Medicinal chemist Sabine Hadida to deliver Graduate School Commencement address

Author: Erin Blasko

Sabine Hadida, Ph.D.Sabine Hadida, Ph.D.

The University of Notre Dame Graduate School will hold its annual commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. May 18 (Saturday) at Notre Dame Stadium. Sabine Hadida, a renowned medicinal chemist, will deliver the keynote address. University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., will confer the various master’s and doctoral degrees.

“I am very excited to have Dr. Hadida address our graduates,” said Michael Hildreth, associate provost, vice president for graduate studies and dean of the Graduate School. “Her career is a shining example of using advanced training and basic research to derive breakthrough treatments, providing hope to millions of people suffering from debilitating disease. She is an inspiration to us all, and a great role model for our graduates as they launch their own careers.”

Hadida serves as senior vice president and San Diego site head at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. She gained international recognition as the leader of the chemistry team that discovered FDA-approved medicines Kalydeco, Orkambi, Symdeko and Trikafta as well as nine medicines in clinical development and two in preclinical development.

For her revolutionary work in drug discovery, Hadida was a co-recipient, with Paul Negulescu and Fredrick Van Goor, of the 2024 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, as well as the 2023 Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences.

Prior to joining Vertex in 2002, Hadida was a research scientist at CombiChem Inc. and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds more than 60 U.S. patents and is the author of many peer-reviewed articles published in scientific journals. Hadida earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in pharmacy from the University of Barcelona in Spain.

In addition to delivering the Graduate School commencement address, Hadida will receive an honorary doctor of science degree at the 179th University Commencement Ceremony on May 19.

“Earning a graduate degree is no small feat, and for each of this year’s graduates, I am confident that their time at the University of Notre Dame will represent an important part of the journey toward making an impact on the world,” Hadida said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to this year’s graduating class, celebrate their accomplishments, and share some of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career of applying medicinal chemistry to discover therapies for cystic fibrosis.”

The Graduate School has also announced the following student, faculty and alumni awards for the 2023-24 academic year.

Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award: Michael Davern (’99 Ph.D.), executive vice president and chief research officer for the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

James A. Burns, C.S.C., Award: Prashant V. Kamat, the Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Science in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Rebecca Ann Wingert, the Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and director of graduate studies in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Dick and Peggy Notebaert Award: William A. Phillip, the Rooney Family Collegiate Chair of Engineering and director of graduate studies in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Award in Engineering: Ryan R. Posh, doctoral candidate in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Award in Humanities: Anne Elise Crafton, doctoral candidate from the Medieval Institute.

Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Award in Science: Carlos Misael Madrid Padilla, doctoral candidate in the Department of Mathematics.

Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Award in Social Sciences: Natán Ezequiel Skigin, doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science.

Social Justice Award: Camille “Cam” Mosley, doctoral candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Originally published by Erin Blasko at on April 22, 2024.