CUIMC Highlights Black History Month

February 12, 2020

February is Black History Month, and here at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, we're celebrating African American physicians, dentists, nurses, and researchers who are helping to improve the health of the nation. Here are just a few:

Kenrick Cato, RN, PhD, Columbia University
Kenrick Cato. Photo: Columbia University School of Nursing.

Kenrick Cato, RN, PhD

Assistant Professor of Nursing

As a child, Kenrick Cato, PhD, was fascinated with hospitals. He used to beg his mother, now a retired nurse, to take him to work with her. But it took a stint as a computer programmer, multiple tours of Iraq as an infantryman, and a suggestion from a friend before he considered becoming a nurse himself.

After completing the Entry to Practice program at Columbia University School of Nursing, Cato worked as an oncology nurse and then finished his PhD at Columbia in 2014. In his research, he combines his love of computers and health care to investigate how data science can improve patient safety, quality of care, and personal health.

Lorna Dove, MD, Columbia University
Lorna Dove. Image courtesy of Lorna Dove.

Lorna Dove, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine (in Surgery)

Born and raised in a small North Carolina town, Lorna Dove, MD, set her mind on becoming a doctor at an early age. She now manages patients with liver disease and is the medical director for the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation at CUIMC.

"Liver transplant gave me this opportunity to have a diversity of patients and take care of people who are really critically ill," she says. "And in transplant you get to follow people over time. A liver transplant is like a marriage, it's a bond between the provider and the patient."

Read more.

George Jenkins, DMD, Columbia University
George Jenkins. Photo: Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

George Jenkins, DMD

Assistant Professor of Dental Medicine

George Jenkins, DMD, recalls the moment he became interested in becoming a health care professional. He was 11 years old and sitting in a dentist’s chair at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark. Jenkins was there to get his teeth straightened and he was fascinated by the tools. 

“I could hardly wait for my next appointment,” Jenkins wrote in “The Pact,” a book he co-authored with the two friends who helped him achieve his dream of becoming a dentist.

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Jasmine McDonald, PhD, Columbia University
Jasmine McDonald. Photo: Columbia University.

Jasmine McDonald, PhD

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Jasmine McDonald, PhD, loves immunology and originally set out to become a laboratory scientist. But she learned during graduate school that while she greatly enjoyed designing experiments, she didn't enjoy physically doing the experiments. That's when she realized she needed to get out of the lab.

A chance conversation on a bus led her to switch fields to epidemiology. She now focuses on uncovering factors that lead to breast cancer and factors affecting pubertal development in women. 

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Gina Wingood
Gina Wingood. Image: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Gina Wingood, ScD, MPH

Sidney and Helaine Lerner Professor of Public Health Promotion

While pursuing her education as a geneticist, Gina Wingood, ScD, MPH, witnessed the early days of the AIDS epidemic and changed fields to help address it. "I was living in San Francisco, and there was just a tremendous amount of advocacy and vibrancy around the social justice activities associated with fighting this epidemic," she says, "and to me that was just so thrilling."

Her work has since focused on the unique risks women face from HIV, and her intervention programs have been endorsed by the CDC and implemented across the country. 

Read more.