Leadership Transitions in the Department of Anesthesiology

Dear Colleagues:

After eight years of exceptional leadership, Ansgar Brambrink, MD, PhD, has asked us to begin the search for his successor as he steps down from his roles as Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at VP&S and Anesthesiologist-in-Chief of NewYork-Presbyterian/CUIMC. Lena Sun, MD, also will leave her roles as Vice Chair of the Department and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Anesthesia. We deeply appreciate their leadership, dedication to our mission, and many contributions to the department.

Since 2016, Dr. Brambrink has led the Department of Anesthesiology through a period of expansion, cementing the national and international standing of the department and its faculty. Under Dr. Brambrink’s leadership, the department expanded its clinical operations in all subspecialties, providing care to our patients across services. An NIH-funded researcher, Dr. Brambrink also supported the prolific research scholarship of the department. During his tenure, federal research funding in the department increased. He recruited nationally recognized faculty members and division chiefs to the department, including Vidal Melo, MD, PhD, chief of the cardiac anesthesia division, and Paul Garcia, MD, PhD, chief of the neuroanesthesia division. Throughout his tenure, Dr. Brambrink demonstrated his commitment to mentoring junior faculty and trainees and to the department’s education initiatives. He supported and encouraged wellness initiatives with a positive impact on the learning environment.

The Department of Anesthesiology was an integral part of the medical center’s response to Covid-19. Through concerted efforts with CUIMC and NYP and under Dr. Brambrink’s leadership, the operating rooms were converted to an intensive care unit with a 70-bed capacity. Through their dedication, service, and leadership, members of the department established guidelines for safe and compassionate care that helped inform the national response to the pandemic.

Dr. Sun has served as Vice Chair since 2003 and has led the pediatric anesthesia division for 24 years. The division provides clinical services for all major pediatric surgical specialties and training in pediatric anesthesia at both the resident and fellow level, with active programs in both basic and clinical research. Under Dr. Sun's leadership, pediatric case volume has increased from 5,000 cases a year to more than 11,000 in 2023. She obtained ACGME accreditation for the pediatric anesthesiology fellowship, which now has six fellows, and developed the pediatric cardiac anesthesiology fellowship. Dr. Sun is the PI of the multi-site Pediatric Anesthesia & NeuroDevelopment Assessment (PANDA) study.

As we look to the future of the department, we are pleased to share that Tricia Brentjens, MD, current Vice Chair of Adult Anesthesia, has agreed to serve as interim Chair. Dr. Brentjens has been a member of the department for more than 25 years and has held several departmental leadership positions. She is a recognized national leader in transplant anesthesiology and critical care medicine. Dr. Brentjens built and directs the liver transplant anesthesiology program, which contributes to Columbia’s national prominence in liver transplantation. She has been a pillar in developing and promoting a culture of patient safety in the perioperative period. She also has served as medical director of the post-anesthesia care unit and as associate director of the Quality Assurance Committee. In those roles she helped establish clinical practice guidelines that serve our commitment to patient safety and outcomes. We look forward to working with Dr. Brentjens in her new role as interim Chair. We are also pleased to share that Robert Kazim, MD, has agreed to serve as the interim Chief of the Division of Pediatric Anesthesia.

Drs. Brambrink and Sun will remain on the faculty and continue their important clinical, educational, and mentoring efforts in the department. We look forward to building on their successes as we move forward with a national search for these important leadership roles. We thank Sander Connolly, MD, Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, for agreeing to chair the search committee.

Please join us in thanking Drs. Brambrink and Sun for their leadership and in welcoming Dr. Brentjens and Dr. Kazim to their interim leadership roles.


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

Steven J. Corwin, MD
President and Chief Executive Officer, NewYork-Presbyterian