CUIMC Update - Oct. 11, 2021

October 11, 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.


Ali Mencin Appointed Director of Pediatric Gastroenterology at VP&S
Ali Mencin, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist and clinical researcher, was appointed director of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics at VP&S. Read more

Breast Cancer: Where We Are and What’s to Come
Overall survival for breast cancer has improved by about 40% since the 1980s. In a Q&A, Columbia oncologist Katherine Crew, MD, associate professor of medicine, discusses how precision medicine and new screening tests may lead to even better outcomes in the future. Read more

Chief Human Resources Officer to Retire 
William “Bill” Innes, chief human resources officer for CUIMC since 2012, has announced plans to retire at the end of December, but he will remain at the medical center into the new year to ensure a smooth transition in human resources leadership. Innes, who worked at the medical center early in his career, returned to CUIMC in 2008 as VP&S director of human resources, then associate vice dean. He has held dual roles in VP&S and CUIMC HR leadership for the past nine years. Among his accomplishments: management of focus groups, the launch of multiple diversity initiatives, the design and oversight of VP&S faculty compensation programs, and helping to manage HR through the pandemic.

Q&A with VP&S Pediatric Pulmonologist: Are Kids at Greater Risk of an Asthma Attack This Year?
Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics who will become chief of pediatric pulmonology at VP&S next year, describes why this fall could be more dangerous for kids with asthma. Read more

Sheneque’s Story: Diagnosed with Cervical Cancer as a Teen, Now a Cancer Thriver
Just 17 when diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer, Sheneque Hanse is now in remission after treatment at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center overseen by Alexander Melamed, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology. Sheneque is now 20 and a college student in Connecticut, and her experience at CUIMC has fueled an interest in pursuing a career in health care. Read more

VP&S Research: High Burden of COVID Deaths Among Kidney Failure, Kidney Transplant Patients
Kidney transplant recipients and those waiting for a transplant faced a high risk of dying from COVID, with patients from racial and ethnic minorities at greater risk, according to a nationwide study led by Sumit Mohan, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at VP&S and of epidemiology at Mailman. Read more

ICYMI: CopeColumbia Webinars
Earlier this month, CopeColumbia hosted a workshop for faculty and staff in leadership and managerial roles on “Challenging Times Call for Challenging Conversations: Supporting Healthcare Leaders and Managers in Navigating Return to Onsite Work” (view recording) and a workshop on "Bold Conversations: Workplace Racism in the Era of COVID-19" (view recording).

NIH Grant to Mailman and Teachers College Opens Door for Research on Preventing Gun Violence in Schools
A multimillion dollar National Institute of Child Health and Development grant will enable Mailman and Teachers College researchers to identify the impact of over two dozen safety tactics and policies on gun violence in more than 600 K-12 public schools across the United States. Read more.

Mailman Research: Recreational Cannabis Legalization Leads to Higher Use in Some Demographics
A study conducted by Mailman researchers found that along with an overall increase in cannabis use following state-level legalization for recreational use, the passage of laws led to a rise in the odds of past-year and past-month cannabis use among individuals of specific groups, including Hispanic individuals and non-Hispanic whites while no changes were found among non-Hispanic Blacks. Read more

CUIMC Students Conduct Global Health Research Despite Pandemic
At a poster session organized by the Program for Education in Global and Population Health, 29 students at CUIMC, including seven Varmus Global Scholars, shared their global health research projects carried out during the summer of 2021. Their work, mostly conducted remotely this year, delves into infectious diseases, health systems and governance, and bioethics, among many other topics. Read more



Domenico Accili, MD, Medicine, will receive $2,250,000 over three years from the JPB Foundation for “Causes and Treatment of Cell Dedifferentiation in Diabetes.”

Ottavio Arancio, MD, PhD, Taub Institute, will receive $787,572 over three years from the Department of the Army for “Role of Amyloid Precursor Protein in Alzheimer's Disease-Related Impairment of Synaptic Function and Memory Induced by Abnormal Tau Following TBI.”

Keith Diaz, PhD, Medicine, will receive $2,568,682 over four years from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for “Evaluating Standing as a Health Behavior to Promote Cardiovascular Risk Reduction in African Americans” and $3,722,005 over five years for “Breaking up Prolonged Sedentary Behavior to Improve Cardiometabolic Health: An Adaptive Dose-Finding Study.”


Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, Environmental Health Sciences, will receive $7,398,756 over eight years from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for “Extracellular vesicles in Environmental Epidemiology Studies of Aging.”



Michelle Bell, MD, Neurology, has been chosen as the 2021 recipient of the Richard Mayeux Award.

Maribel Cruz, Sofia Diaz, and Rebeca Aragon Garcia have been awarded the Professionalism, Respect, Initiative, Dedication and Excellence (PRIDE) Award from the Department of Neurology. 

Hilda Hutcherson, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, will be inducted into Stanford University’s Multicultural Alumni Hall of Fame later this month. Read more.


CUIMC Town Hall: CTSA Hub/Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Oct. 12, 11 a.m., register here.

Person Place Thing, hosted by Randy Cohen with guest Dr. Linda P. Fried, Dean of Mailman School of Public Health, Oct. 12, noon, register here.

CUIMC HR LGBT History Month events:

  • LGBTQ+ Guide Celebration Panel, Oct. 13, 2 p.m., register here.
  • CUIMC LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group Prepares for International Pronouns Day 2021, Oct. 19, 3 p.m., register here
  • CU Benefits Office Hosts a Gender-Affirming Care Forum, Oct. 20, 1 p.m., register here.
  • Keynote Speaker on Rethinking Transnational LGBTI Movement-Making, Oct. 26, 1 p.m., register here.

A Conversation on Health Equity and Inclusion, Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m., register here.

School of Nursing, “Communication in Palliative Care: Serious Illness Discussions,” Oct. 14, noon, register here

COVID-19 Update: What Pediatricians & Families Should Know Now to Keep Kids Healthy, Oct. 20, 6 p.m., register here

Monthly Cardiovascular Forum, “Failure to Rescue: A Quality Metric Whose Time has Come,” Oct. 25, 7 a.m., register here.

For more events, visit the CUIMC Events listing.