Graduates Celebrate Hard Work, Promising Future

Shown at the sixth commencement of the Graduate Programs in Biomedical and Translational Sciences are: (from left) William Parks, PhD, professor of Medicine, executive vice chair of research and scientific director of the Women's Guild Lung Institute; Kellee Murayama, master's graduate; Julie Yang, PhD; Jenieke Reneé Allen, PhD; Ryan Middleton, PhD; Jae Hyung Cho, MD, PhD; Anisha Madhav, PhD; Ravi Thadhani, MD, MPH, vice dean of Research and Education and professor of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; and, Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, executive vice president of Academic Affairs, dean of the medical faculty and professor of Medicine and Endocrinology/Metabolism.

With wide smiles, and in front of a room of family, friends and faculty, one master's student and five doctorate students received their diplomas during the sixth commencement of the Graduate Programs in Biomedical and Translational Sciences.

"I want our graduates to know how proud we are of you—of your rigorous intellectual discipline, your willingness to make the sacrifices that come with this level of scholarship and your passion to benefit people at the most basic level of health and wellbeing," said Thomas M. Priselac, president and CEO.

The 2018 class comprised Anisha Madhav, Jae Hyung Cho, Jenieke Reneé Allen, Kellee Murayama, Julie Yang and Ryan Middleton.

"My guess is that you are here because you love the joy of discovery. As I think you know, that kind of joy will literally change lives," said Marc H. Rapaport, chair of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Directors.

The event in Harvey Morse Auditorium featured a string quartet that performed arrangements of both classical pieces and pop songs, which set the tone for a ceremony that celebrated the hard work of the past as well as the promise of the future.

"Since their inception, our graduate programs have been led by an individual who has, in every way, devoted himself to its success. That devoted leader is Dr. Leon Fine, and after six dynamic years at the helm, he is stepping down as vice dean," said Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, executive vice president of Academic Affairs, dean of the medical faculty and professor of Medicine and Endocrinology/Metabolism.

The ceremony marked the first for Ravi Thadhani, MD, MPH, in his role as vice dean of Research and Education, a position he assumed in September 2017. He also is professor of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

"I feel very privileged to be part of this faculty," Fine said in his commencement address, looking to the students seated in front of the stage. "My heartiest congratulations on having reached this turning point in your lives."

Leon Fine, MD, professor of Biomedical Sciences and Medicine, delivered the keynote address at commencement.

Meet the Graduates

Anisha Madhav
PhD graduate

Anisha Madhav received her master of science in biochemistry from the University of Southern California, where she investigated the role of telomerase in potentiating therapy resistance. As a PhD candidate, Anisha continued her training in the prostate cancer field, joining the laboratory of Neil Bhowmick, PhD. She plans to continue her work in the field of cancer biology.


Jae Hyung Cho
PhD graduate

Jae Hyung Cho earned his doctor of medicine from the University of Ulsan, Korea, and finished his residency training in internal medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His graduate research, under the mentorship of Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, focused on the mechanisms of ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. Jae will continue his journey as a clinical cardiology fellow at Cedars-Sinai.


Jenieke Reneé Allen
PhD graduate

Jenieke Reneé Allen earned her master of science in cell and molecular biology from California State University, Northridge. As a PhD candidate, Janieke conducted her thesis research under the mentorship of Peter Chen, MD, in the Women’s Guild Lung Institute. Jenieke has applied to law school with the goal of becoming an intellectual property lawyer specializing in biomedical sciences and technology.


Kellee Murayama
Master's graduate

Kellee Murayama graduated from Occidental College with a bachelor of arts in biochemistry. Afterward, she joined the Cedars-Sinai heart and lung procurement team and volunteered in the laboratories of Joshua Goldhaber, MD, and Prediman K. Shah, MD, where she conducted research into heart disease. Later, Kellee returned to Goldhaber’s lab and completed the requirements to earn her master's degree.


Ryan Middleton
PhD graduate

Ryan Middleton earned his master's degree at Washington State University, where he studied the role of small heat-shock proteins in skeletal muscle development in zebrafish. After completing his master's degree, Ryan began work as a research technician for Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, at Cedars-Sinai. Later, he led studies on magnetic stem cell targeting and the use of cardiac progenitor cells to treat pulmonary hypertension.


Julie Yang
PhD graduate

Julie Yang earned her bachelor of science in biochemistry from California State University, Los Angeles. As a PhD candidate, Julie trained under the mentorship of Michael Freeman, PhD. Her graduate thesis project was based on the study of hormone regulation in prostate cancer. Julie is currently a postdoctoral fellow at City of Hope, continuing her work in hormone regulation using prostate cancer mouse models.