CUIMC Update - Aug. 23, 2021

August 23, 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.


Deans Rustgi and Choi: More Asian American Representation Needed in Academic Medicine Leadership 
In a commentary published in JAMA, Anil K. Rustgi, MD, interim executive vice president and dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University, and Augustine M.K. Choi, MD, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, write that Asian Americans are underrepresented in the highest ranks of academic medicine. Read more

CDM’s Dennis Mitchell Named EVP for University Life 
As head of University Life, Dennis Mitchell, DDS, professor of dental medicine, will continue his longstanding mission of transformational diversity, equity, and inclusion work at every level. In addition to this new role, Mitchell will hold the new post of senior vice provost for faculty advancement and maintain his position as a CDM faculty member. Read more

Health Equity Research Grant Program Launches 
The Dalio Center for Health Justice at NYP, VP&S, and Weill Cornell Medicine will provide $750,000 for innovative research that advances efforts to reduce health inequities and disparities. This annual grant program is open to full-time faculty at VP&S or Weill Cornell Medical College. Interested applicants should apply by Oct. 1. Read more about the grant program and view FAQs for faculty (uni login required). 

Newest VP&S Students Recite Their Own Oath at White Coat Ceremony 
At the annual White Coat Ceremony, 140 members of the VP&S Class of 2025 donned their first white coats and recited an Oath written by the class to mark the beginning of their medical education. Read more

VP&S Pediatrician Answers Parents' Top Back-to-School Questions Amid the Delta Variant 
School districts around the country are returning to in-person learning amid the rise of the Delta variant, creating questions and concerns for parents. Melissa Stockwell, MD, MPH, chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Health and associate professor of pediatrics and population and family health, addresses parents’ most pressing concerns surrounding COVID-19 and the return to in-person learning. Read more.

Mailman Research: Delta Variant Is 60 Percent More Infectious Than Original Virus and Evades Immunity 
The Delta variant is more contagious than original SARS-CoV-2 and better able to escape prior immunity, according to modeling studies of coronavirus variants led by Wan Yang, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Mailman. Read more



James Goldman, MD, Pathology & Cell Biology, will receive $1,063,556 over one year from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research for a subaward of “Adaptive Immunity in the Etiology and Progression of Parkinson’s Disease.”

Gunnar Hargus, MD, PhD, Pathology & Cell Biology, will receive $967,680 over four years from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for “Elucidating the Role of Microglia and Neurotrophin Receptor P75 on Neuronal Degeneration in Frontotemporal Dementia.”

Richard Paul Mayeux, MD, Sergievsky Center, will receive $817,364 over two years from the National Institute on Aging for “Asian Cohort for Alzheimer’s Disease (ACAD).”

Priya Palta, PhD, Medicine, will receive $927,126 over four years from the National Institute on Aging for “24-hour Activity Cycles to Optimize Cognitive Resilience to Alzheimer's Disease in African Americans: The Jackson Heart Study.”

Robert Whittington, MD, Anesthesiology, will receive $1,296,983 over two years from the National Institute on Aging for a subaward of “Relationship Between CNS Tau Burden and Perioperative Neurocognitive Disorder.”

Binsheng Zhao, DSc, Radiology, will receive $249,214 over one year from the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research for “Advance Tumor Volume Change as Measured by CT as a Pharmacodynamic Biomarker for New Oncologic Drug Clinical Trial Therapy of Solid Tumors to Stage 2 of FDA Biomarker Qualification.”


Fatemeh Momen-Heravi, DDS, PhD, will receive $750,000 over three years from the American Association for Cancer Research for “Biological Mechanism and Risk Factor of Head and Neck Cancer in Blacks.”



Sidney Hankerson, MD, Psychiatry, has been appointed chair of the Community Service Board by New York City Mayor DeBlasio.

Lynn L. Simpson, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, has been appointed to the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Aaron Viny, MD, Medicine, has received the Edward P. Evans Foundation EvansMDS Discovery Research Grant.


Melissa Beauchemin, NP, received a 2021 Conquer Cancer Merit Award for her abstract that will be presented at the October American Society of Clinical Oncology Quality Symposium.

Billy Caceres, PhD, RN, received the 2021 Marie Cowan Promising Early Career Investigator Award from the American Heart Association and has been invited to join the editorial board of Heart & Lung: The Journal of Cardiopulmonary and Acute Care.

Cindy Veldhuis, PhD, was nominated to serve as an NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) grant reviewer.

The American Academy of Nursing has selected five Columbia Nursing faculty members, Sarah Collins Rossetti, PhD; Amanda Hessels, PhD; Allison Andreno Norful, PhD; Kellie Bryant, DNP; and Ana Kelly, PhD, to join its 2021 Class of Fellows. Read more.

Six Columbia Nursing students have been named Jonas Nurse Scholars, an honor given to students pursuing PhD, EdD, or DNP degrees whose research and clinical work addresses the nation’s most urgent health care needs. Read more.


Back-to-School After COVID: Strategies & Support Presented by Columbia University Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders, Aug. 24, 1 p.m., register here.

Return to Campus Update: Classroom Edition for faculty, researchers and staff, Aug. 24, 4 p.m., register here

CUIMC August Trivia Tournament Finale Showdown, Aug. 25, noon, read more and view event.

CUIMC All Employee Resource Groups Quarterly Meeting, Aug. 25, 1 p.m., register here

CUIMC Women Roundtable Discussion on Mentorship/Sponsorship, Sept. 14, 1 p.m., register here

Anti-Racism Speaker Series: Waverly Duck, PhD, Sept. 16, 10 a.m., register here

School of Nursing White Coat Ceremony, Sept. 17, 3 p.m., register here

Annual HIPAA & Security Briefing for faculty, researchers, and management staff, Sept. 29, 2 p.m., register here.

For more events, visit the CUIMC Events listing.