CUIMC Update - March 22, 2021

March 22, 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.


Wednesday: Special Town Hall and Grand Rounds 
On March 24 at 5 p.m., a CUIMC-wide grand rounds event will discuss "New Challenges in COVID-19: Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 Variants in NYC," followed by a town hall on "COVID-19: Perils & Prospects." The panelists are Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, MD, PhD, and Magda Sobieszczyk, MD, MPH. Moderated by Donald W. Landry, MD, PhD, with opening remarks from Anil K. Rustgi, MD. Join the event using the link above. 

Medical Students Celebrate Match Day 2021 
On March 19, 154 VP&S students learned where they will start their medical training after graduation and later safely celebrated their residency placements at a physically distanced event. Read more

VP&S Research Group Pivots to Help Community Elders   
When non-essential operations shut down last March, a VP&S research group became a critical lifeline for community elders in Northern Manhattan. Staff at the Washington Heights-Hamilton Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project shifted gears to connect their research participants with everything from grocery delivery and laundry services to COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Read more

What to Do About Self-Care Fatigue 
CopeColumbia’s Lourival Baptista-Neto, MD, vice chair for clinical services in the VP&S Department of Psychiatry, answers questions about overcoming self-care fatigue during unprecedented stress and uncertainty and offers advice on what to do when you're feeling overwhelmed. Read more

Mailman Experts Share Lessons from Our Pandemic Year 
From virus co-morbidities to what the pandemic revealed about the health of our country, Mailman faculty share 10 lessons learned over the past year. Read more

In Severe COVID, Cytokine “Hurricane” in Lung Attracts Damaging Inflammatory Cells, Finds VP&S Study
A real-time VP&S study of immune responses inside the lungs of COVID patients suggests a cytokine “hurricane” in the airways drives severe disease, and an influx of T cells may be critical to survival. Read more.

Scientists Reveal a New Therapeutic Vulnerability in Pancreatic Cancer
Reducing levels of a hormone prevented metastasis and prolonged survival in mice with pancreatic cancer, a VP&S study has found, which could lead to new treatments for patients. Read more.

Increasing Pollen Rates May Affect COVID Infection Rates, Finds Mailman Study
Pollen rates may help explain additional COVID infection rates during the spring when tree allergies become dominant, according to a study co-authored by Mailman researcher Lewis Ziska, PhD, professor of environmental health sciences. Read more.  

Pandemic Parallels 
In honor of Women's History Month, learn about the similarities in how Columbia Nursing's women leaders responded to the 1918 and 2020 pandemics. Read more

Columbia, NAACP Williamsbridge Join Forces to Spread Facts on COVID Vaccine
Kellie Bryant, DNP, assistant professor of nursing and executive director of the Helene Fuld Heath Trust Simulation Center, teamed up with Robert Fullilove, EdD, professor of sociomedical sciences and associate dean for minority affairs at Mailman, to discuss myths and facts about the COVID-19 vaccine with members of the Bronx and Upper Manhattan communities. Read more



Hasan Abaci, PhD, Medicine, will receive $648,000 over three years from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering for “Generating Morphogen Gradients to Engineer Human Integumentary Organoids.”

Brooke Aggarwal, EdD, Medicine, will receive $799,998 over two years from the American Heart Association for “Predictors of Weight Change During the Menopausal Transition Using a Precision Medicine Platform: Defining a Phenotype.”

Ottavio Arancio, MD, PhD, Taub Institute, will receive $299,700 over one year from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for a subaward of “Routes to Enhanced HIV Neuropathogenesis Through Expression of Subclinical Levels of Endogenous Amyloid-Beta” and $1,473,925 over four years from the National Institute on Aging for a subaward of “Preclinical Development of a Novel Small Molecule Inhibitor of Alzheimer's Disease-Related Cognitive Impairment.”


Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, Environmental Health Sciences, will receive $949,566 over five years from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for a subaward of “Air Particulate Pollution and Stress: Effects and Mechanisms for Long-term Maternal Obesity Risks.”



Elizabeth Olson, PhD, Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, is president-elect of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology.   

Vivian Pender, MD, Psychiatry, will become president of the American Psychiatric Association in May.

The ColumbiaDoctors Quality and Patient Safety team has announced the 2020 and 2021 Patient Safety Award winners. The 2021 Rising Star/Unsung Hero Award was awarded to Hilda Plasencia, Radiation Oncology, a quality manager and clinical coordinator. Tess Sky, a certified medical assistant and a certified phlebotomist with Columbia Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Group, received the award for 2020. The award recognizes a patient care team member nominated by their peers. The Leadership/Stewardship Award was awarded to Colleen C. Cullen, PsyD, Psychiatry (2020), and Paula Castaño, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology (2021). The award recognizes a patient care team member for efforts to foster safety-centric behaviors in a manner that reflects the adoption of a just culture.


Gregory Alexander, PhD, RN, Nursing, and Rebecca Schnall, PhD, RN, Nursing and Population & Family Health, have been selected as Sigma Nursing's 2021 International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame Inductees. Read more.

Tonda Hughes was named the 2021 Distinguished Nurse Alumna by the University of Illinois Chicago College of Nursing.


COVID-19 and Vaccine Update Forum, March 23, 4 p.m., register here

Columbia Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health Event: Gender-Affirming Care for Trans-Women and Trans-Femme People, March 23, 7 p.m., register here

School of Nursing General Virtual Information Session, March 24, noon, register here

CUIMC Women Employee Resource Group Roundtable Conversation on Pandemic's Impact on Women in the Workplace, March 24, 2 p.m., register here.

Center for Improving Palliative Care for Vulnerable Adults with Multiple Chronic Conditions Enrichment Seminar with Jean Kutner, MD, MSPH, March 25, noon, register here

Inspirational Women and Moments, March 25, 3 p.m., register here.

Music Bingo: Nursing Student Life's Spring 2021 Events Challenge, March 26, 6 p.m., register here

Interprofessional Education Day Lectures, March 30, 11 a.m., open to the CUIMC community:

  • The Politics of Health Post-COVID and Black Lives Matter with Daniel E. Dawes, JD, register here.
  • Centering Equity with Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH, register here

CUIMC LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group Presents International Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, 1 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

For more events, visit the CUIMC Events listing.