Dr. J. Anthony Graves recognized for his contribution to pediatric cancer research
Milton Hershey School has named J. Anthony Graves, Ph.D., M.D. ’87, the 2015 Alumnus of the Year, recognizing his commitment to pediatric cancer research and the example of excellence and philanthropy he sets for MHS students.
“Dr. Graves is a tremendous example of the spark that can happen when children are provided a top-notch education, a nurturing environment, and the opportunity to find and hone their passions,” said Pete Gurt ’85, president of MHS. “He is applying the values he learned at Milton Hershey School – principles like hard work and service to others – and using his gifts to fight pediatric cancer. We are so proud to see an alumnus devoting himself to this noble cause. He is an outstanding role model for our students of what they can achieve with perseverance, dedication to their studies and an enthusiasm for serving humanity.”
Graves enrolled at MHS when he was 14. During his time at the school, he was a standout student leader who participated in National Honor Society and Student Home Council. He was also a distinguished athlete on the cross country and track teams. He has fond memories of the relationships he built on campus, particularly the bond he developed with his weekend houseparents, Brad and Terri Brooks.
“Milton Hershey School really rescued me at a time when I needed it,” said Graves. “It represents the closest thing I could get to a family and a nurturing environment. It truly set me on a course for the rest of my life.”
After graduating from MHS, Graves attended Bucknell University, majoring in biology with a minor in black studies. At Bucknell, he became involved in laboratory research, which influenced his goal of a career as a physician-scientist. Upon completion of his B.A. in 1991, he went home to Pittsburgh to complete his Ph.D. in biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. From there, he entered Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, earning his M.D. in 2002.
Graves currently has his own research laboratory at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where he focuses on studying mitochondrial physiology in pediatric cancers. He also serves as an assistant professor of pediatrics at the CHP. Graves has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2014 Young Investigator Award from CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and the Young Physician-Scientist Award from the American Society of Clinical Investigators.
“It’s a tremendous honor. I was very overwhelmed when I received the news,” said Graves. “I can’t believe I deserve such a prestigious award, but I am very proud and humbled to be recognized.”
Milton Hershey School honored Graves during a special recognition dinner on Saturday, June 13. He also addressed students and staff during commencement on Sunday, June 14.