Redesigning VP&S’s Scientific Research Enterprise: A New Advisory Committee and Vice Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last 200 years, VP&S has been at the forefront of transformative scientific discovery and the creation of new scientific fields. To sustain our leadership, I have asked our department chairs and directors to develop new ways to nurture and promote our research enterprise. How do we engage new voices in these discussions? How do we create a more inclusive and dynamic research operation, one that breaks down silos and brings different groups together to accelerate groundbreaking discoveries? As we build upon our success and address our challenges, our goal is to organize ourselves thoughtfully, create synergy and support among our faculty, and, importantly, ensure that we are building a system that allows the next generation of scientists to thrive.

As a first step in these directions, I am pleased to announce the inaugural members of the VP&S Scientific Research Advisory Committee (SRAC), to be chaired by Filippo Mancia, PhD. Jennifer Williamson, MS, associate vice dean for research, has kindly agreed to work closely with Dr. Mancia and the committee, providing a critical liaison between SRAC and the VP&S Office for Research. The committee will report to me and play a key role in our next steps in developing new models of recruitment, enhancing the competitiveness of our current faculty, redesigning our graduate programs and physician-scientist training, and setting our scientific priorities. Serving for two-year terms, each member will also create an important conduit between our basic science faculty and institutional leadership and decision-making.

2023 VP&S Scientific Research Advisory Committee Members

  • Filippo Mancia, PhD, Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Committee Chair
  • Uttiya Basu, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Henry Colecraft, PhD, John C. Dalton Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  • Donna Farber, PhD, George H. Humphreys II Professor of Surgical Sciences (in Surgery) and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
  • David Fidock, PhD, C.S. Hamish Young Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Professor of Medical Sciences (in Medicine)
  • Laura Johnston, PhD, Professor of Genetics and Development
  • Krzysztof Kiryluk, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine
  • Stavroula Kousteni, PhD, Edward P. Evans Professor of Myelodysplastic Syndromes Research (in Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center)
  • Richard Mann, PhD, Higgins Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Professor of Neuroscience (in Systems Biology and in the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute)
  • Chunhua Weng, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Informatics
  • Ai Yamamoto, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology and Pathology and Cell Biology
  • Lori Zeltser, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology

In its first phase, SRAC will focus on fundamental science at VP&S by reviewing practices for recruiting tenure-track and tenured research faculty members, aligning these recruitments with our scientific priorities, and prioritizing investment to ensure that all of our faculty are placed in an ideal setting to succeed. The committee will also advise on the remarkable opportunity we have to transform graduate biomedical science education and physician-scientist training through the latest Vagelos gift and the Roy and Diana Vagelos Institute for Biomedical Research Education. My thanks to our directors and department chairs for their suggestions and nominations, and the committee members for their willingness to serve in this capacity.

As we take these steps to advance our leadership in fundamental biomedical research, we must also continue improving our ability to support and grow clinical and translational research. There has been tremendous growth in this area of our work over the past decade. For example, between 2013 and 2022, funding for human subjects research increased from $141.7 million to $405.5 million, clinical trial revenue grew from $15.3 million to $59.7 million, and new industry sponsored clinical trials increased from 216 to 360 trials. With these accomplishments and future growth in mind, I am delighted that Muredach Reilly, MD, the current associate dean of clinical and translational research, has agreed to take on an expanded role as vice dean of clinical and translational research for the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

As vice dean, Dr. Reilly will oversee next steps in planning for clinical and translational research, working closely with the VP&S strategic planning effort. His new role will build upon the exceptional success of the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research to advance priorities in clinical and translational research across the school, leveraging and integrating the critical initiatives led by Daichi Shimbo, MD, associate dean of research career development; Andy Lassman, MD, associate dean of clinical research compliance; and Jide Williams, MD, associate dean of community research and engagement. As we strive for greater alignment, this effort will also work closely with Michael Shelanski, MD, PhD, Jennifer Williamson, and the VP&S Office for Research, as well as SRAC, to ensure that we are able to optimize our support for all of our investigators at VP&S. We will be sharing more about these efforts in the months to come.

I look forward to working with you to find more powerful ways for using our available resources in service of science, the discoveries it makes possible, and our shared efforts to cure disease and improve human health.

All my best,

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