event.

On the Ph.D. side, Seok Jun Moon has been working in a lab directed by Craig Montell, Ph.D., a professor of Biological Chemistry, on understanding the molecular basis of taste in flies. Among other achievements, Jun Moon helped identify a receptor for caffeine that confers its bitter taste. Flies normally avoid water laced with caffeine. In contrast, the mutant flies that Seok Jun identified do not.  

Ph.D. graduate Ben Auerbach obtained a coveted Visiting Scholar appointment at Southern Illinois University for this academic year during which he organized a national symposium. He will start a new tenure-track job as a faculty member at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville later this summer.

Beilenson, who served as Baltimore City health commissioner for 13 years under the administrations of Kurt Schmoke and Martin J. O’Malley, was named the “Best Civil Servant” by Baltimore Magazine and recognized nationally by the American Public Health Association for “creative public health work.”

The son of Congressman Tony Beilenson who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 -1997, Beilenson sought the Democratic Party nomination for Maryland’s third congressional district in 2006 but lost to John Sarbanes.

Beilenson earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a medical doctorate from Emory University School of Medicine. He also served as an EMT, teacher and family practitioner before his tenure as Health Commissioner.

“We can all look to Dr. Beilenson as a prime example of a scholar who has taken what he has learned and applied it to serving the community,” says Thomas Koenig, M.D., associate dean of student affairs.

The School of Medicine diploma ceremony will follow Johns Hopkins’ University-wide commencement, which is scheduled to take place earlier in the day.

Other speakers at the event include Edward D. Miller, M.D., dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine; Thomas W. Koenig, M.D., associate dean for student affairs; and Peter C. Maloney, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate student affairs.