Association of American Physicians Honors Seven Physician-Scientists
The Association of American Physicians (AAP) has elected six physician-scientists at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons to its ranks: Wendy Chung, MD, PhD; Philip De Jager, MD, PhD; Dawn Hershman, MD, MS; Michio Hirano, MD; David Ho, MD; and Steven Marx, MD. The association also awarded its George M. Kober Medal for lifetime scientific and mentorship achievements to Linda Fried, MD, MPH, who was president of the association in 2016-2017.
Founded in 1885, AAP is an honorary medical society driven by “the advancement of scientific and practical medicine.” The association, which elects only 70 individuals per year, selects physicians with outstanding credentials in basic or translational biomedical research.
More information about the Columbia honorees:
Wendy Chung, MD, PhD, is the Kennedy Family Professor of Pediatrics (in Medicine) and leader of the Precision Medicine Resource in the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. She is a board-certified clinical and molecular geneticist with 20 years of experience in human genetic research of monogenic and complex diseases. Chung has uncovered the genetic basis of more than 45 monogenic conditions (two of which bear her name) across a wide range of diseases and led the pivotal study of newborn screening for spinal muscular atrophy. Most recently, she received a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to investigate the possible genetic contributions to long-term outcomes in individuals with congenital heart disease and to use this information in clinical care. Chung was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2020.
Philip L. De Jager, MD, PhD, is the Weil-Granat Professor of Neurology, chief of neuroimmunology, and director of the Columbia University Multiple Sclerosis Center and the Center for Translational & Computational Neuroimmunology. He is also the deputy director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain. De Jager applies modern methods of human neuroimmunology, statistical genetics, and systems biology to the understanding of common neurodegenerative diseases. As the leader of a 2019 study of over 115,000 people, he produced a genome map of multiple sclerosis susceptibility showing that many different immune cells, not just T cells, are involved in triggering multiple sclerosis. He is also a leader of one of the five teams that comprise the Accelerating Medicine Partnership for Alzheimer’s Disease funded by the National Institute on Aging. Most recently, he received a grant to analyze the functional consequences of genetic variation that contribute to susceptibility for Alzheimer’s disease so that novel precision neurology approaches can be developed and therapeutic targets prioritized to prevent its onset.
Dawn Hershman, MD, MS, is professor of medicine at VP&S and of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, director of breast oncology, and co-leader of the Cancer Population Science program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her research focuses on ways to improve cancer care delivery, reducing disparities, and designing studies to improve the quality of life and quality of care for survivors of breast cancer. For example, she and her VP&S colleagues found that acupuncture is associated with a statistically significant drop in joint pain among early-stage breast cancer patients, all of whom had moderate to severe joint pain. Most recently, Hershman received a grant from the National Cancer Institute to determine if the high cost of new, oral anticancer drugs are preventing patients from using the drugs and the extent to which financial factors contribute to disparities in use. Since 2017, she has been a dedicated fundraiser for Velocity: Columbia’s Ride to End Cancer, which supports cancer research at Columbia’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is also an American Cancer Society Professor and received the 2020 Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Michio Hirano, MD, is the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Neurology, chief of the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine, director of the CUIMC Muscular Dystrophy Association adult care center, and director of the H. Houston Merritt Neuromuscular Research Center. He is one of the world’s experts on mitochondrial diseases and genetic myopathies. Hirano established the North American Mitochondrial Disease Consortium, a network of 17 clinical centers with a mission to improve the diagnosis and care, establish the natural history, support translational research, and investigate treatment of mitochondrial diseases. He is also an elected member of the American Neurological Association and an elected fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.
David D. Ho, MD, is the Clyde’56 and Helen Wu Professor of Medicine and director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University. Ho has studied and advanced therapies against HIV/AIDS for nearly four decades and developed the “triple cocktail” of antiretroviral drugs in the 1990s that dramatically improved the lives of people with HIV/AIDS and started to transform the disease into a manageable condition. In 2020, he received the National Leadership Recognition Award from the National AIDS Memorial for his work. Since the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged in late 2019, Ho and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center have used their vast knowledge of viral diseases to develop new solutions for testing, treatment, and prevention of COVID-19. Earlier this year, Ho led a study that suggests current vaccines and monoclonal antibody therapies provide less neutralizing activity against a variant of SARS-CoV-2 first identified in South Africa.
Steven Marx, MD, is the Herbert and Florence Irving Professor of Cardiology (in Medicine) to Honor Dr. Le Roy E. Rabbani (in Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics) and director of the cardiovascular fellowship program. His research on cardiovascular diseases focuses on molecular cardiology, specifically the regulation of ion channels in normal and pathological conditions in the heart, and vascular biology. In a landmark paper published last year in Nature, Marx and his team utilized state-of-the-art proximity proteomics to identify a small G-protein, Rad, as the long sought-after link to sympathetic nervous system activation of calcium channels in the heart. These findings could lead to new treatments for heart failure and arrhythmias. Marx also serves as a research mentor in his lab to 2020 Gerstner Scholar Jared Kushner, MD, for the study, “Regulators and Interactomes of CaV1.2 in Health and Disease.”
George M. Kober Medal for Lifetime Scientific and Mentorship Achievements
Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, has been dean of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health since 2008 and the DeLamar Professor of Public Health Practice, professor of epidemiology and of medicine, and senior vice president at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She has also served as director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center since 2019. Fried is a leader in the fields of epidemiology and geriatric medicine. Her seminal research has defined frailty as a new clinical syndrome and illuminated its causes. She has led major NIH-funded population-based studies to determine the causes and consequences of frailty, chronic diseases, multimorbidity, loneliness, and disability in aging. Fried is also the co-designer and founder of the Experience Corps, a ground-breaking model for senior volunteerism. It was designed to simultaneously support the success of children in public elementary schools and health promotion for the older volunteers, and is now in 23 U.S. cities and multiple countries. Fried was appointed as co-chair of the National Academy of Medicine’s 2019-2022 Global Commission on a Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity, an initiative that will make strategic recommendations from the realms of public health, medicine, science, and technology. The recipient of numerous honors, Fried is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and its Executive Council and 2016-17 president of the Association of American Physicians. Most recently, she was named to City and State magazine’s 2021 Health Power List of individuals leading New York through the coronavirus crisis.