P&S Honors Employees at Annual Awards Ceremony

January 18, 2017


Each year, P&S honors a few select staff members—chosen by a committee from a pool of nominees—for their outstanding contributions in the workplace. Recipients of the 2016 P&S Awards for Excellence, presented at a Jan. 12, 2017, ceremony:

Officer of Administration/Managerial Award—Gladys Bueso, program administrator, Department of Medicine

Ms. Bueso was recognized for her work ethic, organization, and hospitality as administrator of the internal medicine residency—the largest residency program at Columbia. Described by one nominator as “the heartbeat of the program,” Ms. Bueso coordinates intern recruitment, resident appointments, and special events each year. Going beyond her duties, she makes sincere efforts to support the well-being and professional development of the residents by, for example, tracking performance and organizing healthy meals. As one colleague wrote: “She gives her time, her energy, and her heart in a nearly limitless way.”

Officer of Administration/Administrative Professional Award—Marcela Pierce, manager, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pulmonology

Ms. Pierce was honored for her work coordinating studies that focus on inner-city children with asthma. As clinical research manager, she builds strong relationships with study participants and their families, becoming a resource and advocate for them. One nominator observed, “Her deep understanding of the community she serves, coupled with a rich appreciation of the goals of pediatric asthma research, has allowed her to close the cultural divide between community and research staff.” Columbia is a top recruiter for the asthma studies and achieves extremely high participant retention, partly because of Ms. Pierce’s dedication and leadership

Officer of Research Award—Erin Bush, staff associate, Department of Systems Biology

Noted for her technical skill and professionalism, Ms. Bush was honored for her work in the Department of Systems Biology, where her time and expertise are split among three laboratories. At the Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center, her efforts boosted efficiency at the sequencing core facility and enabled the core’s expansion. More recently, she helped develop an RNA-sequencing technology with the Califano and Sims labs that allows researchers to screen drugs for genetic effects at low cost and high throughput. The new technology is a promising tool for disease research and precision medicine and has led to multimillion-dollar federal grants within the department.

SSA Union Member/Clerical Technical Award—Thomas Kolar, senior research worker, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology

A member of the Accili lab in the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, Mr. Kolar was recognized for his laboratory knowledge and collaborative spirit. In addition to maintaining the Accili lab and advising other labs on everything from equipment purchases to protocol approval, Mr. Kolar performs difficult procedures, such as isolating islet cells from the pancreas, and trains graduate students and postdoctoral fellows on specialized techniques. “He has consistently displayed the highest level of professionalism, hard work, and technical acumen,” wrote one nominator; according to another, “He possesses a rare genial personality that makes our laboratory uniquely welcoming and fun.”

Diversity Award—Andrew Marks, MD, chair, Department of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics and the Clyde’56 and Helen Wu Professor of Molecular Cardiology (in Medicine)

From his recruitment practices to mentorship efforts, Dr. Marks strives to support women and underrepresented minorities in science and medicine. His commitment to diversity is exemplified by a program he founded in 2002 called SPURS—Summer Program for Underrepresented Students—which brings about 15 college students to CUIMC every year for an intensive biomedical research experience. The program components include mentorship, research experience, lectures, and presentations. Several exceptional students from SPURS have been recruited to the University’s graduate and professional schools, and the program has enriched and empowered more than 160 students to date.

Community Service Award—CHHMP: Columbia-Harlem Homeless Medical Partnership, P&S student-run clinic

Operating a weekly walk-in clinic out of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, CHHMP provides free basic medical care and health education to the local community, including the homeless and uninsured. The group offers essential services such as physical exams, blood pressure screenings, HIV tests, flu shots, prescriptions, and referrals to social services. Highly regarded by the community, the students and attending physicians of CHHMP foster mutual trust and appreciation with those who seek their help and often develop a nuanced understanding of long-term patients. In addition to providing high-quality, continuous care, CHHMP members learn about the health and social needs of the community and advocate for underserved populations.

P&S has presented the Awards for Excellence since 2008 to employees to recognize exceptional performance and contributions by individuals who contribute to the success of departments, institutes, and laboratories, which translates into success for the entire school.

The event recording may be viewed here.