NYMC > Commencement > Commencement Speakers

Commencement Speakers

Brooke Grindlinger, Ph.D.Brooke Grindlinger, Ph.D.

Renowned Microbiologist and Chief Scientific Officer at The New York Academy of Sciences

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Commencement Speaker

Brooke Grindlinger, Ph.D., is a renowned microbiologist, committed to leveraging the power of science for the betterment of society and the planet, she spearheads the advancement, expansion, and excellence of the scientific dimensions within the Academy's wide-ranging programs, products, and initiatives. These encompass scientific conferences and educational courses, fellowship and prize programs, and public-private partnerships spanning across the life, chemical, and physical sciences, social sciences, nutrition, artificial intelligence, computer science, and sustainability.

In her capacity as chief scientific officer, Dr. Grindlinger fosters synergy among stakeholders across academia, industry, government, and the public sector. Her primary goal is to catalyze progress in science, medicine, engineering, and innovation to enrich and educate communities. With more than two decades of experience in scientific research, academic publishing, and science communication, Dr. Grindlinger orchestrates dialogues with key figures in the scientific community, addressing stereotypes and breaking down barriers faced by women in STEM fields. She oversees prestigious prize programs such as the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists and the Innovators in Science Award, both of which provide substantial support to early-career scientists.

Prior to her tenure at the Academy, Dr. Grindlinger served as the science editor for The Journal of Clinical Investigation for eight years. Known for her skill as a moderator, commentator, and presenter, she has engaged with diverse audiences, totaling more than 10,000 individuals, at universities, conferences, corporate events, and beyond. Her expertise has been sought after by the United Nations, South by Southwest, and the National Institutes of Health, as well as various podcasts and webinars. Her written contributions have been featured in prominent outlets including The Washington Post, International Business Times, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Authority Magazine, and The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

In recognition of her invaluable contributions to the scientific community and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Grindlinger was honored as one of the "Most Notable in Nonprofits and Philanthropy" by Crain’s New York Business magazine in 2021. She earned her B.Sc. (first class honors) and Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Sydney, where she was awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award for her outstanding academic achievements.

Steven L. Kanter, M.D.Steven L. Kanter, M.D.

Executive Director of the Alliance of Academic Health Centers International (AAHCI) and Special Advisor to the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)

School of Medicine Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient

The strategic vision and expertise of Steven L. Kanter, M.D., continue to redefine the future of global academic health centers. From 2018 to 2022, Dr. Kanter served as president and chief executive officer of the Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC) as well as the AAHCI. During his tenure, he spearheaded initiatives on health security, cybersecurity, population health, and other critical areas for academic health centers. He created the AAHCI Leadership Initiative to engage academic health leaders from low- and middle-income countries in Association activities and established the AAHCI Regional Office in Eastern Africa at Aga Khan University, Nairobi, Kenya to complement AAHCI Regional Offices in Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia.

Dr. Kanter led the integration of the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions into AAHC in 2020. The alliance focuses on enhancing the nation’s health workforce diversity, particularly increasing ethnic and racial minorities across academic health centers.

Prior to his role at AAHC, Dr. Kanter served as dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine from 2014 to 2018, where he was also professor of biomedical and health informatics and held the Merl and Muriel Hicklin/Missouri Endowed Chair in Medicine. During this time, he played a pivotal role bringing together ten of Kansas City’s leading health care institutions to align more closely as the University of Missouri-Kansas City Health Sciences District.

With a background in clinical medicine, medical informatics, and medical education, Dr. Kanter is a former Fellow in Medical Informatics for the National Library of Medicine, faculty member and vice dean at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and editor-in-chief of Academic Medicine, the peer-reviewed journal of the AAMC.

Dr. Kanter earned his M.D. from the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio and completed his neurosurgical residency at the University of Florida. His multifaceted contributions encompass clinical practice, medical education, scholarly publishing, and the administration of medical schools and academic health centers.

James V. McDonald M.D., M.P.H.James V. McDonald M.D., M.P.H.

Health Commissioner for the New York State Department of Health

School of Health Sciences and Practice Commencement Speaker

James V. McDonald M.D., M.P.H., is a distinguished leader in public health, with a career spanning significant roles in government agencies, academia, and clinical practice. Dr. McDonald joined the New York State Department of Health in July 2022, bringing with him a wealth of experience gained during his tenure at the Rhode Island Department of Health, where he served since 2012. His roles there were multifaceted, including interim director of health, chief administrative officer of the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, and medical director for various crucial programs, such as the COVID-19 unit, Division of Health Care Quality and Safety, and the Drug Overdose Prevention Program. Notably, he contributed as a member of the governor’s task force on preventing overdose deaths. Dr. McDonald also holds a faculty appointment at the Brown School of Public Health.

A highly qualified medical professional, Dr. McDonald earned his M.D. degree from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago. He completed his pediatric residency in the U.S. Navy and pursued further training with a preventive medicine residency from the State University of New York. He also earned his Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His dedication to continuous learning is evident through his multiple board certifications in pediatrics and preventive medicine.

Beyond his impressive academic achievements, Dr. McDonald has a diverse background that includes serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy and practicing medicine in rural areas facing health care shortages. He also contributed his expertise to the Indian Health Service, notably serving as the medical director of outpatient medicine in Chinle, Arizona, within the Navajo Nation.

Dr. McDonald's commitment to public health and his leadership and dedication to improving population health outcomes continue to drive positive change in communities across the nation. As acting commissioner of health for New York State, Dr. McDonald remains steadfast in his mission to protect and promote the health and well-being of all citizens.

Jerry Nadler, M.D.Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., MACP, FAHA, FACE

Chief of Staff for Research for the Northern California VA Health System and Health Sciences Professor of Medicine for the University of California at Davis School of Medicine

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Honorary Degree Recipient

An internationally recognized diabetes researcher, Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., MACP, FAHA, FACE, is associate chief of staff for research for the Northern California VA Health System and health sciences professor of medicine for the University of California at Davis School of Medicine.

From 2019 to 2023, Dr. Nadler served as dean of the New York Medical College (NYMC) School of Medicine, where he currently holds the faculty title of adjunct professor of medicine. Under his leadership, the School strengthened its academics, including introducing a completely redesigned M.D. program, increased medical student research, and grew both its graduate medical education and continuing medical education programs.

Prior to joining NYMC, Dr. Nadler served as professor and chair of internal medicine, the Harry H. Mansbach Endowed chair in internal medicine, and vice dean of research and director of the Strelitz Diabetes Center at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and chemistry from The State University of New York, Binghamton,and his M.D. from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

Dr. Nadler completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Loma Linda University and a clinical and research fellowship in endocrinology and diabetes at the University of Southern California Los Angeles County Medical Center, where he remained as a tenured faculty in the endocrine division. His quest to advance the understanding of diabetes led him to the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California, where he helped to build the Diabetes Program as its director.

Dr. Nadler then moved to Virginia to serve as chief of endocrinology and metabolism at the University of Virginia, co-director of the Diabetes and Hormone Center of Excellence and associate director of the school’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded Diabetes Endocrinology Research Center. In 2016, he was named Virginia’s Outstanding Scientist.

He has been a member of a Special Advisory Committee on Type I Diabetes with the director of the NIH and a standing member of the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and NIH grant review committees. For his excellence in research, he was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Nadler’s groundbreaking contributions—which focus on understanding cardiovascular complications of diabetes and obesity—include his work in identifying inflammatory pathways leading to pancreatic beta cell damage, insulin resistance, and atherosclerosis. His research has led to the development of preventative therapies and the identification of new small molecules blocking 12-Lipoxygenase activity. He has research funding from the NIH as well as the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and his current work is focused on determining whether a virus could be a trigger for Type 1 diabetes as well as examining the link between diabetes, insulin resistance, and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Nadler holds several patents for biomarkers and novel therapeutics. His clinical interest is focused on treatment and prevention of diabetes and related complications.. 

Dr. Nadler has two sons. His late wife, Mary Ann Latona Nadler, created multiple gardens and also inspired the placement of a pollinator garden on the NYMC campus. That garden is named in her honor: “Mary Ann’s Garden.”