Dr. Katharine Hsu Wins Weill Cornell Graduate School Alumni Award

Dr. Katharine Hsu and Dr. Barbara Hempstead

Dr. Katharine Hsu, M.D. ’94, Ph.D. ’93, professor of medicine and attending physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, has been awarded the Weill Cornell Graduate School Alumni Award of Distinction.

Since 1997, graduate school alumni have been recognized with this award for their outstanding contributions to biomedical research in education, focusing on science and scholarship, leadership, mentoring and teaching, and service to society.

“I am so honored that my peers feel my work is worthy of such a recognition,” Dr. Hsu said. “With my research, I feel like I am just scratching the surface. There is still so much to understand.”

Upon earning a bachelor’s degree at Stanford University, Dr. Hsu spent a year working at the National Institutes of Health, before applying to the M.D.-Ph.D. program at Weill Cornell Medicine.

As a doctoral student, Dr. Hsu worked in the laboratory of Dr. Moses Chao, who at the time was a faculty member at Weill Cornell Medicine. “I had great time in that lab,” she said, “interacting with different graduate students and fellows, including one I remember fondly, Dr. Barbara Hempstead, who is now dean of Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.”

After receiving her doctorate from Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences for her work in cell biology and her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. Hsu went on to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for her internship and residency in internal medicine. She then completed a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Through her work as a physician-scientist, Dr. Hsu has defined the roles of natural killer (NK) cells and the immune receptors on their cellular surface, which regulate how NK cells recognize and kill cancer and virally infected cells. Dr. Hsu and her team have written numerous high-impact papers in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Oncology. As a clinician, Dr. Hsu treats patients with bone marrow disorders, leukemias and lymphomas.

“It’s a constant goal to think about how findings and observations in the laboratory can be translated to the clinic,” Dr. Hsu said. “It was always clear that my heart was with the patients and my mind was with the science.”

Dr. Hsu received the award May 30 as part of the 2019 Weill Cornell Medicine Commencement ceremonies.

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