VP&S Honors Seven Employees with Martha A. Hooven Awards for Excellence

At a virtual ceremony on Jan. 22, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) honored seven employees with Martha A. Hooven Awards for Excellence for their contributions to the medical school’s workplace and community. The awards were initiated in 2008 and renamed in 2019 to recognize the late Martha A. Hooven, who served as vice dean of administration at VP&S for 11 years. More than 72 nominations were received for the 2020 Awards for Excellence. Read on for more information about each honoree. 

Regine Grandmougin

Vincent C. Santana Officer of Administration/Managerial Award: Regine Grandmougin, Senior Executive Director, Patient Facilitated Services and Stewardship, VP&S Office of Development

Regine Grandmougin oversees the VP&S Office of Development’s Patient Facilitated Services program and leads stewardship efforts. One nominator wrote that she “has shined in both of her roles, developing and strengthening relationships with donors, patients, colleagues, and other key partners.” During the pandemic, she helped to manage donations of PPE, food, and other supplies for health care workers. 

Wei Jia Wang

Officer of Administration/Administrative Professional Award: Wei Jia Wang, Grants Manager, Columbia Center for Translational Immunology, Department of Medicine 

Wei Jia Wang is a valued member of the research administration team at the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology (CCTI), a division of the Department of Medicine. Nominators noted her exceptional efforts during the pandemic. "Ms. Wang maintained an extraordinarily high volume of work output, submitting multiple grants and supplements on short notice in order to support a number of new COVID-19 initiatives in the CCTI, while also maintaining the many new and ongoing non-COVID grants requiring her support,” one wrote.

Christopher Damoci

Officer of Research Award: Christopher Damoci, Senior Staff Associate, Oncology Precision Therapeutics and Imaging Core, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center

Christopher Damoci was commended by colleagues for his tremendous work to expand the scope of the Oncology Precision Therapeutics and Imaging Core, contributing to its status as a world-class facility for translational research. One colleague wrote: “Chris assisted with the research ramp-down and ramp-up plans for the HICCC Shared Resource this past spring during the COVID-19 pandemic. He remained in constant contact with his direct reports and worked closely with the HICCC administration to coordinate these efforts with minimal disruption to the research efforts of our members.”  


SSA Union Member/Clerical Technical Award: Sofija Vlasevska, Senior Research Worker, Pasqualucci/Dalla-Favera Laboratory, Institute for Cancer Genetics

Sofija Vlasevska, a senior research worker proficient in biochemistry and molecular and cell biology assays, has co-authored impactful research papers as a member of the laboratory of Laura Pasqualucci, MD, and Riccardo Dalla-Favera, MD. “Sofija is an extremely hard worker, self-motivated, creative and goal-oriented, with a strong work ethic,” Dalla-Favera wrote in his nomination letter. “She is also very analytical, embodying the kind of resolve and tenacity that are needed in a research setting. Along with her remarkable commitment and dedication to her work, Sofija has superb technical skills and organization capabilities, which allow her to easily implement novel techniques and tackle more complex experimental approaches.”

Brandon Ray Christophe

Diversity Award: Brandon Ray Christophe, Research Worker, Department of Neurological Surgery 

Brandon Ray Christophe, a senior researcher in neurological surgery, has been a driving force in creating research mentorship programs that draw a diverse talent pool to the Department of Neurological Surgery. About one mentorship program, one nominator wrote: “Since 2015 Brandon has facilitated this program, recruiting over 65 undergraduates, NIH T-35 training grant recipients, and medical students conducting scholarly projects. Over 50% of these students self-identify as members of a diverse group (race, color, creed, age, national origin, gender/identity, LGBT, and/or disability).” During the pandemic, Christophe has led departmental efforts to launch a virtual research  mentorship program for students.

Joan Bregstein

Community Service Award: Joan S. Bregstein, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics (in Emergency Medicine) at CUMC 

For more than 20 years, Bregstein has directed community outreach for the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. She founded and oversees the annual Steven Z. Miller Pediatric Emergency Medicine Health Fair, an annual event now in its 20th year that draws over 600 school children from Washington Heights. One colleague wrote, “Her depth of knowledge coupled with humility allows her to approach her community work with integrity.” During the pandemic, Bregstein spearheaded an effort with the organization Nido de Esperanza to deliver food and essential items to families in Washington Heights.

Rosellen Taraborrelli

Special Recognition in Mentoring Award (Posthumous): Rosellen Taraborrelli, Department Administrator, Department of Psychiatry 

Beloved by colleagues and considered a mentor by many, the late Rosellen Taraborrelli is remembered for her dedication, competence, and humanity. She joined VP&S in 2015 as vice chair of administration and finance for the Department of Psychiatry and successfully oversaw its operations along with those of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/CUIMC Behavioral Health Services and the New York  State Psychiatric Institute. One nominator noted, “Throughout her career, Ms. Taraborrelli was regarded as an outstanding administrator, leaving every organization stronger than she found it, and everyone she worked with enriched by her generosity and kindness."