A new group of 37 University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix medical students were officially conferred with their medical degrees at ceremonies Monday in the fourth graduation for the downtown Phoenix medical school.
Led by a bagpipe and drum corps, commencement exercises began with a procession from the college to the ceremony at Phoenix Symphony Hall. The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix has graduated 151 physicians in four years. The school opened in 2007 in what was the largest city in the nation without an allopathic (MD-granting) medical school.
UA College of Medicine – Phoenix Dean Stuart D. Flynn, MD, began Monday’s ceremony with a short description of the fourth class to complete four years of study on the downtown Phoenix campus.
“You arrived with a wonderful mix of confidence and humility, fun interpersonal skills and leadership characteristics,” Dr. Flynn said. “You have valued being trailblazers on our campus and adjectives you have used to describe your class include that you have a community feel, you are family-centered and you are all in together.”
A special hooding ceremony and the recitation of the oath were part of the ceremony, which included an address from renowned researcher Eric Reiman, MD, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and a faculty member of the UA College of Medicine.
“I am here to tell you that you are entering our profession at the most exciting time in history, the most important moment to become a doctor,” said Dr. Reiman, who is also director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium. “You will have opportunities to make a difference far greater than you think, far greater than the rest of us could have imagined when we began our own careers. You will be on the frontline of a new frontier, you will transform the way health is promoted and care is provided and you will blaze the trail for generations to follow.”
Graduating senior Christian Dameff, who will be a resident in the emergency medicine department of Maricopa Integrated Health System, gave the student address.
“I am awestruck at the accomplishments of every single person in this class,” Dameff said. “The thousands of hours of volunteer work, the passion and dedication to scholarly research, the diligence they show during their study of medicine and most important, the passion and superior care they give when they treat every single one of their patients. It is truly inspiring.”
The ceremony capped a day of celebration that included a senior luncheon with graduates cited for awards by specialty and achievement in the community, for humanism and scholarship.
At the lunch, graduate Jacob Gold singled out the administration for its leadership, thank them specifically.
“For taking this school from this tiny, three high school buildings to this big building, very well respected organization that we have here,” Gold said.
Among the citations, faculty member Stephanie Briney, MD, who oversees the service learning program on campus noted that the Class of 2014 had collectively served more than 5,000 hours in clinics, teaching and other areas during their four years of medical school.
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix opened in 2007 as a way for the state to address the critical shortage of physicians in Arizona. Nearly half of this year’s graduates from the Phoenix campus are staying in Arizona for their residencies and a similar number are pursuing primary care specialties.
The opening of a $16.3 million state-of-the-art Imaging Center further cements the internationally-recognized work occurring at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) and advances statewide collaboration in Alzheimer’s disease and other neuroscientific, cardiology and oncology research.
The Imaging Center, located at BAI’s campus in Phoenix, was made possible by $9.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and $7.1 million in philanthropic support from individuals, corporations and foundations. The center, which opens later this spring, will provide a shared scientific resource for researchers throughout the state and it will complement the scientific strengths of its partnering institutions.
The 18,000-square-foot facility features state-of-the-art imaging equipment including positron emission tomography (PET), CT and MRI technology. In addition, a cy*clotron and radiochemistry lab will allow the production of radiotracers to support PET studies across Arizona in the areas of neurology, oncology and cardiology. Radiotracers are used by PET researchers to study a range of biochemical and physiological processes in the brain and body. In addition, BAI’s computational analysis laboratory will continue to develop, test, and use software to analyze PET and MRI images with unprecedented power.
“We are grateful to the National Institutes of Health, and extraordinary charitable contributions facilitated by Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation for the state-of-the-art imaging resources needed to make potentially transformational differences in the scientific fight against Alzheimer’s disease, advance cancer research, unravel mysteries of the human mind and brain and support important biomedical research collaborations throughout the state,” said Dr. Eric Reiman, CEO of Banner Research, BAI executive director, and director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium.
The new Imaging Center will help BAI researchers in the effort to find treatments to ending Alzheimer’s before it impacts another generation. It will also add to the arsenal of research tools used by researchers in the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, a leading model of statewide collaboration in biomedical research.
“Members of Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium played a huge role in our effort to secure funding for the Imaging Center and will continue to be key participants in our imaging research,” added Reiman.
The Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium includes Arizona State University, Barrow Neurological Institute, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), University of Arizona and Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.
In addition to the new Imaging Center, Dr. Reiman, Dr. Pierre Tariot, and their colleagues have developed the international Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API) to find effective treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s disease as quickly as possible. With its first prevention trial launching later this year, API will begin to evaluate the most promising therapies and do so as quickly as possible. The API is intended to evaluate promising prevention therapies in individuals at the highest genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, help set the stage for the field to rapidly evaluate the range of promising therapies and find ones that work as quickly as possible.
A key component of API is its national Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry. People who are passionate about combatting the disease are encouraged to sign-up at https://registry.endalznow.org/. They will receive regular updates about the latest advances in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, the promotion of brain health, and opportunities to participate in prevention studies.