CUIMC Update - May 24, 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.


CUIMC Commencement 2021
The pandemic touched all CUIMC students who graduated this spring. Members of the Class of 2021 reflect on their experiences, celebrate their achievements, and share highlights of their time at CUIMC. Read more

In addition, the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, which launched two years ago at VP&S, graduated its first students. Read more

This year also marks the 100-year anniversary of the first women to earn a Columbia MD. Read more

In Case You Missed It: CUIMC Town Hall
Last week’s town hall for CUIMC faculty and staff provided an update on critical issues regarding the on-campus work environment looking ahead to summer and fall. View recording.

VP&S Cancer Researchers Win Pershing Square Sohn Prize 
VP&S researchers Christine Iok In Chio, PhD, and Xuebing Wu, PhD, received 2021 Pershing Square Sohn Prizes for their innovative approaches to cancer research. Read more

Thank You, CUIMC Employees: Your Vaccination Stories Inspire New Yorkers
More than a dozen CUIMC employees shared their reasons for COVID-19 vaccination as part of the Roll Up Your Sleeves NY COVID-19 public education campaign spearheaded by the New York State Vaccine Equity Task Force. Read more and watch the PSAs.

Project PossABILITY Offers Job Opportunities for Those with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
A new hiring initiative aims to make CUIMC more disability inclusive by matching individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with employers at CUIMC. Read more.

Students Reflect on Lessons, Memories of Volunteering at Armory Vaccination Site
Through the COVID-19 Student Service Corps, more than 400 student volunteers from CUIMC’s four schools volunteered at the Armory vaccination site in Washington Heights. With the site scheduled to wind down operations this month, the students shared their experiences at one of New York City’s largest COVID-19 vaccination sites. Read more.

VP&S Researchers Find Different Physical Activity ‘Cocktails’ Have Similar Health Benefits
A new VP&S study describes multiple ways to combine light activity and exercise to achieve the same health benefits. Read more

Columbia Nurses Share Art in the Time of Crisis
As part of a year-long initiative, Columbia Nursing invited students, faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni to submit narrative writing, poetry, painting, photography, music, or dance to portray their feelings about the dual crises that have roiled the country during the past year: the pandemic and the racial justice reckoning. Their creative endeavors are featured in the cover story of the newest issue of the School of Nursing’s magazine. Read more and view the full issue

Study Suggests Convalescent Plasma May Improve Survival
A randomized clinical trial by Mailman and VP&S researchers examined convalescent plasma for adults hospitalized with COVID-19 and found that mortality at 28 days in the treatment arm was half the rate seen in the control arm. Read more



Munemasa Mori, MD, PhD, Medicine, will receive $1,943,953 over three years from the Department of the Army for “A Novel Bioengineering Approach for Generation of Functional Lungs in Swine.”

Megan Sykes, MD, and Robert Hawley, PhD, Medicine, will receive $2,198,719 over three years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for “Characterizing and Improving Humanized Immune System Mouse Models (IMM-HIS).”

Giuseppe Tosto, MD, PhD, Sergievsky Center, will receive $1,070,706 over one year from the National Institute on Aging for “Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors in Mestizos and Indigenous Populations of Peru: The Role of Native Component in Alzheimer's Disease.”

Daniel Tsze, MD, Emergency Medicine, will receive $6,710,412 over five years from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for “Headache Assessment of Children for Emergent Intracranial Abnormalities.”

Systems Biology will receive $3,829,859 over five years from the National Institute of Mental Health for “Discovery and Analysis of Brain Circuits and Cell Types Affected in Autism and Schizophrenia.” The project will be led by Dennis Vitkup, PhD, and Joseph Gogos, MD, PhD.

Clarissa Waites, PhD, Pathology & Cell Biology, will receive $2,325,462 over four years from the National Institute on Aging for “Uncovering Stress-Induced Mechanisms of Tau Pathology in Alzheimer's Disease.”

Melodie Winawer, MD, Sergievsky Center, will receive $3,242,498 over five years from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for “Somatic Mutation in Intractable Focal Epilepsy.”

Kelley Yan, MD, PhD, Medicine, will receive $2,430,000 over five years from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for “Directing Cell Fate Along the Intestinal Enteroendocrine Lineage,” and $2,158,229 over five years from the National Institute on Aging for “Intestinal Stem Cell Function During Aging and Tumor Initiation.”



Richard Carvajal, MD, has been invited to speak at Cancercare's Emerging Treatments for Metastatic Melanoma Education Workshop. The program will cover new treatment approaches and research updates in metastatic melanoma.

Yoko Furuya, MD, Medicine, is featured on GMA’s Inspiration List of Who’s Making AAPI History in 2021.

Jennifer Manly, PhD, Neurology and the Taub Institute, spoke to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging in a virtual hearing about “Taking Aim at Alzheimer’s: Frontline Perspectives and Caregiver Challenges.”

Jacob Stevens, MD, Medicine, won a Kidney Innovation Accelerator (KidneyX) COVID-19 Kidney Care Challenge prize for his submission on “Dashboards to Facilitate COVID-19 Disaster Response.” KidneyX is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Society of Nephrology.


James Phillips, PhD, Population & Family Health, has been awarded the Robert J. Lapham Award of the Population Association of America.


Billy Caceres, PhD, RN, was appointed to the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing's Strategic Planning Workgroup at the American Heart Association and was also appointed to the American Heart Association's Presidential Task Force on Structural Racism.


AAPI Employee Resource Group Presents: Stop API Hate: Discussion on Mental Health, Self-Love, Solidarity and Diversity, May 24, 2:30 p.m., register here

The Virginia Kneeland Frantz Society's Lecture Series: “Promoting Equity for Women in Academic Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach,” May 25, 4:30 p.m., register here.

School of Nursing General Q&A Virtual Information Session, May 26, 3 p.m., register here

The 2021 Samuel Rudin Distinguished Visiting Professorship Lecture: “How Immune Cells Wire and Unwire the Brain,” May 26, 4:30 p.m., register here

Cope Columbia & CUIMC HR Present: Bold Conversations for Healing & Reshaping Our Medical Center Community, May 27, noon, register here.

CUIMC’s African, Black & Caribbean, Asian Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Groups Present: June Workshops

  • Empowerment Self-Defense Workshop, June 1, 4 p.m., register here.
  • Upstander & Allyship Workshop, June 16, 2 p.m., register here

Designing Anti-Racist Case Studies: A Two-Part Workshop Series, June 2 and 16, 8:30-11:30 a.m., register here

LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group Presents: Drag Queen Bingo, June 8, 4 p.m., register here

Research Ethics and Compliance Film Discussion, "Miss Evers' Boys," June 9, 2 p.m., register here

ICAP Grand Rounds Webinar: Addressing Cancer in LMICs – Progress and Plans at the US National Cancer Institute, June 29, 9 a.m., register here

For more events, visit the CUIMC Events listing.