CUIMC Update - December 13, 2023

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.


2023 Baton Awards Recognize Six CUIMC Employees
Meet this year's Baton Award recipients, honored for their teamwork and outstanding contributions to the overall success of the medical center.

First CRISPR Therapy Approved for Sickle Cell
The work of Monica Bhatia, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, and Markus Mapara, MD, professor of medicine, was critical to the recent FDA decision approving Casgevy (exa-cel) for treatment of people ages 12 and older with sickle cell disease, making it the first therapy approved for use in the United States that uses CRISPR gene-editing technology to alter a patient’s genes.

The One Resolution All Older Adults Should Make
Columbia geriatric psychiatrist Mark Nathanson, MD, discusses the health benefits of making New Year's resolutions and the one all older adults should make. He also offers advice for older adults to help make their resolutions a reality.

CUIMC Celebrates Facilities and Student & Campus Services Employees with 25 Years of Service
The inaugural "25 Years of Service" dinner, held for employees in CUIMC Facilities Management and Student & Campus Services, celebrated team members who have dedicated 25 years or more of continuous service to Columbia University.

How to Avoid "Forever Chemicals"
Forever chemicals linked to multiple health problems have been found in everything from our drinking water to nonstick pans and food packaging. Columbia primary care doctor Arthi Reddy, MD, shares what we know about forever chemicals and how to limit your exposure. 



Mailman School of Public Health

  • Daniel Giovenco, PhD, Sociomedical Sciences
    $329,000 over five years for a subaward from the National Cancer Institute for "Rutgers Center of Excellence for Rapid Tobacco Surveillance."
  • John Pamplin, PhD, Epidemiology
    $888,115 over five years from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for "Racial Inequities in Opioid Overdose Prevention: The role of local context in the effectiveness of state-level overdose prevention policies."

Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

  • Evelyn Attia, MD, Psychiatry
    $803,343 over five years from the National Institute of Mental Health for "Research Training in Biobehavioral Disturbances of Eating Disorders."
  • Hetty Cunningham, MD, Pediatrics
    $750,000 over two years from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for "RWJF Summer Health Professions Education Program."
  • Neil Harrison, PhD, Anesthesiology
    $2,322,927 over five years from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for "Alcohol and Interneurons in the Prefrontal Cortex."
  • George Mentis, PhD, Neurology
    $3,363,732 over five years from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for "Mechanisms of Central Synaptic Dysfunction in SMA."
  • Yufeng Shen, PhD, Systems Biology
    $2,034,560 over five years from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for "Computational methods to interpret genomic variation and integrate functional genomics data in genetic analysis of human diseases."
  • Megan Sykes, MD, Microbiology & Immunology, and Robert Winchester, MD, Medicine
    $3,818,645 over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for "Thymic selection abnormalities in Type 1 Diabetes."
  • Shirley ShiDu Yan, MD, Surgery
    $2,397,468 over three years from the National Institute on Aging for "GLO1/A beta-mediated mitochondrial and synaptic injury in Alzheimer's disease."


Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Mailman School of Public Health

  • Jeanne Mager Stellman, PhD, Health Policy & Management
    Invited to serve as a member of a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

  • Neil Shneider, MD, PhD, Neurology
    Named a co-recipient of the 2023 annual Drs. Ayeez and Shelena Lalji & Family ALS Endowed Award for Innovative Healing.

Social Media Snapshot

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

#ColumbiaMed is partnering with local elementary and middle schools in Washington Heights to support science education this holiday season!

Watch the video below to see how CUIMC departments can make a difference. Learn more:

In the News Highlights

  • FDA Approves Gene-Editing Treatment for Sickle Cell Disease
    Dec 8, 2023
    CBS News (video)
    Dr. Monica Bhatia, who is Johnny's doctor and the chief of pediatric stem cell transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said by editing the cell, you're reprogramming cells to produce fetal hemoglobin. "You're changing somebody's DNA. So obviously you wanna make sure that the corrections you're making are, are the ones you want," said Bhatia.
  • Columbia University Gets $21M to Study How Equity Interventions Improve Maternal Health
    Dec 4, 2023
    Crain's New York Business (Requires a subscription)
    Columbia University has received $21 million in funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study how equity interventions improve maternal health, the institute announced Thursday. Over six years, the participating organizations will aim to improve maternal healthy weight in patients, beginning early in pregnancy and going through the first postpartum year, said Dr. Jennifer Woo Baidal, an associate professor of pediatrics at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the principal investigator on the study.
  • The Updated COVID-19 Shot Works on the Newest Variants
    Dec 7, 2023
    But even though the latest vaccine targets XBB.1.5, a variant no longer dominant in the U.S., it seems to be doing a decent job at warding off some of the emerging variants. In a study published on the preprint server bioRxiv, scientists led by Dr. David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University, report that the vaccine can generate strong antibodies that can neutralize not just XBB but variants such as HV.1, which now accounts for 31% of U.S. infections, and HK.3, which contributes to half of new infections in Asia (and about 7% in the U.S.).