Improving Women's Health
Battling the Bulge
A Viral Eulogy
Research Briefs
Around & About

Commencement exercises for Columbia University will take place this month. The ceremonies on the Morningside campus begin at 10:30 a.m. on May 22.

New to commencement activities this year is a P&S honors convocation scheduled for 3 p.m. the day before graduation in the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (CPMC) Garden (rain location: Alumni Auditorium). More than 40 named prizes, endowed by donors, will be awarded for accomplishments ranging from compassionate patient care to community participation. In addition, the 15 percent of the class elected to Alpha Omega Alpha for outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and service, will be recognized.


Ceremony Time and Location: 2:30 p.m., CPMC Garden
Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Glenda Garvey, professor of clinical medicine
Reception Time and Location: 4 p.m., Bard Hall Dining Room (50 Haven Ave.)


Ceremony Time and Location: 4:30 p.m., Alumni Auditorium
Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Steve A. Schroeder, president and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Judy Woodruff, prime anchor and senior correspondent, CNN
Reception Time and Location: 6 p.m., Clark Conference Center, Milstein Hospital Building


Ceremony Time and Location: 5:30 p.m., CPMC Garden
Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
Reception Time and Location: 6:30 p.m., Riverview Lounge, Hammer Health Sciences Center


Ceremony Time and Location: 1:30 p.m., Alumni Auditorium
Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Cynthia Hughes Harris, vice president, American Occupational Therapy Association, and dean, Allied Health Sciences, Florida A&M
Reception Time and Location: 4 p.m., Faculty Club


Ceremony Time and Location: 11 a.m., CPMC Garden
Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Ken Kornman, chief scientific officer, Interleukin Genetics
Reception Time and Location: 1 p.m., Clark Conference Center, Milstein Hospital Building

Dr. Joanna Rubenstein has joined Health Sciences as associate dean for institutional advancement. Dr. Rubenstein will play a key part in the advancement of scientific and educational programs in Health Sciences, including participation in strategic planning efforts, special projects, and scientific initiatives. She will be responsible for coordinating science-related meetings and ensuring that issues are resolved and decisions are implemented. She also will act as the dean's liaison in the design of research facilities and assist in the recruitment of research faculty.

Dr. Rubenstein comes to Columbia from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, where she was director of research and graduate education. Before that, she was with Sweden's Medical Research Council, where she was responsible for the peer review process for projects financed by the council.

The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) has awarded 15 grants totaling $900,000 to scientists affiliated with Columbia University. The Young Investigator Award—a two-year, $60,000 grant that supports scientists—has been presented to the following Columbia researchers:

Dr. Cheryl Corcoran (for research in schizophrenia)
Dr. Adriana Feder (prepubertal onset depression)
Dr. W. Gordon Frankle (schizophrenia)
Dr. Steven P. Hamilton (depression)
Dr. Boro Ilievski (depression)
Dr. Christoph Kellendonk (schizophrenia)
Dr. Roberto Lewis-Fernandez (effectiveness of psychosis screening tests among underserved urban primary care patients)
Dr. Ilise D. Lombardo (schizophrenia)
Dr. Jan Mohlman (geriatric major depression)
Dr. Rajesh Narendran (schizophrenia)
Dr. Filoteia Simona Noaghiul (bipolar disorder)
Dr. Luca Santarelli (depression)
Dr. Stuart Seidman (dysthymia, a low-grade, chronic depressive syndrome)
Dr. Aneil Shirke (depression and anxiety)
Dr. Eric Zarahn (schizophrenia)

The largest non-governmental organization funding research in brain disorders worldwide, NARSAD provides important early career support for scientists. Its Scientific Review Council, composed of 65 scientists and academic leaders in all areas of neurobiological and psychiatric research, reviews hundreds of applications each year to find the most promising research proposals.

Columbia University has received a $2.75 million grant from Japanese trading firm Marubeni to support research in age-related neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, using a technique that quantifies gene expression in brain tissue.

The research will look at differences in gene expression in diseased vs. healthy brain tissue and employ serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE), a method that tracks gene expression in cells by creating unique identifying tags from each gene transcript and then submitting all the tags to high-throughput sequencing. The goal is to isolate genes associated with neuronal cell death by comparing transcripts from tissue of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease patients to healthy tissue. Once identified, the genes could be potential targets for therapeutic drug development. Dr. Michael Shelanski, the Delafield Professor and Chairman of Pathology, and Dr. Lloyd Greene, professor of pathology, will be co-investigators on the project.

Marubeni is also funding a company called Fazix Corp., housed in the Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park. Fazix provides software tools that use computer algorithms to alleviate some of the major bottlenecks in the current methods of in silico molecular information processing. Marubeni also has agreed to lead an investment fund that will provide capital for Columbia's technology transfer and commercialization efforts in emerging industries such as health sciences and nanotechnology. The initial capitalization of the Marubeni fund is expected to be more than $20 million.

Three members of the New York State Assembly—Majority Leader Paul Tokasz (Buffalo), Joseph Morelle (Rochester), and William Magnarelli (Syracuse)—visited Health Sciences on April 25. They first met with Dr. Edward Shortliffe, professor and chairman of medical informatics at P&S, and Dr. Yves Lussier, associate professor of medical informatics, for a briefing on Columbia's Center for Advance Technology. Dr. Justin Starren, assistant professor of medical informatics and radiology, demonstrated IDEATel, a Columbia-based diabetes telemedicine project. The visit also included a tour of the Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park and lunch with Dr. Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president and dean, during which Dr. Samuel Silverstein, the John C. Dalton Professor and Chairman of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, gave a presentation on Columbia's Summer Research Program for Secondary School Science Teachers. The visit concluded with a meeting with Dr. T. Conrad Gilliam, professor of genetics and development and director of the Columbia Genome Center. Pictured above, from left to right, are Dr. Lussier, Assemblyman Tokasz, Assemblyman Morelle, Assemblyman Magnarelli, Dr. Shortliffe, and Dr. Starren.

Much-needed renovations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Pediatric Clinic at CPMC were unveiled at a special ribbon-cutting ceremony April 29. Pictured in the back row, from left, are Dennis Dias, MDA regional director; Dr. Petra Kaufman, assistant professor of neurology; Dr. Marc Patterson, professor of clinical neurology; Dr. Darryl DeVivo, director of the MDA Pediatric Neuromuscular Center at Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian and Sidney Carter Professor of Neurology; Denise Richardson, reporter, Fox 5/WNYW; Cynthia Sparer, executive director of Children's Hospital of New York; and Dr. Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president and dean. Pictured in front are clinic patient Tony Velez and Dr. Timothy Pedley, Henry & Lucy Moses Professor and Chairman of Neurology.

Florence Nightingale is the subject of “The Lady with the Lamp,” an exhibit at the Health Sciences Library. First editions of several of her works, including a signed copy of her 1860 landmark book, “Notes on Nursing,” and letters she wrote during her lifetime are on display, as are a handwritten poem about Ms. Nightingale written by the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier, the Nightingale family Bible, and the thermometer she is said to have used during the Crimean War.

The exhibit comes from a collection created by Hugh Auchincloss, a 1905 P&S graduate and longtime professor of clinical surgery, and presented by Dr. Auchincloss to the School of Nursing upon the 1932 graduation of his daughter.

The exhibit runs through May 31 on the library's lobby level. For more information contact Stephen E. Novak, Head, Archives & Special Collections, at 305-7931 or