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Archives - 2008

Archived news from the year:

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Thank you to all CUMC faculty, staff, and students for bringing a smile to children in the Washington Heights/Inwood community.

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Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal Visits CDM


  First year resident Dr. Hannah Ahn meets with Assemblywoman Rosenthal to discuss ways that dentist can help identify and prevent child abuse


The Assemblywoman tours the Vanderbilt Clinic dental facilities with Dr. Ronnie Myers


On December 17th, Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, who represents Manhattan’s Upper West Side and parts of Clinton in the New York State Assembly, visited the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CDM).  She made the visit because of her interest in learning about oral health issues and what she could do as an elected official to expand care and reduce the burden of dental disease in her community.  The visit started out with a meeting with Associate Deans Ronnie Myers, Stephen Marshall, and Professor Burt Edelstein.  They briefed the Assemblywoman who serves on the Assembly Health Committee on the importance of oral health care and outlined some of the programs Columbia has in place to promote it.  Dr. Edelstein also discussed some of the coverage and policy issues involving children.  After the meeting, Dr. Myers took her on a tour of the Vanderbilt Clinic dental facilities, where Assemblywoman Rosenthal had a chance to see how students, residents, and faculty all work together to provide care.  Afterwards, she took a quick tour of the pediatric facilities in the Rosenfield building.

Assemblywoman Rosenthal has a particular interest in domestic violence issues and has worked in the Assembly to introduce legislation and find strategies on how to prevent it.  Dr. Myers has worked closely with a local community activist to provide restorative care to victims of domestic violence.  She also met with first year resident Hannah Ahn.  Dr. Ahn is examining how dentists can better help identify and prevent child abuse.

The Assemblywoman came away from her visit with an enhanced understanding of the importance of oral health care.  She was also impressed with the work that CDM is doing to make care available to as many people as possible.  While cautioning that the current economic crisis and tight state budget did make it difficult expand state support of dental programs at this time, she did say she would strongly support programs that support academic dentistry and oral health care, and once the budget situation improved, would be a champion of these programs in the future.


Community Board 12 Recognizes 2008/2009 Dyckman Scholars


Awarded Students

"2008/2009 Columbia College Dyckman Institute Fund Scholarship Winner, Iliane Feliz, Christopher Davidson, Arcania Garcia, and Patricia Rojas"

Four local Columbia College students were the guests of honor at the November Community Board 12 meeting as the Board recognized the recipients of the Dyckman Institute Fund scholarship for the 2008/2009 academic year.  This year’s winners are freshman Christopher Davidson, sophomore Patricia Rojas, junior Iliana Feliz, and senior Arcania Garcia.  The Dyckman scholarship provides financial support to outstanding undergraduate students living in the Upper Manhattan neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood.  In the current academic year, approximately 21 students from these neighborhoods benefit from more than $680,000 in need-based scholarships to attend Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.  


All students were accompanies by their parents and four Dyckman alumni, James Grate, Elbert Garcia, Brenda Cepeda, and Vera Tseylikman were present as well.  Ross Frommer, Associate Dean for Government and Community Affairs at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), introduced the students to the one hundred plus community residents who in attendance.  This was the largest turnout of Dyckman Scholars that had ever attended the Community Board meeting.  Marjorie Ortiz, Financial Aid Officer with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid, and Victoria Benitez, Senior Public Affairs Officer, were also present, as was one very special community resident, Robert Isaacs, who has been a very strong supporter of the Dyckman Scholars program.   Board President Many Velazquez recognized the students for their academic achievements, saying, “Community Board 12 is proud to congratulate our own Washington Heights and Inwood residents who have excelled as students at Columbia.  As we praise their academic excellence, we share their achievements with our community so others may follow their leadership.”


Then it was the students turn to speak.  As the Manhattan Times noted, going to Columbia and receiving the Dyckman Scholarship was, “A chance for a dream.”  All thanked the community for their support and had very special words for their parents.  Mr. Davidson, the first male Dyckman Scholar in many years, said he felt that attending Columbia was the best decision he ever made, a sentiment echoed by the other students agreed.  Ms. Feliz spoke about how as a Columbia student she has been a role model for other students from her community.  Ms. Rojas and Ms. Garcia said that they are strongly considering a career in either medicine and/or public health.  This pleased Dean Frommer greatly who has been hoping for some time to see a Dyckman Scholar attend one the CUMC schools.  He pointed what an excellent choice the College of Physicians & Surgeons or the Mailman School of Public Health would be. 


One of 300 individual need-based scholarships available to Columbia.

students, this program’s origins can be traced to founding father Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton’s widow, Eliza, donated the building and land for the Hamilton Free School — the first school in Washington Heights — in 1818. In 1860, the school became the Dyckman Library, the first free public library in Upper Manhattan. In the early 1920’s the library became the Dyckman Institute, which operated both a museum devoted to local archaeology in Inwood Hill Park and a publishing house. In 1943, the trustees of the institute decided to dissolve it and to establish a scholarship fund at Columbia for students from Washington Heights and Inwood.

Manhattan Times Dyckman Scholars Story

Columbia's Dykman Scholars on Telemundo


Election Forum Gives Students, Staff, and Faculty an Opportunity to Discuss Important Health Care Issues


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On October 20th, over three hundred Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) students, faculty, staff, and friends gathered in Alumni Auditorium for the CUMC Election Forum.  The Election Forum was an opportunity to discuss the important health care issues at stake in the 2008 election.  The discussion illuminated where Senators John McCain and Barak Obama stand on the issues and helped audience members make an informed decision before casting their vote.

The highlight of the Forum was a panel moderated by Professor Sreenath Sreenivasan, Dean of Students at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a technology reporter with WNBC-TV.  Dr. Elise Gould, a Health Care and Labor Economist with the Economic Policy Institute, spoke about and in favor of Senator Obama’s plan.  She was followed by Dr. Robert Goldberg, Vice President of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, who extolled the virtues of Senator McCain’s plan.  A very lively back and forth with questions from the audience followed.

Before turning the podium over to Professor Sreenivasan, P&S second year medical student Brett Youngerman welcomed everybody and discussed the importance of the upcoming election to medical students.  Executive Vice President and Dean Lee Goldman then talked about the importance of voting and staying involved in the political process.  He also spoke about work he had done for his thesis on national health insurance during the Nixon Administration.  The final speaker before the panel was Ross Frommer, Associate Dean for Government and Community Affairs, who gave an election overview.

The CUMC Election Forum was made possible by the generous support of Dr. Robin Cook, a P&S alumnus, and Country Bank and Joseph Murphy.  The event was co-hosted by the CUMC Office of Government and Community Affairs, the P&S Office of Curricular Affairs, the American Medical Student Association, the Center for Bioethics, the School of Nursing, the College of Dental Medicine, the Mailman School of Public Health, and the Columbia Political Union.

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Election Forum Presentations and Articles


Experts Spar Over McCain, Obama's Health Care Plans

Columbia Talk by Elise Gould

Goldberg Article in the Daily News

2008 RAF Election Forum 1020


Dean Goldman Joins Assemblyman Espaillat to Announce Plans for Safety and Security Upgrades at the 168th Street Subway Stop


On August 14th EVP and Dean Lee Goldman joined local Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights) and others to announce new safety and security improvements at the 168th Street subway station.  Assemblyman Espaillat was able to secure $500,000 from New York state for the project which will consist of improved lighting added video surveillance.  The 168th Street station serves the A, C, and 1 trains and is the second busiest stop in the system north of 96th Street.

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Left to Right:  Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat; Lee Goldman, Dean, CUMC;

Helen Morik, NYPH Vice President for Government & Community Affairs


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Left to Right: Lee Goldman, Dean, CUMC; Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat; Helen Morik, NYPH Vice President for Government & Community Affairs; Inspector Wilcox, 33rd Police Precinct; Norbert Sanders, Dr. Norbert Sander, President of the Armory Foundation

Speaking at a press conference, Dean Goldman thanked Assemblyman Espaillat for making the funding possible and noted how important these planned improvements are for CUMC.  Roughly half of CUMC’s employees use the subway to get to work each day.

Dean Goldman and Assemblyman Adriano were joined by Helen Morik, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs for New York Presbyterian Hospital, Norbert Sanders, President of the Armory Foundation, and Inspector Jason Wilcox, Chief of Manhattan Transit for the New York City Police Department.  All noted that this station serves a world class medical center and it should be a world class station.  While more work needs to be done to make that happen, and Assemblyman Espaillat pledged to keep pushing for further improvements, these upgrades will make the station a safer and more secure place for the staff, faculty, students, patients, and visitors who use the subway.


Dean Goldman Visits Capitol Hill – Speaks with Legislators About

Health Policy Issues


Dean Goldman and the Deans of other New York Medical Schools meet with New York Senate Charles Schumer.            


Dean Goldman with Congresswomen Nita Lowey (1) and Carolyn Maloney (r)

On July 9th CUMC Executive Vice President and Dean Lee Goldman spent the day on Capitol Hill in Washington meeting and discussing health policy with Members of Congress and their staffs.  The visit was part of the annual Associated Medical Schools of New York annual lobby day which saw the Deans of seven New York medical schools as well as Senior Associate Deans and Government Affairs representatives come together to lobby on behalf of issues of importance to New York’s medical schools.

Throughout the day, Dean Goldman and the other Deans stressed the importance of increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and discussed efforts to prevent drastic cuts in Medicare Physician Payments.  As luck would have it, while they Deans were in the Washington, the Senate passed a measure to prevent the cuts in Medicare spending.

The Deans as a group met with New York Senator Charles Schumer and staff from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, including Dr. Kathleen Klink, a CUMC faculty member from the Department of Medicine who is working for Senator Clinton as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow.  AMS also hosted a breakfast in the Rayburn House Office Building for members of the House delegation.  Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Congressman James Walsh spoke about the appropriations process and what it meant for NIH funding.  Several other Members and staff attended and had a chance to share their thoughts on the issues of concern to the Deans.

Dean Goldman spent the afternoon meeting individually with Members of the New York delegation again stressing the importance of funding NIH and taking care of the physician payment issue.  He also discussed legislation that would amend the federal False Claims Act.  While aimed at preventing the waste, fraud, and abuse of federal dollars, this legislation could have severe and unintended consequences for research institutions like Columbia.  Dean Goldman stressed the importance of addressing these concerns before moving forward with the legislation.

Medical Center Neighborhood Fund 22nd  Award’s Ceremony


On June 26th, 2008,  Dr. Lee Goldman, Dr. Jeffrey Leiberman and Andria Castellanos welcomed community leaders, faculty, staff and community based organizations  at the 22nd Medical Center Neighborhood Fund Award’s Ceremony.  The Neigborhood Fund awarded grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 to community based organizations that provide an array of recreational, supportive and educational services to residents in the Washington Heights-Inwood community.   A total of over $65,000 was awarded.   

The Medical Center Neighborhood Fund was founded twenty-two years ago as a joint  effort of Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and New York State Psychiatric Institute.  The Fund supports local non-profit organizations that offer a host of services that improve quality of life for all residents in the Washington Heights-Inwood community.  The initiatve is made possible by volunteerism and monetary contributions of faculty and employees of our three institutions. One hundred percent of every employee-contributed dollar goes to support community programs and services.

Each year, the Medical Center Neighborhood Fund presents  the Donald F. Tapley Award to  an organization that exceeds the expectations of the granting committee and demonstrates an extreme need for funding to continue its programming. Our congratulations to this year’s Tapley award winner: The Ecumenical Food Pantry and its Executive Director, Talia Bernal-Lockspeiser.

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Assembly Leader Gives CDM Commencement Address


On May 22nd, New York State Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, Jr. delivered the commencement address at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CDM) graduation ceremony.  First elected in 1974, Assemblyman Farrell represents the 71st district which includes much of the CUMC campus.  Assemblyman Farrell has been a very strong supporter of CUMC and has helped secure funding for many CDM programs.    Assemblyman Farrell began his remarks by thanking the students and faculty for all the good work they do to promote oral health in the community.  He highlighted the mobile dental van and the clinic that CDM runs in the Edward J. Stitt middle school, which the Assemblyman attended when he was growing up in the neighborhood.

denny farrell For the first time, CUMC graduations ceremonies were held at the New Balance Track and Field Hall of Fame at the Armory.  Assemblyman Farrell spoke about the history of the Armory and how it had evolved from a military installation, to a homeless shelter, to the magnificent museum and athletic facility that it is today.  He noted that as a teenager, he had actually done part of his National Guard training in the very same building that the graduates were now sitting. 

Assemblyman Farrell ended his remarks with some advice to the class of 2008.  Referencing the movie the Graduate he told them to always be sure to enjoy their work and to keep doing it as long as they found it fulfilling and worthwhile.


Congress Considering Legislation to Add $1.2 Billion for Science in 2008

Congress may consider legislation that would add $1.2 billion for science to this year's federal budget. This increase would include $400 million extra for the National Institutes of Health. I urge you to contact your Senators and Members of Congress and ask them to support this vital funding initiative. To help you with your message, you can use a template <http://capwiz.com/ram/issues/alert/?alertid=11446131>drafted by Research!America, whose advocacy tool will send your message directly to your Representatives. You can also go to www.house.gov <http://www.house.gov> and www.senate.gov <http://www.senate.gov>. Please be sure to use your home address, not the address for CUMC. Of course, any communication from you in support of the NIH would be helpful.

Please feel free to contact Ross A. Frommer, Associate Dean for Government and Community Affairs, if you have any questions or need any assistance. You can reach Ross at (212) 305-4967 or at raf2002@columbia.edu. Please take this opportunity to let Congress know how important NIH funding is.


Lions Roar Fiercely at Coogan’s Run

Medical Center Challenge Team


Over 120 Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) faculty, staff, students, and friends, more than double last year’s number, took part in the 10th annual Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K road race.  There were far more CUMC runners than any other team in the race and over twenty families form the Columbia University Head Start also took part in the children’s run. 

Held on March 2nd, more than 5,000 runners of all ages, also a record, including world class competitors and local celebrities, celebrated the strong community ties and rich cultural diversity of northern Manhattan, by taking to the streets of Washington Heights.  The race started and finished across from the Medical Center at the Armory National Track and Field Hall of Fame, heading up and back on Fort Washington Avenue with a loop through historic and beautiful Fort Tryon Park.  A collage of musical groups including gospel, bagpipes, merengue, klezmer, jazz, and salsa bands serenaded the runners along the route.  Once again this year members of the Columbia University Dance Team were on hand to route the runners on.  After the finish, runners and spectators adjourned to Coogan’s for good food and good fun.

Columbia was victorious once again in the Medical Center Challenge, capturing the contest for the fourth year in a row by defeating runners from the New York Presbyterian Hospital.  This year, trainers from Plus 1 Fitness, operators of the hospital fitness center, helped many runners get in shape for the race.  Ian Driver, a graduate student in Cellular, Molecular, Structural, and Genetic Studies, was the top male finisher for the CUMC team with a time of 18:01, while Cassie Fairchild from the Department of Medicine led the way on behalf of the CUMC women with a time of 23:05.  Congratulations also to John Mann, from the Psychiatric Institute, who finished second among men in his age group.  Full results can be found be visiting the New York Roadrunners.

The challenge was cosponsored by CUMC, New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Seasons of Wellness Initiative, Plus 1 Fitness, and the Columbia University Athletic Department.


Deans Make Case for Academic Medicine in New York

More than a dozen Deans, Associate Deans, and Government Affairs Representatives from New York Medical Schools traveled to Albany in February to make their case before the Executive and Legislative branches.  The Deans lobbied for items such as continued funding for stem cell research, more money for research infrastructure, debt relief for medical students, and funding for minority recruitment programs.  Columbia University Medical Center Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Anne Taylor was among those who participated.  After spending some time with two of the Medical Center’s representatives, Assemblymen Herman “Denny” Farrell and Adriano Espaillat, Dr. Taylor joined her colleagues for meetings with Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, and Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon.

Caption for attached picture:  (l to r), Robert Goldberg from Touro College, Jo Wiederhorn, Executive Director of the Associated Medical Schools of New York, Michael Kane, Dean of the University of Buffalo School of Medicine, Lt. Governor Paterson, Dr. Taylor and Steven Strongwater, Chief Executive Officer of the Stony Brook University Hospital.


Alianza Triangle Building Groundbreaking

On February 8, 2008, Columbia University leadership joined Alianza Dominicana, The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Borough Presdient Scott Stringer, Congressman Charles B. Rangel and the Washington Heights-Inwood community for the groundbreaking of the long-awaited Alianza Dominicana Triangle.   Alianza Dominicana will begin construction of a six-story building in the heart of the medical center community – 166th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.  In addition to housing for profit business and non-profit community services, the Triangle will be the home of first Dominican/Latino cultural center - Casa Afro-Quisqueya Cultural Center. 

The project counts with strong support and contributions of Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Columbia University and various elected officials including Congressman Charles Rangel, State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilman Miguel Martinez.





Speaker Quinn Comes to CUMC to Lead Fight to Prevent Bedbugs

Bed Bugs Press Conference

On January 16th New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, along with three of her colleagues on the Council, Gale Brewer, Robert Jackson, and Miguel Martinez, came to Columbia University Medical Center to unveil a city wide initiative to fight bed bugs.  The effort is being lead by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), who was represented at the press conference by Deputy Commissioner Luis Aragon.  HPD will be hosting a series of workshops on what residents can do to prevent and get rid of bedbugs.  The first such seminar will be held on January 28th at Columbia University Medical Center.  For more information, go to www.nyc.gov.


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