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In Vivo

Dear Colleagues and Students,

As noted in our lead story, we are delighted that, under the leadership of Dr. Henry Ginsberg, Columbia was awarded one of the first 12 major National Institutes of Health grants dedicated to transforming clinical research. This grant, which is part of the NIH’s new Roadmap Initiative, will facilitate a multidisciplinary approach to translational research and accelerate the pace at which advances in basic biomedical science will reach the general public. Work funded by this grant will epitomize our mission of “bench to bedside” research designed to have the maximum impact on advancing science and patient care. We are proud that Columbia will be a national role model in these efforts.
   Another source of pride is our faculty. Each week this fall brought news of more accolades for our talented researchers, clinicians, and educators. Four faculty were newly elected to the Institute of Medicine, (IOM), one of the highest honors in medicine and health care. Suzanne Bakken, Betty Diamond, Sherry Glied, and Stephen Goff join 44 other Columbia faculty who are already members. In addition, Nancy Wexler, an IOM member since 1997, was recently elected to its governing council. Seven of our colleagues were elected fellows in the American Association for Advancement of Science: Betty Diamond, Lloyd Greene, Barry Honig, Tom Jessell, Howard Lieberman, Carol Mason, and Constance
Fueling Our Future
Nathanson. Collectively, our faculty were integral in garnering the peer recognition that, in a recent magazine survey, acclaimed our partner NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital as the highest rated health care institution in New York City.
   One measure of the achievements of any medical center is the tally of its external funding. These grants and contracts from government, private foundations, corporations and individual donors are the lifeblood of our scientific mission. In 2006, Columbia’s funding from NIH has grown despite a flat NIH budget, thanks to a number of successful new grants awarded to our faculty.
In the private arena, the first SMA clinic to centralize research and clinical resources for patients with this devastating neurological disease opened its doors this month at CUMC, thanks to generous contributors Loren Eng and Dinakar Singh. This fall, core Parkinson’s research laboratories at CUMC were completely refurbished through support from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF), the NIH, and other sources. The private fund-raising campaign was spearheaded by Melvin Taub, a trustee of the PDF, and guided by Robin Elliott, executive director of PDF. In October we inaugurated an annual award and lecture series, the Katz Prizes in Cardiovascular Research, made possible through the support of Lewis Katz. Earlier this year long-time CUMC supporters Leonard and Claire Tow made a generous commitment to the Claire Tow Professorship, which Tom Jessell now occupies. All CUMC schools have active fundraising efforts under way. For example, our College of Dental Medicine received its largest single gift, $1 million from Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Pritz, to celebrate Dr. Pritz’s decades-long association with the school as a student, faculty member and honorary chair of the college’s capital campaign.
   During this holiday season, we give thanks for these gifts and all the other generous philanthropy that fuels our future and allows us to sustain a course of continued excellence.
   In January, our new Chief Operating Officer Tom Jackiewicz and new Chief Financial Officer Joanne Quan will assume their duties full time. In my own office, new Chief of Staff Patricia Woodford has started this month. I know you will all welcome these new additions to our central staff, and we are confident that they will help us provide efficient and user-friendly services.
Former Columbia University Medical Center Dean Honored

Former Columbia University Medical Center Dean HonoredGerald Fischbach, M.D., who led CUMC as executive vice president and dean from 2001 to June 2006, was honored on Nov. 6 with a symposium at CUMC and a gala dinner at Morningside, hosted by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and Lee Goldman, M.D., CUMC’s current executive vice president and dean. The symposium, “From Basic Science to Public Policy: A Tribute to the Scientific and Academic Leadership of Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D.,” featured speakers Roderick MacKinnon, M.D., Rockefeller University; Charles Zorumski, M.D., Washington University School of Medicine; Story Landis, M.D., director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Thomas Jessell, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry & molecular biophysics, CUMC; Zach Hall, Ph.D., president, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine; and David Hirsh, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and executive vice president for research at Columbia University. The symposium was moderated by Eric Kandel, M.D., University Professor and 2000 Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine, and Timothy Pedley, M.D., Henry & Lucy Moses Professor of Neurology and chairman of the Department of Neurology. A neuroscientist by training, Dr. Fischbach is the former director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the NIH. He pioneered the use of nerve cell cultures to study the electrophysiology, morphology, and biochemistry of developing nerve-muscle and inter-neuronal synapses.
   Shown at the symposium, from left: Dr. MacKinnon; Dr. Zorumski; Dr. Goldman; Dr. Kandel; Dr. Fischbach; Dr. Landis; Dr. Pedley, Dr. Jessell; Dr. Hall and Dr. Hirsh.