OMS Program Marks 20th Year Part Dentistry, Part Medicine

BY ADAR NOVAK
THE INTEGRATED M.D.-ORAL AND MAXILLOFACIAL SURGERY program, a joint effort among P&S, the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, requires dental school graduates to try on a multitude of identities, from resident to student and back to resident again en route to an additional doctorate. In the 20th year of the program, 25 graduates have gone on to pursue successful careers in private practice and academia and are helping shape the future of oral and maxillofacial surgery.

The integrated curriculum—designed to train specialists for maxillofacial surgical practice and to conduct research in the field—asks dental school graduates to spend the first year in oral and maxillofacial surgery then two years as a medical school student (after which the student receives an M.D. degree from P&S), one year as a general surgery resident, and the last two years as a resident in OMS.

The program was experimental and controversial in 1980 when Dr. Steven Roser, Guttman Professor of Clinical and Craniofacial Surgery and associate dean of hospital affairs at SDOS, was recruited to develop it. The required training period for postgraduate training programs in oral and maxillofacial surgery had just been lengthened from three to four years. Integrating the M.D. curriculum would add two more years. Many educators in the field at that time were strongly opposed to integrating the M.D. because of the added training and concerns that it would lead to a divided specialty—those with the M.D. and those without. Over time some of these concerns have disappeared. About half of current postgraduate training programs in oral and maxillofacial surgery in the United States are not M.D.-integrated and the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery does not require an M.D. to be board certified.

“In 1981 there were six oral and maxillofacial surgery residency training programs in the United States—out of 110—that incorporated the M.D. into their curriculum,” says Dr. Roser, who chaired the program until spring 2001. Columbia became No. 7 in 1982 when it began a three-year OMS program with the understanding that it would grow into an M.D. integrated program. In 1985 the program expanded to four years to include non-surgical specialties, and in 1986 it added the M.D. component of the program. Now, he says, the elite well-respected program accepts two residents per year and provides extensive training in both general surgery and medicine.

Dr. Sara Runnels, chief OMS resident, says she feels “more savvy medically now that I have that educational background. I’m better able to take care of my patients.” She graduated from the dental school at Tufts University before entering the integrated program and received an M.D. degree from P&S in 2000.

Dr. Shahid Aziz, assistant professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, completed the OMS program in 2002. He received his dental degree from Harvard and graduated from P&S in 1999. He described handling a combination of cases, from “bread-and-butter” problems to complicated facial reconstruction, that were rewarding educationally, professionally, and personally. Dr. Aziz accompanied Dr. Roser and a medical team on a nine-day volunteer trip to Ecuador last year to operate on about 50 children and babies suffering from congenital abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate. OMS residents also have the opportunity to work with researchers and gain experience with unusual cases at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center Craniofacial Center.

Dr. Sidney Eisig, chairman of the OMS program and the William Carr Professor of Clinical and Oral Surgery at SDOS, says the breadth of opportunities in Columbia’s program is unparalleled, making it a recognized leader in the field. The program teaches residents about preventing disease at the molecular level and using computer-assisted techniques to perform surgery. “The opportunities in this place are here not only to provide clinical care,” he says, “but to advance the future of the specialty.”

P&S Names New Chairs, New Clinical Dean

THE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE, THE DEPARTMENT OF Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics have new chairs, and a recommendation from the strategic planning process to name a clinical affairs dean was implemented with the appointment of a longtime faculty member to the post.

Dr. David A. Brenner, formerly professor of medicine and biochemistry at the University of North Carolina, became chairman of the Department of Medicine and director of the medical service at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Columbia Presbyterian site in March.

Dr. Brenner’s research has contributed to the understanding of liver repair and the molecular biology of liver fibrosis. Dr. Brenner was born in New York City. He graduated from Yale’s undergraduate and medical schools, did his residency at Yale, then worked at the National Institutes of Health before joining the Department of Medicine at the University of California in San Diego. He trained in medicine, gastroenterology, and molecular biology.

In 1992 he was appointed the Nina and John Sessions Distinguished Professor of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition at the University of North Carolina, where he also served as professor of biochemistry and biophysics and chief of the digestive diseases and nutrition division. He was also director of the UNC Center for Digestive Diseases and Nutrition. He is editor-in-chief of Gastroenterology, the premier journal in the field. He has won many awards for preclinical and clinical teaching, and he serves on numerous national and international advisory boards. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

“I am thrilled to become part of a place that provides such outstanding patient care and a top-notch residency program,” says Dr. Brenner. “These are exciting but trying times for academic departments of medicine. We need to develop a new generation of junior faculty, including clinician scientists, and recruit faculty from underrepresented groups. We need a better structure to improve clinical care, which will include integrating care across disciplines and correcting disparities in accessibility to health care. I do not believe that the Department of Medicine has to do everything. However, whatever the department pursues should be at an outstanding level. Our goal should be to have the best department of medicine in the country.”

Dr. Mary D’Alton has been appointed chairwoman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at P&S and director of the ob/gyn service at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Columbia Presbyterian campus.

Dr. D’Alton joined Columbia in 1999 as the Virgil G. Damon Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of maternal fetal medicine. She has been acting chairwoman of the department since 2002. She received her medical degree from the National University of Ireland and completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Ottawa. She completed a fellowship in maternal fetal medicine at Tufts University and a fellowship in the ultrasound department and perinatal unit at Yale University before joining the faculty of the University of Ottawa. She was director of maternal fetal medicine and the High Risk Pregnancy Unit at the University of Ottawa and Ottawa Civic Hospital.

She joined Columbia after holding several posts at Tufts University and the New England Medical Center, including professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts and chief of obstetrics and maternal fetal medicine at New England Medical Center.

Dr. D’Alton is a leader in the field of maternal fetal medicine and is internationally recognized for advancing care for pregnant women through research and policy development. She is principal investigator for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development FASTER trial designed to study the optimal methods for screening for Down’s syndrome. Other research has focused on the clinical management of high-risk pregnancies, telemedicine for prenatal diagnosis, and general fetal ultrasound. A past president of the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, she has authored more than 150 publications and won numerous honors and awards for her work.

Dr. Andrew Marks is the new chairman of the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, succeeding Dr. Samuel Silverstein, who chaired the department for 20 years. Dr. Marks is the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Molecular Cardiology, professor of medicine, director of the Center for Molecular Cardiology, and attending physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Marks, a graduate of Amherst College, received his M.D. degree from Harvard. Following internship and residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital he completed two years of postdoctoral training in molecular genetics at Harvard and two years of clinical cardiology fellowship at Massachusetts General. After his training, Dr. Marks spent three years in the cardiology division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital before returning to his hometown in 1990 as assistant professor of molecular biology and medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. In 1995, Mount Sinai named him the Fishberg Professor of Medicine. He joined P&S in 1997.

In 2002, Dr. Marks was named editor-in-chief of the highly regarded Journal of Clinical Investigation of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. His father, Dr. Paul Marks, a 1949 P&S graduate and former dean of the school, was editor of the JCI from 1966 to 1970, when he became dean.

Research by Dr. Andrew Marks has contributed important insights concerning the molecular mechanisms underlying two major cardiovascular conditions—heart failure and coronary artery stent restenosis. His studies have led to the development of novel therapeutics, including the rapamycin-coated stents for coronary artery disease that have reduced substantially the incidence of coronary artery stent restenosis.

Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, the Edgar Leifer Professor of Clinical Medicine at P&S, has been named senior associate dean for clinical affairs, a new position recommended by the Health Sciences strategic plan, a report on the current status and future direction of research, education, and patient care. Dr. Tenenbaum was acting chairman of the Department of Medicine until this spring.

“I am honored and excited to take on this role,” says Dr. Tenenbaum. “It is an opportunity for me to continue to impart my long-held belief that the commitment we have as physicians is to the patient—to bring the best of modern medicine with the finest art of the classical caring of medicine to heal those who are sick, to provide remedy for suffering, and to promote health.”

Dr. Tenenbaum graduated from Harvard Medical School. He trained in internal medicine at Presbyterian Hospital and in cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. He joined P&S in 1979 as assistant professor of clinical medicine. He is a clinical cardiologist in office- and hospital-based practices. He was named the Edgar Leifer Professor of Clinical Medicine in 1996.

Dr. Tenenbaum received the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s humanism award in medicine and the Department of Medicine’s senior residents teaching award two times. He is a member of several prominent professional organizations and has published in many journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.

Fall 2003 Issue

When Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons and Presbyterian Hospital joined forces to open Columbia- Presbyterian Medical Center in the fall of 1928, history was made. The medical school, the hospital, and other significant partners formed the world’s first academic medical center. That history, including a look at the historical contributions of the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, will be celebrated in a special expanded Fall 2003 issue of P&S Journal. The issue will be devoted entirely to the 75th anniversary of the medical center. Readers can catch up on regular content—news and features about classmates, alumni activities, events, and research and clinical advances—in the Winter 2004 issue.



Columbia and three other organizations led the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Drs. James Watson and Francis Crick. The three institutions that spearheaded the research, Columbia University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Rockefeller University,were co-organizers of a black tie event in February, along with the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. Several Nobel prize winners attended. Pictured, front row, from left, are Robert Bruce Merrifield, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1984; Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president and dean at Columbia Health Sciences; Michael Brown, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1985; James Watson, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1962; Maclyn McCarty, professor emeritus, Rockefeller University; Arthur Kornberg, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1959; Walter Gilbert, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1980; Edward Rover, president, Charles A. Dana Foundation; Eric Kandel, University Professor of Physiology and Cell Biophysics, Psychiatry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2000; and Joseph Goldstein, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1985. Back row, from left: Thomas Cech, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1989; Günter Blobel, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1999; Philip Sharp, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1993; William Safire, newspaper columnist and chairman of the Dana Foundation; Hamilton Smith, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1978; Bruce Stillman, director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Tom Sakmar, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Rockefeller University; and Harold Varmus, a 1966 P&S graduate who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1989. Columbia’s contribution to the double helix discovery came from the late Erwin Chargaff, a longtime Columbia faculty member in biochemistry, whose discovery of regularities among the four chemical units, or bases, of DNA paved the way for the Watson-Crick discovery of the double-helix structure.


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