Drs. Arkoosh, Brown to Receive Honorary Degrees at Arcadia University Commencements, May 16 & 17

By Caitlin Burns | March 29, 2019

Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and physician anesthesiologist, and Dr. Michael S. Brown, regental professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Nobel Prize laureate, will receive honorary doctoral degrees at Arcadia University’s 2019 Commencement ceremonies. Dr. Arkoosh will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws and address students at Graduate Commencement on May 16, while Dr. Brown will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science and address students at Undergraduate Commencement on May 17.

“Each year, Arcadia University selects honorary degree recipients whose intellectual curiosity, determination, and humility serve to inspire graduating students. This year, we honor two individuals, Dr. Valerie Arkoosh and Dr. Michael Brown, who have dedicated their careers to improving the quality of life for so many,” said Dr. Ajay Nair, president of Arcadia. “It is a privilege to have Dr. Arkoosh and Dr. Brown address our graduates.”

Valerie Arkoosh, M.D.

In 2016, Dr. Arkoosh was unanimously elected as chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, the first female to serve as chair in the Board’s history. This followed her election to the Board in 2015 for her first four-year term.

As a community leader, Dr. Arkoosh has been at the center of county efforts to overcome the heroin and opioid crisis, which led her to sign a 2015 “standing order” allowing Montgomery County pharmacies to dispense the overdose antidote naloxone– commonly known as Narcan– to members of the public on request. Additionally, Dr. Arkoosh worked with Arcadia University and Montgomery County Community College in their annual opiate solutions-driven symposium, where she was keynote speaker in 2018.

Prior to serving on the Board of Commissioners, Dr. Arkoosh taught as a professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout her career, she also held faculty positions at Drexel University College of Medicine—where she chaired the Department of Anesthesiology from 1999 to 2004— and Thomas Jefferson University Sidney Kimmel Medical College. Noting the impact of social and community factors on her patient’s health, Dr. Arkoosh earned a Master of Public Health with a focus in U.S. Health Policy 2007 from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. From 2010 to 2012, she served as president of the National Physicians Alliance, a national nonprofit multi-specialty physician organization committed to reducing conflicts of interest in medical practice and the belief that health care is a human right.

Dr. Arkoosh earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Northwestern University in 1982 and a doctorate from University of Nebraska College of Medicine in 1986.

Michael Brown, M.D.

A leading physician scientist, Dr. Brown was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985 with his scientific partner, Dr. Joseph Goldstein, for their work concerning the regulation of cholesterol metabolism. The two began their collaboration in 1971, when they discovered the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor, which controls the level of cholesterol in blood and in cells. They showed that mutations in the LDL receptor gene causes Familial Hypercholesterolemia– a genetic disorder that can lead to premature heart attacks as early as 3 years of age. Their discoveries enabled the development of statin drugs, which millions of people take to regulate cholesterol in the blood. For their work, Drs. Brown and Goldstein also received the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1988.

Dr. Brown is a member of some of the most prestigious science organizations in the country, including the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, to which he was elected in 1980. He is also active in the American Academy of Arts and Science, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Society of Biological Chemists, and the American Society for Cell Biology. He is a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London.

During a visit to Arcadia University in 2013, Dr. Brown discussed his and Dr. Goldstein’s work and the importance of mentorship in his “How to Win a Nobel Prize” presentation. He also accounted for the importance of a supportive spouse, recognizing the part that his wife and Arcadia alumna Alice Lapin Brown ’64 played in his scientific successes.

Dr. Brown and Alice Lapin Brown live in Dallas, Tex., where he is director of the Jonsson Center for Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. From 1968 to 1971, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health under Dr. Earl R. Stadtman, a pioneer in enzyme regulation. Dr. Brown graduated from Cheltenham High School.  He received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in 1962, a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1966, and an honorary Doctor Of Science degree in 1986 from the University of Pennsylvania.

Arcadia’s Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for Thursday, May 16, and Friday, May 17, on Haber Green. More information is available at www.arcadia.edu/Commencement.