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A daylong symposium honoring Dr. Virginia Apgar, a pioneer in the fields of obstetrics, anesthesiology, and birth defects, whose life and work had enormous impact in medicine and on the health of mothers and babies, will be held Sept. 19.

Born in 1909, Virginia Apgar, above, entered P&S in 1929, one of only four women in her class. Upon graduation, she joined Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center for a surgery residency, but after two years of excellent work was told she would never succeed as a surgeon because she was a woman. Encouraged to specialize in the then-new field of anesthesiology, she took a chance and went to Wisconsin, the only place at the time offering an anesthesiology residency.

In 1938, she was invited back to CPMC to develop P&S's new anesthesiology division. The division she led successfully for 10 years grew to become a department, but the chairmanship was given to a man who had more research experience. Rather than be bitter, Dr. Apgar turned her attention to obstetrics. In the delivery room she noticed babies were often not observed during the first moments of life, a time when they could be in danger. Her observations led to the now universally accepted Apgar score, an assessment of the baby's Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration, taken one minute and five minutes after birth to assess infant health. In 2001, the New England Journal of Medicine reported the Apgar score has been found to be the best predictor of infant health in the first month of life.

At the age of 50, Dr. Apgar left Columbia to obtain a master's degree in public health, which led to her interest in birth defects and her becoming director of research and development at the March of Dimes. In that role Dr. Apgar lectured about prematurity and birth defects, helping to remove the stigma associated with these topics.

The Sept. 19 symposium, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the initial presentation of the Apgar score, begins with a light breakfast and grand rounds at 7 a.m. in the P&S Alumni Auditorium. (See schedule below.) A noon luncheon at the Faculty Club has limited seating. Those interested in attending should make a reservation with conference co-chair Dr. Ruth Fischbach, professor of bioethics.

The afternoon sessions will feature a keynote address in the P&S Alumni Auditorium by Dr. Mary Ellen Avery, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, who spoke at Dr. Apgar's funeral in 1974, and a capstone address by Dr. Selma Calmes, chair of anesthesiology at the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, in Sylmar, Calif., who will discuss the relevance of the Apgar score today. A concert featuring string instruments made by Dr. Apgar will conclude the symposium.

6:45 a.m. Breakfast-P&S Alumni Auditorium Lobby
7:00-8:30 20th Annual Hyman Lecture on the History of Anesthesiology and Medicine-P&S Alumni Auditorium

Drs. Gerald Fischbach and Margaret Wood-Introduction


Dr. Allen Hyman-The History of Infant Resuscitation


Dr. Richard Smiley-Neonatal Resuscitation Update

12:00-1:45 Luncheon in the P&S Faculty Club

Dr. Emanuel (Manny) Papper-Topic TBA

Dr. Mary Ellen Avery-Women in Medicine

Invitees share memories of Virginia Apgar

2:00-2:10 Welcome to the Afternoon-P&S Alumni Auditorium

Introduction of Planning Committee (Drs. Ruth Fischbach, Allen Hyman, and Marion Hunt)


Dr. Gerald Fischbach: Introduces Dr. Mary Ellen Avery


Keynote: Dr. Mary Ellen Avery


Dr. Mary D'Alton-Advances in Perinatology


Dr. Richard Smiley-Obstetric Anesthesia: Then and Now


Dr. Richard Polin-Advances in Respiratory Care of the Newborn




Break-Refreshments in the P&S Alumni Auditorium Lobby


Dr. Thomas Jessell-Neonatal Brain Development


Dr. Ruth Fischbach-Ethical Conundrums, Crises, and Conquests


Dr. Nancy Green-Virginia Apgar and the March of Dimes


Capstone: Dr. Selma Calmes-Relevance of the Apgar Score Today

Activities will move to Bard Hall for a 5:30 p.m. reception. Participants will be able to view Dr. Apgar-related photographs and memorabilia. A concert with instruments Dr. Apgar made will run from 6:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, contact Dr. Ruth Fischbach, at (212) 305-8387 or rf416@columbia.edu.

The Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center hosted its 2nd Annual Summer Fun Program in July. About 10 inner city children between the ages of 8 and 12 with Type 1 diabetes participated in a number of events over the course of a week, including trips to the Statue of Liberty, the Children's Museum of Manhattan, and Chelsea Piers; they also got to see the New York Yankees play the Detroit Tigers. The program is designed for children who, for financial, physical, or other reasons, may not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy a camp experience. The Pediatric Diabetes Team and other staff members from the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, who chaperoned these events, introduced the kids to New York City and provided a supportive, safe, and educational program about diabetes and its management.

The School of Nursing has admitted a record 120 students into its BS/MS program this year, which began June 3. The program, designed for those who have non-nursing bachelor's degrees, first will allow the group to obtain nursing-related undergraduate degrees so that they can receive their licenses as registered nurses (RNs). Then, with the master's degree, these students will become advance practice nurses, specializing in such fields as nurse midwifery; nurse anesthesia; adult, pediatric, and family primary care; and informatics.

School of Nursing alumna Dottie Simpson Dorian ‘57 stands next to the model of Maxwell Hall she commissioned and donated to the school. Maxwell Hall was built in 1928 and served as both dormitory and classroom facilities for student nurses. Located at 179 Fort Washington Ave., the building was torn down in 1984 to make room for the Milstein Hospital Building. The model can be seen in the lobby of the school’s current building at 617 W. 168th St.

In an effort to make scientific research more accessible, Columbia University has become an institutional member of the online database BioMed Central. This Internet-based publishing company is attempting to rewrite the rules for circulating scientific research by bypassing the traditional printed journals.

BioMed Central charges scientists a flat $500 fee to submit their work, which covers the cost of processing, peer-review and publication on the BioMed Central website. Scientists paying to publish has precedent: Journals have historically charged researchers a page fee to cover the effort of reviewing and printing study results. As an institutional member, Columbia covers the $500 fee each time a researcher publishes in BioMed Central. Articles published through BioMed Central are available on the Internet for free, which will likely mean a much wider readership. Columbia decided to join BioMed Central to get more research published faster and to make publications more available to the scientific community. The archive of articles published by Columbia researchers is now available at www.biomedcentral.com/inst/16100.

NEW YORK STATE SEN. VINCENT LEIBELL (R-Putnam, Dutchess, and Westchester counties), third from left, toured the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center in July to learn more about the research and treatment offered at the facility. While on campus, Sen. Leibell met with several of the center's staff to discuss advances in the study of ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. With the senator are, from left, ALS advisory committee member William Monti, Dr. Serge Przedborski, associate professor of neurology at P&S and scientific director of the center, and Dr. Hiroshi Mitsumoto, professor of neurology at P&S and director of the center.

Jennifer I. Downey, clinical professor of psychiatry at P&S, has co-authored a book entitled "Sexual Orientation and Psychoanalysis," with Richard C. Friedman, clinical professor of psychiatry at Weill Medical College, Cornell University. The book examines the problem of homophobia by identifying the developmental roots of sexual orientation and homophobia and by exploring the relationships and cultures of boys and girls that lead to homophobia.

The Northern Manhattan Community Voices Collaborative hosted a forum earlier this year to discuss improving healthcare in Northern Manhattan communities, especially for the uninsured. Panelists, representing the collaborative and other community groups such as Alianza Dominicana, shared challenges and successes in expanding healthcare to underserved populations.

Steven Heymsfield, professor of medicine and deputy director of the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, recently testified before Congress on the health risks of herbal diet supplements. Dr. Heymsfield discussed the dangers related to the common herbal component ephedra before the Governmental Relations Committee. Ephedra, or ma huang, has been linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Ridwan Shabsigh, associate professor of urology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and director of the New York Center for Human Sexuality, is the author of a new book about erectile dysfunction (ED). "Back to Great Sex: Overcome ED and Reclaim Lost Intimacy," takes an honest and comprehensive look at this problem, covering both the medical and the emotional issues. ED hits an estimated 30 million men in the United States, but as few as 25 percent seek treatment. "Erectile dysfunction can be psychologically devastating," Dr. Shabsigh says, "not just to those it affects, but also to their wives and partners."

Andrew Marks, the Wu Professor of Molecular Cardiology, professor of medicine and pharmacology, and director of the Center for Molecular Cardiology, has been invited to deliver the Thomas W. Smith Memorial Lecture by the American Heart Association. The annual lecture was created in 1997 in honor of the late Dr. Thomas W. Smith, a pioneer in applying biochemical, cellular, and molecular approaches to investigative cardiac contractility. Dr. Marks will speak at the AHA's scientific sessions in November, in Chicago.

Anissa Abi-Dargham, an Irving Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Radiology, received a Klerman Award Honorable Mention in July for a project that examined the relationship between dopamine levels and memory impairment in schizophrenic patients. In 1997, Dr. Abi-Dargham received a NARSAD Young Investigator grant to pursue this topic. Her research about imaging cortical dopamine release in schizophrenia has been published in several professional journals.

David M. Maurice, one of the most influential ocular physiologists of the 20th century, died July 20 at the age of 80. Dr. Maurice is perhaps best known for inventing the specular microscope, which allowed him to study living cornea cells. This was the first time the technique had been used in any discipline to approach in vivo biological problems, and modifications of his design are now used worldwide. His research career began at the Institute of Ophthalmology at the University of London, but eventually took him to academic centers on three continents. He joined the staff of P&S as a professor of ocular physiology in 1993. Dr. Maurice received numerous awards, including the Prentice Memorial Medal of the American Academy of Optometry.