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Allan Stewart, M.D. ’91 Delivers the 62nd Annual Mendel Lecture

Dr. Allan Stewart

An engaged group of students from the biology program and the applied science and technology program watched intently as they witnessed a clip of Allan S. Stewart, M.D. ’91 performing cardiothoracic surgery on an 81 year old woman.

Stewart is a thoracic cardiovascular board certified surgeon at NewYork Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and he returned to Saint Peter’s University to deliver the 62nd Annual Mendel Lecture on Thursday, April 25.

Stewart came to discuss the latest advances in cardiothoracic surgery, but also shared insights from his personal experience, beginning as a student at Saint Peter’s to his career path of becoming a cardiac surgeon to his role as a husband and father.

Following the clip of the surgery on the 81 year-old patient, Stewart joked, “If you are wondering how this surgery worked out, when this patient was released from the hospital six days later and didn’t have a ride home, her 104 year-old mother came to pick her up.”

Stewart received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Saint Peter’s University and completed medical school at UMDNJ – Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and went on to his fellowship at NewYork- Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. Stewart’s areas of expertise include cardiothoracic surgery, cardiac surgery, coronary artery bypass surgery, open heart surgery, heart failure and more. He was rated one of Castle Connolly’s America’s Top Doctors and one of New York Magazine’s Best Doctors. In addition to a myriad of contributions in his field and to outstanding patient care, Stewart is well known for being part of the team that performed heart surgery on President Bill Clinton.

The Mendel Lecture is the longest running lecture series in the University’s history and features distinguished speakers in science. This year’s event was cosponsored by the biology department, the department of applied science and technology and the Mendel Society of Saint Peter’s University.

“It is very humbling to be back at Saint Peter’s and having the opportunity to see my old professors,” said Stewart. “Saint Peter’s, as a liberal arts Jesuit institution, gives students the foundation they need to be well-balanced human beings.”

Beyond his in-depth overview of different types of surgeries and heart conditions, Stewart also gave some incredibly valuable advice to the audience. While it can be very challenging to pursue a career in the medical field, Stewart demonstrated that it could be very fruitful and advised students to invest in friendships, cultivate a hobby, maintain an exercise regimen, don’t take themselves too seriously, think outside the box, plan for the unexpected, keep an inventory of decisions, find the right life partner, stop and smell the roses, avoid burnout, teach the next generation and maintain humility and grace.

Bernadette Sylla ’14, biology major and women’s studies minor who plans to pursue a career in obstetrics, was pleased she attended the lecture because she felt Stewart spoke to the students on a level in which they could relate. Most importantly, Stewart gave Sylla an added boost of motivation.

“Medical school is so competitive and it is only going to get more competitive,” said Sylla. “You run the risk of getting burnt out. He gives me so much hope because he was at Saint Peter’s just 18 years ago. It is so encouraging and makes me confident in my career path.”

Biology major, Peter Cannon ’15, couldn’t agree more with Sylla’s sentiments. Although Cannon plans to pursue a career as a veterinarian, he still found Stewart’s lecture very interesting. He was most impressed by the fact that Stewart is a graduate of Saint Peter’s who has already accomplished so much in his career. “It’s pretty exciting that Dr. Stewart moved through the ranks of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania all the way to NewYork/Presbyterian Hospital from Saint Peter’s. It takes a lot of hard work, but it’s great to know that students from Saint Peter’s can make it to the highest reaches of their fields.”

Mendel Lecture 4.25.13