The Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 18, 1998
May 18, 1998
VOL. 27, NO. 35


Ten Ceremonies To Mark The End Of Hopkins' 122nd Academic Year

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

At a university-wide commencement ceremony beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 21, in the Gilman Quadrangle at Homewood, President William R. Brody will confer an estimated 4,865 degrees on Johns Hopkins students, marking the end of the university's 122nd academic year.

Diplomas await Commencement Day in the Registrar's Office.

Brody, who took office as Hopkins' 13th president on Aug. 26, 1996, will deliver the address. The nine other diploma ceremonies (see schedule below) will feature their own speakers, some of whom are profiled here.

Arts and Sciences and Engineering Undergraduate Ceremony:
Elizabeth Dole, president of the American Red Cross

Elizabeth Dole, who will receive an honorary degree in recognition of her public service, is a native of Salisbury, N.C., and graduated with distinction from Duke University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her law degree from Harvard University, from which she also holds a master's degree in education and government. [For details of her career, see the May 18 Gazette story: "University to recognize six with honorary degrees."]

School of Hygiene and Public Health:
Harold E. Varmus, director of the National Institutes of Health

Harold Varmus has been since 1993 the director of the National Institutes of Health, the first Nobel laureate appointed to that position.
   Varmus began his academic career studying Elizabethan poetry at Amherst College, and after earning a master's degree in English literature at Harvard, he launched his medical career. He received his M.D. degree in 1966 from Columbia University and completed his residency in internal medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. He then served as a clinical associate at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Disease.
   In 1970, Varmus joined the faculty at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco and began his studies of retroviruses and the genetic basis of cancer. He became a professor in the departments of Microbiology and Immunology as well as Biochemistry and Biophysics before becoming the American Cancer Society Professor of Molecular Virology.
   It was at UCSF that Varmus and his research partner, Michael Bishop, discovered that cancer-causing genes (oncogenes) can arise from normal cellular genes. Their research has had major implications to the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of cancers. For their contributions to the understanding of oncogenes, Varmus and Bishop were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1989.
   Among Varmus' numerous other honors are the Albert Lasker Basic Science Award, the Passano Foundation Award, the Armand Hammer Cancer Prize, the Alfred P. Sloan Prize, the Gairdner Foundation International Award and the American College of Physicians Award.

School of Medicine:
Daniel Nathans, medical pioneer and former interim president of the university

Daniel Nathans is a 1978 recipient of the Nobel Prize and a 1993 recipient of the nation's highest scientific award, the National Medal of Science. University Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the School of Medicine, where he has been a faculty member for more than three decades, Nathans also is senior investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Hopkins and served as interim president of the university from June 1995 until August 1996.
   The research for which Nathans shared the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology is a basis for much of today's genetic research at Hopkins and elsewhere. He used the restriction enzymes discovered by his colleague Hamilton O. Smith as "biochemical scissors," showing that they cut DNA at specific sequences and thus could be used to analyze DNA.
   As the Nobel Prize committee rightly predicted, the techniques developed by Nathans in working with animal tumor viruses opened up new avenues to study the organization and expression of genes of higher animals and to solve basic problems in developmental biology. Increased knowledge made possible by his focus on genetic mechanisms has helped in the understanding, prevention and treatment of birth defects, hereditary diseases and cancer.
   Restriction enzymes have allowed researchers to assemble genes in new combinations, thus giving birth to the entire field of genetic engineering and allowing development of such products as synthetic human insulin, growth hormone and interferon. The use of restriction enzymes to construct maps of the genome of viruses laid the groundwork for the present worldwide effort to map the human genome.
   A molecular biologist, Nathans first focused his research on viruses that cause tumors in animals and then on cellular responses to growth factors, the mechanisms that cause cells to grow and multiply. In 1969, while Nathans was studying SV40, a virus that created cancers in apes, Smith came forward with interesting news: He had isolated a protein that could cut a piece of DNA, the material containing the "blueprint" of life.
   Nathans applied the restriction enzyme to SV40 DNA and discovered that it cut the DNA in 10 distinct places, creating 11 well-defined fragments. He found ways to use this cutting to help determine where genes began and ended in SV40 DNA, and this helped him locate a gene in the virus that gives the order for production of a tumor-making protein.
   One morning in 1978, Nathans, Smith and Werner Arber, the Swiss scientist who first predicted the existence of restriction enzymes, were awakened by the call from Sweden that so many scientists dream about. More honors followed. In 1979 Nathans was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, in 1985 to the American Philosophical Society and from 1990 to 1993 served on the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
   Born in Wilmington, Del., the youngest of eight children, Nathans received his bachelor of science from the University of Delaware in 1950 and earned his M.D. at Washington University School of Medicine in 1954. Following his residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, he served as a clinical associate at the National Cancer Institute and as a guest investigator at the Rockefeller University.
   His first faculty appointment was as a Hopkins assistant professor of microbiology in 1962, and he stayed at Hopkins for the rest of his career. He became a full professor in 1967, director of the Department of Microbiology in 1972 and director of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics in 1981.

Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies:
John Browne, group chief executive, The British Petroleum Co.

As head of one of the world's largest corporations, John Browne, group chief executive of the British Petroleum Company, has become a pioneer in defining the social responsibilities of private industry and championing the need for corporations to protect the environment.
   Browne joined BP in 1966 as a university apprentice. He holds a degree in physics from Cambridge University and a master of science degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and an honorary fellow of St. John's College Cambridge.
   Between 1969 and 1983, Browne held a variety of exploration and production posts in Anchorage, New York, San Francisco, London and in Canada. In 1984, he became group treasurer and chief executive of BP Finance International and, in 1986, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Standard Oil Company. Following the BP/Standard merger in 1987, Brown was appointed chief executive officer of Standard Oil Production Company, in addition to his position as executive vice president and chief financial officer of BP America.
   In 1989, Browne was made managing director and chief executive officer of BP Exploration based in London. In 1991 he was appointed to the board of the British Petroleum Company as managing director. Browne became group chief executive of the company on July 1, 1995.
   Brown is a non-executive director of SmithKline Beecham and the Intel Corporation and a member of the supervisory board of Daimler-Benz, a trustee of the British Museum and a member of the governing body of the London Business School. He is also emeritus chairman of the advisory board of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, a trustee of the Conference Board, a vice president and member of the board of the Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum and a board member of SAIS.

The Peabody Institute:
Anne Brown, teacher, performer and originator of the role of Bess in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess

Anne Wiggins Brown is a native Baltimorean who was the first Bess in Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess. In fact, it was Brown who put the Bess into the title of an opera that Gershwin was intending to call just Porgy. While still a student at Juilliard, she auditioned for the composer, who was so overwhelmed by the beauty of her voice that he expanded the role and gave Bess some of the most memorable music in his opera, including the haunting "Summertime." Brown was only 23 years old when she premiered the role at the Alvin Theatre in New York on October 10, 1935, singing opposite Todd Duncan in the role of Porgy. With the death of Duncan earlier this year, Brown is now the last surviving member of the original cast.
   Growing up in a fiercely segregated Baltimore, where she could not even apply to the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Anne Brown also made her mark as an early activist for what would later be called the Civil Rights movement. When Porgy and Bess played the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., she courageously refused to perform unless the house was desegregated for the run of the show.
   In the post-war years, a concert tour of Europe led her to meet a Norwegian Olympic skier whom she married in 1948. Since that time she has made her home in Oslo, Norway. The award to Brown of the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America (which was also given, in 1984, to Todd Duncan) marks the first time that Brown has been honored in her home town.

Commencement 1998 At A Glance

The university and each of its eight degree-granting divisions will hold commencement events at which students will receive their diplomas.

University-wide Commencement Ceremony
May 21, 9:30 a.m.
Gilman Quadrangle, Homewood

Speaker: President William R. Brody

The president of the university will confer university degrees on all graduates from the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the G.W.C Whiting School of Engineering, the School of Continuing Studies, the School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, the School of Medicine, Peabody Institute and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Only doctoral recipients (Ph.D.'s only from the School of Medicine), will receive their diplomas on stage.

This ceremony will also recognize the new members of the Society of Scholars and is the occasion at which the university will confer honorary degrees of doctor of humane letters.

Arts and Sciences and Engineering
Undergraduate Diploma Award Ceremony
May 21, 2:30 p.m.
Gilman Quadrangle, Homewood

Speaker: Elizabeth Dole, president of the American Red Cross

Seniors from the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, who officially graduated when degrees were conferred in the morning ceremony, will receive diplomas.

G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering
Master's Diploma Award Ceremony
May 20, 7 p.m.
Gilman Quadrangle, Homewood

Speaker: John C. Stuelpnagel, director and deputy for science and technology, Northrop Grumman

Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies
Diploma Award Ceremony (tickets required)
May 21, 3 p.m.
Lincoln Theater, Washington, D.C.

Speaker: John Browne, group chief executive, The British Petroleum Co.

Peabody Institute Diploma Award Ceremony
May 21, 8 p.m. (tickets required)
Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall, Peabody Conservatory

Speaker: Anne Brown, teacher, performer and originator of the role of Bess in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess

School of Continuing Studies Diploma Award Ceremony
May 21, 7:30 p.m. (tickets required, except Ed.D.'s)
Gilman Quadrangle, Homewood

Speaker: Nancy Grasmick, superintendent, Maryland State Department of Education

School of Hygiene and Public Health Diploma Award Ceremony
May 20, 2 p.m. (tickets required)
Shriver Hall, Homewood

Speaker: Harold Varmus, director, U.S. National Institutes of Health

School of Medicine Diploma Award Ceremony
May 20, 1 p.m. (tickets required)
Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College

Speaker: Daniel Nathans, University Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and former interim president of The Johns Hopkins University

School of Nursing Diploma Award Ceremony
May 21, 4 p.m.
Turner Auditorium, School of Medicine

Speaker: Ada Davis, associate professor, director, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing baccalaureate program

Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
Master's Diploma Award Ceremony
May 21, 6:30 p.m.
Shriver Hall, Homewood

Speaker: William Clinger, Hopkins alumnus and former U.S. representative from Pennsylvania's 5th Congressional District