Our Achievement Highlights


Drs. Karina Davidson & Matthew Burg were awarded from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute an R01 grant entitled, "Ecological Link of Psychosocial Stress to Exercise: Personalized Pathways." Dr. Davidson also presented a keynote lecture to the German Association for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, in Berlin, Germany, as well as a webinar for NIH on Integrating Economic Analysis into NIH Funded Research. Finally, she was the first Alexander H. Glassman Memorial Lecturer for the New York Psychiatric Institute.

Dr. Donald Edmondson completed the second year of his NIH mentored career development (K) award to investigate posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients. Aside from completing a Masters of Public Health at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, in the 2012 calendar year, he had 18 manuscripts published or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals including Archives of Internal Medicine (now JAMA Internal Medicine), European Heart Journal, American Journal of Public Health, and American Journal of Cardiology. One of his articles, a meta-analysis of the prevalence of ACS-induced PTSD and its association with recurrent ACS and mortality published in PLoS ONE, received a great deal of media coverage in outlets such as The New York Times, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, and JAMA. His most recent work has focused on modifiable aspects of emergency department care for ACS that may influence subsequent development of PTSD, and on potential mechanisms by which ACS-induced PTSD confers risk for subsequent ACS and mortality. Finally, he submitted two R01 grant proposals in 2012 which are still pending: the first to investigate the effect of emergency department crowding on psychological and physiological prognosis in ACS patients, and the second to estimate the prevalence of stroke-induced PTSD in a large national sample of stroke survivors and determine whether stroke-induced PTSD is associated with stroke recurrence, ACS, or mortality.

Dr. William Whang published a first-author paper in Journal of the American Heart Association, about global psychological distress and atrial fibrillation in the Women’s Health Study, and was lead author on the paper describing the design of the CODIACS randomized trial of depression treatment (Contemporary Clinical Trials). In spring 2012, he served on the cardiac electrophysiology peer review committee for the American Heart Association.

In July 2012, Dr. Jonathan Shaffer finished his postdoctoral training, completed a Master's of Science degree in Biostatistics, and joined the faculty of CBCH as Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine Sciences. That same month, he received a perfect score on an application for a K23 Career Development Award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. His project, titled "Improving quality of life in outpatients with heart failure: A dose-finding study and randomized controlled trial," will investigate the number of sessions of telephone-delivered Problem-Solving Treatment (PST) needed to produce a clinically meaningful improvement in quality of life for outpatients with heart failure. It will also test whether this number of PST sessions is superior to Time Management in improving exercise capacity. This project may ultimately contribute to improving other cardiac, behavioral, and functional outcomes of patients with heart failure.

Dr. Ellen-ge Denton received a lecture presentation award at the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology: Quantitative Training for Underrepresented Groups conference in August 2012. She had two new manuscripts accepted for publication, with three manuscripts submitted. She presented at a variety of venues, responding to invitations to lecture at community events, scientific conferences, and international forums. She lectured on Unity in the Body at South Floral Park Women's Conference and Becoming a Scientific Investigator at The Dumont School Career day. She presented original scientific work at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, American Psychosomatic Society in Athens Greece, the Bi-Annual meeting of European Conference on Personality in Trieste, Italy, and the PRIDE scholar conference at the NIH, in Bethesda, Maryland. She was invited to lecture and lead a team of professional adults to the Cambodia Outreach (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). The team trained Cambodian leaders and provided psychoeducation to address childhood trauma. She clinically supervises, graduate students, who provide psychological intervention services to community members in Bedford Stuyvesant New York at Bread & Life Soup Kitchen. Along with local community leaders, Dr. Denton coordinates an annual inner city youth retreat, preparing young people for academic and civil leadership.

Dr. Siqin Ye received a NIH Loan Repayment Grant. He has continued to work with Drs. Davidson and Shimbo, and has published a paper in the Journal of American College of Cardiology on why depressed patients with coronary heart disease have higher risk of recurrent cardiovascular events. His current research focus is on how to determine patient preference for health information during the shared decision making process.

Dr. Keith Diaz, who started working at the Center in July 2012, was awarded an NIH/NHLBI Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research for his proposal on a study looking at the relationship between blood pressure variability and blood vessel health. Along with colleagues from his previous institution, he also has published work on the role that blood pressure variability plays in the progression of chronic kidney disease and vascular dysfunction. He is currently at work on several manuscripts as well as future grants in the areas of treatment resistant hypertension, lifestyle interventions, and blood pressure variability.


Dr. Karina Davidson was awarded a renewal of her mid-career mentoring award from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Midcareer mentoring in Behavioral Cardiology: Depression & Coronary Heart Disease. She also presented a Master lecture at the American Psychosomatic Society, in San Antonio, Texas. Other talks included presentations at American College of Cardiology, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, European Academy of Liaison Psychiatry, International Congress of Cardiology, European Psychology Society, and the NIH office of Behavioral & Social Science Research. She presented grand rounds at Mount Sinai, Teachers College, CUNY, and Charite Hospital in Germany.

Dr. Daichi Shimbo gave an invited talk at the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research on “Depression and Cardiovascular Disease: Back to the Platelet 5-HT2A Receptor” in Deer Valley, Utah.

Dr. Matthew Burg presented an invited address on his randomized clinical trial, “Reducing Vulnerability to ICD Shock Treated Ventricular Arrhythmias” at the International Conference on Patient Reported Outcomes in Arrhythmia at Tilburg University. He also presented Psychiatry Grand Rounds on “Stress, Anger, and Cardiovascular Disease” at SUNY Stony Brook, and Cardiology Grand Rounds on “Stress, Emotion, and Cardiovascular Disease” at Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Donald Edmondson, who joined our Center as Assistant Professor in January 2011, accepted an NIH mentored career development (K) award to investigate the comparative and cost-effectiveness of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) screening and treatment for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients. He was also accepted to and completed the Columbia Summer Research Institute program. Aside from his work toward a Masters of Public Health at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, in the 2011 calendar year, he had 2 book chapters published and 12 manuscripts published or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Most of his peer-reviewed work focused on either cognitive mechanisms underlying PTSD symptoms or recurrent cardiovascular and mortality risk associated with ACS-induced PTSD. One of those publications, his Journal of Psychiatric Research article showing elevated recurrence and mortality risk associated with ACS-induced PTSD, was featured in the September 19 edition of Journal Watch Psychiatry. He also submitted two R01 grant proposals in 2011 which are still pending: the first to investigate the effect of emergency department crowding on psychological and physiological prognosis in ACS patients, and the second to create a measure of “cardiotoxic” stress to aid in recurrence risk stratification in ACS patients.

Dr. Ian Kronish joined our Center in July of 2011 and soon after began recruitment into his NHLBI-funded MATCH trial. This study tests whether objectively measuring adherence to blood pressure medications with electronic pillboxes can improve the management of uncontrolled hypertension. Another highlight included a manuscript published in the prestigious cardiovascular journal Circulation which showed that certain classes of blood pressure medications (e.g., diuretics and beta-blockers) are strongly associated with lower medication adherence as compared to other antihypertensive drug classes.

Dr. William Whang had two first-authored papers accepted for publication, one on QT interval prolongation in women with depressive symptoms after acute coronary syndrome (Europace), and another on a novel electrocardiographic measure to predict cardiovascular mortality, QRS|T angle (American Journal of Cardiology). In December, he delivered an invited talk for cardiology grand rounds at Mount Sinai Medical Center of Miami, on ‘Depression and heart disease.’ Also in 2011, he received the Lewis Katz Research Prize for junior faculty in cardiology at Columbia, based on his proposal, ‘A New Approach to Identifying the Slow Conduction Zone in Atrial Flutter.’

In November 2011, Dr. Jonathan Shaffer was awarded a two-year Clinical Research Program award from the American Heart Association. His project, titled “Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) Incidence: Depression and Vitamin D Deficiency Risk,” will examine the associations among depressive symptoms, vitamin D, and the risk of developing CHD. This project may ultimately help to inform whether vitamin D deficiency is a feasible public health treatment target for those with depression who are at increased risk of CHD.

Dr. Jonathan Newman, a Cardiovascular Sciences Training grant fellow with our center, published two manuscripts and co-authored two additional in-press papers over the 2010-2011 time period. Additionally, Dr. Newman gave an oral presentation at the 2011 national meeting of the American Heart Association; was selected as a finalist for the Jeremiah Stamler junior investigator award by the American Heart Association – Epidemiology division; and published a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Over this time, Dr. Newman also served as an ad-hoc reviewer for Circulation and Heart, and first-authored twelve in-press book chapters for the Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine.  Dr. Newman was the course-director for an electrocardiogram practicum for second and third year medical students.  Finally, Dr. Newman was selected to receive a clinical research loan repayment award from the National Institute of Health for his research endeavors with our center.

Dr. Ellen-ge Denton was awarded the PRIDE scholarship during the spring of 2011. This scholarship allows for advanced statistical and methodological education, NIH grant mentorship, and further collaborations within the academic medicine scientific community. Dr. Denton successfully completed the Columbia Summer Research Institute, Summer 2011. She had one new manuscript accepted for publication and three manuscripts submitted for publication. She presented at the American Psychosomatic Society in San Antonio, Texas and has been invited to lecture internationally at ASanctuary Organization for Sexually and Physically Abused Youth, Georgetown, Guyana. She mentored three dissertation students throughout the academic year, projects entitled The Role of School Social Workers Working With Children In Foster Care And The Factors That Impact That Role; African American acculturation and its relationship to subjective well-being in African American Women; and College Women in the 21st Century: A Closer look at Academic, Family, and Work Demands on levels of Burnout. Along with local community leaders, Dr. Denton coordinates an annual inner city youth retreat, preparing young people for academic and civil leadership.

Dr. Siqin Ye, who started working at the Center in June 2011, was selected as one of the recipients for the American College of Cardiology Foundation / Merck Research Fellowship Award for his proposal on a study of medication non-adherence in patients with acute coronary syndromes. Along with Drs. Davidson, Denton, and Wasson, he also published a review on epidemiology and management of depression in women with coronary heart disease. He is currently the Chief Cardiology Fellow for the Columbia University Medical Center Cardiology Fellowship Program, and is also at work on several other manuscripts as well as future grants.