CUMC Hosts Its Fourth Annual “Project Medical Education”

On July 21, Columbia University Medical Center held its annual Project Medical Education (PME), organized by Ross Frommer, vice president for government and community affairs, and his team. PME, which is coordinated by the Association of American Medical Colleges, brings policy-makers and opinion leaders to medical schools and teaching hospitals to learn about academic medicine. Columbia is the only PME site where the attendees are primarily community residents and neighbors. Twenty-five people participated this year.

Lisa Mellman, MD, senior associate dean for student affairs at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, discussed the medical school curriculum. She told how it differs from traditional curricula and described the Columbia-Bassett Program and projects in the Dominican Republic. Attendees also chatted with three medical students. Postdoctoral residency fellow Elizabeth Godbey gave a histology presentation, complete with slides of intestinal polyps.

At the Mailman School of Public Health, the attendees worked through a public health simulation exercise in which they tried to identify the cause of a disease outbreak. They also toured an environmental health lab with Matthew Perzanowski, PhD.

The last stop before lunch was the New York State Psychiatric Institute lab of Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, MD, where senior postdoctoral fellow Joseph Rayman described how he uses a mouse model to simulate specific aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder like fear and anxiety. Many members of the group had a chance to meet Dr. Kandel. The group also dropped in on Alayar Kangarlu, PhD, head of MRI physics and engineering, who talked about a global, multi-site fMRI study that could someday answer the question, what does normal look like on an MRI scan?

After lunch, Rudina Odeh-Ramadan, PharmD, discussed administrative aspects of clinical research, including the recruitment of study participants. In the lab of Ottavio Arancio, MD, PhD, attendees learned about mouse studies on memory loss.

At the School of Nursing, attendees heard about the school’s new building, on which construction is scheduled to begin later this year. They also observed a simulated C section, with one attendee playing the mother’s partner.

At the College of Dental Medicine, Jeremy Mao, DDS, PhD, discussed the potential use of stem cells to “grow” new teeth and craniofacial bone. James Fine, DDS, talked about implantology, and several attendees drilled implants into a simulated jaw

In addition to local residents and community leaders, attendees included New York State Sen. Kemp Hannon, chair of the Senate’s Health Committee. New York State Assembly Member Herman “Denny” Farrell and New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez attended part of the day.