Commencement 2011: Drs. Cigarroa, Cobb to address graduating classes

UT System Chancellor, a UT Southwestern alumnus, speaks to medical school; former dean talks to grad school

By Lin Lofley / June 2011

Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, chancellor of the UT System and UT Southwestern alum, recently delivered the commencement address to this year’s graduates of UT Southwestern Medical School. Dr. Melanie Cobb, professor of pharmacology and former dean, addressed the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences’ Class of 2011.

Graduate school exercises were held June 3 in the Tom and Lula Gooch Auditorium on the South Campus. The medical school ceremony took place June 6 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in downtown Dallas.

From Top: Dr. Melanie Cobb, professor of pharmacology and former dean, addressed the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, chancellor of the UT System and UT Southwestern alumnus

Dr. Cobb served as dean of the graduate school from January 2003 through 2010, when she relinquished the post. Dr. Michael Roth currently serves as interim dean.

“I wish the best to our graduates this year. I have worked with or talked to more than half of them over the course of their graduate work,” she said. “What I’d most like to get across to them is ‘You are going to be developing new ways to make the scientific discoveries of the future. Use your imaginations.’”

Dr. Cobb’s own scientific investigations center on signal transduction mechanisms. Much of her work has revolved around a class of enzymes called mitogen-activated protein kinases, or MAP kinases. Her research team identified and then cloned the first mammalian MAP kinases and continues to study their roles in diabetes and cancer.

Dr. Cigarroa, who received his medical degree from UT Southwestern in 1983, is a renowned pediatric and transplant surgeon who served as president of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio from 2000 until his appointment in early 2009 as the 10th chancellor of the UT System.

As chancellor, he oversees one of the largest public systems of higher education in the nation, with nine universities and six health institutions; an annual operating budget of $11.9 billion, including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources; and more than 202,000 students and 84,000 employees.

Degrees was conferred upon 207 medical students and 42 graduate students by Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president of the medical center and UT Regent, Brenda Pejovich of Dallas.

The physician’s oath was administered by Dr. Shelton Hopkins (Class of 1971), president of the Dallas County Medical Society.

W. Plack Carr Jr., executive vice president of Southwestern Medical Foundation, will present the foundation’s annual Ho Din Award – the top award given to a graduating medical student – to Dr. George LeBus.


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Medical school marshals are Dr. Dennis Burns, professor of pathology; Dr. Rody Cox, professor of internal medicine; Dr. Daniel Foster, professor of internal medicine; Dr. Angela Mihalic, associate dean of student affairs; Dr. Amit Shah, assistant professor of internal medicine; and Dr. James Wagner; associate dean of student affairs. The late Dr. Gary Purdue, who died tragically last year, also was elected posthumously by the graduating class. At the time of his death, Dr. Purdue was chief of the burn section in the Department of Surgery and co-director of the Parkland Memorial Hospital burn unit for 22 years.

Graduate school marshals was Dr. Mark Lehrman, professor of pharmacology; Dr. Stuart Ravnik, assistant professor of cell biology and in the Office of the Dean of the graduate school; Dr. Nancy Street, assistant professor of microbiology and in the graduate school’s Office of the Dean; and Dr. Andrew Zinn, professor of internal medicine and in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development and the Office of the Dean of the medical school.

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Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery Jr., M.D., Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Burns holds the Jane B. and Edwin P. Jenevein, M.D., Chair in Pathology.

Dr. Cobb holds the Jane and Bill Browning Jr. Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Cox holds the Rody P. Cox Professorship in Internal Medicine.

Dr. Foster holds the John Dennis McGarry, Ph.D., Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and Metabolic Research.

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