Leadership Transition in VP&S Office of Admissions

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to inform you of two important education leadership transitions at VP&S. Drs. Anne Armstrong-Coben, MD’89, and Donald Quest, MD’70, have announced they will step down from their respective roles as Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Assistant Dean for Admissions at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. A search committee co-chaired by Cary Aarons, MD, and Marina Catallozzi, MD, will conduct a search for the next Associate Dean for Admissions in the coming months. In the meantime, we want to take this opportunity to express our immense gratitude for Drs. Armstrong-Coben and Quest, whose decades of combined service have helped secure our college’s standing at the forefront of medical education.

Dr. Armstrong-Coben has been a member of our community for more than 30 years. She hails from the VP&S Class of 1989 and completed her residency in pediatrics at Columbia before joining the faculty in 1992. Before taking on administrative roles, she practiced primary care pediatrics in Washington Heights in the hospital’s ambulatory care network. There she developed programming for children in the foster care system as well as for those experiencing homelessness. Her work in community pediatrics and service-learning received national recognition, including the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Hope for Children Foundation and the Humanism in Medicine Award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. She is a member of the CUIMC Academy of Community and Public Service and the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators at VP&S.

Dr. Armstrong-Coben became Senior Associate Dean for Admissions in 2019, having previously served as a member of the admissions committee and as both assistant and interim dean for admissions. During her tenure, she was instrumental in selecting the exceptional Classes of 2023-28 and in creating a forward-looking admissions committee. The VP&S student body has enjoyed increasing diversity across all spectrums, bolstering enrollment and inclusivity for first-generation and low-income students. We are pleased to know that Anne will continue working closely with VP&S students in her ongoing role as an advisory dean.

Dr. Quest has enjoyed an equally storied tenure at VP&S. He was awarded his medical degree at VP&S in 1970. After completing his residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Neurological Institute of New York, he served as an assistant professor of neurological surgery at the Downstate Medical Center of the State University of New York. He joined the Department of Neurological Surgery at VP&S in 1978 and rose to become the J. Lawrence Pool Professor of Neurosurgery. Dr. Quest has served as vice chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery as well as acting chair and has led numerous national academic neurosurgery organizations. In addition to his work in the Office of Admissions, he served for nearly 20 years as an advisory dean in the Office of Student Affairs, not only impacting who is admitted to VP&S, but stewarding their successful trajectory once enrolled. We are glad that Don will continue his work in the Department of Neurological Surgery after stepping down from his post as assistant dean.

We look forward to sharing more about the search committee’s progress with you soon. For now, please join us in thanking Anne and Don for their outstanding service. They have worked tirelessly—especially over the past five years—to recruit well-rounded students who embody our shared commitment to science, medicine, leadership, community, and humanism. Applying and matriculating to medical school is an incredible milestone for any student. We owe Anne and Don our thanks for stewarding their experience and ensuring VP&S remains best in class.


Katrina Armstrong, MD
Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, Columbia University

Monica Lypson, MD
Vice Dean for Education, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Rolf H. Scholdager Professor of Medicine