NIH Researcher-Physician to Address MUSC Graduates

April 19, 2018

CHARLESTON, SC – John F. Tisdale, M.D., a renowned authority on sickle cell disease, will address MUSC’s 2018 graduating class during commencement ceremonies on May 19. Approximately 644 candidates are expected to receive their degrees from MUSC’s six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy.

A graduate of the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina, Tisdale was one of four clinicians featured during a three-part documentary on the Discovery Channel last fall entitled, “First in Human.” The documentary followed the physicians and their patients during experimental clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health. He and his research team successfully cured an African-American woman of sickle cell disease. To date, his team has enrolled more than 100 patients with sickle cell disease, testing curative approaches developed in his laboratory. These trials include new approaches to bone marrow transplantation from related donors as well as genetically manipulating a patient’s own bone marrow followed by transplantation, and in the majority of cases, they have achieved success.

He did his internship and residency at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and was chief resident at the Nashville Veterans Administration Medical Center. He joined the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in 1994, where he has been a hematology fellow, senior staff fellow, and Clinical Investigator. In 2011, the College of Charleston presented him with the Alumni of the Year Award and the Pre-Medical Society’s Outstanding Service Award in Medicine. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and is a member of the American Society of Hematology.

Tisdale will receive a Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa honorary degree.

Also receiving honorary degrees will be:

  • Shawn A. Jenkins, M.B.A., former chief executive of software company Benefit focus and major donor to the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Toureville Women’s Pavilion, Doctor of Humane Letters.
  • Max D. Ray, Pharm.D., former director of MUSC’s Division of Clinical Pharmacy and currently dean emeritus of the College of Pharmacy at the Western University of Health Sciences, Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Following is a breakdown of graduates by college and demographics, including May, August, and December graduates:

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and 700 residents in six colleges (Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy), and has nearly 14,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.4 billion, with an annual economic impact of more than $3.8 billion and annual research funding in excess of $250 million. MUSC operates a 700-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (a National Cancer Institute-designated center), Level I Trauma Center, Institute of Psychiatry, and the state’s only transplant center. In 2017, for the third consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the number one hospital in South Carolina. For more information on academic programs or clinical services, visit For more information on hospital patient services, visit