BA-MD Academic Club Hosts Lecture With National Institutes Of Health Director 

Participants of the BA-MD Academic Club's event./Salim Hasbani

By Haritha Lakshmanan

 

​   The BA-MD Academic Club hosted its second annual distinguished lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 16, titled “The View from NIH: Many Challenges, Many Opportunities.” Dr. Lawrence Tabak, the current director of the National Institutes of Health, was the event’s guest speaker.

   Through the event, the BA-MD Academic Club wanted to share the opportunity of getting to hear from leaders in the healthcare and science disciplines with other students.

   “The purpose of this event was to introduce our student community to highly successful members of the scientific and medical field and provide them with the opportunity to learn from and interact with Dr. Tabak,” said Robert Adler, the club’s president and a BC senior.

   The BA-MD Academic Club is made up of students and alumni from the college’s Coordinated BA-MD Program, an eight-year program that pipelines BC students to the Downstate Medical Center’s College of Medicine after their undergraduate years. Collectively, members host events and provide support for pre-med students looking to further their understanding of medicine. 

   Before beginning the lecture, introductions were given by Brooklyn College leaders Benjamin Stewart, Director of Pre-Health Professions, Dr. Peter Tolias, Dean of the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and Dr. Todd Galitz, Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

   Dr. Tabak later spoke over Zoom about his journey to success from his start at the City College of New York, where he graduated in 1972, to his career at the NIH directorship. Through failure, mentorship, and trial and error, Tabak described how his obstacles along the way contributed to his success.

   Notably, he mentioned his transition from SUNY Buffalo to a professor without tenure at the University of Rochester. He explained that he made the move because of the prospects the University of Rochester had at the time. 

   “It would have been easy for me to stay at SUNY Buffalo, but I wanted to be somewhere stronger,” he said. Tabak later became the University of Rochester’s senior associate dean for research and professor of dentistry and biochemistry & biophysics. Along his journey, he realized that he enjoyed teaching and giving back, leading to his ascent towards the NIH leadership position.

   “My favorite part of the event was hearing Dr. Tabak reflect on his journey and the people that impacted him with so much passion and thankfulness,” Shrividhya Babu, junior and club connector of the club. 

    Tabak himself stated that he hopes to be a symbol of hard work for students, and many students seemed to agree with that statement throughout the event. 

   “It was very inspiring to see firsthand that a fellow CUNY alum can achieve amazing successes and be a leader in science and healthcare,” said Tasneem Ibrahim, BC senior and vice-president of the BA-MD Academic Club.   

   While club members admitted they were initially worried about the turnout for the event, they were pleasantly surprised by the number of students outside the club who showed up. 

   “Ensuring a strong turnout was definitely one of our biggest goals. We conducted a lot of outreach with various clubs, the Cancer Center and with the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences,” said Gabriel Cruz, a senior at BC and the club’s secretary. “We were very happy to see such a great turnout from all over the Brooklyn College community.”

   Many students appreciated the question and answer session that followed Dr. Tabak’s lecture.

   “My hope is that students will take away the understanding that healthcare is more than just becoming a member of the profession. Their own path is as important individually as it is to the many other pieces that make the medical art an invaluable part of the health of humanity,” Stewart said.

   ​The BA-MD Academic club hopes to continue bringing inspirational leaders in healthcare and medicine to speak with the Brooklyn College community. They hope to have more distinguished lectures in the future where more students will be able to attend.

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