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05-12-2012

Medical Research Pioneer David Nathan Receives Clarkson University Honorary Degree

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/dnathan2.jpg.]

Dr. David G. Nathan M.D., president emeritus of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, physician-in-chief emeritus at Children's Hospital Boston, and Robert A. Stranahan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 119th Commencement today.

Clarkson University President Tony Collins (right) presents an honorary doctor of science degree to Dr. David G. Nathan, president emeritus of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, physician-in-chief emeritus at Children's Hospital Boston, and Robert A. Stranahan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.Nathan is medical research pioneer in the field of hematology.

The degree was awarded for his "his role as a dedicated physician and medical research pioneer, whose advances in research have had a profound and lasting impact on our understanding and treatment of hematological diseases and cancer; and for his role as an innovative administrator and an influential educator, under whose wisdom and guidance several generations of leading physicians have trained.”

In addressing the Class of 2012, Nathan said, “Aristotle once called friendship one soul inhabiting two bodies. Given the joy of friendship and in tribute to the friends that all of you have made here, my advice to you today is to treasure your friendships. …

"Much of life’s accomplishments are based on the capacity to work well with colleagues of all types and backgrounds. Friendship is the fundamental basis of teamwork. And only the latter will lead to the solutions of life’s challenges for which Clarkson has so ably prepared you. … As a new friend and honorary classmate, I salute you.”

Nathan’s research has focused on the inherited disorders of red cells and granulocytes and particularly on Thalassemia and sickle cell anemia. His work has had a profound and lasting impact on the treatment of patients suffering from hematological diseases as well as different forms of cancer.

Over the course of his nearly 50-year career, his advances in medicine include the development of the first prenatal diagnostic test for thalassemia and sickle cell anemia, the introduction of effective treatment of iron overload and the only FDA approved drug for the amelioration of sickle cell anemia symptoms.

His text book, Hematology of Infancy and Childhood, now in its seventh edition, is the standard text in the field. He is also the author of two popular books: Genes, Blood and Courage and The Cancer Treatment Revolution.

Nathan’s influence in the field extends well beyond his research laboratory. He has trained more than 100 hematologists, many of whom hold leading positions in pediatrics, oncology and internal medicine. He also worked to establish a joint training program in pediatrics between the Boston Children's Hospital and Boston Medical Center, a model for training in general pediatrics.

A graduate of Harvard College, Nathan received his M.D. in 1955 from Harvard Medical School. He was an intern and senior resident in medicine at the then Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and a clinical associate at the National Cancer Institute.

From 1959 to 1966, he was a hematologist at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and then became chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Children's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. From 1985 to 1995, he was physician-in-chief of the Children's Hospital, and from 1995 to 2000 he was president of Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Nathan is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Pediatric Society, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

His awards include the National Medal of Science, the Stratton medal of the American Society of Hematology (of which he was president), the John Howland medal of the American Pediatric Society, the George M. Kober Medal of the Association of American Physicians, the John Stearns Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Medicine of the New York Academy of Medicine, and the Wallace Coulter Award of the American Society of Hematology.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University President Tony Collins (right) presents an honorary doctor of science degree to Dr. David G. Nathan, president emeritus of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, physician-in-chief emeritus at Children's Hospital Boston, and Robert A. Stranahan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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