CUSM Celebrates Commencement 2023

The month of May best represents the roller coaster journey of graduate students. May brings residency planning, exams, clerkship assessments, and project completion. May also brings the pomp and circumstance that recognizes the culmination of the journey. It is commencement season at CUSM!

Master of Biomedical Sciences/Class of 2023

On May 12, CUSM celebrated the 2023 Class of master’s degree recipients in Biomedical Sciences. The Riverside Municipal Auditorium was filled with families and friends of the 60 program graduates as the outgoing and incoming program directors addressed the graduates with the message of being pursuing your individual goals and being receptive the inevitable change along the way.

“The MBS program may be the culmination of a pre-med journey, for others it is a mid-point or event starting point to your unique goals,” said Dr. Linda Connelly, Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs. “Take pride in your unique journey and in the fact that you are ready for the next step.”

Dr. Vanessa Ochoa, incoming MBS Program Director, added that change will be a constant on the journey. “Challenge yourself to sit with the uncomfortable feeling of change,” said Ochoa. “Do not let the fear of change stop you from trying something new, from meeting someone new, or from learning something new.”

Doctor of Medicine/Class of 2023

On May 20, the MD Class of 2023 gathered at the historic Fox Theater in Riverside to recognize their four-year achievement and their transition into a career of service to communities across the country. The graduates were joined by family and friends, CUSM faculty, and the Board of Trustees.

“Today, as you begin your journey in medicine, one of the most honorable professions, it is important to remember that medicine is not just a science – it is also an art,” said Dr. Prem Reddy, Founding Chair of the Board of Trustees. “I urge you to remember the humanity at the heart of medicine.”

Dr. Lipi Roy, an internal medicine physician, board certified addiction specialist, and contributor to Forbes and CNN, delivered this year’s Commencement Address. Roy shared her personal experiences to emphasize the human component of what it means to be a doctor.

“As you embark on your journey in medicine, the power of connection will help you thrive and survive,” said Roy. Connections matter not just for your patients but for yourself, she continued. “You need to connect with your fellow healthcare professionals to provide high-quality patient care. But you also need to connect with family, friends, and members of your community to minimize burnout and to maximize self-care.”

Change was the constant for the Class of 2023. The class began their journey in the temporary San Bernardino location, endured a pandemic, and ended their CUSM years in the new state-of-the-art medical education facility in Colton, Calif.

“Not many physicians will have the unique experience of attending medical school in the midst of a worldwide pandemic in which the need for and challenges of healthcare were top of mind for the entire planet,” said Dr. Paul Lyons, CUSM President and Dean. “You have persevered and excelled during extraordinary circumstances. We are proud of each one of you.”

The CUSM 2023 graduating MD Class achieved a residency match rate of 100 percent. More than 33 percent of the class will perform their residencies in the Inland Empire.
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Linda Connelly PhD

Linda Connelly

Contact Information

Faculty Appointment

Professor of Medical Education, Physiology, Pharmacology

Administrative Appointments

Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs


BSc(Hons) Biochemistry with work placement, University of Glasgow, UK
PhD Molecular Pharmacology, University College London, UK


Dr Connelly received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry at the University of Glasgow. Her undergraduate program included work placement experience at Merck, Sharp and Dohme's Neuroscience Research Center in Harlow, UK. She went on to complete her PhD in Molecular Pharmacology at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College London, UK. Following completion of her PhD, Dr. Connelly was awarded an International Travelling Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust which she completed at the University of California Los Angeles and University College London, UK. Dr. Connelly completed further Post-Doctoral training in the Department of Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. In June 2009 Dr. Connelly joined the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Daniel K. Inouye College Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2015. During her time at UH Hilo, Dr Connelly taught Pharmacology, Physiology, Pathophysiology and Cancer Biology and was elected by the PharmD students to receive Teaching Excellence Awards on seven separate occasions. Dr. Connelly was elected to serve as the Department Chair for Pharmaceutical Sciences from October 2016 until her departure in December 2018.

Research Description

Dr Connelly’s research focuses on characterizing the effects of molecular mediators of inflammation on breast cancer progression and metastasis. She has been investigating the role of Osteoprotegerin (OPG) in breast cancer metastasis. Breast cancer cells secrete OPG however there is limited information available about the role of OPG in breast cancer. Her initial publication in this area demonstrated that knock down of OPG expression reduces breast cancer metastasis by reducing the ability of the breast cancer cells to invade surrounding tissue. She has recently published a follow up study showing that OPG expression is regulated by the inflammatory cytokine Interleukin 1Beta (IL1Beta) and that OPG is involved in IL1Beta-mediated invasion of breast cancer cells.