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Alumni Reunion features talk on space medicine

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Upstate Medical University will kick off its Reunion Weekend 2011 with a free public lecture Sept. 23 by NASA Flight Surgeon Joseph P. Dervay, M.D., who earned his medical degree from Upstate in 1984.

Reunion Weekend also will honor alumni Peter Greenwald, MD, Class of 1961 and Molly Brewer, M.D, D.V.M, Class of 1991.

Dervay will discuss the health and medical care of space shuttle and International Space Station crew members, and offer his insights into the challenges of lunar and exploration class missions as part of Weiskotten Lecture Sept. 23, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Medical Alumni Auditorium in Weiskotten Hall, 766 Irving Ave., Syracuse.

"On behalf of the Medical Alumni Association, we are thrilled to have such a wonderful group coming back for Reunion Weekend 2011. It will be an honor to celebrate the success of our distinguished alumni along with the ability to showcase the talented students from our College of Medicine. We look forward to the weekend every year," said Vincent J. Kuss, executive director of the College of Medicine Foundation at Upstate.

Dervay served as lead crew surgeon or deputy crew surgeon for eight Space Shuttle missions and two International Space Station missions. His roles have included work in Russia during the US/Russian Shuttle-Mir Program and the Space Shuttle flight that returned for astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glen to space and as crew surgeon for the shuttle flight to assemble the International Space Station.

In addition to Dervay's presentation, Upstate will honor two alumni for their career accomplishments: Peter Greenwald, M.D., and Molly Brewer, M.D., D.V.M

Greenwald, M.D., Class of 1961, will receive the Medical Alumni Foundation's Distinguished Alumnus Award. Greenwald is associate director for prevention for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health. He retired in March as director of the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention, which he established and led for 30 years. He also served as an assistant surgeon general, holding the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service.

Greenwald is credited with building a nationwide program of clinical and public health research and interventions to lower the incidence of cancer. He started the "American Stop Smoking Intervention Trial," a broad collaborative effort for tobacco control, and "Five A Day for Better Health," aimed at improving eating behavior across the United States. In the early 1960s, he worked for the Centers of Disease Control, and was one of three epidemic intelligence service physicians to test a vaccine in a Vanguard study that advanced the case for a world smallpox eradication program.

Molly A. Brewer, D.V.M., M.D.,Class of 1991, will receive the Medical Alumni Foundation's Outstanding Young Alumna Award. Brewer heads the division of Gynecologic Oncology and the Women's Cancer Prevention Program at the University of Connecticut Carol and Ray Neag Cancer Center. She is also a research professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus, and a professor of genetics at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Early in her career, Brewer began working with fluorescence and reflectance spectroscopy for the early detection of ovarian cancer with the biomedical engineers from the University of Texas at Austin. They published the first manuscripts on the use of optical imaging in evaluating the ovary, which served as the beginning of a long collaboration with biomedical engineers in the use of light outside of the visual spectrum for early detection of ovarian cancer.

Based on this early work, she has expanded to using imaging to understand the biology of carcinogenesis. Dedicated to improving the quality of international healthcare, she regularly travels to China where she teaches advanced radical surgery to gynecologic surgeons.

Brewer was first trained as a doctor of veterinary medicine and practiced for five years in large animal practices and four years in a small animal practice, before earning her medical degree.

Alumni Reunion weekend events also include a writing seminar; tours of the university, including the Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital; receptions; class dinners; and other social activities.

Reunion Weekend is sponsored by the Medical Alumni Foundation at Upstate Medical University and Upstate's College of Medicine.