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Attend the CUMC Election Forum -- September 26th

For more info go to https://events.columbia.edu/cal/event/showEventMore.rdo

Election Forum Moderator:




Watch the CUMC Election Forum Live https://www.facebook.com/columbiamed/






CUMC Hosts Sixth Annual “Project Medical Education”


Earlier this summer, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) held its annual Project Medical Education (PME).PME brings local residents, community leaders, policy makers, and opinion leaders to campus to learn about CUMC and its education, research, patient care, and community service missions.  The program is part of a nationwide initiative coordinated by the Association of American Medical Colleges. CUMC is the only PME site that focuses primarily on community residents and neighbors.

After a brief overview of CUMC finances, PME students learned about the medical education curriculum and got to spend time talking with current medical students.  They also heard a talk on histology and studied the difference between normal and malignant tissue.

The rest of the day included a visit to the Institute of Genomic Medicine where Columbia scientists are playing a key role in President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative.  There were also sessions at the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, where PME students had the opportunity to play public health investigator, install model dental implants, participate in an operating room simulation, and see cross sections of human brain being sliced as part of suicide prevention research.

Ross A. Frommer, Vice President and Associate Dean at the CUMC Office of Government & Community Affairs, which runs the PME program, said, “We host PME each summer because we want to give neighbors, policy makers, and others the opportunity to see first-hand and learn about our missions and the important and exciting work going on every day at CUMC”.

Participant Tenya Steele, Director of Environmental Health at WE ACT, noted, “My experience totallyexceeded my expectations.  This whole day was tremendous.” 

John Reddick, a Harlem resident and one of the Columbia University Community Scholars, added, “Very Impressive day!.  I especially liked the diverse interchange between speakers at the College of Dental Medicine.”

This was the 6th year that CUMC has hosted the PME and over 120 people have now been through the program.  The next program will occur sometime during the summer of 2017.





New Medical Education Building Unveiled by Greg McQueen








The 32nd Medieval Festival is Sunday, September 18, 2016 from 11:30am-6pm in Ft. Tryon Park and volunteers are needed throughout the day at the largest annual NYC Parksevent. If you would like to volunteer, please email meatmcollinswhidc@aol.com.

About 80 volunteers helped last year and we will need that many again. Please choose from these opportunities.

• Volunteers Check-in Assistant (4 people needed, one per shift 7am-11am; 11am-2pm; 2pm-5pm; 5pm-8pm)

• Tent Set-up (12 or more people from 6:30am-9:30am)

• Tent Breakdown (12 or more people from 6:30pm-8:30pm)

• Information Booth (As many as possible in shifts from 11am-7pm)

• Hay Drop-offs (10 people from 7am-10am)

• Booth Decorators (10 or more needed starting at 9am)

• Costume Tent (10 people needed in shifts starting at 8:30am)

• Traffic/Parking (8 people needed starting at 7am)



Project Medical Education 2016


On Aug 2, Columbia University Medical Center held its annualProject Medical Education(PME), organized by Ross Frommer, vice president for government and community affairs, and his team. PME, which is coordinated by theAssociation of American Medical Colleges, brings policy-makers and opinion leaders to medical schools and teaching hospitals to learn about academic medicine. Columbia is the only PME site where the attendees are primarily community residents and neighbors.

At Columbia School of Nursing, attendees heard about the school’s new building, curriculum and Washington Heights faculty practice primary care location, scheduled to open on September 14th from Judy Honig, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Dean of Students. They also observed a simulated surgical emergency with Nurse Anesthesia Program Director Michael Greco, Assistant Director Lyda Shambo and two nurse anesthesia students.


More on PME 2016:






Story and photos by Gregg McQueen

A forum was held for the community.

Dr. Dyan Summers may have just received her doctorate in nursing practice from Columbia University School of Nursing  – but years ago, she was at the forefront of identifying a troubling disease now provoking global alarm.

In 2013, one of her patients, a recreational traveler, had returned from a three-month trip to South America with a full-body rash, fever and conjunctivitis.

“At first, I was quite certain he had Dengue fever,” said Summers, who has served for over 15 years as a certified nurse practitioner specializing in tropical medicine.

The patient told Summers he had read about an outbreak of Zika in the region he had just traveled to.

Despite her experience, which included travel to 37 countries, she noted that up until that point she had little knowledge of the virus.

“While my assistant drew blood, I was looking up info on Zika and calling the CDC,” said Summers, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

The Zika case was soon confirmed by the federal health agency, and Summers later wrote an article for the Journal of Travel Medicine.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito carries the Zika virus.

The experience was shared this past Thurs., June 2nd, at a community health forum sponsored by the Columbia University Medical Center’s Office of Government and Community Affairs.

The event was intended to provide residents with the latest information regarding the mosquito-borne illness, which was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 1.

Though cases have been rare in the United States, Zika has been much more rampant in Latin America, with outbreaks reported in more than 40 countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Pregnant women are considered to be at the highest risk, as Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with a smaller than normal head and brain.

The June 2 forum was open to the public and offered Spanish translation for attendees.

Ricky Wong, Director of Community Affairs for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), reported that the latest count of Zika cases in New York City was about 120, including 18 pregnant women.

“The good news is that this mosquito is not here in New York City,” said Wong, referring to the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the Zika virus. “All of the Zika cases in the city are travel-related.”

Because many residents visit the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries during the summer months, it is particularly important that they are aware of the importance of protecting themselves from Zika, said Kiran Thakur, MD, ‎Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center.

The Dominican Republic now has more than 2,000 suspected cases of Zika, Thakur noted.

She recommended that travelers to Zika-prone areas wear long clothing and use insect repellent during their trip.

“Prevention is the key,” stated Thakur. “Preventing mosquito bites is the way we’re going to control this virus.”

Zika can be transmitted from mosquito bites, blood transfusions or sexual contact.

“We want to get the word out that this is a sexually transmitted disease,” Thakur said.

A baby with microcephaly (left) compared to a baby with a typical head size.

She added that there are several myths floating around about the Zika virus, including that the disease can be contracted from larvicide or vaccines.

Prior to 2007, only sporadic cases of Zika were reported. That year, the first outbreak of the disease was reported on Yap Island in the South Pacific.

Most people infected with Zika — 70 to 80 percent, according to Thakur — will show no symptoms at all.

Those who do get sick usually experience mild symptoms, including rash, and flu-like ailments such as fever, fatigue and joint pain.

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the Zika virus.

Dr. Rafal Tokarz, of the Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, explained that his center has been working on an improved diagnostic test for Zika.

Tokarz said that the simultaneous circulation of other mosquito-borne illnesses such as Dengue and Chikungunya in other countries has posed a challenge in terms of detection, as those diseases are genetically similar, which sometimes leads to false-positives on tests. Those diseases are all carried by the same mosquito.

The Center for Infection and Immunity recently developed an enhanced test to better differentiate between the illnesses.

“Effectively, in one quick test you can detect Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya and West Nile,” Tokarz said.

Throughout 2016, the NYC Department of Health will test mosquito pools for presence of Zika virus.

“Our center has entered into a partnership with the city to assist with this,” said Tokarz. “We’ll be able to test up to 90 mosquito pools in a 24-hour period.”

To prevent mosquito breeding, Wong said that the city treats large bodies of water, generally in non-populated areas, with larvicide, said Wong. The Department of Health will collect mosquitos from water, he said, and do testing to see if there’s a trace of a disease like West Nile.

“If so, we spray a low-level pesticide, and we generally give a community 48 hours’ notice,” Wong explained.

Because of the risk posed to pregnant women, city health officials recommend that New Yorkers traveling to Zika-infected areas use birth control during trip and for eight weeks afterward.

Pregnant women face greater risk.

“You should also consult with your healthcare provider before and after trip to Zika area,” Wong said.

When an attendee questioned Wong what the city was doing to get the word out about Zika, especially in immigrant communities, he responded that DOHMH has done presentations for community boards, Spanish–language interviews and issued backpack information for local school children.

After the forum, Washington Heights resident Anna, who is several months pregnant, said she is extremely concerned about Zika.

“I’m really nervous about it,” she remarked. “But the information I learned here helped me understand things better.”

Maria Luna said she also found the forum useful.

“It’s really important that our community is informed about what’s going on with Zika,” she said. Luna recalled her childhood in the Dominican Republic and how the government routinely sprayed the insect-control pesticide DDT to curb mosquito problems.

“It seems important that they develop a way to eliminate the mosquitos, safer than the way the used to back then,” Luna said.

Summers pointed out the immigrant community can be proactive in spreading the word about the disease.

“Everybody here can take that role on,” she insisted. “Dominicans can tell their neighbors about Zika and help dispel the myths.”

As for the 2013 patient who had proven to be one of the first confirmed cases of Zika?

“[He] fully recovered,” Summers reported.

For more information on the Zika virus, please visit http://on.nyc.gov/1nNrCsP or call 311.







Sandra Harris Receives Latino Trendsetters Award


Read full article:



Among keys to curing cancer, academic medical centers loom large

By Steven J. Corwin, M.D., Lee Goldman, M.D., MPH and Laurie H. Glimcher, M.D.

The moonshot to cure cancer will need to enlist the nation’s academic medical centers, our most powerful incubators of medical innovation. These institutions are already developing – and putting into use –some of the most promising therapies.

Following a memorable State of the Union in which he charged Vice President Joe Biden Joe BidenPelosi: GOP's 'disrespect' for Obama 'knows no bounds' Biden, Lady Gaga to team up for Oscars presentation Lawmakers launch Central America Caucus in meeting with Guatemalan leader MORE  to lead a “moonshot” to find a cure for cancer, President Obama is proposing nearly $1 billion to fund cancer research over the next two years. The moonshot initiative aims to double the rate of progress being made on promising new therapies by bringing together the top minds in the field, funding their best work and sharing the results with the world. If the Obama administration needs a model for how this can be accomplished, it can turn to the nation’s academic medical centers, which are already bringing next-generation treatments to patients across the country. 

We now know that cancer develops as a result of environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and genetics—and that no two cancers are exactly alike. Our understanding of the genetic landscape has increased exponentially over the last decade, leading to a promising new field: precision medicine. Bringing together clinicians, scientists and data engineers, among others, precision medicine is a highly personalized approach to care in which doctors examine the genetics of the patient and the mutations caused by the disease in order to develop and identify the best possible treatment options.

Though precision medicine remains a relatively young field, it is already yielding impressive results in the fight against cancer at academic medical centers. In New York City, genetic tests are helping oncologists tailor treatment plans that are specific to each unique patient. Over the past two years, sequencing data from the PIPseq program—which identifies the molecular drivers of an individual child’s cancer—has been used for many high-risk cases. In addition, a new DNA sequencing test known as EXaCT-1 recently received approval from the New York State Department of Health. Both tests have been extremely useful in guiding therapy in a very high percentage of children and adults.

Immunotherapies – a promising approach to cancer treatment designed to boost the body's natural defenses – represent another highly effective option made possible at academic medical centers through gene sequencing. This approach enlists the patient’s immune system to slow the growth of, halt or even shrink existing tumors previously considered treatment-resistant. Early results in this rapidly evolving field are remarkably promising, and we are just beginning to see what these kinds of therapies can do. To cite just one example, new immunotherapies have increased the one-year survival rate for patients with metastatic melanoma from less than 10 percent to more than 60 percent.

Developments like these are possible thanks, in large part, to the hubs of innovation at academic medical centers. These centers provide high-quality patient care to diverse populations, perform research to find the next generation of treatments and therapies, and train promising young physicians and scientists who will bring their ideas and findings to institutions across the world. 

Now is the time to support academic medical centers so that they can maximize their ability to advance this important initiative. Federal funding for NIH research and the training of tomorrow’s physicians needs to be increased, in order to support the research initiatives being discussed and to meet the growing need for researchers and clinicians. 

If we’re going to get serious about curing cancer, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach. Insurers — public and private — can help by recognizing the tremendous benefits of these therapies and opening them up to a wider range of patients. Philanthropists have laid the groundwork for so many discoveries, and we will need their vision and generosity going forward. Technology is a major driver of innovation in care and will continue to be one of the strongest assets in finding better treatments. And if we’re really going to “make a decade worth of advances in five years,” as Biden says, we’ll need a new generation of physicians and scientists who can continue to push boundaries and unleash new breakthroughs in science. 

Academic medical centers are already hard at work bringing together essential components in the fight against cancer. Working with government, industry and other stakeholders, academic medical centers will step up to the moonshot challenge and transform care for patients with cancer.

Corwin is president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian.  Goldman is dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.  Glimcher is the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss dean of Weill Cornell Medicine.


Stopping Stigma

Posted by: Erik Cuello in Health, Local, News January 27, 2016

Story and photos by Erik Cuello

“There’s just not enough specialists,” said Dr. Moira Rynn.

Embarrassment, guilt, suspicion.

Too often, these sentiments inhibit many from seeking assistance when struggling with emotional difficulties or grappling with mental illness.

Cultural taboos can compound the matter.

“Stigma, lack of available resources, depression itself, distrust in government,” explained Dr. Sidney Hankerson, in addressing undiagnosed psychiatric issues in minority communities. “These are some of the reasons why Latinos and African-Americans have the lowest rates of depression treatment in the United States.”

Hankerson, a psychiatrist who teaches at Columbia University and tends to patients at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, shared his insights beside fellow mental health professionals at a forum held at the Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) on Wed., Jan. 20th.

“There’s just not enough specialists,” said Dr. Moira Rynn.

The discussion, open to all community residents, centered on the latest mental health research being conducted by CUMC faculty members.

Dr. Edmund Griffin, Research Scientist in Neurobiology Brain and Behavior at Columbia University, discussed his work studying how glutamates, considered a key compound in cellular metabolism, might come to serve as an effective inhibitor to addiction.

“This introduces a new class of medications that we could use to treat addiction,” he remarked.

The forum was held at the Russ Berrie Pavilion.

Dr. Moira Rynn’s presentation on adolescent mental health illustrated how anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and self-injury often manifest themselves with early warning signs, and how they can specifically impact youths.

“Children with psychiatric disorders are at greater risk of school failure or developing secondary medical illnesses,” said Rynn, who serves as Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

She added that about 20% of children in the U.S. ages 8-17 have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.

“This really affects them as they grow up, in terms of getting married, going to college, or any other goals they would want to achieve.”

Dr. Sidney Hankerson’s research has included work in churches.

It is why such initiatives, argued Rynn, as The CUMC Promise Project and the Washington Heights Youth Anxiety Center, in which mental health specialists evaluate children with learning disabilities and make educational recommendations, are critical.

It is estimated, she added, that there is currently a need for 40,000 adolescence psychiatrists nationally – yet there are only 10,000 currently practicing.

“There’s just not enough specialists out there to meet the needs of all children,” said Rynn.

To underscore the importance of communication, attendees were asked to imagine disclosing personal information to each other.

“Imagine that the admission you had to make was that you were suffering from depression,” said Hankerson, prompting many to respond that they felt awkward, insecure and shy in doing so.

This initiative is aimed at youth.

Hankerson noted that his studies have revealed that more African-Americans were more inclined to discuss their mental health with a clergy member than with a mental health professional. In his work with three churches, one of which is located in Harlem, nearly 23% of the men surveyed, together with 18% of women, were suffering from depression.

“If a pastor on Sunday morning talked about his or her experience with a mental health professional, it would truly have a transformative effect,” argued Hankerson.

During a Q-and-A session, Maria Luna asked for an instance in which data specifically drawn from the local community could be compared to national averages.

“While we’re still collecting data at the local level, we do see Latinas nationally are trending higher in terms of self-injury,” replied Rynn.

Attendees engaged each other.

Attendee Max Javier wondered how best to identify and aid young people who might present mental health needs.

Rynn said it was important to create and sustain a supportive network.

“You’ve got to get the right information from the parents, the teachers, coaches and others,” she replied.

Hankerson agreed that creating a broader community dialogue and maintaining vigilance was key.

“You can all be a part of that transformation.”

For more information, please visit www.cumc.columbia.edu.

Hochul in the Heights

Posted by: Erik Cuello in Education, Health, Local, News January 13, 2016

New York's Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul chats with CUMC Dr. Angela Christiano (left) and other researchers.

New York’s Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul paid a visit to Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in Washington Heights on Thurs., Jan. 7th.

Hochul said she wanted to see the product of some of the state’s funding for biomedical research.

During a tour of the medical center’s CUMC’s Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, Hochul met with Dr. Angela M. Christiano, a professor in the Departments of Dermatology and of Genetics and Development at CUMC, who has been recognized for her work with alopecia areata, a common autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.

In 2014, Christiano and other CUMC researchers identified the immune cells responsible for destroying hair follicles in people with alopecia areata and tested an FDA-approved drug that led to complete hair regrowth in a small number of patients.

Hochul speaks with Assemblymember Guillermo Linares (left)

Much of Christiano’s research has involved studying mice with the disease.

Hochul also viewed the future site of CUMC’s new School of Nursing, currently under construction, and chatted with Assemblymember Guillermo Linares.

In August 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced $17.2 million in state awards to 26 academic medical institutions, including CUMC, for the training of new clinical researchers working on cutting-edge biomedical research.

— Gregg McQueen


Lt. Governor Pays a Visit to CUMC

            On January 7th, New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul visited Columbia University to meet with Dean Goldman and learn about some of the cutting edge research ongoing at the medical center.  Dean Goldman stressed the importance of being able to recruit and retain the best scientific talent throughout the State and made the point that a State partnership with research institutions throughout the State, could not only increase the pace of discovery, but would spur economic development and create jobs.

            Lt. Governor Hochul raised the issue of opiate and prescription pain killer addiction, saying it was a big problem upstate.  Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, Chair of Psychiatry and Executive Director of the NYS Psychiatric Institute discussed some of the areas of addiction research that he and his colleagues in Psychiatry are working on and shared his expertise on ways to prevent and treat opioid addiction.

            Next, the Lt. Governor met with Dr. Angela Christiano from the Departments of Dermatology and Genetics and Development and toured her lap. Dr. Christiano and several colleagues briefed her on some of the latest areas of inquiry and showed how their research was leading to advances in hair follicle stem cells and their role in regenerating skin in 3D constructs for the treatment of severe burns and skin injuries, as well as certain genetic diseases of skin fragility, like epidermolysis bullosa. Lt. Governor Hochul also had a chance to look at fluorescent staining through a confocal microscope so she could see what the skin and hair follicle look like after staining for growth factors.

            The final stop on the tour was a quick site visit to the new School of Nursing Building and she was joined by local Assemblyman Guillermo Linares.  Dean Berkowitz explained how the new building would allow Columbia to improve and expand nursing education.

            Although the visit was brief, the Lt. Governor was able to get a good snapshot of at least some of what goes on at CUMC every day.  As she noted on her Twitter Feed: “Visited @ColumbiaMed to see the product of some of the State's investments. A lot of great developments going on”




NIH Funding: Reason to Celebrate…And Continue Advocacy

January 4, 2016

Posted in: Campus News

 By Ross Frommer, Associate Dean for Government & Community Affairs, Columbia University Medical Center

When President Obama signed H.R. 2029, the Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016, into law, it funded the federal government through Sept. 30, 2016. The bill was especially good news for health sciences research; it increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $2 billion, or roughly 6.6 percent, including $200 million for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, of particular interest to Columbia, which declared precision medicine a university-wide priority in 2014.

This NIH budget increase is by far the largest since 2003, save a one-time funding bump in 2009 in the stimulus package. Advocacy from the research community seems to have had an impact: During the debate on the floor about H.R. 2029, many members highlighted this increase as one of the key reasons they were voting for the bill.

In September, I wrote that I felt that there was very strong bipartisan support for increasing the NIH budget in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The problem was that the overall budget caps made it very difficult to do so. Congress addressed this issue in October with a budget agreement that increased those caps. The budget agreement made an additional $50 billion available for discretionary spending, half for defense and half for non-defense.

NIH supporters swung quickly into action, seeking to use a portion of the new funding to increase the budget for biomedical research. On Nov. 18, 2015, 145 House members sent a letter seeking a $2 billion increase for the NIH. Two days later, a group of 100 House Republicans, led by U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., upped the ante by calling for a $3 billion increase. With the Republicans in control in both the House and Senate, this strong support from so many members of the majority party was crucial in securing the budget increase. It also made the $2 billion increase the fallback position.

In addition to the NIH increases, the bill the President signed before the holidays also included funding increases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (4.1 percent) and the Health Resources and Services Administration. Perhaps equally as important, it cut funding for the Agency for Health Quality and Research by only 8.5 percent. The House had wanted to eliminate the agency altogether and the Senate would have cut funding by a third. Also important is what the bill did not include. The salary cap will stay at Executive Level II and the bill did not get bogged down in debates over policy riders related to things like the Affordable Care Act and funding for Planned Parenthood.

Although funding levels for FY16 are set and there appears to be room under the budget caps to maintain or increase the $32.1 billion level in FY17, the real challenge will come in FY18. At that point, the increased funding authority will expire and sequestration will come back into effect. Of course, that is a problem with which the next president and the next Congress will have to deal, but that is why it is important that all who support the NIH applaud Congress for its strong support of the NIH and keep advocating for strong, sustainable funding in the future.

Constituents should let those members of Congress who voted for the NIH increase know how important this is and express their appreciation for doing so. The AAMC has set up a web portal to help you to do this easily. When filling out the initial information, please remember to use your home address and fill in “Columbia University Medical Center” in the box marked “Institution.” Note that the AAMC will only send your letter to those who voted in favor of the bill, which includes almost everybody from the New York City area.

Our advocacy efforts to date helped bring about the large NIH budget increase which we are now celebrating, but we must continue to push and remind everybody how important it is to keep funding for the NIH strong. Please feel free to reach out to the Office of Government & Community Affairs with any questions about advocacy or policy. We can be reached at (212) 305-8060 or at cumcgca@columbia.edu.





Columbia University School of Nursing Dean Bobbie Berkowitz and several Deans of Nursing from schools of nursing from across the country met with Dr. Patricia Grady, Director of the National Institute of Nursing Research, to discuss how research involving nurses can move science forward and improve care.




Project Medical Education Puts Policymakers in Medical Students’ Shoes


Assembly Leaders Visit the Columbia Dentist


On October 7th, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of the Bronx and Guillermo Linares of Northern Manhattan visited the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine to learn more about dental education and how Columbia helps serve the oral health needs of the community.  After chatting with Dean Christian Stohler, they toured the clinic with Dr. James Fine and met students, faculty and patients.  After the tour, both Assemblymen tried their hand, with pretty good success, at placing implants in a fake jaw.




Dear Colleagues:

I invite you to participate in this year’s Rally for Medical Research Capitol Hill Day. On Thursday, September 17th, 2015, a broad coalition of medical research advocates will gather in Washington to urge Congress to provide robust, sustained and predictable increases in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in fiscal year 2016 and beyond. Columbia University Medical Center is a supporter of the 2015 Rally.

You are no doubt aware that this is a very difficult time for biomedical research in the United States, but with both the House of Representative and Senate supporting increases to the NIH budget, and with the House passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, this is also a time of great opportunity. We have to make sure that Congress and others understand how important biomedical research is for our nation’s health, our economy, and our status as a world leader in research.

Capitol Hill Day participants will team up with other advocates to meet with members of Congress and key staff. Rally organizers will put together the teams and arrange the meetings. To participate, simply register at the link below. Those attending are also invited to a training session and reception for advocates the evening before and a kick-off breakfast the morning of the rally. Activities will end early enough for you to get back to the New York City area Thursday night.

To register and make your voice heard in Washington, please click here: http://rallyformedicalresearch.org/Pages/Hill-Day-Signup.aspx

There is no cost to participate in the Rally for Medical Research Capitol Hill Day; however, you are responsible for your own travel costs. If there is a large enough group from CUMC, we can look into coordinating transportation and lodging. Please note that this could be considered lobbying, so you may not use government grant funds to pay for any costs associated with this event.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information. Thank you.


Ross A. Frommer

Associate Dean for Government & Community Affairs

Columbia University Medical Center

212 305 4967

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NIH Funding: Reason for Optimism?

September 10, 2015

Posted in: Campus News

By Ross A. Frommer, vice president for Government and Community Affairs and associate dean at Columbia University Medical Center

Ross Frommer

By Ross A. Frommer, vice president for Government and Community Affairs and associate dean at Columbia University Medical Center

The biomedical research community has felt the squeeze of a lean NIH budget for many years, first as funding flat-lined for nearly a decade before dipping during the 2013 sequestration. In real terms, funding is down 20 percent since 2003, impacting current and future research alike.

But change may be on the horizon. Why do I say that? First, there is strong bipartisan support for biomedical research in both the House and Senate. Earlier this year, 169 members of the House and 54 senators cosigned letters supporting an increase in funding, with more Republicans signing than ever before. Republican presidential hopefuls have also expressed their support in some form or another: nine of the Republican candidates have come out publicly in support of funding for biomedical research in some form or another.

President Obama’s budget request includes $31.1 billion for NIH, which would be a $1 billion increase from 2015. The House does him $100 million better, appropriating $31.2 billion for the agency. The Senate beats them all with $32.1 billion, a roughly 6 percent increase for the NIH in its Appropriations bill. Regardless of the exact number, we are looking at a significant increase that would bring the agency funding level to its highest amount ever.

This is in addition to an $8.75 billion funding increase included in the bipartisan proposal, 21st Century Cures Act, led by Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Dianna DeGette (D-CO), to move biomedical research forward. This would be in addition to the annual appropriation, and because it is mandatory, not subject to the annual budget process. HR 6 passed the House on July 10 by a strong bipartisan margin of 344 to 77. Next stop is the Senate.

While the chances of seeing a significant bump up in the NIH budget are higher than they have been in a long time, the budget process is far from complete and an increase in funding is by no means a certainty. Most, if not all, of the potential roadblocks are unrelated to the NIH itself. Despite the strong bipartisan support for the NIH, significant disagreement among the President and Republicans and Democrats in Congress over the broad budget picture will at least delay and possibly prevent a final spending plan for 2016. The federal fiscal year ends on September 30, and given delays, we will need a continuing resolution (CR), a temporary spending bill that will allow the government to continue to operate at their existing funding levels. This means that even though the President, the House, and the Senate all want to give the NIH a big increase, the agency will operate at its 2015 level until a final appropriations bill has passed. Of course, all this assumes there is a CR and we avoid another government shutdown.

Despite the bipartisan expressions of support for the NIH, increased funding is far from certain. Since 2011, there has been a cap on overall discretionary spending. With this cap in place, it is very difficult to fund increased spending, even for agreed upon priorities like the NIH. President Obama has called on Congress to lift the caps, but so far there has been no movement on this. Further complicating matters is that the partial relief from the budget caps provided in the 2013 Ryan/Murray budget agreement expires in 2016 and sequestration could come back into effect.

Even 21st Century Cures is far from being a done deal. Although Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) is a strong NIH supporter, he has not committed to including additional funding in the Senate version of the bill. Further complicating matters is that some provisions of the bill, notably the offsets used to pay for the increased NIH funding, lie outside the HELP Committee’s jurisdiction, meaning the bill would have to be reviewed by at least one other committee before coming to the Senate floor.

This is why it is so important to advocate strongly for increased NIH funding. Patients, scientists, health care providers, and others must make their voices heard and let Congress know how important this issue is.

Advocacy works. During consideration of the 21st Century Cures Act, there was an amendment that would have converted the additional NIH funding from mandatory to discretionary. This would have subjected the funding to the whims of the annual budget process. In response, members of the research advocacy community came out in strong opposition. Columbia worked with other research institutions across the State to urge the New York Congressional delegation to oppose it. Every member from New York—Republican/Democrat, upstate/downstate—voted no, and the amendment went down in defeat by a large margin.

Examples like this underscore how important it is to take a stand, and there are several ways to do so. You can always contact your senators and member of Congress (www.senate.govandwww.house.gov) to let them know how you feel. From time to time, the Association of American Medical Colleges and other patient advocacy or professional organizations will run very effective web-based grassroots efforts which you can support. When participating in such efforts, please remember to use your home address, not your work address (you may use your Columbia email address).

There is a special opportunity to participate in advocacy on September 17. That day, patients, scientists, health professionals, families, and friends will gather in Washington for the Rally for Medical Research. Columbia is co-sponsoring the rally, and all students, faculty, staff, and friends are invited to participate. For more information, please visit www.rallyformedicalresearch.org.

Please also feel free to reach out to the Office of Government & Community Affairs with any questions about advocacy or policy. We can be reached at (212) 305-8060 or at cumcgca@columbia.edu.


CUMC Hosts Its Fifth Annual Community

“Project Medical Education”

On July 27th, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) held its annual Project Medical Education (PME)PME, which is coordinated by the Association of American Medical Colleges, brings policy makers and opinion leaders to medical schools and teaching hospitals to learn about academic medicine. CUMC is the only PME site that focuses primarily on community residents and neighbors.

Tony Martignetti, a local resident and a member of the Inwood Owners Coalition, noted that, “Most of us who live close have no idea what goes on inside CUMC, including its service to the community; we all left well informed and with a very high opinion.” 

After a short welcome by Steven Shea, MD, Senior Vice Dean, and a brief overview of CUMC finances by Joanne Quan, Chief Financial Officer, Stephen Nicholas MD, Associate Dean for Admissions at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, discussed the medical school curriculum, and told how it differs from traditional curricula.  He also discussed the admissions process and efforts P&S makes to ensure a diverse class of students.  Attendees then chatted with two medical students and heard from Patrice Spitalnik, MD, Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology who gave a histology lecture, complete with slides of intestinal polyps.

At the Mailman School of Public Health, the attendees worked through a public health simulation exercise in which they tried to identify the cause of a disease outbreak. They also toured an environmental health lab with Matthew Perzanowski, PhD. to learn about his work in studying the effect of environmental factors on the health of northern Manhattan communities.

The third session of the day was devoted to research at CUMC.  Presenters included Rudina Odeh Ramadan, PhD, Associate Vice President for Research Administration, who discussed what is involved in running a major research enterprise and Jose Luchsinger, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, who discussed his work in community based participatory research.  Graduates students Amanda Buch, Anita Burgos, and Nancy Padilla discussed their research projects and talked about what the future holds for young people looking at a career in science.  The highlight of the research session was a short talk by University Professor and Nobel Laureate, Richard Axel, MD, who talked about his career at Columbia and the future of biomedical research.

Executive Vice President and Dean Lee Goldman, MD, stopped by during lunch to meet with participants and talk about the important role of community relations.  He also discussed the future of the CUMC campus.

After lunch, the group traveled over to the New York State Psychiatric Institute.  David Strauss, MD, Vice Chair for Research gave an overview of mental health issues and then the group split up to hear presentations from Sydney Hankerson, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Victoria Arango, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry.  Dr. Hankerson discussed his efforts to work with churches in Harlem to remove the stigma surrounding mental health.  In Dr. Arango’s lab, PME participants got to see how researchers use brain tissue samples to understand the neuropathology of suicide.

The next stop was the College of Dental Medicine where Letty Moss Salentijn, DDS Professor of Dental Medicine and Stacey Whalen MSW, Adjunct Professor of Social Work discussed integrating social work into oral health care.  Steve Erde, MD, Assistant Professor of Oral Health and James Fine, DDS, Professor of Dental Medicine, lead demonstrations of 3D printing and implant technology.  Dean Christian Stohler, DDS, also led a brief discussion with two dental students.

The final stop of the day was the School of Nursing where Dean Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD discussed Advance Practice Nursing and nursing education.  Cliff Roberson, DNP, Assistant Professor of Nursing took the group through a simulation of what might happen if complications developed during knee replacement surgery.

The day ended with a reception at Coogan’s where participants received their certificate of completion and had the opportunity to socialize and relax after a long, but interesting day.  

After having spent the day at CUMC, Community Board 12 Member, Fe Florimon said, “I can’t begin to tell you how valuable I found PME.  I now have a better understanding of the medical center. We certainly had a lengthy and productive discussion and I have no doubts that my experience today has confirmed the glowing recommendation I have received in the past when I was initially referred to the Project.” 

CUMC plans to host its next PME during the summer of 2016.





Dr. Wendy Chung Participates in Capitol Briefing on Precision Medicine

On Monday, April 20th, the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) hosted a briefing highlighting the ongoing strides in making precision medicine a reality in everyday healthcare.   After brief remarks by HLC President Ms. Mary R. Grealy and Dr. Marc Grodman, CEO of Bio-Reference Laboratories, Inc. and a member of the HLC, an expert panel that included Dr. Robert Daber, Bio-Reference Laboratories; Dr. Richard Weinshilboum, Mayo Clinic; and Dr. Wendy Chung, Columbia University/New York-Presbyterian discussed the latest advances in precision medicine and what it could mean for scientists, policy makers, and most importantly, patients.

Dr. Daber discussed the number of unique mutations seen in analysis, which has led to an explosion of therapies guided by molecular targets. He noted that clinical trials have been transformed by molecular testing and are now widely based on molecular profiles. Dr. Weinshilboum talked about the need for a robust infrastructure to translate genomic science from promise to practice. He emphasized the importance of collaborating and sharing data, stating that one organization alone cannot succeed in integrating genome based knowledge into personalized care.

Dr. Chung brought it all home by providing examples of how early genetic testing has allowed for immediate diagnosis and treatment, an improvement upon the costly trial and error approach. She acknowledged that the cost of sequencing still needs to be reduced and that access to testing is not universal, but consistent and robust funding of the National Institutes of Health NIH is crucial to making that happen.

For more information, the briefing materials provided by the presenters are available here.

“Watch as Dr. Richard Mayeux, Chairman of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, discuss Alzheimer’s Disease research”




Senator Klein Visits the Psychiatric Institute

On February 20, 2015, New York State Senator Jeff Klein visited the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), to tour the facility and meet with Executive Director, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, and Dr. David Strauss, Director of Research.  The Senator was joined by Bridget McBrien, a Special Assistant in his office. 

Senator Klein represents the 34th Senatorial District (parts of Bronx and Westchester Counties) and is the Leader of the Independent Democratic Conference. 

After meeting with Dr. Lieberman to discuss mental health policy issues, Senator Klein had the opportunity to learn about some of the cutting edge research going on at NYSPI.  For example, Drs. Lisa Dixon discussed her Center for Practice Innovation (CPI), where they train the workforce in Evidence Based Practices (EBP) and First Episode Psychosis (FEP).  CPI is also working with the NYS Office of Mental Health to roll out an FEP program.  Dr. Scott Stroup discussed the comparative effectiveness of treatments and their implications for public policy, and how it relates to providing better psychiatric services to people in need. 

The Senator then toured the lab of Dr. René Hen.  Dr. Hen discussed his lab’s effort to evaluate brain circuits involved in mood disorders.  Dr. Christine Denny, who works in Dr. Hen’s lab, took the Senator through an on-going experiment she is conducting that identifies memory traces in the brains of mice.  Senator Klein said that he had a particular policy interest in finding ways to prevent and treat addiction and was excited to learn how Dr. Hen’s research was related to this issue.

Young Docs on deck

Story and photos by Gregg McQueen

The Young Docs interactuando con los estudiantes.

The Young Docs interact with first grade students .

For young children, the sight of a doctor’s white coat can be enough to make them shiver.

The association with pediatricians often involve being poked and prodded, or worse yet, getting a needle.

Medical students from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) are aiming to reduce such anxiety while also educating kids about what it’s like to be a doctor.

Through a program titled Young Docs, members of CUMC’s Black and Latino Student Organization (BALSO) visit local classrooms throughout Washington Heights, Inwood and Harlem to expose school-age children to the medical field and encourage them to become leaders within their communities.

Another goal is to minimize the natural fear that children have of medical professionals, explained Shaliesha Hinds, a BALSO co-coordinator.

“At that point in their lives, all kids know about doctors is that they give shots,” said Hinds. “We teach them about what doctors really do and how they help the community.”

Shaliesha Hinds es co-coordinadora.

Shaliesha Hinds is a co-coordinator.

First-graders at P.S. 314 Muscota New School in Inwood received a Young Docs visit on Fri., Mar. 6th.

Youngsters gazed in amazement as an army of 18 lab coat-clad med students filed into their classrooms.

Hinds questioned the curious kids, “What do you think a doctor does?”

“Doctors help you get medicine,” offered one student.

“They take babies out of people,” commented another.

The Young Docs set up various interactive stations designed to teach students about the skeletal, circulatory and digestive systems, as well as nerves and reflexes.

The children giggled as they toyed with a life-sized skeleton’s limbs and paid rapt attention while listening to their own heartbeats with stethoscopes.

The Young Docs also had students pour orange juice onto crackers in plastic bags, to help demonstrate how acids break down food in the digestive tract.

The children, who playfully tapped on knees with a reflex hammer and were asked to draw the chambers of the heart, seemed enamored with their newfound med-school buddies.

Lily muestra su corazón.

Lily shows some heart.

“I learned what the heart looks like inside my body,” remarked first-grader Kimora. “I had no idea.”

“I got blood drawn once and it was really scary,” said her classmate Lily. “But I don’t think I’ll be as scared anymore.”

Muscota Parent VolunteerCynthia Masson said that collaborating with CUMC’s Young Docs was a natural extension of the school’s mission.

“We’re always looking for ways to partner with the community,” explained Masson. “These events are important, so students understand how much doctors help people.”

Muscota first-grade teachers Rebecca Haas and Nancy Cashman, along with science instructor Marissa Ayala, have been providing students with basic health information in the classroom.

“We’re always talking about healthy bodies and the importance of nutrition and physical activity,” said Haas. “These kids are still young, but it’s nice for them to see on a deeper level how the body functions internally.”

The Young Docs interactuando con los estudiantes.

The Young Docs interact with first grade students.

The medical students said they hoped to serve as role models for young people, while inspiring kids to envision themselves as future healthcare practitioners and scientists.

Hinds explained that encouraging minorities to pursue medical and science careers is an important component of BALSO, as Latinos and Blacks continue to be underrepresented in those fields.

Karina Somohano, a BALSO co-coordinator, said she knew at an early age that she wanted a career in medicine.

“My pediatrician was my role model,” she stated. “I was one of the few kids who liked going to the doctor.”

Somohano, who was born in Cuba and came to the United States at the age of three, said she felt a kinship with her pediatrician.

“She was an Hispanic female, just like me, so I could relate to her,” said Somohano. “I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.”

In addition to school visits, BALSO hosts other community events such as high school science competitions, medical career workshops and a recent seminar on “Faith and Medicine.”

Lianna Valdez esta en su cuarto año en CUMC.

Lianna Valdez is in her fourth year at CUMC.

Former Muscota student Ella Marr was the winner of BALSO’s most recent science competition, where students constructed 3D models of the digestive system.

All of the Young Docs visiting Muscota were first-year students, except for Lianna Valdez, who is in her fourth year at CUMC, and a veteran of several school visits.

“I’ve always loved working with kids,” said Valdes, who hopes to go into pediatric medicine. “It’s wonderful to see their excitement and enthusiasm.”

“I think it’s great,” med student Sophia Ebel of the Young Docs program. “It’s important to get kids interested in science at an early age.”

Fellow CUMC student Adriana López added, “I think children can relate better to younger doctors, so they’re more comfortable talking to us.”

Un teléfono se utiliza para imitar cómo funciona el sistema nervioso.

A telephone was used to mimic how the nervous system communicates.

At the end of the visit, the first-graders saluted the Young Docs with hearty cheers of “Thank you!”

“It’s fun to see the sense of wonder these kids have,” remarked CUMC student Joshua Stein. “It gives all med students a bit of extra energy.”

To learn more about Columbia’s Young Docs program and the Black and Latino Student Organization, go to http://psclub.columbia.edu/clubs-organizations/balso.

CUMC and NewYork-Presbyterian Host Elected Officials Breakfast


On February 27,  Lee Goldman, MD, MPH, the Harold and Margaret Hatch Professor of the University and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, and Steven J. Corwin, MD, Chief Executive Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, hosted a breakfast for elected officials who represent Northern Manhattan and the Bronx and other policy makers.  More than 50 people attended the breakfast, which marks the first time CUMC and NewYork-Presbyterian have jointly hosted such an event.

After a short networking breakfast, Drs. Corwin and Goldman gave brief updates on the latest news from the hospital and the school.  They highlighted the latest advancements in patient care and research and talked about ongoing campus development projects.  Dr. Corwin was joined in his presentation by J. Emilio Carrillo, MD, vice president for community health development at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Andria Castellanos, senior vice president and chief operating officer, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Milstein, who discussed both the Northern Manhattan Initiative and improvements in the hospital’s emergency department.

The highlight of the program was a presentation by David Goldstein, PhD, director of Columbia’s new Institute for Genomic Medicine.  Dr. Goldstein introduced the audience to the new and exciting field of precision medicine and discussed what it will mean for patient care. He gave the example of a young girl with a genetic condition.  By mapping the patient’s genome, Dr. Goldstein’s team was able to determine the exact genetic mutation that was causing the girl’s illness. Once the diagnosis had been made, the treatment was simple and immediately effective, and she recovered.  Dr. Goldstein emphasized that the correct diagnosis could not have been made without analysis of her genome.  He discussed plans to expand genomic analysis for patients at NewYork-Presbyterian, as well as plans for growing the precision medicine research program at Columbia.  A lively discussion followed Dr. Goldstein’s presentation.

Among the breakfast attendees was Dr. Howard Zucker, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health.  Also there from state government were Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Assembly members Guillermo Linares and Jeffrey Dinowitz.  The New York City Council was represented by councilmembers Inez Dickens, Ydanis Rodriguez, and Mark Levine.  Numerous other staff representing federal, state, and city officials were present, as were senior members of the CUMC and NewYork-Presbyterian administrations.


Governor Cuomo Visits Medical Center Neighborhood, Chats with Dean Goldman about Research in New York

Dean Goldman and Governor Cuomo. Assemblyman Guillermo Linares looks on.

            Following up on his State of the State and Budget presentation in January, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been traveling throughout the State promoting his 2105 Opportunity Agenda for New York, and on February 23rd he came to Washington Heights.  Before a full house of local elected officials and community leaders at the Malcom X and Betty Shabazz Center at the Audubon Ballroom, the Governor outlined his vision for the State budget, the local economy, and for how to make government work better.  Among those in attendance was Dean Goldman.  After the speech, Dean Goldman and the Governor had a chance to chat briefly about ways the State could promote biomedical research in New York.

Dr. Melissa Stockwell Briefs New York State Policy Makers on Vaccines



Keep Scientists in New York, CUMC Testimony Encourages






CUMC Holiday Toy Drive


These children are among the 670 local kids who took home toys donated by our community in the CUMC Holiday Toy Drive. The Office of Government & Community Affairs thanks all those who gave.

Pictures courtesy of the Washington Heights Child Care Center.


Con Edison GREEN TEAM at the Chamber of Commerce of WH/I Breakfast

Pictured: Lynne VanAuken, Executive  Director  WAHI Chamber;  Marianne Castillo, ConEd Outreach/Marketing; Sandra Harris, President WAHI Chamber;  Zamira Setaro, ConEd Customer  Outreach & Education; Krystle Moya, ConEd Customer  Advocate;  and Betty Lehman, Isabella Director Marketing & Communications at Isabella Geriatric Center

Today’s breakfast meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of Washington Heights and Inwood at the Isabella Geriatric Center was co-hosted by Con Edison GREEN TEAM and the Hispanic Federation to educate small businesses about saving energy and money by upgrading to energy efficient equipment. Con Edison pays 70% of the cost of the upgrades, and for a limited time, the Hispanic Federation will pay the remaining 30%.

Presentations by Frankie Miranda, VP, Hispanic Federation, Marianne Castillo, Dir. Outreach & Marketing, Con Edison Green Team, Sandra Harris, President, Chamber of Commerce Washington Heights and Inwood.









Dana March, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, joined local leaders for “Ebola: What you Need to Know But Are Afraid to Ask,” a community forum sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale A Brewer. In her talk, “Facts, Not Fear,” March clarified the science behind Ebola transmission, reminding a full house at City College’s Aronow Theater, “We should be informed by science, not responsive to fear. Fear leads to stigma, discrimination, violations of human rights, and even death from the disease. Our efforts should be focused on battling the Ebola epidemic at the source.”








NYSTAR Executive Director Visits CUMC

            On October 21st, Mathew Watson, Executive Director of the Empire State Development Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR) came to Columbia to meet with the leaders of the Columbia Center for Advanced Information Management (CAIM).  CAIM receives funding from NYSTAR as part of the Centers for Advanced Technology (CAT) programs.   Mr. Watson and his colleague Bonnie Messmer met with George Hripscak, Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics, Vincent Tomaselli, CAIM’s Executive Director and the CAIM staff -- Paul Goldfarb, Business Development Director; Jackie Merrill, Associate Clinical Director, and Adler Perotte, Assistant Director for Technology -- to review recent activities and discuss future projects.  Dean Goldman also stopped by briefly.

CUMC Part of the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day Which Brings Together 300 Advocates to Urge Congress to Increase the Investment in the NIH

“Ross Frommer, Consuelo McLaughlin, and Ethan Edwin meet outside Senator Schumer’s office before going in to discuss NIH funding with his staff.”

On Thursday, September 18th, more than three hundred organizations reunited under the banner of the “Rally for Medical Research” to urge Congress to increase our nation’s investment in medical research and specifically, increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Columbia University Medical Center is a partner and sponsor of the Rally.

Approximately three hundred advocates, including Ethan Edwin, Ross Frommer and Consuelo McLaughlin from CUMC, representing thirty three states and all areas of the medical research community —researchers, patients, survivors, advocates, health care providers, and representatives from industry--held more than two hundred meetings with House and Senate offices, many with the Members of Congress themselves, and called for a stronger investment in medical research. The Rally events were kicked off by a reception the evening before, during which attendees heard from Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), NIH Director Francis Collins, actress Laura Bell Bundy and Miss USA Nia Sanchez, to name a few. The morning of the Hill Day, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) rallied advocates with an inspiring speech.

The efforts of the partnering organizations to inform and encourage their respective members to get involved in the “Rally Hill Day” was extraordinary, and the events in Washington were complemented by a nationwide Day of Action to amplify the overall message. Some organizations scheduled congressional briefings around the Rally Hill Day and folks across the country sent emails and made phone calls to their legislators, as well as engaged through social media.

NYPD Commissioner Comes to Washington Heights


On September 10th, New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez hosted a community meeting featuring New York City Police Department Commissioner William Bratton.  Commissioner Bratton spoke about the Department’s effort to prevent crime and improve community relations.  Joining the Commissioner at the meeting were several members of the NYPD leadership team including the Commanding Officers from the 30th, 33rd, and 24th precincts.  Councilman Mark Levine also attended.


28 Students Graduate From This Year’s Dígame Program

August 20, 2014

Posted in: Campus News

Daniel Hoestery (P&S ’17), one of the student leaders of Dígame, tutoring a Washington Heights Spanish-speaking high school student.

Daniel Hoestery (P&S ’17), one of the student leaders of Dígame, tutoring a Washington Heights Spanish-speaking high school student.

For eight weeks this summer, 28 students worked on gaining the skills they will need to improve the health of Spanish-speaking immigrants. They spent mornings immersed in interactive conversational Spanish classes, and in the afternoon, each participated in a research, service, or clinical project in a Spanish-speaking environment in Washington Heights or Inwood. In addition to attending lectures on such topics as immigration and cultural competence, they went on regular outings to see movies, eat meals, walk through the community, learn salsa, and play dominoes.

The students—24 from CUMC, two from the Sophie Davis School at City College, and two from New York City’s PENCIL program for public high school students—were taking part in Digame (Spanish for “tell me”), a summer Spanish-language and cultural-immersion program offered for the third year by the IFAP Global Health Program, with major underwriting from Paul Maddon, MD, PhD (P&S ’87).

“Simply learning Spanish medical terms is not enough,” said Dr. Ana Esteban Gonzalez, Digame co-founder and teacher. “The key is also to learn something about Latinos’ culture and their health beliefs. Latinos now make up 28 percent of New York’s population. We are preparing students to have successful careers, and wherever they go in this country, these skills will be needed.”

At the Aug. 8 graduation ceremony, New York City Council member Ydanis Rodrigueza, a Dominican immigrant who has represented Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill since 2009, spoke of the importance of health care for immigrants. He related the challenges he and his wife faced when their daughter was diagnosed with asthma. They were told that swimming would help her condition.

“But you know,” he said, “there is no swimming pool in Northern Manhattan.” He gave this as an example of medical advice that is well intended but lacking in knowledge of patients’ lives and environments. He also spoke of how difficult it is for people from one place to understand those from elsewhere. “I will leave you with this advice,” he said. “One culture should not judge another one.”

CUMC’s own Rudi Odeh-Ramadan Honored by the Manhattan Borough President

            Dr. Rudi Odeh-Ramadan, Associate Vice President for Research Administration, was honored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer at an Iftar dinner event celebrating the end of the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the Islamic month where Muslims fast during day light hours and focus on piety, charity and good works.  Dr. Odeh-Ramadan was honored for her achievements in academia, research  and public service to the community.

CUMC Hosts Its Fourth Annual “Project Medical Education”


In July, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) held its annual Project Medical Education (PME).  PME is an Association of American Medical Colleges program which brings policy makers and opinion leaders to medical schools and teaching hospitals to learn about academic medicine.  CUMC’s is the only PME site that focuses primarily on community residents and neighbors.

The day started with an introduction by Associate Dean for Government & Community Affairs Ross Frommer.  After that followed a welcome from Senior Vice Dean Steve Shea, and a presentation on CUMC finances from Chief Financial Officer Joanne Quan.

Lisa Mellman, Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs discussed the medical school curriculum.  She told how it differs from traditional curricula and described the Columbia-Bassett Program and projects in the Dominican Republic.  Attendees then chatted with three medical students and then listened as Postdoctoral residency fellow Elizabeth Godbey gave a histology presentation, complete with slides of intestinal polyps.

At the Mailman School of Public Health, the attendees met Dean Linda Fried and then worked through a public health simulation exercise in which they tried to identify the cause of a disease outbreak. They also toured an environmental health lab with Matthew Perzanowski.

The last stop before lunch was at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.  At the lab of Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow Joseph Rayman described how he uses a mouse model to simulate specific aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder like fear and anxiety.  Many members of the group also had the chance to meet Dr. Kandel.  The group also dropped in on Alayar Kangarlu, head of MRI physics and engineering, who talked about a global, multi-site fMRI study that could someday answer the question, what does normal look like on an MRI scan?

After lunch, Rudina Odeh-Ramadan, Associate Vice President for Research Administration discussed administrative aspects of clinical research, including the recruitment of study participants.  In the lab of Ottavio Arancio attendees learned about mouse studies on memory loss.

At the School of Nursing, Dean Bobbie Berkowitz briefed attendees about the school’s new building, on which construction is scheduled to begin later this year.  They then observed a simulated C section, with one attendee playing the mother’s partner.

At the College of Dental Medicine, after a welcome by Dean Christian Stohler, Jeremy Mao discussed the potential use of stem cells to “grow” new teeth and craniofacial bone. James Fine, talked about implantology, and several attendees drilled implants into a simulated jaw.

In addition to local residents and community leaders, the attendees included New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Health Committee.  New York State Assembly Member Herman “Denny” Farrell and New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez attended part of day.

Associate Dean Frommer noted, “PME is an opportunity for local area residents, community leaders, and others to spend the day on campus and learn about the day to day activities at CUMC.  We had a great group this year.  They learned a lot and I think had a lot of fun as well.”  One of the attendees commented “The program was excellent.  The program exceeded my expectations.  The doctors, scientists and medical students were engaging and informative.”

Dígame Spanish Language and Cultural Immersion Program Completed by 28 CUMC Students

How can we give dental, medical, nursing and public health students the skills they need to improve the health of Spanish-speaking immigrants?    This is the central theme of Dígame (Spanish for “tell me”), a summer Spanish language and cultural immersion program offered for the third year by the IFAP Global Health Program with major underwriting from Paul Maddon, MD, PhD (P&S ’87). 

“Simply learning Spanish medical terms is not enough,” said Dr. Ana Esteban Gonzalez, co-founder and teacher of Dígame.  “The key is also to learn something about Latinos’ culture and their health beliefs.  Latinos now make up 28% of New York’s population.    We are preparing students to have successful careers, and wherever they go in this country these skills will be needed.”

This summer, for eight weeks, twenty four students from CUMC, two from the Sophie Davis School at City College, and two NYC public high school students from the PENCIL program spent mornings immersed in interactive conversational Spanish classes.  In the afternoon, each participated in a research, service or clinical project in a Spanish-speaking environment in Washington Heights or Inwood.  In addition to lectures on immigration, cultural competence, and other relevant topics, there were regular outings to see movies, eat meals, walk through the community, learn salsa, and play dominoes.

Completion of the course was celebrated with a graduation ceremony on August 8th, which was attended by New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez who has represented Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill since 2009.   He spoke of the importance of health care for immigrants and related the challenges he and his wife had when their daughter was diagnosed with asthma.  They were advised

that swimming would help her condition.  “But you know,” he said, “there is no swimming pool in northern Manhattan.”   He used this as an example of medical advice that is well-intended but lacking in knowledge of patients’ lives and environments.  And he spoke of how difficult it is for people from one place to understand those from elsewhere.   “I will leave you with this advice,” he said. “One culture should not judge another one.” 

Students presented posters of their projects, and five students gave oral presentations.  Christie Miles (P&S ’17) presented the results of her evaluation of the Win for Health Program for children with asthma and diabetes. Rebecca Wilkof (SON ’15) spoke about her experiences working with the Health Education and Adult Literacy Program.   Ilan Cerna-Turoff (MSPH ’14) discussed his work with the Planned Parenthood Community Center and a site visit he conducted of the Pro-Familia program in Santo Domingo.  Daniel Hoesterey (P&S ’17) and Bethany Davison (MSPH ’15 and SSW) talked of their work with the Washington Heights Corner Project, a harm-reduction program

“Anyone looking at the demographic trends in our country will understand the significance of this program,” said Dr. Stephen Nicholas, director of the IFAP Global Health Program and also the P&S Dean for Admissions, referring to the 15 million Hispanics who entered the United States since 1981.  “But the program’s underlying assumption is fundamental:    it’s not so easy to turn your back on patients in need when you can understand their plea for help.”   

What Does NIH Funding Mean to New York?

June 16, 2014

Posted in: Campus News

biomedical imageAs medical centers feel the sting of diminished NIH funds, Columbia University Medical Center is no exception.

In recent years, particularly after sequestration, our research community has responded. Faculty, students, and staff have rallied, written letters, and taken other actions to raise awareness about the importance of NIH funding both to their work and to the nation’s biomedical advances.

In an effort to help them and others communicate the importance of NIH funding, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology created state-by-state factsheets describing the importance of NIH funds.

Check out the New York factsheet, which highlights Columbia University’s $348 million in NIH grants in FY 2013; that support has helped fund numerous advances, including breakthroughs in glioblastoma research.

Find out more about how NIH funding for biomedical research has led to advances in New York State and how sequestration has chipped away at this critical source of support.

Read the full factsheet here.

Dean Goldman Welcomes Local NYPD Precinct Commanders to CUMC

     On June 5th, Columbia University Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) hosted a community breakfast to recognize members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  Captain Michael P. Baker, Commander of the 30th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Fausto B. Pichardo, Commander of the 33rd Precinct, and Deputy Inspector Chris Morello Commander of the 34th Precinct, along with several other Community Affairs and other officers, attended.  In his remarks, Dean Goldman expressed his appreciation for the wonderful work the NYPD does and noted how important it is that, at a world class medical center students, faculty, and patients feel safe.  James McShane, Vice President for Public Safety, also spoke as did Andria Castellanos and Jeffrey Bokser from NYP.

       Deputy Inspectors Pichardo and Morello, and Captain Baker all expressed their thanks to Columbia and NYP, not only for the breakfast, but, more importantly for working closely with them to prevent crime in the neighborhood and for providing excellent medical care to their officers when it is needed. Assemblyman Denny Farrell, Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa, and Community Board 12 Chair George Fernandez also spoke.


Columbia Faculty Offer Insight on Vision Zero to NYC DOT Commissioner and Staff

Commissioner Trottenberg meets with Drs. Li and DiMaggio

            On June 10th, faculty from Columbia University Medical Center met with the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), Polly Trottenberg, and other senior DOT officials to offer their insights on Vision Zero, DOT’s plan to improve traffic safety for pedestrians.  Dr. Charles DiMaggio, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Research Director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention, discussed his research and work with the Safe Routes to Schools initiative in New York and across the country.  Dr. Guohua Li, Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention followed with a presentation on the incidence and effects of drugged driving.  Commissioner Trottenberg invited Drs. DiMaggio and Li to present so she and her staff could gain from their expertise as the Department develops policy to implement Vision Zero.  Drs. DiMaggio and Li were thrilled to have the opportunity to do and look forward to continuing to work with DOT on this effort.

Restaurant Week Comes to Upper Manhattan

May 9, 2014

Posted in: Campus News, Community News

If you like excuses to dine out, here’s a new one: More than 24 local restaurants are offering dinner at a discount for the Washington Heights and Inwood restaurant week, #WHIN & DINE, which the medical center is co-sponsoring.

pasta for #whin & dine post
From Monday, May 12-23, 4 – 6 p.m., participating eateries will serve three-course prix fixe dinners. The restaurants, located between 155thand 220thStreets, satisfy a range of palates with cuisines including Dominican, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, and classic American food.

#WHIN &Dine’s name refers to the popular social media hashtag for Washington Heights and Inwood, a good reminder to Tweet about or Instagram all three courses of your dinner before you dig in.

The event is a collaboration between Up Step Inc.and the Washington Heights Business Improvement District, which created last year’s Explora Restaurant Week.

Find out more here.

Dental School Outreach in Neighborhood Schools

College of Dental Medicine faculty, students join with National Dental Association to expand education through HEALTH NOW-New York initiative

April 11, 2014

Posted in: Community News, Dentistry

Give Kids a Smile Day

2014 Give Kids a Smile Day 

Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine has joined with the National Dental Association to expand outreach programs to school children in Upper Manhattan in April and May. More than 600 children in three public schools are receiving dental education as part of the HEALTH NOW-New York initiative.

The school visits began April 9 at Amistad Dual Language School in Upper Manhattan, where students in kindergarten through fourth grade were surveyed about their dental habits, received oral health education, and were presented with gift bags to help them improve their tooth brushing and other dental care. Faculty and students from the dental school and representatives of the National Dental Association were on hand to interact with students and answer their questions. Two of the neighborhood’s elected representatives, U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel and New York State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, are expected to participate in the April 25 visit to Public School 189 in Washington Heights, where third graders will visit with community leaders, dental faculty and students, and representatives of the National Dental Association.

The HEALTH NOW-NY initiative, part of a national grassroots program to improve oral health in vulnerable populations, wraps up May 30 with a visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, where students in prekindergarten through fifth grade will interact with College of Dental Medicine faculty and students. The mission of the National Dental Association is to promote oral health equity among people of color by harnessing the collective power of its members, advocating for and mentoring dental students of color, and raising the profile of the profession in local communities.

The College of Dental Medicine, which will celebrate its centennial in 2016, has a long history of community outreach. Contemporary efforts are based in the Community DentCare program, which was started in 1996 as a network of partnerships and collaborations with neighborhood schools and community health clinics to provide Northern Manhattan’s low-income, underserved, and uninsured residents with access to dental care. The program was launched after a Washington Heights school principal reached out to the College of Dental Medicine to seek dental care for the many children at her school who were unable to attend class because of toothaches.

The program, which also provides free screenings, treatment, and education to hundreds of Northern Manhattan children each year as part of the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile Day, has logged more than 150,000 patient care visits in its nearly 20-year history. School children are seen in eight school-based dental clinics, and a mobile dental van visits more than 80 locations throughout Northern Manhattan and the Bronx to offer comprehensive dental care to children ages 3 to 5.

Earlier this year, Community DentCare was spotlighted when the College of Dental Medicine received the 2014 William J. Gies Award from the ADEAGies Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Dental Education Association. The Geis award, named after William J. Gies, PhD, a co-founder of Columbia’s dental school, honors achievement by an academic dental institution in support of dental education.

“The relationships CDM has developed with the residents of the Washington Heights, Inwood, and Harlem communities of Northern Manhattan and of the Bronx are mutually rewarding and central to the College’s mission,” says Christian S. Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent, dean of CDM. “Community DentCare is a tremendous opportunity for our faculty members to share their expertise not only with our neighbors, but with our students.”CDM visits neighborhood schools

The U.S. Surgeon General cites tooth decay as the single most-common chronic disease of childhood in the U.S. Five times more children have cavities than have asthma. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that more than 25 percent of children under the age of 6 have cavities, many children start kindergarten with untreated dental problems. Children from minority, low income, and immigrant families—which include many children in the New York City school system—have more than 80 percent of the pediatric population’s cavities, even though they make up only 25 percent of that group. An estimated 4 million to 5 million children in the U.S. have dental problems so severe they have trouble eating, sleeping, and learning, leading to a projected 51 million school hours lost each year from some form of oral health problem.

An advisory committee formed as part of the current HEALTH NOW-NY initiative will continue to identify ways to increase outreach for underserved communities throughout New York.

“Young Docs” Inspire Future Doctors
March 24, 2014

Posted in: Campus News, Community News

Donning white coats and carrying stethoscopes, nine P&S students spent the afternoon in a first-grade classroom in Inwood this month, teaching kids about the human body and what it is like to be a doctor. These students, as part of Black and Latino Student Organization’s (BALSO’s) ”Young Docs” program, visit local schools once a month in collaboration with the Office of Government and Community Affairs.

BALSO’s Young Docs presentation at P.S. 314, Muscota New School on March 14, 2014.

Photos by Michael Hernandez, P&S ’17.

Teaching Life-Long Learning with a Stethoscope

by Alani Gregory P&S ’15

“When I grow up, I want to be just like you,” the third-grader exclaimed as he peered up at us, a diverse group of P&S students clad in white coats and carrying stethoscopes. Young Docs has been visiting local classrooms and hosting workshops in the Washington Heights, Inwood, and Harlem communities since 2010, when it was founded by Jack Angiolillo P&S’15. As minorities continue to be under-represented in medicine, the mission of BALSO’s Young Docs program is to expose school-age children to the medical field and encourage them to become life-long learners and leaders within their communities.

My first introduction to Young Docs was as a first-year medical student in a classroom full of eager third graders. As I looked around, I saw the students smiling in amazement at the sound of their own heartbeats as they played with stethoscopes and giggling as they came face-to-face with our life-sized skeleton. By the end of the session, many students were telling us that they wanted to become doctors. Whether or not these children end up working in health care, we hope our visits help them dream big and think about ways they can give back to their communities.

As a former coordinator of Young Docs, it has been wonderful to be a part of the growth of this unique program. Since its inception, we have expanded our outreach to include adolescents in the community by hosting events such as a Medical Skills and Health Careers workshop and a high school science competition. Through support from the Office of Government & Community Affairs, Office of Diversity, and the Student National Medical Association Pipeline Mentoring Institute, the program continues to allow P&S students to become a part of the surrounding community while serving as mentors to the younger generation of leaders.

B&N Bookstore Plans Move to Haven Avenue

March 24, 2014

B&N signBarnes & Noble will relocate its medical campus bookstore this year from its current location at 3954 Broadway to a larger (4,584-square-foot) space at Haven Avenue and 169 Street, in the lower level of the Hammer Health Sciences Center. In Hammer, the new bookstore, which will have a café, will add to the ongoing revitalization of the medical center campus. (The new Medical and Graduate Education Building, expected to open in 2016, will be close by, at 104 Haven Ave.)

The new bookstore will carry academic course material and supplies plus a small selection of general-interest books and periodicals. The café—with both indoor and outdoor seating—will serve Starbucks coffee, pastries, bagels, pizza, sandwiches, and salads. Both CUMC and B&N intend the bookstore to be a lively asset to the local community, as well as the medical campus.

B&N plans to open the new bookstore before the start of the fall semester.



Community Forum on Good Health Starts with your Teeth and Gums,

Learning About the Latest Advances and Treatments in Dental Medicine

Pictured: audience from the Washington Heights/Inwood community at the forum

Pictured: Burton L. Edelstein, DDS, Professor of Dental Medicine and Health Policy and Management at Columbia University Medical Center

Pictured: Dennis P. Tarnow, Clinical Professor, Department of Dental Medicine, Oral Diagnostics,Periodontics at Columbia University Medical Center







(l to r, Dr. Saul Levin, CEO of the American Psychiatric Association, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman)

Columbia Faculty Jeffrey Lieberman and Lisa Dixon Speak at Congressional Briefing Focusing on Promising New Research on Schizophrenia Treatment and Prevention

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, Chairman of Psychiatry at Columbia University and Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and Dr. Lisa Dixon Director of the Center for Practice Innovations at Columbia University, were among those who spoke at a briefing on the latest development in Schizophrenia treatment and research a disease which affect 3 million Americans.  The briefing was hosted by the American Psychiatric Association in cooperation with the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus and the American Brain Coalition.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who chairs the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) opened the event by noting that, “As we struggle to adequately address mental health in this country, it’s essential that Congress have better understanding of the causes and consequences of schizophrenia and address the associated stigma.  Only through research and collaboration by groups like the National Institute of Mental Health and the many members of the American Psychiatric Association can we find the proper ways to improve the lives of those who suffer from this disease through early action,”

“Today’s Congressional briefing brought attention to groundbreaking research on schizophrenia that has been in development for several years and the promise for improved early intervention and prevention for this debilitating disease.  It highlights the need to continue funding to support these critical efforts that positively impact the lives of millions,” said Dr. Lieberman.

Dr. Dixon discussed research she is leading as part of the National Institute of Mental Health Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) effort and Columbia University’s coordination with the State of New York on early intervention strategies for adolescents exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia.  The RAISE research is focusing on promoting symptom reduction and improving life functioning through early intervention and integration of treatments, including medication, psychosocial therapies, family involvement, rehabilitation services, and supported employment.  RAISE is a large-scale, NIMH research project that seeks to reduce the long-term disability that can result from schizophrenia so that people with the disease lead productive, independent lives.

This and other scientific advances in treatment and prevention, along with the promise of greater access to mental health and substance use disorder services as a result of the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, can help ensure patients get needed effective care earlier.  In early November, the Obama Administration took a significant step toward achieving mental health parity by issuing a final rule for the law (based on article from the American Psychiatric Association).

Associate Dean Frommer comments on the effect of Sequestration on Funding for the National Institutes of Health.




Winners of Columbia's Annual Dyckman Scholarship Honored by CB12

By Nigel Chiwaya on November 27, 2013 12:20pm

Dyckman Scholars

 (L-R) Carlos Morales, Karina Montenegro and Jean-Franco Diaz are this year's recipients of the Dyckman Institute Sch...

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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS— Three Columbia University students were honored Tuesday night by Manhattan Community Board 12 for winning a prestigious award.

The students — freshman Carlos Morales, sophomore Jean-Franco Diaz and junior Karina Montenegro — are three of the four winners of the Dyckman Institute scholarship, a need-based award given annually to students from Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.

Morales, 18, a first-time winner of the award, said it enabled him to attend the school's prestigious engineering program.

"When I first got the acceptance letter, I was surprised and excited. And the thought that I would be able to afford college, I've just got such a feeling of gratitude," said Morales, who lives on Fort Washington Avenue.

The Dyckman Institute traces its roots back to Alexander Hamilton, whose wife donated land in 1818 for what became Washington Heights' first school: the Hamilton Free School. The scholarship fund was established after the school dissolved in 1943.

Forum on Hypertension Draws Local Community

Anna Spinner / October 29, 2013

Posted in: Campus News, Community News

Residents of Washington Heights, Harlem, and Inwood packed a room in the Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion last week to hear experts discuss CUMC’s latest research on hypertension. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious but often symptomless condition that affects one in three Americans and can lead to serious and often deadly health problems, including heart disease and stroke.

Carlos R. Lopez-Jimenez, MD, presented research on hypertension that he has conducted in Washington Heights for more than a decade.  He was thrilled to have the opportunity to share his findings with local residents.   I live in the community, I work in the community, and I am a part of the community, so to share my work here is very exciting.  To me, it's like a dream, said Dr. Lopez-Jimenez.

Carlos R. Lopez-Jimenez, MD, presented research on hypertension in Washington Heights that he has been involved with for more than a decade. ”I live in the community, I work in the community, and I am a part of the community, so to share my work here is very exciting,” said Dr. Lopez-Jimenez.

The event, presented by the Office of Government and Community Affairs, focused on advances in hypertension research, with presentations from three CUMC experts: J. Thomas Bigger, MD, Division of Cardiology and Department of Pharmacology; Carlos R. Lopez-Jimenez, MD, Division of Cardiology; and Daichi Shimbo, MD, Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health. Steven Shea, MD, chief, Division of General Medicine, introduced the evening, the second in a new series of community forums developed to present aspects of CUMC’s cutting-edge research to the local community. The inaugural forum in April focused on cancer; the tentative focus of the next one is dental issues.

“We developed these forums to share with our community some of the exciting and really important work we are doing here,” said Ross Frommer, CUMC’s vice president for government and community affairs and associate dean. Judging from the turnout and lively discussion, the community was as excited to hear from the CUMC experts as they were to present their findings. Many showed up as prepared to ask questions as the researchers were to answer them.

Daichi Shimbo, MD, spoke with the audience about irregularities in blood pressure reading, and the difficulty of accurately assessing blood pressure in a doctor's visit.

Daichi Shimbo, MD, spoke with the audience about the difficulty of accurately assessing blood pressure in a doctor’s office.

What lifestyle changes can someone make to control blood pressure? (The researchers recommended diet, exercise, and stress reduction, among others.) Why, asked one woman, might one sibling be hypertensive while the other is not? (More research is needed to answer questions like these, said Dr. Thomas Bigger.) Why does your blood pressure sometimes go up when you’re in the doctor’s office, asked another attendee.

“You’re setting me up,” said Dr. Daichi Shimbo, as the audience erupted in laughter. The question segued perfectly into Dr. Shimbo’s presentation on the phenomenon of “white-coat hypertension,” which is when a patient’s blood pressure is artificially high in the doctor’s office. Dr. Shimbo also discussed masked hypertension, which is when a hypertensive patient’s blood pressure reads as normal during a visit to the doctor but is otherwise dangerously high.

Dr. Carlos R. Lopez-Jimenez, MD, (right) spoke one-on-one with an attendee of the community forum after the event.

Dr. Carlos R. Lopez-Jimenez, MD (right), spoke one-on-one with an attendee of the community forum after the presentations.

The audience listened attentively, with many taking notes. The crowd lingered for the reception afterwards, attendees lining up to speak one-on-one with the presenters. After two hours spent learning about hypertension, many felt they had gained something valuable either for their own health or for that of members of their community. Jean Morusma, a local resident who is working to lower his blood pressure through diet and exercise, was pleased with what he learned.

“I came here today to learn more about hypertension research and to make sure that what I have read about the disease is true,” said Mr. Morusma.  “Now I can spread the information and tell people at church.”

Karla Cuenca contributed reporting.

Budget Cuts, Sequester, Shutdown. When Will the Damage End?

By Ross A. Frommer

Ross A. Frommer, Vice President for Government and Community Affairs and Associate Dean
Ross A. Frommer, Vice President for Government and Community Affairs and Associate Dean

Sequestration. A year ago, not many people outside the world of lawmakers, budget analysts, and a few lobbyists would have thought much about the word, certainly not in the context of the effect it could have on biomedical research. To most, I gather, it meant being cut off from the outside world while serving jury duty. Today, however, sequestration, and what it means for the federal budget and the overall U.S. economy, is very much on the minds of all those who rely on federal support, including individuals here at CUMC where National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds are critical to our research efforts and other activities. Like jury sequestration, it is causing a tremendous amount of disruption for those affected by it.

At Columbia, sequestration could lead to an estimated $19 million reduction in NIH funding at the medical center in 2013, probably more in 2014.

President Barack Obama, as he was required to do by law, signed the sequestration order just before midnight on March 1, 2013. The immediate effect was a 5.1 percent cut to all domestic discretionary spending, including biomedical research funded by the NIH.

At Columbia, sequestration could lead to an estimated $19 million reduction in NIH funding at the medical center in 2013, probably more in 2014. What could this mean? It means it is now even harder to win an NIH grant, and the grants are going to be smaller. It means fewer postdoc positions will be created and fewer staff hired. But numbers alone do not convey the full impact of the cuts on science, discovery, and health. NIH supports research conducted every day at CUMC, research that could lead to breakthroughs that will help us better understand, prevent, treat, and even cure disease. Sequestration doesn't just reduce NIH funding by 5.1 percent; it reduces hope by much more than 5.1 percent.

CUMC at Rally for Medical Research

CUMC faculty, students, and staff joined the Rally for Medical Research in Washington, DC.

For the past year, faculty and staff throughout CUMC have been working hard to repeal sequestration, making very clear the devastating and long-lasting effects it will have on research and the economy. In December 2012, three members of the New York Congressional delegation held a press conference at CUMC to decry sequestration and highlight the harmful effect it will have on research. In April, 20 CUMC faculty, staff, and students traveled to Washington to join thousands of advocates from across the country at the Rally for Medical Research as they made their voices heard in support of medical research. Lee Goldman, MD, dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at CUMC and executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences at Columbia, has also spoken personally to many members of Congress to make sure they understand the issue. Hundreds of CUMC faculty, staff, and students have contacted their members of Congress and many have gone to Washington to lobby them and their staffs personally. In September, Associate Professor Gloria Su and Assistant Professor Clarissa Waites participated in the Rally for Medical Research lobby day.

How did sequestration come about? Well, the first thing to understand is that it was never intended to actually go into effect. It was designed to be a threat, a sword of Damocles if you will, hanging over the heads of both Republicans and Democrats to force them to negotiate a budget deal.

Dean Lee Goldman with Rep. Eric Cantor

Dr. Lee Goldman, dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine and executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va).

Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress was tasked with agreeing on at least $1.2 trillion in additional spending cuts over 10 years. If Congress could not agree on budget cuts, which they did not, the president was required to cut spending across the board-hence the sequester.

For most government programs, this meant a roughly 8.2 percent cut for nondefense programs and a 9.4 percent cut for defense programs. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 softened the blow for 2013 only, reducing these numbers to 5.1 percent for nondefense and 7.3 percent for defense this year. For the NIH, it meant a reduction in spending of roughly $1.6 billion. NIH Director Francis Collins gave each institute and center director discretion on how to implement the cuts. Some are lowering pay lines; others are reducing each grant by a small, but noticeable amount.  On average, support for extramural research is being reduced by roughly 5.7 percent. Unless further action is taken, additional sequestration cuts will greet us in 2014.

Members of the CUMC community at the Rally for Medical Research in Washington, D.C.

Members of the CUMC community at the Rally for Medical Research in Washington, DC.

Members of our community are speaking up to make their voices heard and educate the public on the consequences of NIH cuts. But despite these efforts and those of advocates nationwide, sequestration will remain in effect until Congress repeals it.

There is no doubt it is hurting research. Battles over the debt limit, the Affordable Care Act, and the  government shutdown only complicate things. Unfortunately, it seems, at least for the foreseeable future, sequestration, and all its awful consequences, is the new normal.





Ross A. Frommer is the vice president for government and community affairs and associate dean at Columbia University Medical Center.

Learn more about the sequester:

Francis Collins, NIH Director, sings the Sequester Blues to communicate the dire consequences of the sequester on biomedical research

The American Association for the Advancement of Science on the consequences of cuts to NIH funding


Dean Goldman and Medical School Deans from New York Visit D.C.


(l to r) Dean Goldman, Dr. Spiegel, Dr. Gillar, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Ms. Wiederhorn, and Dr. Goldberg

On July 23rd and 24th, 2013, Dean Goldman and seven other deans from New York State medical schools participated in the Associated Medical Schools of New York’s (AMSNY) annual advocacy trip to Washington.

The deans conducted twenty meetings over the two-day visit, including 15 members of the New York Congressional Delegation.  In addition, AMSNY Deans met with several members of the House Republican leadership:  Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA); Vice Chair of the Budget Committee, Tom Price (GA); Vice Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Michael Burgess, (TX), and Chair of the Science, Committee, Lamar Smith (TX).  Pat White, Associate Director for Policy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was the invited guest to a breakfast meeting that focused on the future of the NIH, including the impact of sequestration on funding priorities and grant awards. 

The discussions at each of the meetings focused on three priority areas for the medical schools:  cuts in the NIH budget; the need for additional residency training slots; and reforms to the Higher Education Act, Title IV student loan program.  All of the members agreed that biomedical research saves lives and ultimately saves money through the development of preventive therapeutics, and all agreed upon the need for more residency slots given the growing physician shortage. However, the impasse around the Federal budget and the sequester remains.

In addition to Dean Goldman, the group of included: Michael Cain from the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, Mark Taubman from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Allen M. Spiegel from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Wolfgang Gillar from the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, David B. Duggan from SUNY Upstate Medical University, Robert Goldberg from the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Laurie Glimcher from the Weill Cornell Medical College, and Jo Wiederhorn, President/CEO of AMSNY.

Med Students for the Day at CUMC’s “Project Medical Education”

July 23, 2013

Posted in: Campus News


Two Columbia nursing students and PME participant Maria Lizardo work through an emergency room scenario using simulation technology.

On July 15, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) hosted Project Medical Education (PME).  PME is a project coordinated by the Association of American Medical Colleges that brings policy makers and opinion leaders to medical schools and teaching hospitals to learn about academic medicine.

This year, twenty-one community leaders, health care professionals, staff for elected officials, and others spent the day on campus seeing and learning firsthand about the day-to-day activities at CUMC. Though several PME programs take place each year across the country, CUMC’s is the only one that focuses primarily on community residents and neighbors. All but two of this year’s participants live or work in Northern Manhattan.

As in previous years, the program was a great success, with PME participants and CUMC saying how much they enjoyed it. Sandra Betancourt, Executive Director of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, summed it up by saying, “I found the PME very educational and, yes, fun and learned about all the great research taking place at the Medical Center.”

After a brief orientation and introduction to CUMC finances, Associate Dean Lisa Mellman talked about the medical school curriculum and led a discussion with several medical students on their volunteer activities in the community. Dr. Patrice Spitalnik gave a short histology lecture using the latest medical education technology. From there it was off to the New York State Psychiatric Institute to learn about mental health research. The session, at which Dr. Victoria Arango spoke about her work to better understand depression and suicide, included a brain-slicing demonstration.

The next stop was the Mailman School of Public Health, where the PME guests visited an environmental health sciences lab that studies the effects of various pollutants on humans. This included looking at slides of human tissue exposed to certain pollutants. The guests also played a computer simulation game about how health professionals address public health incidents. In a moving moment, Dean Linda Fried administered the Public Health Oath to all the guests. The concept of the Public Health Oath originated at Columbia.

A working lunch at the Faculty Club was next.  Dean Lee Goldman chatted with the group briefly and then Patrick Burke discussed the future of the CUMC campus.

After lunch, Dr. Rudi Odeh-Ramadan gave a general overview of research at CUMC. The PME participants also visited a lab to see how scientists work with mice to better understand Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The College of Dental Medicine was next. Interim Dean Ronnie Myers spoke about how the College provides services to the community, and Drs. Sunil Wadhwa and Sidney Eisig described recent advances in oral health care. Dr. James Fine then taught the PME participants how to place dental implants. Three of the guests showed their skills on a synthetic model of a jaw with varying degrees of success.

berkowitz_copyThe School of Nursing was the final stop of the day. Dean Bobbie Berkowitz and Drs. Mary Johnson and Cliff Roberson took the group through a simulation that is used to train students to deal with an emergency room situation. PME participant Maria Lizardo, from the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp., played the role of the worried spouse. After the program, Ms. Lizardo said that she had had “an amazing day” and that she planned to share her experience with friends and colleagues. “I am glad,” she said, “to see that there is such a close tie with the community, and I am optimistic that our bond will continue to be strengthened.”

Everyone who attended the 2013 PME at CUMC learned a lot and had a wonderful time.  All said that they would recommend the program to friends and colleagues. Kofi Boateng, from the West Harlem Development Corporation, noted how much he had learned about “the significant contributions that CUMC makes to the Columbia University name, the community, the nation, and the world.” He also said that based on his experience at PME, he would now be a strong supporter of funding for the National Institutes of Health.

The next PME will be held in 2014.



Young Workers Join CUMC for the Summer

SYEP 2013

Participants in NYC’s Summer Youth Employment Program on their first day of work at Columbia University Medical Center. Photo: Amelia Panico

Yesterday, local teens and young adults completed the CUMC rite of passage, HIPAA training. Now they join clerical teams across CUMC as part of New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

Over the next seven weeks, about 90 interns will gain firsthand work experience in the health care field, as they provide much-needed clerical help to CUMC staff across 45 departments. CUMC has participated for 20 years in the city-sponsored program, which offers summer jobs to local youth at participating organizations.

“We’re hoping to teach professional skills,” said Clara Leon, assistant director of Government and Community Affairs. “For a lot of these kids, it’s their first chance to be exposed to a real-life working environment.”

On their first day, the participants—many of whom were recruited from Washington Heights—were briefed on how to dress appropriately and on the importance of patient privacy (HIPAA), which is crucial to the work the interns will be doing over the summer. Chosen by lottery, SYEP participants will work four days a week.

For some interns, the program may be a stepping-stone to a permanent job.

“I took it seriously, and I learned everything,” said CUMC employee Chanel Arias, 20, who participated in SYEP last summer and addressed the new participants during orientation. “During the last week of the program, they said, ‘She’s good. We don’t want to lose her.’” Arias now works as an administrative aide in the Department of Medicine’s Center for Advanced Cardiac Care, for cardiologists Dr. Rachel Bijou and Dr. Mathew Maurer. To succeed in the program, Arias stressed, it is important to dress appropriately, as well as to be prompt and disciplined.

For SYEP participant Karla Cuenca, a Brooklyn native who recently graduated from SUNY-New Paltz, the speech gave her hope for obtaining meaningful employment. After studying organizational communications in college, she was eager for real-world experience.  “You can learn about something for four years,” she said, “but know it only on the surface. SYEP offers the chance to ‘get to know it hands on.’”

To learn more about SYEP, email cumcgca@columbia.edu.


Explora Restaurant Week 5/15 - 5/26


Starting on Wednesday, May 15th and running through Sunday, May 26th is the first ever Washington Heights and Inwood Restaurant Week. Go to exploranyc.com/restaurant-week to see a list of the restaurants participating in Northern Manhattan Restaurant Week. Take advantage of these special offers.

You can also download the complete Northern Manhattan Restaurant Week Booklet Here to see all the special deals we have lined up for you.

Note: In order to received the offer, mention the word
"Explora" or show your Northern Manhattan Restaurant Week Booklet.


Explora Contest #1:


HamburgerIn honor of the first ever Northern Manhattan Restaurant Week, we’ll have our first ever photo contest. Take a pic of your favorite dish at one of the participating  restaurant week establishments and instagram or tweet it using the #exploranyc hashtag.

One lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive a $50 Amex gift card. Contest ends on May 26th at midnight. Winner will be chosen on May 27th.



Uptown Art Stroll 2013

uptown arts strollFor the past 10 years, artists and other local leaders have used art to build a sense of community between the diverse population and language groups that call Northern Manhattan home. The Uptown Arts Stroll has been the annual showcase for these efforts, giving voice to an arts community that is growing in the often overlooked but quickly gentrifying neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood. 

Since 2003, the Uptown Arts Stroll has grown from a one-day event to a month-long extravaganza offering a variety of arts and cultural events north of 155th Street. Since 2008, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), in partnership with local artists, businesses, community institutions and community leaders, has taken on the leadership of the Uptown Arts Stroll.
The Uptown Arts Stroll 2013 will showcase the arts, artists and rich cultural venues within Upper Manhattan through a series of cultural activities during the month of June 2013.

For more information, please visit www.artstroll.com.





Neighborhood Residents Turn Out for CUMC Cancer Talks

May 3, 2013

Posted in: Campus News, Cancer, Community News


Joseph Jurcic, MD, talks to Washington Heights residents about his research on new leukemia drugs.

Residents of Washington Heights and Inwood turned out Tuesday, April 30, for the first lecture in a series of public events designed to share news about research at CUMC with the community.

Tuesday evening’s event focused on advances in leukemia research and treatment, with presentations from three CUMC leukemia specialists: Joseph Jurcic, MD, professor of clinical medicine; Nicole Lamanna, MD, associate clinical professor of medicine; and Mark Frattini, MD, PhD, associate professor of clinical medicine.

“When we were thinking about who we wanted to have speak tonight, we wanted to show you why places like CUMC exist,” said Stephen Emerson, MD, PhD, director of the Herbert Irving Cancer Center and Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Immunology & Medicine. “There are people out there who need the best care, and places like CUMC are committed to improving the lives of their patients by providing that care and by conducting the research that will improve that care.”

The speakers were enthusiastically received by the audience, says Sandra Harris, assistant vice president of government and community affairs at CUMC, and the event ran overtime to allow for the many questions posed at the end.

For information about the next event—tentatively planned on the topic of high blood pressure—check for an update on the Office of Government & Community Affairs website.

Manhattan Times Article:




(Click for information)


Members of the CUMC Community Campaign to Support NIH Funding

April 10, 2013

Scientists and physicians aren’t known for taking political action.  But cuts to NIH funding—mandated by the sequester—have motivated many to speak out and rally in support of funding for medical research.

The cuts, which went into effect on March 1, slashed the NIH budget by 5.1 percent along with all other non-defense discretionary spending.  Cuts may increase to 8.2 percent next year.

Members of the CUMC community have personal as well as professional stories about why medical research funding matters to them.  Click on their images to read about why they oppose NIH cuts.


Do you have a story to tell about what NIH funding means to you?  Share it with us.







Watch highlights of the rally:  




GCA Connections Poster


GCA Connections2



Dear Colleagues:

I am taking this unusual initiative to encourage you to contact your senators and member of Congress to urge them to prevent further disastrous cuts to the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal research agencies. You can do so easily by clicking here.

Earlier this month, sequestration mandated a 5.1 percent cut this year, possibly increasing to 8.2 percent next year, to all federal non-defense discretionary spending, including the NIH. Medicare payments will also be reduced by 2 percent. The NIH and other federal agencies are still determining how the cuts will be implemented, but the impact at Columbia University Medical Center will be substantial, more that $20 million this fiscal year alone.

Now is the time to weigh in with your elected representatives and let them know about the sequester's devastating effects. Research!America has set up a website that will allow you to do so easily. There is suggested text, but you should feel free to add your own thoughts on the issue. When filling out the form, please use your home address and Columbia email address.

Please feel free to contact Ross A. Frommer, associate dean for government & community affairs, if you have any questions or need any additional information. You can reach Ross at (212) 305-4967 or at raf2002@columbia.edu.

When funding for the NIH and other health programs have been at risk in the past, Columbia has stood up and let Congress know this is unacceptable. Now we must do so again. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Lee Goldman, MD


Columbia’s Own Dr. Rafael Lantigua Honored at Dominican Heritage Month Celebration

Dominican Heritage Event

(l to r) Senator Espaillat, Dr. Lantigua, Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa, Dean Goldman, Mark Kator from the Isabella Geriatric Center, and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez

On February 26th, Dr. Rafael Lantigua, Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and Special Advisor to Dean Goldman for Community Health Affairs, was recognized for his many years of service to Northern Manhattan and the Dominican community.  The festive Dominican Heritage Month Celebration dinner was hosted by the Instituto Duartiano USA at the Isabella Geriatric Center.  Friends, colleagues, family, community leaders, and elected officials all came together to honor Dr. Lantigua and thank him for all he has done to improve the health of so many.  Senator Adriano Espaillat noted that, “Everybody who knows Rafi, and Rafi knows everybody, knows what a special person he is, not only a great doctor, but someone who loves this community and can pull people together to get things done.”




Office of Communications

701 West 168th Street

New York, NY 10032






Media Contacts: Karin Eskenazi, 212-342-0508, cumcnews@columbia.edu

                             Elizabeth Streich, 212-305-3689, estreich@columbia.edu

                             Jason Schechter, 212-617-7750, jschechter12@bloomberg.net

                             Chris Ullman, 202-729-5385, chris.ullman@carlyle.com

Dan Doctoroff, David Rubenstein, and Bloomberg Philanthropies Unveil Target ALS


$25 Million Gift Will Streamline Collaboration to Discover Potential ALS Therapeutics



NEW YORK, February 7, 2013—Daniel L. Doctoroff, Bloomberg LP CEO and president; David M. Rubenstein, co-CEO of The Carlyle Group; and Bloomberg Philanthropies today unveiled Target ALS, a $25 million three-year initiative to streamline discovery of new approaches to treating ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

“Finding a cure for ALS requires that we think differently about how to tackle this debilitating disease,” said Mr. Doctoroff. “While ALS scientists have made great progress in the last few years, their research too often occurs in silos, impeding discovery. Target ALS will provide an organizational framework for the world’s leading ALS researchers to share and coordinate their findings so that we can make progress toward therapies and a cure.”

Dan Doctoroff, David Rubenstein, and Bloomberg Philanthropies Unveil Target ALS

  (at table) UC San Diego's Don Cleveland, Harvard's Kevin Eggan, CUMC's Christopher Henderson, Bloomberg LP's Daniel Doctoroff, and Johns Hopkins' Jeffrey Rothstein mark the launch of Target ALS at Columbia's Motor Neuron Center (credit: CUMC). High-res version available upon request.

Target ALS is the next phase of an accelerated research initiative of Project A.L.S., a New York-based foundation focused on finding and funding a cure for ALS, and the Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins University, which was announced in January 2010. Target ALS will build on the rapid scientific progress of the past three years through a new collaboration that pools the efforts of dozens of scientists and laboratories into an efficient organization focused on new targets for ALS therapeutics. The immediate goal is to seed an array of drug-development programs at pharmaceutical and biotech companies, based on cutting-edge data generated by Target ALS scientists. Target ALS will identify and transfer candidate therapeutic targets—molecular events that occur in ALS patients that, when blocked, can slow or arrest disease progression. The long-term goal is to find effective therapies for ALS.

Researchers and laboratories from around the world participating in Target ALS will benefit from a central organization through which to share ideas, progress, and discoveries, as well as a source of funding to develop new collaborative projects. A feature of the new consortium is the Target ALS Core Facilities, which will provide ALS investigators with access to key technologies that are too complex or costly to set up in each individual laboratory.

“With fresh resources and determined collaboration, we can make steady progress toward a cure for this devastating disease,” said Mr. Rubenstein. “Dan, Mike, and I hope these resources will serve as a unifying catalyst for the great work that is being done around the world to cure and prevent ALS.”

“Collaboration is essential to build on the real progress that’s being made in the field of ALS research,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City. “I’m proud to join Dan and David to launch this innovative new project and bring together the scientific, academic, healthcare, and business communities to stop this horrible disease once and for all.”

Scientific director Christopher E. Henderson, PhD, and executive director Manish Raisinghani, MD, PhD, will jointly manage the program. Dr. Henderson is the Gurewitsch/Vidda Professor of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine and co-director of the Motor Neuron Center and the Project A.L.S./Jenifer Estess Laboratory for Stem Cell Research at Columbia University Medical Center. The project will also benefit from the vision of special consultant Zach Hall, PhD, who is a former director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and was the first president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“Target ALS will generate a pipeline of candidate therapeutic targets that will provide a common language for Target ALS and pharma and biotech companies, with whom we have initiated a dialogue to define their needs and expectations,” said Dr. Henderson.

“By coordinating and supporting the work of leading ALS scientists and engaging pharma and biotech, Target ALS provides a new way of organizing science that will hasten the development of much-needed therapies for this debilitating disease,” said Dr. Hall.

“We are extremely grateful to Dan, David, and Bloomberg Philanthropies for their generosity and for recognizing the great promise of the research led by Dr. Henderson and his colleagues both here at Columbia and at our collaborating institutions,” said Lee Goldman, MD, dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, and executive vice president for Health and Biomedical Sciences, Columbia University.

Reflecting the wide range of institutions involved, Target ALS’s strategy will receive oversight from a research advisory board, and funding will be conditional on positive evaluation by an independent review committee.

“With the recent discovery of new genes and disease mechanisms, ALS research is now in its most exciting phase ever. Target ALS will allow us to make a determined push toward rational therapeutic strategies for this terrible disease,” said Jeffrey Rothstein, MD, PhD, director of the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins University and chair of the Target ALS Research Advisory Board.

The objectives of Target ALS build upon, and are complementary to, those of existing ALS-related foundations and centers, with whom collaborations and coordination are an important part of the Target ALS strategy.

“Project A.L.S. is proud to have launched Target ALS, a systemized approach to screening ALS therapies. Project A.L.S. will continue to launch new ideas that we hope will feed the Target ALS mission,” said Valerie Estess, director of research for Project A.L.S.

“We are eager to partner with Target ALS to provide access to core facilities for some of the scientists we support worldwide,” said Lucie Bruijn, PhD, chief scientist of the ALS Association, which funds research, engages in advocacy, and provides care and support to ALS patients and families.

“Testing candidate targets in predictive disease models is a high priority and we are pleased to collaborate with Target ALS in this area,” said Melanie Leitner, PhD, chief scientific officer of Prize4Life, Inc., a foundation dedicated to accelerating the discovery of treatments and cures for ALS.

About ALS

ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” is a progressive disease that affects motor neurons—specialized nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain essential for all voluntary movement. ALS typically begins after age 50 but can occur in much younger patients and eventually affects a person’s ability to move, speak, and breathe. Some 20,000 Americans suffer from ALS at any given time. About 90 percent have a sporadic, or non-inherited, form of the disease. The cause of sporadic ALS is unknown but likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The remaining 10 percent have a familial form of ALS, which is caused by an inherited genetic mutation. There is no cure for ALS. Symptoms are managed with medication, physical and speech therapy, assistive devices, and nutritional support. Many people with ALS die of respiratory complications within two to three years of diagnosis.


Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the MD degree and is among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest in the United States. Its physicians treat patients at multiple locations throughout the tri-state area, including the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia campus in Washington Heights, the new ColumbiaDoctors Midtown at 51 W. 51st St. in Manhattan, and the new ColumbiaDoctors Riverdale practice. For more information, visit cumc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.


Med EDge Kick-Off at CUMC

On Monday, January 28th, Med EDge, a program founded by Jonah Rubin, a P&S student, hosted its Inaugural Kick-off Event for local high school students at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) campus.  The goal of Med EDge is to bring health careers professionals and students together, through interesting and informative workshops that educate students about the opportunities available to them in the health care system, the job requirements, and lifestyle.

MedEDge Kick-Off

Pictured:  Martina Kerrison, Patient Care Associate, NYP and local high school students

Med EDge pic

Pictured from right to left: Suven Cooper (MSPH '14), Board Member; Elizabeth Salsgiver (MSPH '14), Program Planning Director; Jonah Rubin (P&S '16), Founder & President;

Eric Przybyszewski (P&S '16), Vice President

Not Pictured:  Suma Setty (MSPH '14), Board Member

 The CUMC Office of Government & Community Affairs worked collaboratively with MedEDge to match students with health career professionals at our campus.   Workshops were led by EMTs, paramedics, and an EKG & Phlebotomy technician who described their jobs and the process for obtaining certifications in their specific areas.   At a reception following the workshops, students were matched with first year P&S medical studen

Columbia University Medical Center Opens Midtown Outpatient Center

New York, NY – ColumbiaDoctors Midtown has officially opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting by leadership of Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and ColumbiaDoctors physicians, dentists, and nurse practitioners. The location puts many of the city’s top doctors from New York’s No. 1 academic medical center in the heart of Midtown, at 51 West 51st St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

ColumbiaDoctors is the medical practice comprising faculty of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, and School of Nursing. More than 225 physicians, dentists, and nurse practitioners offer comprehensive medical services, including cardiology, executive health, pre- and post-surgical care, psychiatry, radiology, travel medicine, and women’s health, as well as laboratory services at the new Midtown location.

Columbia Doctors Grand Opening

From left to right are Philip Milstein, Dr. Robert Kelly, Dr. Steven J. Corwin, Dr. Louis Bigliani, Dr. Robyn Gmyrek, Dr. Lee Goldman, Dr. Kenneth Forde and Mark McDougle. (Photo by Diane Bondareff for ColumbiaDoctors)

Columbia Doctors Grand Opening Electeds

(l to r) Jeffrey Lefrancois from the office of Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Gracey Stoddard from the Office of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Nivardo Lopez from the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jared Chausow from the Office of State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Andrew Borchini from the Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand join Dean Goldman at the ribbon cutting for ColumbiaDoctors’ new location at 51 West 51st Street

Designed for the convenience of patients, ColumbiaDoctors Midtown offers coordinated appointments for those seeing multiple specialists, comfortable waiting areas, and ample natural light. Services are available from early morning to evening and on Saturdays. There is shuttle service between ColumbiaDoctors Midtown and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights.

Easily accessible via foot, car, and mass transit, the new facility is adjacent to Rockefeller Center and a short distance from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, and Grand Central Terminal. Discounted valet- and self-parking is available.

“People come from throughout the Tri-State area, and even beyond, to see Columbia doctors. The new ColumbiaDoctors Midtown makes it even easier—for both our existing patients and our new ones— to be cared for by our renowned experts,” said Lee Goldman, MD, dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine and executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences, Columbia University Medical Center.

The practice was formerly called ColumbiaDoctors Eastside and located at 16 East 60th St. The need to expand and establish a larger presence in Midtown fueled the move to 51st Street. The new location is expected to serve at least 20 percent more patients per year. The facility has approximately 125,000 square feet and 125 exam rooms. In addition to the 225 healthcare professionals who practice at the Midtown location, patients have access to the entire 1,200-member ColumbiaDoctors multi-specialty practice and its locations in New York City, Westchester, and throughout the Tri-State area.

ColumbiaDoctors accepts most insurance plans. More information is available at columbiadoctors.org or by calling 212-326-8500.


Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the MD degree and is among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest in the United States. Its physicians treat patients at multiple locations throughout the tri-state area, including the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia campus in Washington Heights, the new ColumbiaDoctors Midtown location at 51 W. 51st St. in Manhattan, and the new ColumbiaDoctors

Riverdale practice. For more information, visit www.cumc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.

Patients & Physicians Urge Congress to Reject NIH Cuts

Patients, physicians and U.S. Representatives warned of dire consequences to medical research if an 8 percent budget cut slated for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) takes effect in January. Members of the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), U.S. Representatives Rangel, Nadler and Maloney, and a 14-year-old cancer survivor spoke at a briefing at CUMC to urge Congress to reject the cut (see video), which will delay medical progress.

The pending action will reduce NIH funding in FY13 by $2.5 billion and by approximately $167 million in New York State. According to a report commissioned by AMSNY, New York state receives an economic return of $7.50 for every research dollar invested in the state’s medical schools. A $167 million loss could make a $1.255 billion dent in New York’s economy and result in significant job losses.

NIH Cuts Will Delay Medical Progress, Warn Patients, Physicians, and Policy Makers

The decision on whether and how to avoid this cut will be made in the next few weeks, so it is imperative to act now.

NIH Press Conference

Contact your elected representatives and let them know this cannot happen. Research!America has set up a website that will allow you to do so easily.

(If you are a Columbia employee or student, please use your home address and Columbia email address.)

For more information about the impact of federally funded research on the health of all Americans, visit the website of the National Institutes of Health or the Association of American Medical Colleges.

CUMC staff, students and friends: please read a letter from Dean Lee Goldman regarding the planned cuts.


Community Board 12 Recognizes Columbia University Dyckman Scholars


Toy Drive Poster



Help Stop Cuts to NIH Funding


Dear Colleague:

I write to ask you to contact your Senators and Member of Congress to urge them to prevent disastrous cuts to the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Please click here to do so.

Now that the election is over, President Obama and Congress are turning their attention to addressing the budget deficit and preventing the nation from heading over the fiscal cliff. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, if Congress does not act by January 3rd, 2013, an automatic sequester will be imposed on the federal budget. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that this would mean an immediate 8.2% cut to the NIH budget.

Although the agency has not yet determined how it would implement this cut, there is no doubt that it would have a devastating effect on biomedical research here at Columbia and across the country. The Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation, and other health and research agencies would be similarly affected.

Now is the time to weigh in with your elected representatives and let them know this cannot happen. Research!America has set up a website that will allow you to do so easily. There is suggested text, but you should feel free to add your own thoughts on the issue. When filling out the form, please use your home address and Columbia email address.

The decision on whether and how to avoid sequestration will be made in the next few weeks, so it is imperative that we act now. Faculty, students, staff, alumni, patients, and friends must make their voices be heard. Otherwise, we risk losing support for this vital agency.

Please feel free to contact Ross A. Frommer, Associate Dean for Government & Community Affairs, if you have any questions or need any additional information. You can reach Ross at (212) 305-4967 or at raf2002@columbia.edu.

When funding for the NIH has been at risk in the past, Columbia has stood up and let Congress know this is unacceptable. Now we must do so again. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Lee Goldman, MD, MPH


***Media Advisory***

Patients, Policy-Makers & NY Medical Schools Urge Congress to Reject Significant Budget Cut to NIH Funding



Meet the Youth Behind CUMC's Food Drive

Food Drive Poster 2012


CUMC Hosts Election Forum

Election Forum1

From left to right:  Thomas Barker, Victor Kagan, Yudelka Garcia,

Rebecca Lo, Anna Starikovsky, Dean Goldman, and Vivek Murthy


On October 23rd, close to three hundred students, faculty, staff, and guests attended the 2012 CUMC Election Forum.  The Forum was an opportunity to discuss health care issues and the upcoming election.  Thomas Barker, a partner in the law firm of Foley and Hoag LLP, and former General Counsel to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, spoke on behalf of Governor Romney, while Vivek Murthy, President and Co-Founder, Doctors for America, and Internal Medicine Hospitalist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, represented the Obama campaign.  Sree Sreenivasan, Chief DigitalOfficer for Columbia University served as the moderator. 

The CUMC Election Forum was made possible by a generous gift from Joseph M. Murphy and Country Bank.  The event was co-hosted by the Office of Government and Community Affairs, the Columbia Political Union, the American Medical Students Association -- Columbia Chapter, School of Nursing Student Nursing Organization, the Mailman School of Public Health Student Government Association, and the College of Dental Medicine Student Government.

After making presentations on why their candidate’s health care plan was better for the country, Mr. Barker and Dr. Murthy took questions from a panel of students representing the four health sciences schools:  Yudelka Garcia from the School of Nursing, Victor Kagan from the College of Dental Medicine, Rebecca Lo from the Mailman School of Public Health, and Anna Starikovsky form the College of Physicians & Surgeons.  Questions were also take from members of the audience and via twitter.


See Replay of CUMC Election Forum

 CUMC Election Forum Video



“Columbia Research Featured in Manhattan Times Article”



CUMC Election Forum


Siddhartha Mukherjee Featured at Capitol Hill Briefing

Mukherjee Siddhartha


Dr. Mukherjee discusses cancer research with Representatives Bilbray, Dent, and Holt prior to the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus briefing            

On September 12th, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Medicine, was the featured speaking at a briefing hosted by the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus.

During his presentation,  Dr. Mukherjee discussed his Pulitzer Prize winning book, the Emperor of All Maladies and looked into questions surrounding the “War on Cancer” such as are we winning or losing?  Have the astonishing scientific gains of the last decade been transformed into tangible benefits in cancer prevention and treatment and how will the future of cancer treatment and prevention differ from the present?  How will these changes transform our lives and our societies?  Who will pay for these advances, and what will stimulate the next cycles of discovery?


Before the briefing, Dr. Mukherjee had the chance to sit and chat informally with three of the Caucus Co-Chairs, Representatives Brian Bilbray (R-CA) Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Rush Holt (D-NJ).

The Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus provides a forum where Members and staff can interact directly with preeminent researchers responsible for important scientific discoveries. Many of the stunning advances, made possible by NIH funding, highlighted in these presentations have led to improved understanding of the cause, treatment, and prevention of human disease.  The briefing was sponsored by the Coalition for Life Sciences.

Dean Goldman Leads Annual AMSNY Advocacy Day

Schumer and Dean Goldman Pic

Dean Goldman and Deans from Several other New York School Met with Senator Charles Schumer in his Washington Office

On July 18th-19th, Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) and several of the deans of New York's sixteen medical schools traveled to the nation's capital to advocate for funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), graduate medical education (GME), and the physician workforce.  Dr. Lee Goldman is the current Chair of ASMNY and led the delegation.

Meetings were held with Tim Gronniger, Senior Advisor for Health Policy of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Senator Charles Schumer, and thirteen of New York's congressional delegation.  While uncertainty with the national budget was clear, AMSNY urged legislators to consider the damaging effects that cuts to NIH and GME will have on the medical schools, and on New York as a whole.  NIH funding bolsters the economy, while potentially developing real treatments and cures for millions of Americans suffering from debilitating diseases. In 2011, New York received over $2 billion in NIH funding for research.  The Deans also expressed support for funding for the Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality and concern over the growth in for profit Caribbean Medical Schools.

New York State's delegation voiced wide spread support for the education, patient care, and research initiatives that are ongoing at the State's academic medical centers.

Dean Berkowitz Joins Nurse Leaders at Congressional Briefing to Outline the Profession's Prominence in Health Care Reform


Dean Berkowitz

Dean Berkowitz and her colleagues address Congressional Nursing Caucus Hearing


Legislative and nursing association staff in Washington D.C. heard Dr. Bobbie Berkowitz, Dean of Columbia University School of Nursing, and members of the Deans Nursing Policy Coalition discuss the centrality of advanced practice nursing to the health care system in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the Affordable Care Act.

Sponsored by the House Nursing Caucus, a bipartisan advisory organization, the July 19th briefing spotlighted the specialized education and training of advanced practice nurses (APNs) that make them uniquely qualified to provide the kind of cost-efficient, quality care that will be required as health care reform unfolds, particularly for minority and underserved populations, senior citizens, and children.

Joining Dr. Berkowitz in the Congressional briefing were the deans of the nursing schools from Vanderbilt University, Emory, and the University of Rochester.  Nursing Caucus co-chairs, Congressman Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), also underscored the importance of nursing to the next chapter of the nation’s evolving health care system.

“Today’s briefing signals a significant moment,” Congresswoman Capps told the audience, noting that this was the first Congressional briefing for the coalition of nursing school deans.  “Graduate schools of nursing have an increasingly significant role to play as the new health law goes into effect,” she said.  “Nurses are the backbone of our health care system and advanced practice nurses are a major force in the future health of the nation’s citizens, families, and communities.”

In her presentation, Dr. Berkowitz called for a re-alignment between the formal, hospital-based health care system and the informal network of care often provided in clinics and residential settings. Most hospitals and physician-specialists care for acute illnesses, she noted.  But as more Americans live longer and become eligible for medical treatment, providers are going to need to care for increasing numbers of patients suffering from such chronic diseases as diabetes, which require periodic care best delivered outside the formal hospital setting.

An example of how Columbia University School of Nursing is bridging the informal and formal hospital system of care is its independent nurse practitioner practice.  The Columbia Advanced Practice Nurse Associates (CAPNA) serves as a model of care in providing individualized disease prevention and health promotion interventions, empowering patients to meet their own health care goals, and providing health education and comprehensive plans of care for patients with chronic illness. Research has shown that outcomes for patients in the CAPNA practice are comparable to similar care provided by physicians.

Many chronic diseases affect minority and underserved populations disproportionately. Advanced nurse practitioners are the obvious and logical solution to realign the two health care systems, she said. For this group of patients especially, APN’s are educated and trained not only to provide care in many different settings, at any given point in their lifespan, but also in factoring in socio-economic influences and lifestyle issues that affect the disease.

“The symptoms of chronic illness can last a lifetime and advanced practice nurses are skilled in involving patients in managing their own disease,” she said.  “APNs are also trained to coordinate a patient’s multifaceted care among specialist clinicians and other members of the patient’s health care team.”


New York City 2012 Neighborhood Achievement Awards Recognizes Columbia Vice President and Coogan’s

Neighborhood Achievement AwardsNeighborhood Achievement Awards

La-Verna Fountain of Columbia and Peter Walsh of Coogan’s accepting their awards

Columbia University and the Washington Heights/Inwood neighborhood were well represented among the winners of the 2012 Neighborhood Achievement Awards.  At a July 10th ceremony at Gracie Mansion, New York City Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel and Commissioner of NYC Small Business Services, Robert W. Walsh, presented awards to small businesses and non-profits who were honored for their commitment to building neighborhoods, creating jobs, and opening opportunities for New Yorkers.   "New York's network of diverse and thriving neighborhoods is the engine that powers the City's economy, and under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership, neighborhood commercial districts are stronger than ever," Deputy Mayor Steel said. "We're pleased to recognize tonight's 17 award winners who do so much to make New York City the Greatest City on Earth."

La-Verna Fountain, Vice President for Construction Business Services & Communications at Columbia University received the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise Advocate of the Year Award.  Ms. Fountain was recognized for making Columbia a recognized leader in promoting relationships with minority, women, and locally (MWL) owned businesses.  Fountain helps to lead the MWL Construction Trades Certificate Mentorship Program which was designed to help construction-trade business owners on finding business opportunities and how to bid on projects for minority, women and locally-owned businesses.  The program, which has been adopted as a citywide model, has already graduated fifty-three firms that have received more than $60 million in contracts with New York City and Columbia University.  In accepting the award Ms. Fountain said, "My goal is to connect people who run the best businesses with the right opportunities within Columbia University.  My job is to help foster that same leadership to minority, women and local business owners."  Commissioner noted that,  “La-Verna does a tremendous amount of work by opening doors and has been doing a remarkable job for a number of years.”

Coogan’s Restaurant, a mainstay in the Medical Center community, won the Small Business of the Year Award for Manhattan.  Co-Owner Peter Walsh accepted the award on behalf of his partners David Hunt and Tess O’Connor and all the friends and neighbors who love Coogan’s.  “What’s good for the community is good for Coogans!” noted Walsh.   Also among the winners was another Northern Manhattan institution, the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood, which received one of two leadership awards.


Men's Suit Drive a Smashing Success


from left to right: 

Etta Graham, Executive Director, Ft. Washington Men's Shelter and Sandra Harris, CUMC, Associate Vice President

Faculty, students, and staff donated over 400 pieces of clothing to the first ever CUMC Men’s Suit Drive.  The Office of Government & Community Affairs coordinated the drive and collected suits, jackets, dress shorts, shoes, ties, and gift certificates to benefit the Ft. Washington Men's Shelter.  The shelter uses the clothing to help homeless men dress appropriately and make a lasting impression as they seek employment opportunities and transition to independent living.  Assistant Vice President Sandra Harris thanked all members of the CUMC community for their generosity and continued efforts to support neighbors in need.


The Fort Washington Greenmarket is back!


In our continued commitment to the health and well-being of students, patients, employees, visitors, and community residents, Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital are delighted to announce the return of the Fort Washington Greenmarket to campus. The market will take place between 168th and 169th Streets along Fort Washington Avenue. It will open June 5th and will run through November 20, 2012. The market hours will be from 8:00-5:00 pm, rain or shine.


Get ready to experience:


- Healthy, fresh and local food offerings

- Tasty cooking demonstrations, nutrition education and information

- Health education and information services from various programs across the Medical Center campus

- Live entertainment, with local musicians, art exhibits, and exercise and fitness demonstrations


I encourage you to take advantage of the variety of healthy food options and to take the time to shop at the Fort Washington Greenmarket this summer and fall. For more information and a complete list of vendors, visit http://www.grownyc.org/fortwashingtongreenmarket.


Warm regards,



Sandra Harris

Assistant Vice President

Government & Community Affairs

Greenmarket at CUMC


Borough President Scott Stringer Visits CUMC


Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Dr. Steven Shea, CUMC Senior Vice Dean


Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer meeting with CUMC faculty members


Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Dean Lee Goldman

              On May 18th, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was the guest speaker at a CUMC Public Policy Breakfast.  A native of Washington Heights, Mr. Stringer was elected Borough President in 2005 after having served in the New York State Assembly.  On behalf of Dean Goldman, Senior Vice Dean Steven Shea welcomed the Borough President who gave his thoughts on key issues facing New York City and the borough, discussing not only health care, but public safety, transportation, and public education as well.  He then took questions and had a free flowing discussion with the fifteen or so members of the CUMC leadership team, plus several others, who attended the breakfast.

              The CUMC Public Policy breakfasts are an opportunity for elected officials and other leaders in health care policy to meet with the Dean and other faculty and staff from CUMC to discuss in an informal setting health care and other important policy issues.  Past Speakers have included Congressman Eliot Engel and New York City Council President Christine Quinn.


Summer Youth Employment Program at CUMC

Dear Colleagues:



Once again, Columbia University Medical Center will collaborate with several community based organizations to host local youth participating in the New York City Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).  SYEP seeks to help youth establish professional career goals and develop skills for the future.  The purpose of SYEP is to provide youth, between the ages of 14 through 24, with summer employment and educational experiences that build on their individual strengths and professional development, including engaging their talent, developing skills set, and providing positive adult role models.



The program is coordinated by the Office of Government & Community Affairs at the Medical Center campus and is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 9th, 2012 and run through Thursday, August 16th, 2012.

Participants will be scheduled to work from 9:00 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. four days per week (Monday-Thursday).  Please note that participants are paid through New York City funds.  Departments and administrative offices interested in placing one or more youth should complete the registration form below and return it no later than Friday, June 8th, 2012.  The registration form is also available online at http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/gc/ca/index.html .



Please return registration forms via fax at (212) 342-3914 or via interoffice mail to P&S Box 112.  Alternatively, you may also "Reply" to this email, complete the form below, and send.



For youth interested in participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program, please visit the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development website at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dycd for applications.



For further information, please contact Clara N. Leon at CNL7@columbia.edu or 212-305-9950.  You may also visit the GCA website at www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/gc. Thank you for your support and continued collaboration.






Sandra Harris

Assistant Vice President for Government & Community Affairs


Columbia Cancer Director Advocates for Cancer Research and Care

higgins picture

(l to r) Dr. James Speyer, Congressman Brian Higgins, Dr. Stephen Emerson

              On May 17th, the Association of American Cancer Institutes held its annual advocacy day in Washington, D.C.  Over fifty Institute Directors, researchers, clinicians, and government affairs specialists from twenty-five states spent time on Capitol Hill urging Members of Congress to support cancer research and care programs.  Specifically, the advocates pushed for an increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute as well as the Food and Drug Administration.

              Dr. Stephen Emerson, Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Immunology (in Medicine) and Director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Center at Columbia University, was among those who took part.  Just having arrived at Columbia in March, this was Dr. Emerson’s first AACI advocacy day.  He very effectively explained to Members of Congress and their staffs the importance of funding cancer research and addressing the drug shortage issue which is currently affecting cancer care and clinical trials.

              Dr. James Speyer, Medical Director of the New York University Clinical Cancer Center, joined Dr. Emerson along with government affairs representatives from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.  Drs. Emerson and Speyer had meetings with Representatives Eliot Engel, Brian Higgins, Peter King, and Nita Lowey as well as staff from the offices of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer and Representatives Joe Crowley, Nan Hayworth, Maurice Hinchey, Charles Rangel, and Tom Reed.

Men's Suit Drive a Smashing Success

men clothing

Faculty, students, and staff donated over 400 pieces of clothing to the first ever CUMC Men’s Suit Drive.  The Office of Government & Community Affairs coordinated the drive and collected suits, jackets, dress shorts, shoes, ties, and gift certificates to benefit the Ft. Washington Men's Shelter.  The shelter uses the clothing to help homeless men dress appropriately and make a lasting impression as they seek employment opportunities and transition to independent living.  Assistant Vice President Sandra Harris thanked all members of the CUMC community for their generosity and continued efforts to support neighbors in need.


Medical Center Public Safety Director Testifies at City Council Hearing

On April 24th, Jeannine Jennette, Executive Director of Public Safety at  Columbia University Medical Center testified at a hearing held by the Consumer Affairs Committee of the New York City Council.  The hearing looked at several bills that would change City rules and regulation governing street vendors.  Ms. Jennette testified in support of bill 0789 which would prohibit vending on the sidewalk abutting no standing zones that are adjacent to hospitals, noting that in recent years, there has been a significant growth in the number of vendors, both general and food, in the area surrounding the medical center.  She also introduced into the hearing a record a copy of letter that Dean Lee Goldman sent to Councilman Daniel Garodnick in support of bill 0789.  Councilman Garodnick is the lead sponsor of the bill and Chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee.

Ms. Jennette testified that of the nineteen vendors located on the superblock, half were located adjacent to a no standing zone, including two that were parked directly next to a fire hydrant, and several located close to the emergency room entrance where the ambulances pull up to bring in patients.  This cluster of vendors, especially towards the corner of 168th Street and Broadway, creates tremendous traffic problems, both pedestrian and vehicular, near the carts, and makes it more difficult for staff, students, visitors, ambulances, and especially patients, many of whom are disabled and limited in some other way, to access our facilities.  Brad Beckstrom of Mount Sinai Medical Center also testified in favor of the bill.

Councilman Daniel Garodnick Letter

Jeannine M. Jennette Testimony



Blood Drive Poster


Men's Suit Drive Flyer


Dean Goldman Testifies in Support of Increased NIH Funding

Dean Goldman Testimony

                   Dean Goldman Testimony

                    Photo courtesy of Jed Link

             On March 29th, United State House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) held a hearing on the FY 13 budget.  The Appropriations committee is responsible for allocating all federal discretionary spending and the Labor/HHS subcommittee has the second largest portfolio (Defense) among the full committee’s twelve subcommittees.

              Dean Goldman was among the witnesses and he used this opportunity to make a strong case for increasing the budget for the National Institutes of Health by 4.3% to $32 billion.  Drawing on his experience as a cardiologist, Dean Goldman described the tremendous gains that have been made in preventing and treating cardiac disease and noted the important role that the NIH has played in the these and other improvements to the health. 

He also pointed out that to understand the value of the NIH, one need only look to one’s own medicine cabinet or to a friend or relative who has survived what was once a deadly disease.  A very large percentage of the drugs and treatments upon which people rely upon today to maintain their health can trace their roots back to NIH funded research.

              Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), a member of the Subcommittee, introduced Dean Goldman.  She noted his leadership in the research field and endorsed his request, which was echoed by several other witnesses, for an increase in the NIH budget.  Dean Goldman’s written testimony is below.

Dean Goldman's Testimony



Freedom’s Sisters Come to Washington Heights

Nationwide Exhibit Honoring Women of the Civil Rights Movement at the

Shabazz Center through April 22nd


Freedoms Sisters Exhibition Poster



Neighborhood Fund Receives P&S Award for Excellence

              At a January 26th ceremony held in the Faculty Club, the Medical Center Neighborhood Fund was one of three recipients of the 2011 P&S Award for Excellence, along with Phyllis Katz from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Danurys Sanchez from the Taub Institute/Sergievsky Center.  Accepting the award on behalf of the Neighborhood Fund, Assistant Vice President for Government & Community Affairs Sandra Harris noted that the Fund was founded as a joint effort of Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute to enhance the quality of life in the Washington Heights/Inwood community.  It is dedicated to raising funds for local, nonprofit organizations that offer vital services and opportunities in northern Manhattan.  Currently, the Fund grants more than 60 awards to local organizations.  Employees from all three institutions are invited to make a donation and volunteer their time as site visitors.


City Council Holds Hearing on Medical Malpractice and Obstetric Care

On January 31st, the New York City Council Committees in Health and Women’s Issues held a joint hearing on barriers that many women face when trying to find high quality obstetric care.  The focus of the hearing was City Council Resolution 84A, sponsored by Councilwomen Elizabeth Crowley of Queens, and much of the testimony centered on the medical malpractice crisis that is facing New York State.  Among those testifying was Ross A. Frommer, Associate Dean for Government & Community Affairs at Columbia University Medical Center, who spoke of the high medical malpractice insurance premiums that providers, especially obstetricians, must pay.  He also discussed potential solutions that would lower rates, improve access, and increase patient safety. 


Health Commissioner Visits Campus to Provide Details on the State of the State and the Cuomo Administration’s Agenda for 2012

Goldman and Shah

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Lee Goldman, Executive Vice President & Dean, CUMC;

Dr. Nirav Shah, New York State Commissioner of Health;

Dr. Steven Corwin, Chief Executive Officer of New York Presbyterian


              On January 11th, New York State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Nirav Shah, paid a visit to campus to talk about the State of the State and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s agenda for 2012.  Dr. Shah was one of several Cuomo Administration senior officials who fanned out across the State to speak to groups and present a shortened version of the Governor’s address.

              Dr. Steven Corwin, Chief Executive Officer of New York Presbyterian, hosted the event and Dean Goldman moderated the question and answer period that followed Dr. Shah’s remarks.  When the Governor had delivered the State of the State speech in Albany the week before, he did not focus heavily on either health or higher education, so Dr. Shah’s talk was an opportunity for medical center community, as well as several local physicians and residents who attended, to discuss health care policy and the 2012 agenda with Dr. Shah. 




toy drive pic


Dear Colleagues:


Thank you for supporting the annual CUMC Holiday Toy Drive! Your generous contribution brought holiday cheers to hundreds of children and families in our community. We collected 320 toys that were distributed through the following community organizations: Children's Arts & Sciences Workshops (CASW), Dominican Women's Development Center's New Dawn Domestic Violence Program, and the Washington Heights Child Care Center.


For the past forty years, CASW has served thousands of children and families through their after-school Community Learning Centers, Summer Youth Employment Program, in School Youth/Transition to Adulthood Program, Summer Day Camps and tutoring programs. To learn more about CASW, please go to http://www.caswkids.org.


The Dominican Women's Development Center Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn) Program provides comprehensive anti-domestic violence services to victims of domestic violence and their families. The program serves approximately 150 women and their children every year, empowering them to live violence-free lives. They provide counseling and safety planning, support groups for survivors, advocacy, a twenty-four hour bilingual domestic violence hotline, and counseling and support services for children and youth who are victims or witnesses of domestic violence. To learn more about DWDC, please go to http://www.dwdc.org.


The Washington Heights Child Care Center has been serving our community's neediest families for the past forty years. The availability of reliable child care services provided through this center is critical to many low-income parents who are re-entering the work force. The Child Care Center provides year round, full-day childcare services and Pre-K education services for seventy-five children in the community.


Once again, thank you. Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!




Sandra Harris

Assistant Vice President for Government & Community Affairs


Neighborhood Fund Recipient Marjorie Elliot is a Reason to Love New York

In its special holiday issue, New York Magazine listed forty-two Reasons to Love New York.  Ninth among them was Marjorie Elliot, a local Washington Heights resident who opens her home every Sunday afternoon for Parlor Entertainment.  Ms. Elliot has played at the P&S Faculty Club and has been the recipient of several Medical Center Neighborhood Fund grants, just one of the many health, social services, and cultural groups that the fund helps support.  For more information on Parlor Entertainment, please contact Ms. Elliot at 212-781-6595.  For more information on the Neighborhood Fund, click on the link to the left.

Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill


The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research is a coalition of over 300 health groups, medical and scientific societies, and academic and research organizations who are committed advocates for government support of medical research. To that end the group sponsors a series of briefings for members of Congress that focus on how the country’s investment in the National Institutes of Health is fostering scientific discoveries that enhance the health and well-being of Americans. On December 5, the Mailman School of Public Health was the co-sponsor of a briefing session on infectious diseases and the role that NIH and NIAID have played in meeting the health challenges of HIV/AIDS and influenza. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, was the featured speaker on the talk, “NIH’s Role in Fighting Infectious Disease: From Basic Science to Personal and Public Health.”


According to latest CDC estimates, there are over 1.2 million people currently living with HIV in the U.S. -- 20% of whom are unaware of their infection -- and more than 50,000 new infections are diagnosed each year. Dr. Fauci noted in his presentation that the capability of microbial pathogens to persist and re-emerge is extraordinary, and the perpetual challenge is balancing this with the appropriate public health measures biomedical research, and technological advances. 

Dr. Fauci also said that NIAID has a dual mandate to both “maintain and grow a robust basic and applied research portfolio in microbiology, infectious diseases, immunology and immune-mediated diseases and respond rapidly to new and emerging disease threats, while working towards new and improved interventions.”


Lt. Governor Duffy Visits CUMC

               Lt. Governor Duffy Visits CUMCLt. Governor Duffy

Lt. Governor Duffy CUMC

Lt. Governor Duffy Tours Research Facilities at CUMC and Meets with Dean Goldman

On Monday November 21st New York State Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy spent part of his afternoon meeting with researchers and touring Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).  Lt. Governor Duffy serves as Chair of the State’s Regional Economic Development Councils and has spent much of his first eleven months in office touring the State and working to develop strategies to create jobs and foster economic development.  Lt. Governor Duffy was joined by his Director of Policy, Brian Quiara.


The tour started out at the New York State Psychiatric Institute where he chatted with Executive Director and Chair of Psychiatry Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman.  While at the Psychiatric Institute he visited Dr. Victoria Arango’s laboratory where he saw how researchers take slices of the human brain and analyze them in order to better understand the disease mechanisms of various mental illnesses.  Dr. John Mann showed how they can use the data gathered from the brain slicing to better understand and prevent suicides.

Next the Lt. Governor met with Dr. Ian Lipkin from the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School of Public Health.  Dr. Lipkin discussed how the Center analyzes viruses and works with federal, state, and local governments to prepare for, prevent, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.  Dr. Lipkin also showed Lt. Governor Duffy the Biosafety Level III laboratory, the most sophisticated facility of its kind in the New York City metropolitan area.

The final stop on the tour was a private meeting with Dean and Executive Vice President Lee Goldman.  Dean Goldman and the Lt. Governor discussed ways that New York State could promote biomedical research and thus improve the economy and create jobs.  Prior to becoming Lt. Governor, Mr. Duffy was Mayor or Rochester so he had spent a lot of time at the University of Rochester and had a very good appreciation of the important role that an academic medical center can play in the local economy.  He said his visit to CUMC and his travels around the State had definitely reinforced that belief, telling Dean Goldman, “You and your faculty are doing some incredible things here, for health care, for innovation and for the economy.  You have a lot to be proud of.”

Although the visit was short, the Lt. Governor said he found it very interesting and educational.  He hopes to come back and spend more time on campus.

Community Leaders Applaud CUMC's New Special advisors for Community Health Affairs

Rep. Charles Rangel and other political and community leaders from throughout Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights joined Columbia University Medical Center’s leadership Monday to formally welcome Drs. Rafael Lantigua and Dennis Mitchell to their new positions as Dean’s Special Advisors for Community Health Affairs.

Watch Community Breakfast Video

Columbia Football Northern Manhattan Appreciation Day


Espaillat and Roaree

Senator Espaillat and Roar-ee chat before the game

State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Assemblymember Guillermo Linares were among the hundreds of residents and community groups from Northern Manhattan who cheered on the Columbia Lions football team on September 24th at Wien Stadium at the Baker Athletics Complex.  This was Columbia’s first Northern Manhattan Neighbors Appreciation Day and neighborhood residents received free admission and other amenities with proof of residency.  Community School District 6 band Clave Azul performed the National Anthem before the game.


“I think the first ever Northern Manhattan Neighbors Appreciation Day was a huge success.  Hundreds of fans from the local neighborhood had the opportunity to attend a Columbia football game and spend the afternoon at Baker Field,” said Sandra Harris, Assistant Vice President for Government and Community Affairs at Columbia University Medical Center.  “We hope to see more Washington Heights and Inwood residents at future football games and other events at the complex.”  Community residents will be able to obtain free tickets for the following football games: Saturday, October 29th vs. Yale, Saturday, November 5th vs. Harvard, and Saturday, November 19th vs. Brown.  Tickets are available through a local community organization - Inwood Community Services.  For more information you may contact the GCA offices at 212 305-8060 or cumcgca@columbia.edu for further information.


August 4, 2011


Rafael Lantigua, MD, and Dennis Mitchell, DDS, MPH, have been appointed Dean's Special Advisors for Community Health Affairs effective August 1, 2011. In these new roles, Drs. Lantigua and Mitchell will counsel all four medical center deans on community health issues and facilitate new collaborative initiatives with community and academic stakeholders. They also will work closely with the Office of Government & Community Affairs and provide a faculty voice in efforts to engage community health organizations and to optimize academic and community partnerships. Their understanding of the community will help align CUMC and other resources with the goal to improve healthcare services in northern Manhattan.

Dr. Rafael LantiguaDr. Lantigua, professor of clinical medicine and associate director of the Division of General Medicine, and Dr. Mitchell, assistant professor of clinical dentistry and senior associate dean of diversity affairs, bring decades of community health experience in Washington Heights, Inwood and Harlem to their new positions. Since joining P&S in 1980, Dr. Lantigua has had a special interest in improving the health of aging minorities. He was the driving force behind CALME, the Columbia Center for the Active Life of Minority Elders, which supported research to reduce health disparities affecting minority elders and established an important bridge between Columbia researchers and the neighboring community. Dr. Lantigua also helped start the Columbia Center for the Health of Urban Minorities to shift community based-research from studies for the community to studies with the community. He is co-director of the Columbia Community Partnership for Health, part of the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, and a co-founder of Alianza Dominicana. Dr. Lantigua earned his medical degree at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Dennis MitchellDr. Mitchell, a member of the College of Dental Medicine faculty since 1991, has a longstanding involvement in research investigating oral health disparities affecting minority and economically disadvantaged populations, particularly in northern Manhattan. Dr. Mitchell helped establish CDM's Community DentCare Network to provide dental services in the community to underserved residents of northern Manhattan who need affordable dental care. The annual number of visits to the community network continues to grow since its inception in 1996, reaching 55,000 visits in the 2009-2010 academic year. Dr. Mitchell is also actively involved in initiatives aimed at increasing the number of minority oral health providers. Dr. Mitchell earned his doctor of dental surgery degree from Howard University and his master's degree in public health from Columbia. 

New York Medical Schools Deans Make Push in Washington for Biomedical Research, Graduate Medical Education

Deans in Washington

(l-r), Vincent Verdaille (Albany Medical College), Steven Scheinman (Upstate Medical College), Senator Harkin, Dean Goldman, Michael Cain (University at Buffalo), and Robert Goldberg, (Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine) gather after meeting in Senator Harkin's office

              Joined by colleagues from the University at Buffalo, Upstate Medical University, Albany Medical College, and the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Executive Vice President and Dean Lee Goldman traveled to Washington to advocate on behalf of Columbia and academic medicine.  The mid July trip took place in the midst of the tense negotiations going on between President Obama and Congress on how to control spending and increase the debt limit ceiling.

              Of special concern to the Deans were funding for domestic discretionary programs, including most importantly the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and for graduate medical education (GME).  With both parties wanting to avoid raising taxes and/or cutting entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, the fear is that the squeeze will be put on research and other non-defense priorities.  Cutting GME, especially Indirect Medical Education, is also being seriously considered.

              Dean Goldman met with several members of the New York Congressional Delegation including Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D), Congressman Charles Rangel (D) and Congressman Richard Hanna (R) as well as the staff in several other offices.  All members of the delegation were supportive of the medical schools’ agenda and promised to fight for GME and research.  The Group also had the chance to meet with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).  Senator Harkin is Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Service, Education and Related Agencies, the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the NIH budget.  He has been one the greatest champions for the NIH throughout his career.

Columbia Well Represented at Cancer Institutes Advocacy Day

ken olive

Dr. Olive in between Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Dr. Eric Cottington, Vice President of Research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

On May 11th Kenneth Olive, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pathology at the Columbia University Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center Washington took part in the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) annual advocacy day.  Cancer center directors and scientists from across the country came to Washington to lobby on issues of importance to the cancer research community, chief among them funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute.  Dr. Olive was joined by colleagues from New York University, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Roswell Park.  Together the group held over a dozen meetings with Members and staff of the New York Congressional Delegation urging them to support increased funding for the NIH.  He discussed his current work in pancreatic cancer research and the challenges facing a young investigator trying to start a career in science, impressing people with his dedication to making progress in treating this deadly disease.  At the end of the day Dr. Olive noted, “It was a long day, but very productive I believe.  I think we were able to make our case in support of NIH funding.  Everybody with whom we met was very interested in what we had to say and seemed to understand the importance of federal support of cancer research.”


Project Medical Education Comes to CUMC

  • Community residents were “medical students for a day” through Project Medical Education.
  • They met with representatives of the four CUMC schools and took mini-classes.
  • They also toured areas of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/CUMC and the NYS Psychiatric Institute.

We looked at pathology slides, stood in the control room of a catheterization (cath) lab, and viewed a portion of a frozen brain. All this and more made for one very full day—the fourth Project Medical Education to be held at Columbia University Medical Center. Organized by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the program gives participants a taste of what it is like to be a medical student. In 2010, the AAMC held fifteen Project Medical Education Programs throughout the country. In Washington, DC, participants may be members of Congress and their staff members. The seventeen CUMC participants included community board members and a school administrator, among others, as well as this writer.

At CUMC, the program is another way for our Upper Manhattan neighbors to get to know us. As Ross Frommer, deputy VP for government and community affairs and associate dean of CUMC, explained, “Project Medical Education is an opportunity for community leaders to learn about academic medicine and the day-to-day activities here at CUMC.”

Morning activities included a mini-class in a new interactive classroom in the Hammer Health Sciences building. Associate professor of clinical pathology Patrice Spitalnik compared slides of a colon with a benign polyp with slides of a colon with cancer. Even we novices could see the differences among the orderly rows of cell nuclei in the normal colon wall, the less orderly in the colon polyp, and the very disorderly, proliferating nuclei of the colon with cancer."

Over at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, we met with members of the Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence, who help non-English-speaking patients navigate the health care system. One innovation is the use of computers as interpreters. The computers can even put in their own two cents, as when they say, “Doctor, that word has a different meaning in the patient’s culture.”

Victoria Arango, professor of clinical neurobiology, then spoke to us about her research on the brains of suicides. A technician cut a slice from a frozen piece of brain and prepared a slide, which she held up for all to see. Though somewhat unsettling, the demonstration was a reminder that complex phenomena such as suicide must be approached from many angles. While staff of the Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence address suicidal behavior among Latina adolescents, Dr. Arango investigates possible neurobiological contributions to suicide.

At the Mailman School of Public Health, we watched a short, entertaining video, “What Does Public Health Do?,” produced by the American Public Health Association. Sally Findley, professor of population and family health, said that those in public health “work to help physicians address things that they can’t do in clinical visits.” Examples include researching ambient pesticide, creating handbooks for parents and teachers of children with asthma, and studying the effect of neighborhood “walkability” on body mass index.

In the afternoon, we met with Ira Lamster, dean of the College of Dental Medicine. When one participant asked Dr. Lamster why some dentists are painless while others hurt, he quipped that some trained at Columbia and others didn’t. We then toured a floor of the dental clinic.

At the hospital, Michael Guiry, director of cardiac services, gave us a talk, complete with animations, on cardiac stents. We then visited the control room of a cath lab. When nurses began wheeling a patient into the operating area, Mr. Guiry hustled us away.

At the end of the day, a participant, Adam Stevens, assistant principal of the Community Health Academy of the Heights, in Washington Heights, said, “If our kids could see all of this stuff, I bet a lot of them would want to become doctors.”

Control Room of Catheterization Lab

Control Room of Catheterization Lab

Photo: Manhattan Times/Mike Fitelson

Assemblyman Gabryszak Visits CUMC

Assemblyman Gabryszak

Dr. George Hripcsak (l) and Vincent Tomaselli (r) chat with Assemblyman Gabryszak


On April 7th, the Columbia Center for Advanced Information Management (CAIM) hosted a visit by New York State Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak.  The Buffalo area Democrat is Chairman of the Assembly Task force on University-Industry Cooperation.  The Columbia CAIM is part of the State supported Centers for Advanced Technology program and the Assemblyman heard presentations from several faculty members who work with the Center.  CAIM Deputy Director Dr. Vincent Tomaselli noted that in addition to learning about the work the faculty are doing, the Assemblyman got a good idea of how industry works with experts at Columbia to use technology to promote economic development.  Assemblyman Gabryszak remarked, "It was a fascinating afternoon, and I am impressed by the high success of this center. There is a great variety of projects; all of which are of the utmost importance to our society. This type of university-industry cooperation in which Columbia is engaging is an excellent model for others throughout the State."

Mailman School Student Groups Convene Minority Health Forum on Obesity

In response to the obesity epidemic in New York City, several student groups at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health hosted a panel of experts on March 24th, 2011 to discuss the state of obesity in the city’s minority communities. Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President, was the featured keynote speaker.


Mr. Stringer underscored the importance of working with community members to set the agenda to reach policy goals and increase access to healthier foods and opportunities for physical activity -- a central tenet of the current administration.   “Manhattan residents are some of the healthiest in the country, yet over 22% of adult New Yorkers are obese,” said the Borough President. “Scarcity of fresh foods and produce is most prevalent in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, contributing to the disproportionate disease burden carried by the city's minority populations.”


Experts from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Healthy Mondays Campaign, a project of the Mailman School’s Harlem Health Promotion Center, provided insights on the socioeconomic and political structures that cause these health disparities.  The panelists, moderated by the regional health administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services covered such topics as the role of food deserts, community mobilization, nutrition education, and food prices.

Michael Hernandez, the Project and Community Outreach Manager for the Healthy Monday campaign spoke about encouraging feasible steps that improve people’s diets and lifestyles.  “You can't emphasize enough the importance of listening to community members when designing culturally specific public health interventions.”


A particular goal of the sponsoring Mailman student groups, Students for Food Policy and Obesity Prevention (FPOP), Future Healthcare Leaders (FHL), and the Black and Latino Student Caucus (BLSC); and Black and Latino Student Organization (BALSO) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) at Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons, is for these dialogs to become a springboard for further discussion on developing strategies to combat the obesity epidemic in New York City.


This forum was a true collaboration of Columbia student groups who are taking action on the problem of obesity in minority communities.” said Mariana Cotlear, president of Students for Food Policy and Obesity Prevention. “We are extremely fortunate to be studying Public Health in New York, a city that is pioneering food policy and health promotion initiatives in this country.  We are hoping to fuse the expertise of the public health community with our academic work in order to lay the groundwork for our future professional work in obesity prevention.”


Community Connections Day Poster




Dean Goldman Featured in Manhattan Times Anniversary Issue


Last month the Manhattan Times, the local newspaper for Washington Heights and Inwood, published a special ten year anniversary issue, looking back over the past ten years how far the community has come and also looking forward where it will go over the next ten years.  The special issue included in depth interviews with several thought leaders from northern Manhattan, including Columbia University Medical Center Executive Vice President and Dean Lee Goldman.  In the interview, Dean Goldman talks about the role of CUMC in the community and also discusses the importance of biomedical research. 

Community Board 12 Recognizes Dyckman Scholars

Local Students Attending Columbia

At its November meeting, Community Board 12 recognized this year’s Dyckman Institute Fund Scholarship recipients.  All are students from Washington Heights and Inwood who attend Columbia College.  The 2010-2011 recipients are Freshman Aury Garcia, Sophomore Jason Tejada, Junior Christopher Davidson, and Senior Patricia Rojas. Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora, who spent part of his childhood in Washington Heights, also attended.


Toy Drive Poster

Sandra Harris Recognized by Local Community Group


Sandra Harris

Sandra Harris receives the Washington Heights - Inwood Coalition's Community Service Award from

Helen Morik

On November 17th Sandra Harris, Assistant Vice President for Government & Community Affairs at Columbia University Medical Center, was recognized by the Washington Heights – Inwood Coalition at its annual Dessert Reception.  State Senator-elect Adriano Espaillat was also honored.

Helen Morik, Vice President for Government & Community Affairs at New York Presbyterian Hospital and President of the Coalition, presented Sandra with the Coalition’s Community Service Award, noting that Sandra was being honored for being an “advocate for and supporter of community based organizations in Washington Heights and Inwood.”


HHS Secretary Speaks at the Mailman School Graduation

Sebellius and Fried

Secretary Sebelius and Dean Fried before the Mailman School Executive MPH graduation


The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was the speaker at this year’s graduation ceremony for the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Executive Masters in Public Health program.  Held October 15th, 2010 in Low Library, over forty students received their degrees.

Secretary Sebelius started out by noting how many people at HHS were either alumni or faculty from the Mailman school, most notably Dr. Sherry Glied, the new Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.  After promising Dean Linda Fried not to take any more faculty with her back to Washington, the Secretary discussed health care reform, which her Department must now implement, and the role that today’s graduates can play in making it work.  She also focused on ways to promote prevention and wellness and improve quality and outcomes.



Dean Goldman Publishes Op-ed on Medical Practice Reform

On October 8th, The Albany Times Union ran an op-ed written by Dean Goldman that argues in favor of medical malpractice reform.  The piece was in response to an earlier op-ed written by Nicholas Timko, President of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association criticizing Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch’s plan to control Medicaid costs.  The Times Union also started an online forum on the topic.

Ravitch Medicaid plan has a good remedy for malpractice reform

By Lee Goldman

Published: 12:00 a.m., Friday, October 8, 2010

Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch's report on "Controlling Increases in the Cost of New York Medicaid" is a well-conceived document. Its recommendations, especially those relating to medical malpractice reform, deserve respect and serious consideration.

First and foremost, Ravitch does not recommend reducing incentives for improving patient safety or leaving the families of patients partially uncompensated. In fact, he recommends several common sense ideas that would address the New York medical malpractice crisis, lower costs to both patients and providers, and improve patient safety.

Rising Medicaid costs are a significant driver of increased health care costs. Last year, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that enacting medical malpractice reform would, on average, reduce malpractice insurance costs by 10 percent nationwide, and probably more in New York, resulting in a more than $300 million of overall reduction in health care spending in our state budget.

Monday's commentary by Nicholas I. Timko, president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, "Keep patients safe to reduce costs," tries to create the false choice between patient safety and reform. But the current malpractice system does a very poor job of promoting patient safety or compensating victims of real medical errors.

Mr. Timko lists several good ideas for improving patient safety -- ideas that I expect nearly every doctor would support -- yet alone they will not lead to a fairer and less expensive system. The problem is that the current system punishes doctors and other providers for bad outcomes, not bad medicine, and the two often are not the same. Doctors who take steps like those Mr. Timko recommends and practice within the accepted standards of care should be protected from liability.

In New York, nearly every obstetrician and every neurosurgeon will at some time be sued for medical malpractice. We can argue over how many bad obstetricians and neurosurgeons there are in any state, but New York has many of the best doctors in the world. If nearly every doctor who practices in either of these two fields -- good, bad, or average -- will be sued, the system obviously is not working.

We need serious malpractice reform, not preservation of the current mess or just some changes around the margins. The ideas put forth by the lieutenant governor are a common sense step in the right direction.

Lee Goldman, M.D., is the dean and executive vice president of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.



Dean Goldman Speaks at Event to Commemorate the “Day that Harlem Hospital Saved the Civil Rights Movement”


Harlem Hospital Event

Doctors Goldman, Palmer, and Forde

On September 20th, 1958, while at a book signing on 125th Street, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was stabbed in the chest.  Severely injured, Dr. King was rushed to Harlem Hospital where his life was saved by a dedicated team of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. 


On September 20th, 2010, Harlem Hospital leadership hosted a special event to commemorate this historic event as Lee Goldman joined John Palmer, Executive Director of Harlem Hospital, to mark the day that Harlem Hospital saved the life of one of America’s greatest leaders and in doing so, perhaps saved the civil rights movement as a whole.  Joining Drs. Goldman and Palmer, were the Reverend Al Sharpton, who was the Keynote Speaker, and Dr. John Cordice, who, as a doctor on staff at Harlem Hospital, was actually in the operating room fifty two years ago as Dr. King was being treated.  The moving ceremony included music, poetry, and a video of a portion of Dr. King’s famous “Mountaintop” speech, in which he told the story of having been stabbed and of having his life saved at Harlem Hospital.

Among the special guests at the event was Dr. Kenneth Forde, Jose M. Ferrer Professor Emeritus of Clinical Surgery and Special Lecturer.  Dr. Forde, who currently sits on the Columbia University Board of Trustees and is Chair of the Health Sciences Committee, spent much of his career at Harlem Hospital.  Dean Goldman’s remarks follow. 


 It is a great honor for me to be here today to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harlem Hospital.  I especially want to thank Dr. John Palmer who invited me to be part this celebration with Reverend Sharpton, Dr. John Cordice, Councilman Jackson, and many other distinguished guests.  I am also joined here today by Dr. Kenneth Forde, a distinguished former surgeon here at Harlem Hospital, a Professor of Surgery at Columbia, and a now a trustee of Columbia University and the Chairman of Columbia’s Health Sciences Committee.


In 1958, Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Harlem Hospital with a steel letter opener lodged in his chest, adjacent to his aorta, the main artery that goes from the heart to supply blood to the rest of the body.  If he had so much as sneezed, the blade would have punctured his aorta and killed him almost instantaneously.  But, for his good fortune and the world’s good fortune, he was brought here,  to Harlem Hospital, where doctors, nurses, and other health professionals moved him quickly to the operating room where that blade was removed, along with, I might add, two ribs and part of his breast bone.  This delicate and life-saving procedure required the rapid response, technical expertise, and attention to detail that have always been the hallmarks of Harlem Hospital.


In the United States, only three national holidays are named after Americans.  If it hadn’t been for Harlem Hospital, history would have been different and a great tragedy would have occurred.  Martin Luther King’s life would have been shorter that it was, and the civil rights movement would have lost its most important leader. We never would have realized as much benefit from a true American hero - -  one of only three people whose positive impact on America so rightly justified the creation of a national holiday.  Were it not for Harlem Hospital, Reverend King himself noted that he never would have made it to the mountaintop and never would have been able to do all the things he did to improve America and all of us.


Harlem Hospital saved Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life.  But we all know that here, every day, the people at Harlem Hospital save lives.  Harlem Hospital saves lives in the Emergency Department and the Trauma Center.  Harlem Hospital saves lives in the operating rooms and in the intensive care units.  Harlem Hospital saves lives of people with heart attacks, strokes, and pneumonia.  Harlem Hospital saves lives with preventive programs for people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and other risk factors.  Harlem Hospital saves lives of children and adults, starting with prenatal care and continuing into old age. 


The people whose lives are saved here every day are unlikely to have national holidays named after them.  Most of them do not have blades adjacent to their aorta or death only a sneeze away.  Yet every day, the people here at Harlem Hospital save lives.  And for that we all should be not only grateful but proud.


Columbia University is also both grateful and proud to be part of Harlem Hospital and part of the Harlem community.  We look forward to an ongoing relationship in which, together, lives continue to be saved, great doctors continue to be trained, important research continues to be performed, and the people of Harlem continue to benefit. 


Thank you very much for inviting me to be part of this wonderful celebration.



Dean Goldman Lobbies Congress on the Importance

of Academic Medical Centers in New York

The Associated Medical Schools of New York held its annual Washington, D.C, advocacy day on July 28th.  Dean Goldman was joined by fellow Deans from the medical schools throughout New York State as they lobbied on medical education, patient care, and research issues.  The Deans also distributed a new report showing the economic impact of academic medical centers in New York.  Produced by Tripp Umbach, the same company that does economic impact studies for the Association of American Medical Colleges, the report showed that New York’s medical schools and associated teaching hospitals contribute over $85 billion to the state’s economy and support nearly 700,000 jobs.

The Deans started out with a Tuesday meeting with Peter Orzag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the Special Advisor on Health Care Policy.  Dr. Emanuel was the speaker at the White Coat Ceremony last year welcoming the College of Physicians & Surgeons Class of 2013.  Dr. Emanuel and Director Orzag were very interested in learning how the medical schools were preparing for and planning to implement health care reform, especially wanting to get their thoughts on increasing the number of primary care physicians and bundling payments.  Dr. Emanuel was also interested in changes to the medical school curriculum.

In previous years, the Deans had hosted a breakfast for members of the New York Congressional Delegation.  This year the Deans split up and had smaller group meetings with individual Members of Congress. Dean Goldman met with Congressman Charles Rangel, who represents the medical center, Congresswoman Nita Lowey of Westchester, and Congressman Dan Maffei of Syracuse, as well as staff from the offices of Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Ed Towns and Anthony Weiner.  At the end of the day several Deans met with Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

NEW YORK (July 6, 2010) – Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital have partnered with Greenmarket to bring a new farmers market to campus. The collaboration was made possible by the CHALK (Choosing Healthy & Active Lifestyles for Kids) Center, and was heralded in a

ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York State Asssemblyman Adriano Espaillat and Democratic District Leader Maria Luna, among others.

The Fort Washington Greenmarket is located on Fort Washington Avenue between 168th and 169th streets and is now open every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through November. The market is managed and maintained by Greenmarket, which operates farmers markets throughout New York City.

Goldman Greenmarket
City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Lee Goldman, executive vice president and dean of health and biomedical sciences and dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University visit a stand at the opening of the Fort Washington Greenmarket. (Credit: Diane Bondareff)

Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Lee Goldman, executive vice president and dean of health and biomedical sciences and dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University, also attended today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The market is the result of hard work among NewYork-Presbyterian’s Ambulatory Care Network (ACN) and Columbia University Medical Center, in collaboration with the Hospital’s sustainability initiative, NYPgreen, and Columbia University Medical Center’s green initiatives.

In addition to its fresh food offerings, the farmers market will host cooking demonstrations, nutritional counseling, and health promotion and education events. Hospital and university programs interested in taking part in health promotion activities at the Fort Washington Greenmarket may send their inquiries to chalk@nyp.org.

To view the New York 1 News story on the market's opening, please click here.

The Fort Washington Greenmarket is organized and managed by GrowNYC, which houses Greenmarket, the city’s leading farmers market organization with 50 markets across the city.


Dean Goldman Joins Fellow Medical School Leaders for Roundtable Discussion in Albany

On May 24th, the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMS) hosted a roundtable discussion in Albany on the Impact of Medical Education on New York.  Close to ninety people, including members of the State Legislature and senior members of the Executive branch, attended the session which took place in the Blue Room of the State Capitol.  Antonio Gotto, M.D., Dean at Weill Cornell Medical College, moderated the discussion along with Jo Wiederhorn, Executive Director of AMS.  Dr. Lee Goldman was a member of the panel along with his fellow Deans from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, New York University School of Medicine, and the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The Roundtable coincided with the release of a report on the Impact of Medical Education on the State of New York.  Dean Goldman noted that according to the report, the academic medical centers’ combined total economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion.  This means $1 out of every $13 in New York’s economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates.  Further, AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates support approximately 694,000 jobs or one in every 11 jobs in New York.  It is projected by 2016, there will be more than 300,000 jobs created in New York’s education and healthcare sectors.  Dean Goldman also highlighted the importance of biomedical research funding and spoke about Columbia’s new program with Bassett Health Care in Cooperstown.


Dr. Edward Gelmann Lobbies Congress on Cancer Issues


On May 5th, Dr. Edward Gelmann, Deputy Director for Clinical Research at the Columbia University Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, took part in the annual Association of American Cancer Institutes’ annual lobby in Washington.  Along with researchers and clinicians from cancer’s sixty institutes across the country, Dr. Gelmann lobbied Congress on issues of importance to the cancer institutes, most notably funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, and funding for the Food and Drug Administration.  Dr. Gelmann was joined by representatives from the cancer centers at New York University and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.  They met with several Members of the New York Congressional delegation, including Congressman Brian Higgins and staff from the offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representatives Serrano, Lowey, and Weiner.



Joint Columbia/NYPD Counseling Program Gets $500K Infusion through Leadership of Congressman Michael McMahon



                    Project Cope

Pictured from left to right:  John Feal, founder and president of the FealGood Foundation; Rep. Michael McMahon (D-NY); Ellen Stevenson, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center; and Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman and the Lieber Professor of Psychiatry at CUMC


Nearly $500,000 in new federal funding has been awarded to Project COPE, a free and confidential program run by the NYC Police Foundation and Columbia University Medical Center to help members of the NYPD deal with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues arising from the 9/11 attacks.


A ceremony at the 9/11 “Postcards” memorial on Staten Island was held Wednesday, March 31, 2010. Gathered at a press conference that followed were John Feal, founder and president of the FealGood Foundation; Rep. Michael McMahon (D-NY); Ellen Stevenson, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center; and Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman and the Lieber Professor of Psychiatry at CUMC.


In the wake of 9/11, Columbia and the New York City Police Foundation worked together to create Project COPE, which also provides mental health care services to civilian members of the department and their families. Because many first responders are trained to give acute care, those suffering trauma from 9/11 may wait years before reaching out for medical help and counseling, Dr. Stevenson said at the event.


“Given the traumatic events of 9/11, it is no surprise that even nine years later, the brave men and women of the NYPD, their families and, civilian employees continue to face difficult mental health challenges,” Lee Goldman, Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine and Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences at Columbia, told Rep. McMahon in a special letter. “Project COPE has been there to help, and the funding from the Department of Justice that you helped secure is crucial in maintaining the viability of this valuable program.”


The program provides NYPD officers and civilian employees with private counseling sessions. Their family members are eligible for services on an emergency basis. Rep. McMahon said these continuing services were necessary because those who responded to the World Trade Center in the wake of the attacks needed “more than speeches and tributes.”


The new funding follows earlier support in 2004, through a Department of Justice grant that provided $200,000 for Project COPE.


Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman said that emergency workers who face situations of great stress, including those who are exposed to acts of war or terrorism, can suffer “indelible emotional effects.” But if those affected seek treatment early enough, he said, “those effects can be softened and alleviated.”


To reach Project COPE’s toll-free hotline, call 1-800-845-8965.



Coogan's Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5K Run 2010


Coogan's 5K Run

(March 7, 2010) -- It was a crisp, bright morning as more than 5,600 runners and walkers -- and 65 registrants from the CUMC family -- of all ages participated in the Coogan's Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5K Run this year. Some 20 different musical groups, including gospel, bagpipes, meringue, klezmer, salsa and brass bands, serenaded the runners along the route, which started and finished just north of the Armory on Fort Washington Ave., after a loop through Fort Tryon Park. As in years past, the event raised money for youth fitness programs at the Armory Track and Field Hall of Fame, as well as the New Balance Track and Field Center.

Seizing on near-perfect early March racing conditions, Derese Deniboba, 27, won for the men, completing the 3.1 mile course in 14:34 minutes, while Claudia Camargo, 38, won for the women with a time of 16:11. 

A sanctioned New York Roadrunners race, the Coogan's Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks Run is also a celebration of the strong community ties that Coogan’s and Columbia University Medical Center share with northern Manhattan. In preparation for this year’s race, Plus One Fitness Center helped runners and walkers train for the event.



Give Kids A Smile Day

On February 5th, the College of Dental Medicine celebrated the 8th Annual Give Kids A Smile Day.  This national event promotes oral health awareness and treatment to children in underserved communities throughout the country.  In Northern Manhattan, our very own College of Dental Medicine provided over one thousand area children with oral health education, screenings and referrals.  The Columbia dental team, comprised of students, faculty and hygienists screened over six hundred children at various schools in the Harlem and Washington Heights/Inwood communities; out of the children screened, 22% had cavities and were referred for treatment.  

In the United States, 4.5 million children experience tooth decay, severe enough to cause pain every day.  This epidemic is particularly prevalent in low and modest income families throughout the country. In northern Manhattan, the College of Dental Medicine has set the bar in the provision of  quality oral health care to low-income, underserved children and families.  The school was recognized for its outstanding work in the community by various government officials who presented Dean Ira Lamster with proclamations, citations and service recognition a day of free oral health services among them: Governor David Patterson, US Senator Charles Schumer, Assemblyman Herman Denny Farrell, Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, Councilmembers Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez.   To learn more, visit the College of Dental Medicine Community DentCare initiatives or the Give Kids a Smile websites.  

Pictures from Give Kids a Smile Day:


College of Dental Medicine students pictured with Hon. Robert Jackson, NYC Councilmember and Dean Ira Lamster, CUMC College of Dental Medicine



smile day


Pictued from left to right:  Hon. Herman "Denny" Farrell, NYS Assembly; Hon. Ydanis Rodriguez, NYC Councilmember; Dean Ira Lamster, CUMC College of Dental Medicine; and Hon. Robert Jackson, NYC Councilmember



Speaker Quinn Visits CUMC

Speaker Quinn1

Speaker Quinn addressing senior leaders from CUMC and NYPH

Speaker Quinn2

Pictured from left to right:  Hon. Robert Jackson, NYC Councilmember; Dr. Herbert Pardes, President & CEO, NYP;

Dr. Lee Goldman, Executive Vice President & Dean, CUMC;

Hon. Christine Quinn, NYC Council Speaker; Hon. Ydanis Rodriguez, NYC Councilmember


On February 5th New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the guest at the latest Columbia University Medical Center Public Policy breakfast.  These breakfasts bring elected officials and other leaders to campus for the opportunity to have an informal discussion about health care policy.  Speaker Quinn was joined by New York City Councilmen Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez, both of whom represent the area around the Medical Center.

About twenty senior leaders form CUMC and New York Presbyterian Hospital had the chance to hear Speaker Quinn talk about some of the major health care challenges facing New York City, among them the possible closure of Saint Vincent’s Hospital, which is in the Speaker’s district.  After her short prepared remarks, there was a very free flowing and informative discussion.  Dean Goldman brought up the issue of upgrading the 168th Street subway station, noting that a world class medical center should have a world class subway station.  Kathleen Crowley, Associate Vice President for Environmental Health and Safety asked a question about recent changes to the New York code that is now requiring not-for-profits to pay fire inspection fees.  She noted that because of the research intensive nature of both the Morningside and Medical Center campuses, this change would cost Columbia several hundred thousand dollars.


Community Board 12 Recognizes 2009/2010 Dyckman Institute Scholars

dyckman scholar

Columbia College senior Iliana Feliz with her parents

On January 26th, Community Board 12 recognized the local Columbia College students who are the recipients of the Dyckman Institute Fund scholarship for the 2009/2010 academic year.  This year’s winners are freshman Jason Tejada, sophomore Christopher Davidson, junior Patricia Rojas, and senior Iliana Feliz. 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 20 students from these neighborhoods benefit from almost $700,000 in need-based scholarships to attend Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.              

After a short video presentation about the Dyckman Institute Fund Scholarship and attending Columbia, the members of the board had a chance to hear from Ms. Feliz, who was accompanied by her parents, Jose and Domingo Feliz.  She spoke about how experiences at Columbia and what the scholarship has meant to her and her family, noting that without the financial aid package she received from Columbia she would not have been able to attend and receive such a wonderful and valuable education.  Unfortunately, the other three recipients were not able to attend.  Board President Pamela Palenque-North congratulated Ms. Feliz and said that, “Community Board 12 salutes each scholar on their commitment to excellence and academic achievement.  We are proud to have these students serve as role models for the children and youth of our Washington Heights and Inwood community.” 


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.

Watch Dyckman Institute Scholars Video



Dean Goldman Speaks to the Washington Heights/Inwood Chamber of Commerce


Dean Goldman and Peter Walsh

Dean Goldman and Chamber of Commerce President and Coogan's owner Peter Walsh speak to members of the Washington Heights/Inwood Chamber of Commerce


On January 28th, Dean Goldman addressed over 40 small business owners during the Washington Heights/Inwood Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast.  The Chamber’s membership includes many small businesses from Northern Manhattan, many of the area’s larger institutions like Isabella Geriatric Center and Yeshiva University.  CUMC and New York Presbyterian Hospital are members as well.  The meeting was hosted at Coogan’s Restaurant by Peter Walsh, current Chair of the Chamber and co-owner of the restaurant, welcomed Dean Goldman.  Local elected officials were also in attendance, including newly elected New York City Coucilman Ydanis Rodriguez who also addressed the members.

Dean Goldman took a few minutes to talk about Columbia University Medical Center, focusing on it’s the three missions – research, education, and patient care – and highlighting some the Medical Center’s strengths in each of these areas.  He highlighted the work of all four schools and the partnership with New York Presbyterian. 

The Dean’s comments then turned towards his commitment to the community and how CUMC works with its neighbors to make the area a better place to live, work, study, and heal.  He said that going forward he was hoping to create a better, more inviting, campus atmosphere.  Specifically he discussed the need to upgrade the 168th subway station, creating a campus like atmosphere along the Haven corridor and an overall healthier and safer community for patients, student, employees and visitors.  Dean Goldman also made a pitch to members of the Chamber to ask them to support funding for the National Institutes of Health, noting how important NIH funding is for advancing health and science, and for the overall strength of CUMC and the local economy.











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