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Alumni-Faculty Forum: The Future of Medicine: New Frontiers in Research, Treatment and Care

May 26, 2023 @ 10:30 am - 11:45 am

The Future of Medicine New Frontiers in Research, Treatment and Care

Location: McCosh Hall, Room 10



Elizabeth R. Gavis
Damon B. Pfeiffer Professor, Life Sciences, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University



Peter K. Smith ’73
Mary and Deryl Hart Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Duke University School of Medicine

Stephen Chanock ’78
Scientific Director, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

Nancy Simonian ’83
CEO, Syros Pharmaceuticals

Yolandra Gomez Toya ’88
Primary Care Pediatrician, After Hours Pediatrics

Alison L. Marsden ’98
Douglass M. and Nola Leishman Professor, Stanford University



Elizabeth Gavis
Elizabeth Gavis’ research bridges the disciplines of RNA biology and developmental biology, and is particularly focused on post-transcriptional control of gene expression during animal development. In addition to mentoring students and postdocs in the lab, she serves as director of the Department of Molecular Biology undergraduate program. She helped found the joint Princeton/Rutgers University M.D./Ph.D. program and served as its first Princeton director. She has also served as president of the North American Drosophila Board and as member of the board of directors of the Society of Developmental Biology. Gavis is an associate editor for the journal G3 and a member of several editorial boards. She has worked to promote the advancement of women in science, including participation in mentorship programs at Princeton, Hunter College, and the College of New Jersey, and received Princeton’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2021. She came to Princeton in 1994.



Peter K. Smith ’73
Peter Smith received his medical degree and trained in surgery and thoracic surgery at Duke University. He was the chief of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery from 1994 to 2020. He is a principal investigator within the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute-sponsored Cardiothoracic Surgery Trials Network, which has conducted 11 randomized clinical trials. He is a nationally recognized expert on bleeding and inflammation, overall outcomes in cardiac surgery and treatment selection for patients with coronary artery disease. His clinical research portfolio recently increased to include Site and Steering Committee roles in the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines Phase 3 master protocol for inpatient COVID-19 therapeutics. His site was the leading enrolling site (450 subjects) of 132 international sites. He has also chaired the American Medical Association Resource Based Relative Value System Committee, which advises the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on all elements of physician payment policy.

Stephen Chanock ’78
After graduating with an A.B. in Music, Stephen Chanock headed to medical school, after which he trained in pediatrics, with specialization in pediatric cancer, infectious disease and molecular genetics. Thirty years ago, he joined the U.S. National Cancer Institute and currently is one of two scientific directors. His research focuses on how the genome influences individual risk for cancer and he oversees studies of how and why people develop cancer around the world. He has published more than 1,200 papers and many of his findings are used to guide public health measures or regulations intended to protect the American public. He is an elected member of the American Association of Physicians, the American Epidemiological Society and the Academy of the American Association of Cancer Research. For the last 25 years, he has been the medical director of Camp Fantastic, a one-week pediatric oncology camp for 100 children undergoing or recently completing therapy in the wilds of Virginia.

Nancy Simonian ’83
Nancy Simonian is the founding CEO of Syros Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company committed to advancing new standards of care for the frontline treatment of hematologic malignancies. Prior to Syros, she was Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and previously, Vice President of Clinical Development at Biogen. Nancy has overseen the successful development of numerous medicines. Under Nancy’s leadership as CMO at Millennium, VELCADE became a mainstay of treatment for multiple myeloma. Nancy led development of Millennium’s clinical pipeline, including NINLARO for hematologic malignancies and ENTYVIO for inflammatory bowel disease. At Biogen, Nancy played a central role in developing AVONEX and TYSABRI for multiple sclerosis. Nancy started her career as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and neurology staff at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). She trained in neurology at MGH and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Princeton. She sits on the boards of Seagen, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation

Yolandra Gomez Toya ’88
Dr. Yolandra Gomez Toya is one of the fewer than 300 Native American pediatricians in the country, an advocate for Native American access to culturally competent healthcare especially for children, and a strong proponent for increased representation of Native American physician and medical professionals. She is a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. She currently works full time in private practice and also serves as an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, primarily in primary care and rural medicine, and is a mentor to Native American students interested in medicine. In 2018, she founded the Native Alumni of Princeton group, and recently became the first Native American woman elected to the Princeton Board of Trustees. Dr. Gomez Toya graduated from Princeton in 1988 with a degree in public policy, and from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Masters of Public Health in 1991. She received her medical degree from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Alison L. Marsden ’98
Alison Marsden is the Douglass M. and Nola Leishman Professor of Cardiovascular Disease in the Departments of Pediatrics, Bioengineering, and, by courtesy, Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the development of computational methods for cardiovascular biomechanics and the application of engineering methods to impact patient care in cardiovascular surgery and congenital heart disease. She graduated with a BSE degree in mechanical engineering from Princeton University in 1998, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford in 2005. She has won several major awards for her research, including a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, and the Van C. Mow award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. She has also been elected fellow of several national scientific societies including the American Physical Society and the Biomedical Engineering Society.


May 26, 2023
10:30 am - 11:45 am
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McCosh 10
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