The results are in
Meet your newly elected Alumni Council members
Kenneth R. Bridges, MD ’76
Douglas H. L. Chin, MD ’94 (Class of 1993)
|Councilor: First Pentad
(Classes of 2015–2019)
|Numa Pompilio Perez Jr., MD ’15|
|Councilor: Fourth Pentad
(Classes of 2000–2004)
|Coleen S. Sabatini, MD ’04 (Class of 2003)|
|Councilor: Seventh Pentad
(Classes of 1985–1989)
|David E. Cohen, MD ’86|
|Councilor: Eighth Pentad
(Classes of 1980–1984)
|Margaret A. Liu, MD ’81|
Medicine and medical education have changed drastically since I first ventured onto the HMS campus. Names have replaced letters on the Quadrangle buildings, reflecting new economic realities. Longwood Avenue is a parking lot, reflecting the massive growth of the medical infrastructure. But amid it all, the HMS commitment to student education and research remains firm.
Less successful, however, has been the effort to pull underrepresented minorities fully into the HMS fold. The 2019 Celebration of Diversity highlighted the triumph of visionaries who fought to increase minority presence in the HMS student body. And while their numbers remain low, minority faculty members are now more than a statistical blip. However, the Celebration also brought into relief the tenuous connection between minority alumni and the medical school, begging the question of whether HMS can do better.
I’ve gained new insight into the question of inclusiveness from my experience in the industry. My first two corporate forays were with large, structurally staid organizations, whose statements about commitment to diversity were standard but ultimately vapid. My next two experiences differed radically. At Onyx Pharmaceuticals and Global Blood Therapeutics, each led by Harvard-trained African American CEOs, I felt like a valued member of an organization with a voice that was appreciated. Being valued created a subliminal connection. Moreover, the commitment to a diverse staff created a sense of connection between the entire staff and not just minorities.
Are there lessons for HMS? Can models from industry help convert the school’s unquestioned commitment to its minority members into a sense of emotional connection? Can the rich experiences of minority alumni be tapped to benefit all students and faculty at HMS? I hope to channel my experiences as a student, faculty member, and alumnus to addressing these questions.
Kenneth R. Bridges, MD ’76, graduated from the University of Michigan, earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and subsequently trained in internal medicine and hematology at Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals, respectively. After medical subspecialty training, he worked on the biology of cellular iron metabolism for three years at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He then returned to Harvard as a member of the Hematology Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, attaining the faculty rank of associate professor of medicine.
On the HMS faculty, Bridges initially focused his laboratory investigation on iron metabolism and his clinical efforts on general hematology. In response to the disturbing dearth of coordinated, integrated care for people with sickle cell disease at Harvard, he established the Joint Center for Sickle Cell and Thalassemic Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. The idea was to build on Harvard’s existing, outstanding basic science work in hemoglobinopathies by creating a bench-to-patient translational research effort that would, in addition, provide comprehensive patient care. Bridges expanded these efforts regionally with the HRSA-sponsored New England Regional Genetics Group that developed care and management programs for patients with sickle cell disease and thalassemia. He also worked closely with the Sickle Cell Disease Branch of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, serving on many panels including design and oversight of the pivotal trial of hydroxyurea in babies (Baby HUG). Bridges published over 70 peer-reviewed articles during his academic career, as well as numerous book chapters. He also co-authored a textbook on red cell disorders and anemia with Dr. Howard Pearson of Yale University.
Bridges left academia in 2006 to work in biotechnology, initially with Hoffman La-Roche followed by three years at Amgen and five years with Onyx Pharmaceuticals. Following the Amgen acquisition of Onyx, Bridges moved to Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT), where he reconnected with his passion for sickle cell disease in the role of vice president, medical affairs working on a new treatment for the condition. As a medical student in Dr. Frank Bunn’s laboratory, Bridges worked on the modification of hemoglobin by small molecules, which led to his first presentation at a scientific conference. In November 2019, Oxbryta (formerly voxelotor), a small molecule that modulates hemoglobin oxygen affinity and sickle hemoglobin polymerization, was approved by the FDA for treatment of sickle cell disease. With this event, Bridges’ medical career came full circle.
Today’s physician is increasingly being asked to step into roles away from the bedside. HMS alumni are leaders in research, technology, business, government, and other sectors. These diverse leadership roles reflect the many facets of society with which health care interfaces. HMS cannot possibly prepare its students for roles as yet undefined. Its job is to equip physicians with a heart for suffering, eyes with vision, minds that question, and voices that speak out.
More than any other field, medicine demands an embrace of diversity and inclusion.
As part of the planning committee for our Reunion, I was deeply moved that 25 years after graduating, classmates are still educating, inspiring, and supporting each other. This is what the HMS alumni community does and why an HMS education has a life beyond the four years of medical school. Within its classrooms and teaching hospitals, HMS not only educates students but also forges networks of colleagues who support each other for a lifetime. The alumni community personifies not only lifelong education but lifelong friendship and support. Our four-plus years at HMS were exceptional, but the alumni community is priceless. I would like to make this type of alumni experience accessible to every alum.
I would love to explore innovative ways to deepen alumni engagement. Alumni engagement has changed because the way people practice community has changed. HMAA’s vitality and relevance depend on how it adapts to these changes and reinvents the community. Virtual conferences and social media are already changing how the University engages its alumni. Digital communities continue to evolve.
But virtual communities cannot replace face-to-face interaction. In 2018, I co-chaired H4A’s Third Global Summit, which drew alumni from across continents, schools, and classes to Cambridge. I would like to see similar events convene HMS alumni from across professions, experiences, class years, and geographies.
Douglas H. L. Chin, AB ’88, MMSc ’94, MD ’94 (Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology), is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Nasarem Healthcare specializing in orthopedic and microsurgical reconstruction of the hand and wrist. Residing in Piedmont, California, he is chief of the Division of Hand Surgery at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. Chin, who is also an occupational physician, is fascinated by the sense of self that human appearance and upper extremity function imbue and, correspondingly, the sense of wholeness the patient-doctor relationship—empowered by compassion, reason, and technology—can restore and enhance.
Outside of his clinical practice, Chin is a serial entrepreneur. He develops, syndicates, and operates ambulatory surgery centers throughout Northern California, New Jersey, and New York. Leveraging his access to a substantial share of the New York ambulatory surgery market, Chin endeavors to bring substantial cost savings to health systems and patients alike by offering advanced surgical technologies that decrease the time and costs of rehabilitation. His team’s ambulatory surgery centers offer venues for complex surgical procedures traditionally performed in an inpatient setting, such as spinal fusions, robotic surgery, joint replacements, and computer-guided sinus surgery. Chin’s ambulatory surgery centers were among the first to offer DaVinci robotic surgery on an outpatient basis.
Outside of medicine, Chin serves on a number of nonprofit organizations boards. He is interested in the interface of health care and human trafficking, as well as issues related to immigration, sex-based discrimination, and gender equity. As director of outreach for Physicians Against the Trafficking of Humans, an initiative of the American Medical Women’s Association, he has been active in efforts to pass human trafficking legislation in California and New York and to train physicians to identify and engage at-risk individuals.
A staunch advocate of women’s rights, he is a leader in the Justice, Poverty, Oppression and Women Initiative, a faith-based mission program that seeks to transform people, communities, and times by empowering women through education, health care, and economic opportunity.
Chin serves as chair of mission and as ruling and mission elder to the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, a congregation with a strong emphasis on community engagement, social justice, and vocational mission. Since 2018, he has served as commissioner to the Presbytery of San Francisco.
Chin is very active with the Harvard alumni community. He is co-founder and trustee of the Harvard Christian Alumni Society, the first University-wide organization of Christian alumni in HAA’s nearly 180-year history. He is chair of the Northern California Chapter of the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance (H4A) and was co-chair of H4A’s Third Global Summit, which drew to Cambridge nearly 500 alumni from every Harvard school and from four continents. Chin served on his class’s 25th Reunion Committee.
Chin is married to Eliza Lo Chin, MD (Cannon Society, 1993), past president and now executive director of the American Medical Women’s Association. They have three children, Emily, Sarah (Harvard College Class of 2021), and Nathan. Doug tweets @DougChinMD.
Attending medical school at HMS was both a great honor and a great opportunity for me, one which I am vividly aware is not afforded to many individuals from my background. Interacting with a diverse and incredibly accomplished cohort of classmates motivated me every day to become the best physician that I can be, and that drive has remained within me ever since. At this formative stage, before we become physicians, medical school serves both to shape our scientific minds as well as the social conscience that should accompany us as we practice medicine, the latter of which is a function that cannot and should not be overlooked. In a time where physicians absorb more simultaneous information than ever before, via a variety of methods, all the while being asked to be more clinically productive with fewer resources and time, organizations like the HMS Alumni Council serve a key role in lending a voice to the individuals it represents. A voice that should help to evolve both the beloved medical school that shaped us, as well as the institutions that now form part of our daily practice. As I put myself forth for the HMS Alumni Council position, I do so to serve my peers as best as I can, while at the same time continuing to learn from our shared experiences. I hope to bring my background in systems engineering and my experiences, albeit limited, interacting with the health care system, and provide a fresh perspective to a group that already functions in a superb manner.
Numa Perez, MD ’15, is the 2018-2020 Healthcare Innovation Research Fellow at the Healthcare Transformation Lab and a third-year (PGY5) general surgery resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Perez spent his childhood in El Salvador before immigrating to the United States at the age of 17. He then joined the United States Marine Corps, working as an avionics technician for the CH-53E helicopter and serving one tour of duty in Afghanistan. After the Marine Corps, Perez attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated with honors with a BS in electrical engineering and computer sciences. From there, he worked as a research engineer at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company for two years, before matriculating at Harvard Medical School and earning his MD degree.
This diverse background in technology and system design, combined with Perez’s surgical training at the Massachusetts General Hospital, have prepared him well to tackle issues that lie at the intersection of health care innovation, outcomes, and disparities. Perez’s goal is to rethink the entire perioperative patient experience, leveraging technology to make it more patient-centered and streamlined, while leading to improved patient satisfaction and postoperative outcomes. Though Perez’s career goal is to enhance the quality of care for all, he hopes in doing so to simultaneously bridge the disparity gap that affects so many patients around the nation. Outside of work, Perez enjoys spending time with his wife, Rachel, his daughter, Olivia, and his son, Numa III.
For the past 10 years, I have lived and worked on the opposite side of the country from HMS. Although I am far removed from the Longwood campus, not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the education I received at HMS, for the many people that I met who enriched my life, and the doors that were opened because of my HMS education. I was both surprised and honored when I was asked to become a candidate for the Alumni Council. Being away from Boston, it is easy to feel disconnected from the institution, and I welcome the opportunity to more meaningfully connect with HMS while serving as a voice for the many of us that have pursued our careers away from Longwood. If elected to serve on the Alumni Council, I would advocate for meaningful programs and benefits that are accessible to alumni across the U.S. and abroad and encourage improved communication and greater engagement in alumni opportunities. I would like to see us learn more about and celebrate the great work that our alumni are doing throughout the world and help encourage collaboration amongst alumni. I would also like to help the Alumni Council further engage alumni to learn from all of us where there are opportunities to help current students succeed—particularly those who are underrepresented in medicine—and to address opportunities for improvement in financial aid support, career planning, and networking. The Alumni Council serves to enrich the lives of alumni and actively engage them in the future of HMS. I hope to strongly contribute to this effort and serve as a voice from afar, as someone who loves and appreciates HMS but knows there are opportunities for growth, inclusion, and engagement. Thank you for your consideration and support.
Coleen Sabatini, MD ’04 (Class of 2003), MPH ’04, is a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Her clinical practice is based at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland in Oakland, California. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego, where she studied biology and dance. She then obtained her MD degree from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She served as an intern at Massachusetts General Hospital and then completed her residency training in orthopaedic surgery at the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program. She served as chief resident in her final year. Sabatini completed her fellowship training in pediatric orthopaedic surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and then joined the faculty at the University of California, San Francisco in 2010.
Sabatini’s Oakland-based clinical practice addresses a wide range of pediatric orthopaedic conditions including trauma/fractures, clubfoot, and other foot and limb deformities, limb length discrepancies, and scoliosis. The practice also covers dance medicine. Sabatini’s research focuses on global surgical care and conditions at the intersection of public health and orthopaedics, pediatric trauma prevention and treatment, health disparities, and improving access to care for children with musculoskeletal conditions, particularly for children in low-resource environments.
Sabatini became the director and chief of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland in 2012. In this capacity, she oversaw a fivefold increase in the size of the clinical staff and an expansion of services to a wider breadth of the East Bay, while maintaining a firm commitment to providing high-quality care for all children from throughout Northern California, regardless of insurance status. She served as director and chief for over seven years, until 2019, when she requested to transition away from these roles to focus on global surgical care and improving access and care for children in resource-limited environments. She now spends 50 percent of her time outside of the United States focused on pediatric orthopaedic education and research. She has taught and worked in numerous countries including Uganda, Nepal, India, the Dominican Republic, and the Philippines. She currently focuses the majority of her time abroad in Uganda and runs a pediatric musculoskeletal research and education program there with a particular focus on injection injuries (gluteal fibrosis and post-injection paralysis), as well as other neglected surgical conditions such as clubfoot and chronic osteomyelitis.
In addition to her international service, Sabatini is active in the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA), the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society, and several other orthopaedic organizations. She serves on the Board of Directors of POSNA and the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society and is the incoming chair-elect of the International Committee of the AAOS. She is also active in work to increase the number of underrepresented minorities and women entering orthopaedics through volunteerism with Nth Dimensions Orthopaedic Summer Internship, the Perry Initiative, and by serving as a mentor for numerous medical students domestically and abroad.
Over the past 38 years of my association with Harvard Medical School, I have had the privilege of observing and participating in transformative changes in medical education. The New Pathway took shape during my years as a student with input from broad constituencies, including students. This case-based approach to medical education had a major impact both at HMS and beyond. Indeed, during my seven years on the faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, I enjoyed teaching and learning with students using this new approach.
I returned to HMS and assumed the role of advisory dean of the London Society and HST director just prior to the next momentous educational reforms that resulted in the Principal Clinical Experience and the Pathways curriculum, as well as the ongoing evolution of the HST program. Having participated in the design, planning, and implementation of these curricula, I gained a deep appreciation for the depth and breadth of educational experience and perspective among the faculty, students, and staff within the HMS community. These were harnessed through open and transparent processes to create new educational initiatives that will optimally prepare students for the practice of medicine in the 21st century. Since moving to Weill Cornell as a division chief, I have engaged more intensively in the education of fellows and residents. In doing so, I have gained a deeper understanding that the interface between graduate and postgraduate medical education is also critical to establishing the career trajectories of our trainees. As HMS continues to drive innovation in medical education and health care, the Alumni Association offers a mechanism of engagement and a voice by which our collective experiences can help guide future change. As councilor for the Seventh Pentad, I would welcome the chance to represent my fellow alumni in this effort.
David E. Cohen, AB ’82, MD ’86, PhD ’87, graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s in chemistry and physics before earning his MD and PhD (physiology and biophysics) at Harvard Medical School as a student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST) and the Harvard/MIT MD-PhD Program. He completed an internal medicine residency, as well as gastroenterology and hepatology fellowships, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
In 1995, Cohen was appointed as an instructor in medicine at HMS, and in 1996, he became an assistant professor. In 1997, he moved to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he held joint appointments in the departments of Medicine and Biochemistry as a member of the Marion Bessin Liver Research Center. Cohen returned to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and HMS in 2004, serving until 2016 as director of hepatology, director of HST, and the Robert H. Ebert Professor of Medicine at HMS. Cohen is currently chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and the Vincent Astor Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is also co-director of the Center for Advanced Digestive Care at Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Cohen is a Fellow of the American Gastroenterological Association and of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Interurban Clinical Club, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the American Physiological Society. Cohen’s research has been published in journals including Nature Medicine, Nature Structural Biology, Cell Metabolism, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Science Signaling, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He is also the author of numerous review articles and book chapters. Cohen is currently the editor-in-chief of Hepatology. He is on the editorial board of Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism (Cell Press) and served as an associate editor for Seminars in Liver Disease.
Cohen has received awards including the American Liver Foundation Research Prize, American Liver Foundation Liver Scholar Award, International HDL Research Award, Hirschl Career Scientist Award, and NIH MERIT Award. He was also an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association.
Cohen is currently the principal investigator of two NIH R01 grants in addition to his MERIT Award and a T32 training grant. He has served as a member of the NIH Hepatobiliary Pathophysiology Study Section and as chair of the American Heart Association Lipoprotein and Lipid Metabolism Study Section. His current research interests are centered on lipid-mediated control of nutrient metabolism and energy homeostasis in the pathogenesis of obesity-related disorders, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Cohen has mentored more than 60 young scientists in his research program and continues to mentor students, residents, and fellows. He remains clinically active as a hepatologist. Cohen continues to be engaged with the HMS community, returning several times a year to teach and to serve on the External Advisory Board of the HST program.
When approached about candidacy for the Alumni Council, I was struck by the perfect coincidence of the timing with my own growing conviction to be more involved with HMS. I realize, now more than ever, how well HMS and individual professors prepared and inspired me for my career and unforeseen opportunities. After finishing residency and fellowship at MGH and a postdoc at MIT, I had planned to continue an academic career, with initial funding from an NIH Physician Scientist Award. But the chief of my department at MGH, Mike Rosenblatt, had accepted the position as vice president of research at Merck Research Labs, so I ended up doing something that I had never anticipated: leaving academia for industry. This ultimately led me into global health, a very different career than I had envisioned while at HMS. Yet my HMS education, in fact, had provided an excellent foundation for my diverse types of work, even though, at the time (note that I’m in the Eighth Pentad!), this was a pathway probably not envisioned by HMS for its alumni.
So, although I have been involved with HMS through Reunion efforts, via a cherished friendship and interactions with Dean Daniel Federman (and in his Council role), and through donations, I now would like to kick it up a level by being on the Alumni Council. My perspective is that of someone who needed financial aid, and who understands how HMS must continue preparing students for leadership in all future, even unanticipated, aspects of medicine. I’m also motivated by seeing the outcome of my husband’s involvement with his medical school alma mater. I see how alumni involvement is important for the institution, is crucial for enabling all deserving students to attend HMS, and is rewarding for the individual by increasing ties with the HMS community.
Margaret A. Liu, MD ’81, is renowned in the fields of gene-based vaccines, immunotherapy, and global health. Before obtaining her MD from Harvard Medical School, she earned a BA in chemistry, summa cum laude, from Colorado College. She has also passed the Epreuve pour le Diplôme d’Enseignement, à l’unanimité (judges’ unanimous decision), in piano from the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. She completed internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in endocrinology, all at Massachusetts General Hospital, and became board certified in internal medicine and in endocrinology and metabolism.
Liu is the principal of ProTherImmune, her consulting entity through which she advises companies, investment firms, and scientific non-governmental and governmental organizations, and she is CEO of PAX Therapeutics, a nascent gene therapy company founded by her brother Paul Y. Liu, MD ’87. She is a foreign adjunct professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and an adjunct full professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Her past and/or present board activities include Ipsen Pharma, Transgene (both French companies), Sangamo Biosciences, Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, Keystone Symposia, and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.
Liu is formerly a visiting scientist at MIT, an instructor at HMS, an adjunct assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and a visiting professor at the Karolinska Institutet. She has held executive positions at Merck Research Laboratories and Chiron Corporation, was senior adviser in vaccinology at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and was executive vice-chair of the board of trustees and chair of the SAB, International Vaccine Institute (established by the United Nations with signatory countries, in Seoul, South Korea).
The Karolinska Institutet conferred an honorary Doctorate of Medicine degree on Liu in 2017, and she also received an honorary Doctorate of Science degree from Colorado College in 2002. She was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI)—and was the plenary speaker for the ASCI meeting that year—and is a fellow and past president of the International Society for Vaccines. She is also the recipient of an NIH Physician Scientist Award.
Liu’s honorary lectureships have included the Karolinska Research Lecture series at the invitation of the Nobel Committee, the Oon International Fellowship in Preventive Medicine at the University of Cambridge, the Rose Lectureship at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Inaugural Saul Krugman Memorial Lecture at NYU, the M. R. Hilleman Lecture at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, and the Walter F. Enz Memorial Lecture Series at the University of Kansas. She was named one of “The 50 Most Important Women Scientists” by Discover magazine and was profiled in the book “How Geek Girls Will Rule the World,” by Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon.
Liu’s pioneering research includes bispecific antibodies that activate T cells for cancer therapy, and DNA vaccines for infectious diseases, immunotherapy, and gene therapy, which earned her the moniker of “mother of DNA vaccines.” These technologies have progressed to licensed products: bispecific antibodies for human cancer treatment, and veterinary DNA vaccines. DNA vaccines are in numerous human clinical trials for vaccines, gene therapy, and immunotherapy for cancer, autoimmune diseases, and allergy. Also, DNA vaccines are one of the leading technologies for making a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine.