Commencement Address Clare Waterman ’89

Commencement Address
Clare Waterman ’89
May 24, 2009

Listen to Clare Waterman ’89 (1.1 MB, Time: 2:29)
(Written text differs somewhat from speech as delivered.)

I am humbled to be on this stage again, 20 years after my own graduation, thanking you for this great honor. Believe it or not, you are about to graduate from the premier institution in the United States in terms of the production of women who go on to get higher degrees in the sciences. Not Harvard, not MIT, not even the big number producers like the great UCs or the Big Tens of the Midwest, but little. Old. Mount Holyoke!

And to those of you who are graduating today with a degree in the biomedical sciences, this is one of the most exciting times in history to be doing that. We are now, historically speaking, smack in the middle of the Great Biomedical Revolution. From the 1950s to 1989, the year I graduated from MHC, we went from not knowing the central dogma of biology that DNA codes for RNA codes for protein to cloning the genes responsible for diseases like muscular dystrophy. From 1989 to today, we have gone from cloning disease genes to transgenic stem cell therapies that can mend the severed spinal cord of a mouse and make her walk again! Very, very soon, it won’t just be a mouse, but it could be you or your loved ones.

This Great Biomedical Revolution will go down in history as having the same level of impact on our quality of life as did the Great Industrial Revolution of the second half of the 1800s. So to those of you embarking today on careers in the biomedical sciences, it is an amazingly exciting time. The combination of knowledge and technology that exists today makes the chance that little old you could have a major impact on human health better than ever. To all of you in the class of 2009 embarking today on your postgraduate lives, you will enjoy the benefits of this Great Biomedical Revolution as the healthiest, longest living, and, hopefully, happiest and most productive generation ever.

I wish all of you success, and thank you all again for this great honor.

Related Links:

Honorary Degree Citation

Commencement 2009

Commencement Videos

Audio  (1.1 MB, Time: 2:29)