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Medical alumni gather for Reunion Weekend

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- The Medical Alumni Association at Upstate Medical University will host its 137th Reunion Weekend, Sept. 21 and 22.

The event will bring close to 300 graduates of the medical college and their guests to campus to witness the university’s impressive growth in facilities, patient-care and educational programs and outreach initiatives.

“Our graduates stay connected to the medical college through our many resources and services offered to them,” said Vincent Kuss, executive director of the Upstate Medical Alumni Association. “However, Alumni Weekend offers them a more personable and familiar landscape of Upstate, and--something that social media sites like Facebook cannot do--the opportunity to socialize and reminisce with their classmates in a traditional fashion.”

Included among the guest list are alumni who have married each other and whose children have also joined them in rank, such as Arthur Vercillo, class of 1947, and Margaret Vercillo, class of 1949, and their son, Arthur, class of 1982. Their granddaughter, Natalie, graduated from the medical college last year.

Alumni Weekend activities include:

- Conversations in Entrepreneurship Lecture: Innovation From Within, will be presented Friday, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. in the Medical Alumni Auditorium in Weiskotten Hall. Martha Reitman, M.D., class of 1982, will present the lecture. Reitman is a consulting associate professor at Stanford School of Medicine and president and CEO of Reitman Corp. She will discuss aspects related to organizing a biomedical start-up company, including funding, support, direction and outcomes. Scenarios will be explored with illustrations. The lecture is sponsored by Upstate’s Office of Industry Relations. R.S.V.P. at pazarask@upstate.edu, 464-5384.

- The Weiskotten Lecture will be presented by NASA Flight Surgeon Joseph P. Dervay, class of 1984, Friday, Sept. 21 from 3:15 to 4:30 pm. in the Medical Alumni Auditorium at Weiskotten Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public. Dervay will discuss the health and safety challenges of moon and other space exploration missions. At NASA, he has served as lead crew surgeon or deputy crew surgeon for eight Space Shuttle missions and two International Space Station missions, and he supported an additional 35 missions in the NASA Mission Control Center. His roles have included work in Russia during the U.S./Russian Shuttle-Mir Program, support during the John Glenn STS-95 flight and crew surgeon for STS-88, the first assembly flight of the International Space Station.

- A Reunion Awards and Scholarship presentation will immediately follow the Weiskotten Lecture in the Medical Alumni Auditorium. Three Upstate alumni will be recognized for distinguished service.

Hugh D. Curtin, M.D., class of 1972, will receive the Distinguished Alumnus award. Curtin is professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and chief of radiology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He is internationally known as a head and neck radiologist, having particular interest in imaging of the temporal bone and participating in the development of applications of computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging to the temporal bone region. Curtin is a frequent lecturer at national and international symposia, has multiple publications and most recently has completed co-editing the textbook Head and Neck Imaging with Dr. Peter Som, which is currently in its fifth edition.

Jeffrey Gelfand, M.D., class of 1992, will receive the Outstanding Young Alumnus award. Gelfand is board certified by The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons and has received a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Hand Surgery. His current practice focus is on all aspects of care for the shoulder, elbow and hand, including joint replacement, arthroscopy, fracture care and microvascular procedures. He is the president and founder of Suspension Orthopaedic Solutions, a medical device company that was started in 2008 to introduce innovative devices and methods for treating traumatic injuries of the shoulder. The company has subsequently developed numerous patent pending technologies that are currently being incorporated into new products designed to treat injuries throughout the body. In 2005, he founded The Helping Hands Foundation, a 501c(3) tax exempt organization that delivers international humanitarian relief through overseas surgical and educational missions. The foundation also collaborates with Anne Arundel Medical Center to bring patients in need from developing countries to Annapolis for reconstructive procedures not available in their native lands.

Melvyn D. Bert, M.D., class of 1967, will receive the Humanitarian award. He is clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Francisco, where he teaches medical students and residents in ophthalmology. Dr. Bert is an integral part of the Visioning Tibet project, the goal of which is to end cataract blindness in Tibet by 2020, as cataracts continue to be the leading cause of blindness in Tibet. He assisted in the founding of the project, and has worked and taught in Tibet on multiple occasions. He trains local Tibetans and Chinese living in Tibet how to perform cataract surgery. These eye camps have helped thousands of Tibetans regain their sight at no cost to the patient. The Project is funded entirely by private donations.

Reunion Weekend also includes a writing seminar; university tours, and other social activities.

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

Caption: NASA Flight Surgeon Joseph P. Dervay, class of 1984, will present the Weiskotten Lecture.