CUIMC Update - December 20, 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.


CUIMC Holiday Celebration Gets “Ugly” With Holiday Sweaters
CUIMC celebrated the holiday season last week with two celebrations: a menorah lighting on Haven Plaza on Dec. 11 and a gathering on Dec. 13 that included an ugly holiday sweater competition and toy drive collection.

How Holiday Joy Can Help Your Heart
More than 90% of the risk of heart disease can be attributed to modifiable factors, including psychosocial stressors. Columbia cardiologist Andrew Einstein, MD, PhD, discusses the link between positive emotions and cardiovascular health, and how you can improve your heart health through joy and laughter this holiday season.

Air Purifiers to Prevent Chronic Disease
A project funded by the Columbia Mailman Centennial Grand Challenges grants is studying whether cleaner indoor air can reduce inflammatory biomarkers across two generations by providing families with HEPA air purifiers and measuring biomarkers for chronic disease. 

Are January Health Challenges Actually Healthy?
Month-long health challenges like Dry January (not drinking alcohol) and Veganuary (going vegan for January) are increasingly popular. Columbia experts Tirissa Jean Reid, MD, and Katee Yang, PsyD, discuss the health challenges to avoid, which ones to attempt, and how you can succeed.

Support the Medical Center Neighborhood Fund This Holiday Season
CUIMC Government & Community Affairs invites you to consider including the Medical Center Neighborhood Fund, which supports community-based organizations in Washington Heights and Inwood, as part of your year-end charitable donations. Learn more about the fund and the work your contribution will help support.



Mailman School of Public Health

  • Abdul Ahmed, PhD, Population & Family Health
    $250,000 over one year for a subaward from the U.S. Agency for International Development for "Global Fund for Women Localization Activity Learning Partnership."
  • Darby Jack, PhD, Environmental Health Sciences
    $3,647,629 over five years from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for "Child Lung Development Following a Cookstove Intervention: Evidence from GRAPHS."

School of Nursing

  • Elizabeth Corwin, PhD
    $3,467,404 over four years from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities for "The impact of a culturally-based live music intervention on the metabolites and metabolic pathways associated with chronic stress and the risk of pre-term birth in black women."

Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

  • Ottavio Arancio, MD, PhD, Taub Institute
    $750,000 over three years from the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command for "Role of SUMO Conjugation in Alzheimer's Disease-Related Impairment of Synaptic Function and Memory Induced by Abnormal Tau Following TBI."
  • Jeremy Beitler, MD, Medicine
    $3,917,571 over five years from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for "Respiratory Drive in Acute Respiratory Failure."
  • Christine Denny, PhD, and Alessia Mastrodonato, PhD, Psychiatry
    $353,375 over two years from the National Institute of Mental Health for "Identifying the neural ensembles mediating fear generalization during adolescence."
  • David Fidock, PhD, Microbiology & Immunology
    $810,000 over one year for a subaward from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for "Antimalarial Target Discovery and Validation Platforms."
  • Christopher Makinson, PhD, Neurology
    $1,082,683 over five years for a subaward from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for "SCN8A encephalopathy: disease mechanisms and treatment."
  • Matteo Porotto, PhD, Pediatrics
    $2,136,582 over three years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for "Fusion inhibitors that block host-to-host transmission of SARS-CoV-2."
  • Tilla Worgall, MD, Pathology & Cell Biology
    $722,342 over five years for a subaward from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for "Respiratory sphingolipid synthesis implicit in airway hyperreactivity and viral-triggered asthma."


Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Social Media Snapshot

Columbia Medicine on Instagram: "#ColumbiaMed celebrated the holiday season with an annual toy drive collection and holiday-themed event on Dec. 13 where 300+ toys were donated. 🎁 Donations will be given to three community organizations in the #Washingto

In the News Highlights

  • Doctors Should Intervene to Help Children with Obesity, Task Force Draft Says, But It Doesn’t Recommend Surgery or Meds
    Dec 12, 2023
    CNN Online
    The emphasis on intervention, as opposed to just screening for obesity, will be a shift in thinking for some providers. “The feeling initially was that children would grow out of it, and that has been demonstrated to be false,” said Dr. Ilene Fennoy, who as a professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center works with children and their parents to help them reach a healthier weight. She was not involved with the new draft guidelines.
  • ‘Big Bang Theory’ Actor Kate Micucci, 43, Reveals She Has Lung Cancer but Never Smoked
    Dec 12, 2023
    TODAY Online
    “We don’t really know why that’s happening, but we are seeing the trend,” Dr. Michael Ebright, director of thoracic surgery at Stamford Hospital and clinical associate professor of thoracic surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told last month. "But the incidence of lung cancer in women who are nonsmokers is twice as high as men who are nonsmokers.”
  • Are You an Anxious or Avoidant Dater? Here’s How to Break Those Habits and Level Up
    Dec 5, 2023
    Los Angeles Times
    While it’s commonplace for people to attack avoidants on social media, Amir Levine, co-author of the 2010 book “Attached,” which helped propel attachment theory’s recent rise, says we aren’t stuck being one style over another for the rest of our lives. “There’s only a weak correlation between your attachment style as a child and your attachment style as an adult,” says Levine, a clinical psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Columbia University, adding that during adolescence the brain is still developing and is most malleable.