The Chapters to Come: Dr. Carl Nathan, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences Commencement
Dr. Carl Nathan kept his speech short and sweet during the 2018 Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences Commencement. Dr. Nathan was trained in internal medicine and oncology at Mass General Hospital, the National Cancer Institute and Yale before becoming a staff member at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. He has been a distinguished professor at Cornell University for over 3 decades, and current R.A. Rees Pritchett Professor and chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
Dr. Carl Nathan makes his speech all about the impact the MD graduates have had on the people around them, including their parents, friends, and professors, and the impact they will have on the future of the medical field:
“You have given us new knowledge from your own minds and hands. You have given us fresh evidence that the prospects for scientific discovery are limitless. You’ve shown us that being the first to see something reproducible or to explain something mysterious brings as much joy and fulfilment as when van Leeuwenhoek first saw “wee beasties” through a microscope and Marie Curie discovered radium and thought of using it to treat cancer.
You’ve given us reassurance that no matter our inadequacies as teachers, your brilliance and resourcefulness let you absorb exponentially growing amounts of information with no sign of a limit to what the prepared mind can master.
Finally, in a troubled time, you’ve proven again that science is a form of communication that sifts fake from real and connects rather than divides, that creates a community transcending region, religion and origin. Many of you took precious hours from your pressured lives to share that message with children in the city around you.
What will you go on to give the world from your coming positions in colleges, universities, biotech, pharma, other businesses, foundations or public service?
You will help shed light on the unknown. Help cure disease. Help make cures accessible to those in need. Some of you will help create wealth. Help see that wealth distributed fairly. Help teach those who come up after you.
All of you can help defend the role of apolitical reason and scientific evidence in civic life and public policy. Help save this earth, its peoples and the diverse forms of life with which we share our climate, oceans, forests and fields.
The diploma you are about to receive is a symbol of the power you’ve proved that you have. Go use your power wisely. Then come back and tell us what you’ve done. Like your parents, partners, family and friends, your teachers and advisors are proud of the stories you are writing with your lives. All of us are eager to hear the chapters to come. ”