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David Ta-Keng Huang‘05, died June 11 in a swimming accident while on vacation with fellow students in the Glen Canyon National Recreation area, a national park in Utah.

Mr. Huang, described by his colleagues as extremely bright, warm, unpretentious, easygoing and empathetic, was born in Taiwan and moved to Vancouver with his family at age 14. Although he could not speak a word of English upon his arrival, he became valedictorian of his high school class and played rugby so well that he became captain of his team, leading it to the British Columbia championships and to victory in the Canadian National Tournament.

Mr. Huang majored in molecular biology at Princeton, from which he graduated in 1999. He spoke Mandarin, was proficient in Japanese, was an accomplished athlete, and played five instruments.

Before coming to Columbia, Mr. Huang spent a year doing research in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Walsh at Beth Israel Deaconess/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Walsh praised Mr. Huang for his outstanding gifts in interpersonal and organizational skills and called him one of the best college graduates he had encountered during his 15 years at Harvard Medical School.

A memorial service for Mr. Huang was held at P&S on June 23.

The David Ta-Keng Huang Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established by the Huang family to assist Washington Heights high school students, for whom Mr. Huang had a particular concern, with college tuition.

Donations may be sent to:
Ely Santoni
Health Sciences Division Office of Development
100 Haven Avenue, #29D
New York, NY 10032

Making the transition from the first two pre-clinical years of medical school, with their emphasis on classroom learning, to the last two years, which introduce clinical rotations, is a critical transition in a medical student’s life. To mark that transition, P&S has for the past six years held a Student Clinician’s Ceremony. This year’s ceremony for 149 students took place June 27 before a packed audience of faculty and family members. The students began their third year on June 30.

At the outset of the ceremony, Dr. Steven Miller, associate professor of pediatrics and faculty adviser to the Student Transition Committee, pictured above, asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of David Ta-Keng Huang’05 who would have made the transition to third year with his classmates. Dr. Miller said of Mr. Huang, who died in a swimming accident on June 11, “his presence is deeply felt and deeply missed this day.”

In addition to remarks by Dr. Thomas Garrett, professor of medicine, who received a standing ovation from the students, the ceremony included the presentation of various gifts and prizes. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation presented its “Humanism and Excellence in Teaching” awards to six residents: Elissa Ash, neurology; Jonathan Bingham, urology; Lauren Goldenstein, pediatrics; Adam Goldyne, psychiatry; Nickolas Juliano, medicine; and Christian Pettker, ob/gyn.

The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Research Center in the Department of Neurology at P&S hosted a three-day conference “ALS Clinical Trials — The Challenge of the Next Century,” at the Dolce Tarrytown House in New York June 13–15. Before an audience of 150 attendees, nearly 50 experts from around the world, including researchers from Columbia, presented the latest clinical research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Participants agreed to form a study group to speed up ALS drug discoveries. Speakers included Dr. Lewis Rowland, professor of neurology and founder of the center; Dr. Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president and dean; Dr. Stanley Fahn, H. Houston Merritt Professor of Neurology and director of the Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Other Movement Disorders; Dr. Jay Mohr, Sciarra Professor of Neurology; and Dr. Serge Przedborski, professor of neurology and pathology, and Dr. Hiroshi Mitsumoto, Wesley J. Howe Professor of Neurology, MDA/ALS Research Center co-directors and conference co-directors. The conference was sponsored by the NIH and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In a related event, a centennial birthday dinner celebration took place at the Tarrytown House on June 13 in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the birth of Yankees baseball player Lou Gehrig, who died from ALS in 1941. Dr. Timothy Pedley, Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Neurology and chairman of the Department of Neurology, was master of ceremonies.


Columbia’s Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine held its annual gala and Athena Awards celebration at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan on June 4. Proceeds from the event help fund the M. Irené Ferrer Professorship in Gender-Specific Medicine. Dr. Ferrer, professor emeritus of clinical medicine, was part of the Nobel Prize-winning team that developed the cardiac catheter. Pictured, from left, are Beryl Abrams, recipient of a special award for provision of outstanding legal counsel to the partnership; Virginia Rider, Pittsburgh State University, recipient of the M. Irené Ferrer Award for outstanding original research in gender-specific medicine; and Dr. Myrna Weissman, professor of epidemiology and psychiatry, recipient of the Partnership Distinguished Scholar Award. Athena Award winners exhibiting outstanding leadership in gender-specific medicine: Dr. Jay Adlersberg and Graciela Rogerio, WABC-TV News; Dr. Karin Schenck-Gustafsson, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; Dr. Joanna Rubinstein, associate dean for institutional affairs at Health Sciences; Linda Willett, Bristol-Myers Squibb; Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, National Institutes of Health; and Dr. Ben Lewis, recipient of the Best Practitioner of Gender-Specific Medicine Award. Not pictured is Athena Award winner Dr. Zsuzsanna Wiesenfeld-Hallin, Karolinska Institute. At the podium, in background, is Dr. Marianne Legato, professor of clinical medicine and founder and director of the partnership.


Medical students from P&S and elsewhere attended an orientation as 2003-2004 Columbia Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellows at the Faculty Club on July 7. The program, funded through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, provides one-year fellowships to students who have completed their third year of medical school. They are paired with mentors at Columbia to learn about clinical research. Dr. Donald Landry, associate professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Nephrology, and director of the fellowship program, center, joins fellows, from left, Joseph Tseng, P&S; Lan Chen, P&S; Alana Murphy, P&S; Stephanie Holler, Yale; Jhansi Reddy, NYU; Omar Syed, NYU; and Susan William, East Carolina University. Not pictured are fellows Samira Brown, Harvard; and Johnson Chen, P&S.

Alexander (Sasha) Opotowsky’03, a former Doris Duke clinical research fellow, co-authored an abstract with John Bilezikian, professor of medicine and pharmacology, “Serum Vitamin A and Hip Fractures: Increased Risk in Both Ends of the Concentration Curve,” which was selected by the Endocrine Society as one of the 100 most newsworthy abstracts.

Risa Granick, director of the Program in Physical Therapy, presents Charles Magistro’50 with the program’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award during PT’s graduation and awards ceremony on June 29 in the P&S Alumni Auditorium. Before 250 family and friends, 36 students received their master of science degrees. Mr. Magistro was the keynote speaker.


The Department of Medical Informatics has been granted approval by the Columbia University Board of Trustees to change its name to the Department of Biomedical Informatics. The name change reflects the department’s widening range of research and educational activities, including bioinformatics, imaging, public health informatics, and clinical systems.

George Smartt, assistant vice president for security, retired from Columbia at the end of June after 18 years with the university. In conjunction with the police department, Mr. Smartt and his team implemented a security plan for the Health Sciences campus; the team will help implement further security improvements. While a successor for Mr. Smartt is being sought, Mr. Ken Finnegan, who has been with Columbia’s security department for nine years, specializing in operations and investigations, will serve as interim leader of security for Columbia.

Kathryn Calame, professor of microbiology and biochemistry, and molecular biophysics, and Samuel Silverstein, John C. Dalton Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, have been elected to the 2003 Class of Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Science. Election to the academy recognizes scholars who have made preeminent contributions to their disciplines.

Carolyn Becker, associate clinical professor of medicine at P&S and associate director of the Toni Stabile Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, was elected to serve as vice president, physician-in-practice, on the council of the Endocrine Society. The society is the world’s oldest and largest organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology.

David J. Brenner, professor of radiation oncology at P&S and of environmental health sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, received a $2 million NIH grant for a new particle accelerator at Columbia's Radiological Research Accelerator Facility in Irvington, N.Y. The facility is dedicated to research in radiobiology and radiological physics and is unique in the U.S. as a source of various types of radiation.

Wayne Hendrickson, University Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, received the Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science from the New York Academy of Medicine. The medal was presented at the academy’s annual meeting of the fellows at the Museum of the City of New York June 25.

Several P&S 2003 graduates were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society, a national organization created to honor and recognize outstanding compassion and competency in patient care. The society was developed by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Student inductees, selected by their peers and faculty as “exemplars of outstanding humanism and compassion,” were Stanford Ackley, Vatche Agopian, Michelle Au, Brian Benson, Catherine Benton, Jennifer Bragg, Jason Carmel, Emily Carrier, Mark Dickson, Elizabeth Fitelson, Jonathan Garza, Elizabeth Hantman, Jeremy Keenan, Caroline McClasky, Alexander Opotowsky, Brian Parrett, John Ratchford, Benjamin Shelton, Amit Thosani, Joshua Willey, Edwin Williamson, and Natalie Yip.

Andrew Wit, professor of pharmacology and associate chairman of the Department of Pharmacology, received the distinguished scientist award from the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology Heart Rhythm Society. Dr. Wit received the award for lifetime scientific contribution to the advancement of knowledge in cardiac electrophysiology. He was also honored as Teacher of the Year by the P&S class of 2005 in recognition of his directorship and teaching of the pharmacology course for second-year medical students.

Darrell Yamashiro, Shailendra Joshi, Ali Gharavi, and Hina Chaudhry have been named new Irving Scholars. They began their three-year terms as Herbert or Florence Irving Assistant Professors July 1. Dr. Yamashiro is studying metastatic neuroblastoma and Wilms tumor; Dr. Joshi is investigating cerebral vasospasm; Dr. Gharavi is working to identify the genes and pathways underlying the development of immunoglobulin A nephropathy; and Dr. Chaudhry is studying congestive heart failure.