CUIMC Update - April 5, 2021

CUIMC Update is a weekly e-newsletter featuring medical center news and the accomplishments of our faculty, staff, and trainees. Please send your news, honors, and awards to Grants are provided by the Sponsored Projects Administration office.


VP&S, Nursing, and Mailman in Top 5 of New Grad School Rankings
VP&S, the School of Nursing, and Mailman have been ranked among the top five U.S. graduate schools in their respective categories by U.S. News & World Report. Read more

Save the Date: A Conversation about Anti-Asian Rhetoric, Bias, and Violence
The CUIMC community is invited to attend "A Conversation about Anti-Asian Rhetoric, Bias, and Violence" on April 13 at 10 a.m. via Zoom (link to be provided soon). Panelists include Anil Rustgi, MD, Augustine M.K. Choi, MD, Steven J. Corwin, MD, and Laura L. Forese, MD. They will discuss actions that health care providers and individuals can take to foster a safe environment—free of hatred—across our institutions and in our communities.   

Call for Videos: Share Your Thoughts on Anti-Asian Bias and Violence 
Faculty, staff, and students at CUIMC are invited to create a short video sharing their reactions to acts of anti-Asian hatred and racism they have experienced—or seen experienced by friends, family, or colleagues—or have witnessed on the news. Videos may be used across Columbia, NewYork-Presbyterian, and Weill Cornell as part of the upcoming panel discussion, "A Conversation about Anti-Asian Rhetoric, Bias, and Violence," in future town halls, or other similar uses. Guidelines follow:

  • Videos should be brief, no more than one minute in length. Videos submitted may be edited for length or combined with other videos.
  • Start your video by saying your full name, then tell your story.
  • You should be the only person in the video.
  • Be sure the image is clear and the sound is good.
  • Be aware of your background and do not show anyone’s personal information.

Submit your video here by April 7. 

VP&S Names 2021 Gerstner Scholars
Four physician-scientists at VP&S—Jennifer Gelinas, MD, PhD, Catherine Spina, MD, PhD Aaron Viny, MD, MS, and Xiao Zhao, MD—have been named 2021 Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Scholars. Eliza C. Miller, MD, MS, has been named a 2021 Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Merit Awardee. Read more.

With $16 Million Gift, VP&S Establishes Treatment Center and Clinical Trials Network for Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases
VP&S will use a $16 million gift from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation to open a new center for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases this summer, offering patients specialized care and expanding research at a national level. Read more

Upcoming CUIMC Grand Rounds Convenes Mailman Experts
A CUIMC-wide grand rounds, “Pandemic Preparedness: A Public Health Perspective,” will be held April 22 at noon. The panelists are Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, W. Ian Lipkin, MD, and Jeffrey Shaman, PhD, and the event will be moderated by Linda Fried, MD, MPH. Join the event using the link above. 

Columbia Nursing to Offer Certificate of Professional Achievement in Transgender Health Care 
The new program will provide nurse practitioners with the specialty knowledge they need to provide care to transgender people and address the scarcity of clinicians trained to treat this patient group. Read more

VP&S Cancer Researcher Discusses the Power of Pizza and Other Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic 
Kenneth P. Olive, PhD, associate professor of medicine at VP&S and director of the Oncology Precision Therapeutics and Imaging Core at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, writes about how Columbia Researchers Against COVID-19 (CRAC Teams), a small army of highly skilled specialists drawn from across Columbia, came together to solve complex and urgent challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

Dementia and COVID: VP&S Neurologists Share What Families and Physicians Should Know
A new VP&S study of patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York City finds that while a greater proportion of patients with dementia died from COVID-19, other factors, including age and comorbidities, were really the driving factors, not dementia itself. Read more.

Changing Hypertension Definition May Identify More High-Risk Pregnancies
Lowering the cutoff to diagnose hypertension during pregnancy better identified 20% of women at risk for preeclampsia, suggests a study led by Natalie Bello, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at VP&S. Read more



Corinne Abate-Shen, PhD, Molecular Pharmacology & Therapeutics, will receive $2,470,045 over three years from the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research for “Molecular Mechanisms of Tumor Progression and Tumor Plasticity in Bladder Cancer.”

Sachin Agarwal, MD, Neurology, will receive $796,207 over one year from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for “Characterize Psychological and Behavioral Dimensions of Cardiac Arrest Survivorship, and their Association with 1-Year Mortality, Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Health-Related Quality of Life.”

Uttiya Basu, PhD, Microbiology & Immunology, will receive $2,042,531 over four years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for “The Role of N6-Methyladenosine RNA Modification in Programmed and Aberrant DNA Mutagenesis in B Cells.”

Bernard Chang, MD, Emergency Medicine, will receive $358,538 over two years from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for a subaward of “The National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network: New England Consortium Node: Ctn-0099.”

Kevin Gardner, MD, PhD, Pathology & Cell Biology, will receive $2,812,618 over five years from the National Cancer Institute for “The Linkage Between Race, Kaiso and the Tumor Microenvironment in Breast Cancer Health Disparities.”

Hilda Hutcherson, MD, Education, will receive $1,750,000 over five years from the New York State Department of Education for “New York State Education Department STEP Program.”

David Sachs, MD, Medicine, will receive $2,655,547 over four years from the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command for “Novel Methods for Human Skeletal Muscle Regeneration Using Gene-Edited Pigs.”


Marni Sommer, DrPH, RN, Sociomedical Sciences, will receive $299,905 over one year from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for “Support for Global Menstrual Health and Hygiene Monitoring.”


Rebecca Schnall, PhD, RN, Scholarship & Research, will receive $3,028,752 over four years from the National Institute of Nursing Research for “CHAMPS: A Randomized Trial of a Community Health Worker Intervention for Persons Living with HIV in Two High Priority Settings.”



Benjamin Izar, MD, PhD, has received a Young Physician-Scientist Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation.


Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, ICAP’s founder and global director, has been inducted into the Council on Foreign Relations.


Three Columbia Nursing students are recipients of awards from the Eastern Nursing Research Society Awards Committee: Yashika Sharma, conference scholarship; April Ancheta, 2nd place doctoral poster award; and Sarah Leonard, 1st place doctoral paper award.


COVID-19 & Vaccine Update Forum, April 6, 4 p.m., register here.

Columbia Precision Medicine Initiative Conference on Advances in Precision Medicine: Genetics of Neurodevelopmental Disease, April 7, 10:10 a.m., register here

School of Nursing General Q&A Virtual Information Session, April 7, noon, register online

College of Dental Medicine’s Birnberg Award Lecture by Anil Rustgi, MD, “Hereditary GI Cancer Syndromes,” April 7, 1 p.m., register here

CUIMC Asian American Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group Presents a Conversation on “Combating AAPI Hate and Fostering Solidarity in our Community,” April 7, 1 p.m., register here.

COVID-19 Vaccines: From Hesitance to Confidence for Communities of Color, April 7, 6 p.m., register online

Columbia Nursing Center for Improving Palliative Care for Vulnerable Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions, Enrichment Seminar - CIPC Pilot P.I. Presentation, April 8, 12 p.m., register online

Virtual Kickboxing: Nursing Student Life's Spring 2021 Events Challenge, April 10, 10 a.m., register online

Asian American Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group Presents a Conversation on “The Ramadan Experience,” April 12, 1 p.m., register here.

Save the Date: Dr. Lorna M. Breen Annual Lecture, April 21, 4:30 p.m., details to follow. 

For more events, visit the CUIMC Events listing.