CUIMC Faculty Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

The National Academy of Medicine today announced that three members of the CUIMC faculty—Charles C. Branas from the Mailman School of Public Health and Rui Costa and Anil K. Rustgi from the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons—have been elected to the academy.

Members of NAM, formerly known as the Institute of Medicine, are elected by their peers in recognition of outstanding achievement. Membership is one of the highest honors bestowed in the field of medicine. This year, 100 new members, including 10 international members, were elected to the academy.

Charles Branas, PhD. Image: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Charles Branas, PhD, the Gelman Endowed Professor of Epidemiology and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at Mailman, is known for his scientific leadership on interventions that directly transform places and improve determinants of health, such as access to medical care, greenspace, and housing.  

His pioneering work on geographic access to medical care has changed the health care landscape in the United States and other countries for multiple conditions. He also has focused on seemingly intractable health issues. As one of a very small group of scientists who have persisted in gun violence research despite societal disincentives, he and others have ultimately produced innovative and widely adopted approaches. His research has been cited in landmark Supreme Court decisions, by Congress, and by numerous mayors and city councils. He has led multinational efforts and mentored scientists who now occupy leadership posts around the world.

Rui Costa, DVM, PhD. Image: Columbia University Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

Rui Costa, DVM, PhD, is an expert on how the brain learns and initiates movement, and his contributions extend to many key areas of neuroscience. His work on the brain circuitry that drives movement initiation—such as taking a first step—has brought critical understanding to movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Costa also has helped elucidate the brain mechanisms that guide learning and habit formation, critical to studies of obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism. 

Costa has developed powerful new approaches that combine genetics, cutting-edge imaging technology, and brain-machine interfaces. He is director and CEO of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and professor of neuroscience and neurology at VP&S.

He is a strong advocate for the increased collaboration across the spectrum of biomedical research that is critical to developing effective treatments that slow, halt, or reverse debilitating and deadly brain diseases.

Anil Rustgi, MD. Image: Columbia University / Barbara Alper.

Anil K. Rustgi, MD, has made substantial and lasting contributions to the fundamental molecular understanding of gastrointestinal cancers. He and his collaborators use genetically engineered mouse models and novel 3D culture models to investigate the role of cancer-causing genes and tumor suppressor genes in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal cancers, including esophageal, colon, and pancreatic cancers. His laboratory’s aim is to improve molecular diagnostics and therapeutics and his team has translated preclinical findings into early phase clinical trials in patients with GI cancers.

As director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian/CUIMC, Rustgi has underscored the importance of approaching the problem of cancer through interdisciplinary team science, with the overarching goal of improving patient outcomes. 

Rustgi also is associate dean of oncology and Irving Professor of Medicine at VP&S. Before joining Columbia this year, Rustgi was the T. Grier Miller Professor of Medicine and Genetics and chief of gastroenterology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

With the election of Branas, Costa, and Rustgi, VP&S has 51 faculty members and Mailman has 20 faculty members in the National Academy of Medicine.