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Stanford University School of Medicine

“This is something you long look forward to”: 2016 graduates celebrate achievements

Flowers, sunshine, babies and smiles all around marked the School of Medicine's 2016 graduation ceremony and celebration, held Saturday on the Dean's Lawn.

And then the focus turned to failure. Failure? Writer Tracie White was there and she explains in her story:

Rather than focusing on his many scientific successes, Peter Kim, PhD, a biochemist known for his innovative work in developing and shepherding drugs to market, chose instead to tell the School of Medicine’s graduating class of 2016 about one of his key failures.

“The greatest scientific failure in my career was when I had to stop a clinical trial of a vaccine for HIV/AIDS. And it came just as we thought we were on the threshold of success,” said Kim.. “When we ended the clinical trial, the hopes of literally millions of people around the world were dashed.”

The key is not to despair in the face of failure, said Kim, the keynote speaker at the diploma ceremony.


“Expect to confront failure, but don’t let it defeat you,” Kim added. “Remember, as you leave this place, know that you carry with you the hopes of all those — yet unknown to you or them — in whose lives you will make a real difference. Carry this, not as a burden, but as an opportunity and a privilege.”

Kim, who previously led Merck Research Laboratories, is currently working to develop an HIV vaccine at Stanford. Other speakers included Lauren Popov, who received a PhD in microbiology and immunology, and Muthu Alagappan, who received a medical degree..

They were joined by fellow graduates who received 49 master's degrees, 87 medical degrees and 94 doctorates. In addition, 26 graduates received both MD and PhD degrees. From the article:

The mother of AbdulRasheed Alabi, one of those MD-PhD grads, beamed at him in his robes, recalling his brilliance in preschool. “We came all the way from Nigeria,” she said. “This is something you long look forward to.”

Previously: The envelope please: Stanford medical students open next chapter of their lives at Match Day, Stanford Medicine's commencement, in pictures and Stanford Medicine grads urged to break out of comfort zone, use science to improve human health
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben

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