Two Internationally Acclaimed Scientists, Jefferson Physician-Historian
to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement
Two preeminent physicians and a scientist will receive honorary
degrees at Jefferson's 172nd Annual Commencement at 10:30 a.m., Friday,
June 7, at the Academy of Music.
Noted microbiologist Gail H. Cassell, PhD, and physician-humanitarian Manuel
Velasco-Suarez, MD, FACS, will receive honorary Doctor of Science degrees.
Surgeon and University historian Frederick B. Wagner Jr., MD, will receive
the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
During commencement exercises, University president Paul C. Brucker, MD,
will confer Doctor of Medicine degrees on 229 Jefferson Medical College
Dr. Brucker will also confer 28 Doctor of Philosophy degrees and 59 Master
of Science degrees on students of the College of Graduate Studies (CGS).
In addition, 43 candidates for the Master of Science degree in physical
therapy, who will complete their degree requirements on August 30, 1996,
will be recognized at this commencement.
Gail H. Cassell, PhD
Dr. Cassell, chair of the department of microbiology at the University of
Alabama, Birmingham, has made outstanding contributions in her field as
a professor, researcher, lecturer, author and organizer of scientific meetings.
Dr. Cassell is director of the Mycoplasma Diagnostic Laboratory at the University
of Alabama and received the Derrick Edward Award in 1980 from the International
Organization for Micoplasmology for her important work in mycoplasma research.
She is also a senior scientist for the Cystic Fibrosis Center and the Multipurpose
Arthritis Center at the University of Alabama.
Dr. Cassell has held visiting professor or scientist positions in French
and English universities, as well as at M.I.T. and Duke University. She
has been active in organizing national and international symposiums and
workshops in scientific areas that range from development of a lyme disease
vaccine to the role of mycoplasmas in respiratory disease and AIDS. The
microbiologist also has served on numerous committees, panels and studies
for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and other
governmental and advisory committees. She has published over 100 scientific
articles and lectured around the world.
Manuel Velasco-Suarez, MD, FACS
Throughout his career, Dr. Velasco-Suarez has devoted much of his work as
a top neurosurgeon in Mexico to people who have not had access to healthcare
services. A hospital was named in Dr. Velasco-Suarez's honor for his outstanding
work in promoting public health.
"Founded" is a word that appears frequently in Dr. Velasco-Suarez's
curriculum vitae. The physician founded the National Mexican Academy of
Bioethics; the National Commission of Bioethics; the autonomous University
of Chiapas; the Regional Institutes of Technology of Tuxtla, Gutierrez and
Tapachula; the Mexican Association for the Universal Movement for Scientific
Responsibility; the Mexican Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War;
the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery of Mexico, and the
Mexican Society of Neurological Surgery, among other organizations.
In addition to his 54 years as a professor of neurosurgery at the National
Autonomous University of Mexico, he was a visiting professor of neurosurgery
at JMC in February 1995. From 1970 until 1976, he was governor of the state
of Chiapas, Mexico, chosen in a democratic election. Currently, he is president
of the Mexican Chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention
of Nuclear War, which was awarded the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.
Frederick B. Wagner Jr., MD
Since graduating from JMC with the alumni prize in 1941 and following up
with an internship, residency, fellowship and academic positions at Jefferson,
Dr. Wagner has become a much beloved and important figure at the college.
His more than half century affiliation with JMC has included the positions
of clinical professor of surgery, acting chairman of the department of surgery,
Grace Revere Osler Emeritus Professor of Surgery, past president of the
JMC Alumni Association and currently, Honorary Attending Surgeon.
Dr. Wagner has distinguished himself as Thomas Jefferson University Historian
since 1984. In addition to his scientific publications, the surgeon has
published numerous articles on the history of the university for publications
including Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics and Journal of the
American Medical Association. He authored a trilogy of volumes about
the University's history and contributed two book chapters on University
history and medical education in Philadelphia.
Dr. Wagner's portrait was presented to the University in 1978. He received
the Samuel D. Gross Distinguished Service Award in 1980, the Dean's Medal
in 1987 and the Alumni Achievement Award in 1990. Dr. Wagner served as a
member of the Board of Trustees of the University from 1985-91 and still
attends all meetings. An accomplished organist, Dr. Wagner's music continues
to be a vital part of many University events.