CUMC Celebrates: March–April 2014

April 30, 2014

CUMC CELEBRATES acknowledges faculty, staff, and students at Columbia University Medical Center who receive major research grants, who earn prestigious honors, who are elected to honorary societies, or who take leadership positions in professional organizations.


Celebrates also gratefully acknowledges the gifts made by donors and friends of the Medical Center and highlights faculty who have appeared in the news recently. If you have an award or honor that you would like to have listed in Celebrates, please fill out this online form. Please note: all federal grants are automatically included based on institutional data provided by Sponsored Projects Administration. For more information, send an e-mail to the Celebrates editor. Click on the image at right to print this issue.

Research Grants / Awards & Honors / Philanthropic Gifts / CUMC in the News



John Bilezikian, MD, Medicine, received $2,881,130 over five years from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for “Primary Hyperparathyroidism.”

Allegra Broft, MD, Psychiatry, received $462,802 over two years from the National Institute of Mental Health for “Impact of Negative Affect on Neural Circuitry in Bulimia Nervosa: An fMRI Study.”

Robert Brown Jr, MD, Surgery, received $385,805 over one year from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for “Sorafenib for Hepatopulmonary Syndrome.”

Henry Colecraft, PhD, Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, received $1,216,000 over four years from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for “Small G-protein Regulation of Calcium Channels.”

Marco Di Tullio, MD, Medicine, received $2,988,707 over five years from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for “Prevalence and Predictors of Asymptomatic Atrial Fibrillation in the Community.”

Noémie Elhadad, PhD, Biomedical Informatics, and Chris Wiggins, PhD, Applied Mathematics, received $1,994,224 over four years from the National Science Foundation for “SCH:INT: Large-Scale Probabilistic Phenotyping Applied to Patient Record Summarization.”

Stephen Goff, PhD, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, received $899,035 over five years from the National Cancer Institute in a competitive renewal for “Construction and Analysis of Retrovirus Mutants.”

Marla Hamberger, PhD, Neurology, received $1,875,980 over five years from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for “Assessment and Characterization of Naming in Older Adults with Epilepsy.”

Eric Kandel, MD, Richard Axel, MD, Thomas Jessell, PhD, and Laurence Abbott, PhD, all of Neuroscience, received $1,070,000 over two years from the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation for “Random Circuits and Representations within Structured Brain and Spinal Cord Regions Support Flexible Behaviors.”

Lawrence Kegeles, MD, Psychiatry, and Ragy Girgis, MD, Psychiatry, received $454,617 over two years from the National Institute of Mental Health for “Neurochemical and Clinical Effects of Glutamate Modulation in Schizophrenia.”

Liang Liu, PhD, Dermatology, received $581,850 over five years from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases for “Epigenetic Control of Target Gene Activity by hairless in Skin Homeostasis.”

Attila Losonczy, MD, PhD, Neuroscience, received $1,979,301 over five years from the National Institute of Mental Health for “Hippocampal Inhibitory Control of Contextual Fear Learning.”

Eleanor Murphy, PhD, Psychiatry, received $719,298 over three years from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities for “Influences on the Familiality of Major Depression among African-Americans.”

Nasir Naqvi, MD, PhD, Psychiatry, received $930,960 over five years from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for “The Role of Neural Systems for Emotion Regulation in Coping with Alcohol Craving.”

Livio Pellizzoni, PhD, Pathology & Cell Biology, received $640,000 over two years from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for “Small Chemical Modulators of SMN Biology as Candidate Therapeutics for SMA.”

Catarina Maria Quinzii, MD, Neurology, received $253,800 over three years from the Muscular Dystrophy Association for “Investigating the Pathogenesis of Encephaloneuromyopathy due to RMND1 Mutations.”

Judith Rabkin, PhD, Psychiatry, received $1,984,111 over four years from the National Institute of Mental Health for “Return to Work RCT: Counseling After Fatigue Treatment in HIV/AIDS.”

Carol Troy, MD, PhD, Pathology & Cell Biology, received $400,000 over two years from Novo Nordisk A/S for “A Novel Therapeutic for Diabetic Macular Edema.”

Shan Zha, MD, PhD, Institute for Cancer Genetics, received $315,000 over one year from the Irma T. Hirschl Trust for “Target ATM Mutation for Cancer Therapy.”

Xin Zhang, PhD, Ophthalmology, received $625,000 over four years from Research to Prevent Blindness for the “Jules and Doris Stein RPB Professorship.”


Lynn Freedman, JD, MPH, Population & Family Health, and Marta Schaaf, MPH, Population & Family Health, received $500,000 over two years from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for “Accountability at the Frontlines.”

Diana Hernandez, PhD, Sociomedical Sciences; Xinhua Liu, PhD, Biostatistics; and Matthew Perzanowski, PhD, Environmental Health Sciences; and Stephen Chillrud, PhD, Earth & Environmental Sciences, received $440,000 over two years from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for “Assessing the Impact of Clean Heat Policy Intervention in New York City.”

W. Ian Lipkin, MD, Center for Infection & Immunity, received $31,067,789 over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for “Center for Research in Diagnostics and Discovery - Administrative Core,” and $250,000 over two years from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for “Pathogen Surveillance in NYC Rodents.”

Miriam Rabkin, MD, MPH, ICAP, received $1,924,539 over three years from the U.S. Agency for International Development for “Healthcare Management and Administration (HMA) Education Twinning in Mozambique.”



Robert Tauber, DDS,was honored for his 25 years of active fellowship in the American College of Dentists, New York Section, at its annual banquet in January.

Kelly Walk, DDS, a 2013 graduate of the Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program, is a recipient of the Richard C. Pugh Achievement Award from the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Walk's score on the board’s qualifying examination was in the top 3 percent of all candidates completing the exam in May 2013.


The American Society of Journalists and Authors named You and Your Anxious Child by Anne Marie Albano, PhD, Psychiatry, and Leslie Pepper as the 2014 Outstanding Book in the service or self-help category.

The Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center Society of Practitioners presented its Practitioner of the Year awards to Spencer Amory, MD, Surgery, and David Markowitz, MD, Medicine.

Fernando Arias-Mendoza, MD, PhD, Radiology, received the 2014 Herbert M. Stauffer Award for Best Basic Science Paper from the Association of University Radiologists for his paper, "Noninvasive Phosphorus Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging Predicts Outcome to First-line Chemotherapy in Newly Diagnosed Patients with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma,” published in 2013 in Academic Radiology.

Every year since 2008, the Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Scholar Program has selected four young P&S physician-scientists to conduct translational research. The 2014 Gerstner Scholars are

Randy Bruno, PhD, Neuroscience, and Alla Grishok, PhD, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, have been named 2014 Schaefer Research Scholars. The Schaefer Research Scholars Program supports P&S scientists who focus on human physiology. The program also supports three visiting professors this year:

  • Alain Lacampagne, PhD, CNRS Research Director, INSERM, Montpellier, France (Physiology & Cellular Biophysics)
  • Beatrice Vallone, PhD,professor of biochemistry, University of Rome (Physiology & Cellular Biophysics)
  • and Iveta Yotova, PhD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Medical University of Vienna (Institute for Cancer Genetics)

Louis Z. Cooper, MD, Pediatrics, received a Special Achievement Award from the Measles and Rubella Initiative of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Cooper was recognized for his work on rubella and congenital rubella syndrome that led to elimination of the disease in the United States.

Mitchell Elkind, MD, Neurology, was elected to the National Board of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Anthony W. Ferrante Jr, MD, PhD, Medicine, was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation and was selected to give a new member lecture at the ASCI/AAP Annual Meeting in April 2014.

The Sarcoma Foundation of America will present Tomoaki Kato, MD with the 2014 Nobility in Science Award at the foundation’s annual gala in May. The award honors an individual who has made outstanding advancements in the areas of sarcoma research and treatment.

Marianne Legato, MD, Medicine [emeritus], received a 2014 Civic Spirit Award from the Women’s City Club of New York for her commitment to ending gender prejudice in women’s health care.

Mathew S. Maurer, MD, Medicine, was appointed chair of the Geriatric Cardiology Section of the American College of Cardiology, which has more than 2,100 members committed to advancing cardiovascular care for older adults.

P&S student Jessica Means’17 won the inaugural Linda Brodsky MD Essay Award from the American Medical Women's Association. She will receive her award at the association’s next annual meeting.

Shanta Modak, PhD, Surgery, was inducted as a fellow of National Academy of Inventors.

Edward Nickoloff, DSc, Radiology, will receive the Edith Quimby Award for lifetime achievement from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine at the association’s annual meeting in July.  Only 31 scientists have received the award in the history of the organization, and Dr. Nickoloff is the first from Columbia. The award is named for the late Dr. Edith Quimby of Columbia’s Center for Radiological Research.

Christiane Reitz, MD, PhD, Neurology, received the Columbia Psychiatric-Neurological Epidemiology Early Career Award, given in recognition of excellence to an early career investigator in neurological epidemiology.

Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, DO, Medicine, was named Commissioner of Health of Rockland County.

The American Society for Nutrition presented David S. Seres, MD, with the 2014 Excellence in Nutrition Education Award for outstanding contributions to teaching nutrition. The award was presented during the society’s annual meeting in April.

Nicholas Tatonetti, PhD, Biomedical Informatics, recently received a PhRMA Foundation Early Career Award, which provides support to individuals beginning independent research careers in academia.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness presented Stephen Tsang, MD, PhD, Ophthalmology, with a Visionary Award during its gala in April. Dr. Tsang was honored for his internationally recognized contributions to retinitis pigmentosa research and his advances in gene therapy that have led to clinical trials for RP patients.

Timothy C. Wang, MD, was elected vice president of the American Gastroenterology Association (AGA) and starts his term in May. He will serve as president-elect in 2015 and president in 2016. The AGA is the largest and most prestigious organization of gastroenterology in the United States.

The American Physical Therapy Association presented Christopher Kevin Wong, PT, PhD, Physical Therapy, with the 2014 Distinguished Educator Award. The award is given to recognize excellence in teaching as evidenced by publications, development of new teaching materials, and innovative teaching methodologies.


The LAI Foundation selected Robert Fullilove, EdD, Sociomedical Sciences, to receive its 2014 Life Changes Award. Dr. Fullilove will be honored at the Foundation's annual gala for his work as a community leader and activist in field of HIV/AIDS.

Joseph Graziano, PhD, Environmental Health Sciences, was selected to give the 2014 Robert S. Harris Lecture. The Harris lecture was established by the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences in 1988 and celebrates pioneers in the area of nutrition, biochemistry, and toxicology.

Norman Kleiman, PhD, Environmental Health Sciences, received a 2013 Outstanding Clinical Research Paper award from the Journal of Vascular and InterventionalRadiology for his paper, “Radiation-associated Lens Opacities in Catheterization Personnel: Results of a Survey and Direct Assessments.” The award acknowledges best-in-class research that is conducted in interventional radiology and published in the journal.

Villanova University has named W. Ian Lipkin, MD, Center for Infection & Immunity, as the recipient of its 2014 Mendel Medal, in recognition of his groundbreaking work in the development of genetic methods for microbial surveillance and discovery, as well as his research into infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and West Nile Virus.

Roger Vaughan, DrPH, Biostatistics, was elected a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine for his achievements and leadership in science and research. Fellows of the Academy are chosen for their dedication to improving the health of the public.


Several faculty and students received awards for their research at the annual scientific meeting of the Eastern Nursing Research Society in April:

  • Rebecca Schnall, PhD, RN, received the Rising Star Award for her body of work on the use of mobile technology and electronic health records to improve care for patients with HIV.
  • PhD student Catherine Cohen, RN, BSN, won 2nd place in the PhD poster competition for her paper, “State focus on health care-associated infection prevention in nursing homes.” Co-authors were doctoral students Carolyn Hertzig, MS, and Eileen Carter, RN, and faculty members Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz, PhD, MPH; Elaine Larson, PhD, RN; and Patricia Stone, PhD, RN.


(February 14 – April 4)


A couple made a gift of $2,500,000 to support a professorship at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

An anonymous donor made a $2,500,000 commitment to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to endow a professorship in women’s health.

A family foundation made a contribution of $875,000 toward a $10,500,000 commitment to the Nurture Science Program to support the Brain-Gut Research Initiative.

A contribution of $600,000 was made to complete a $1,200,000 commitment to advance alopecia areata research in the Department of Dermatology.

A private foundation made a contribution of $500,000 to complete a $6,000,000 commitment to advance research at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain.

A private foundation made a commitment of $500,000 to provide scholarship support to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

A donor made a contribution of $400,000 toward a $2,000,000 commitment to support a professorship in women’s cancer research.

A donor made a gift of $275,000 to the Department of Medicine to support junior faculty in the Division of Cardiology.

A donor made a $250,000 commitment to the Department of Psychiatry to advance research on obsessive-compulsive disorder at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders.

A family foundation made a contribution of $200,000 to the Department of Ophthalmology toward a professorship in pediatric ophthalmology.

A donor made a $200,000 contribution to the Department of Medicine to provide fellowship support to the Division of Cardiology.

A donor made a $200,000 commitment to the Department of Medicine to advance research on autoimmune diseases and type 1 diabetes.

A donor made a $200,000 commitment to the Department of Psychiatry to support faculty recruitment and advance research in the Division of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry.

A family foundation made a $100,000 contribution to complete a $300,000 commitment to provide fellowship support to the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.

A corporation made a $100,000 contribution to the Department of Surgery to advance research in plastic, craniofacial, and reconstructive surgery.


A family foundation made a gift of $250,000 in support of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health.

A donor made a gift of $100,000 to support research work in Taiyuan, China, conducted by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health.


February-April 2014

CNN Health 5 studies you may have missed -April 11 Scientists have uncovered how cells that lie under the surface of your skin allow you to perceive details and textures. These cells are called Merkel cells. “These experiments are the first direct proof that Merkel cells can encode touch into neural signals that transmit information to the brain about the objects in the world around us,” researcher Ellen Lumpkin said.

Huffington Post Investing in the Science of Public Health - March 24 Dean Linda P. Fried: "When we think of science for health, we think first -- and invest mostly -- in curing diseases once they have occurred... However, the greatest return on investment often comes from the science of preventing the disease in the first place."

TIME Improve Your Decision-Making Skills By Doing This -March 12 It’s all about giving our attention enough time to sort out the relevant information from the distractors, says one of the study’s co-authors, Vincent Ferrera, an associate professor of neuroscience at Columbia University Medical Center. “The little extra time to sort out the irrelevant information makes the decision-making more efficient,” he says.

BBC News Fear suppressing neurons found -February 20 Attila Losonczy, from Columbia University in New York and colleagues, were interested in how the hippocampus stores memories of a particular context and then separates this memory from a fearful event. When looking at individual neurons in the brains of mice, they found inhibitory cells – called interneurons – were crucial for fear memory formation to travel to the correct part of the brain.

Associated Press More talking to babies helps their brains -February 14 Brain scans support the link, said Dr. Kimberly Noble of Columbia University Medical Center. Early experiences shape the connections that children’s brains form, and kids from higher socio-economic backgrounds devote more “neural real estate” to brain regions involved in language development, she found.

Medical News Clinicians often fail to follow evidence-based polices to prevent infections-February 7 A team led by Patricia Stone, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, Centennial Professor of Health Policy at Columbia Nursing, investigated compliance with evidence-based policies to prevent infection in 1,653 ICUs at 975 hospitals nationwide.

The New Yorker Thank You For Vaping - April 9 In this video interview on e-cigarettes, Amy Fairchild, PhD, says that whatever side of the debate you are on, the known risks of smoking far outweigh the unknown risks of e-cigarettes.

See more headlines in the CUMC Newsroom.

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