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April / March 2011

April / May 2011


From the Dean

Dear Colleagues,

As the academic year draws to a close, I want to acknowledge the continuing achievements your leadership and collaborative efforts have brought. The tremendous progress we have made on curriculum renewal is one exciting measure of what we can do together. Our recent elevation into the Top 5 Schools of Public Health on the U.S. News and World Report rankings is another reflection of our accomplishments, aspirations and forward momentum. Congratulations to all!

While most of our achievements and our goals ahead require a team effort, there are moments when one must acknowledge the difference that an individual can make. I want to take the opportunity in this final edition of Momentum for the academic year to acknowledge one such person: Robyn Gershon. Read more >>

On Campus

The new Mailman School lounge nears completion! Located just inside the main entrance to the Allan Rosenfield Building, it will open to all in May. The space will have wifi, outlets to plug in laptops, tables, and a pantry, and be a great spot for collaboration.


New Faces

Please join us in welcoming new faculty, staff and researchers.

Karestan Koenen was recruited as an associate professor of Epidemiology. Her area of research is the mediating role of genetics and environment on trauma outcomes. She joins us from Harvard's School of Public Health.

Jeffrey Shaman joins us as assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences. His area of expertise is climate and health. He was most recently a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Morriseen Barmore
Administrative Assistant
International Longevity Center

Laura Barrett
Project Coordinator
Heilbrunn Department Of Population and Family Health

Anne Bozack
Community Outreach Worker
Department Of Sociomedical Sciences


Task Force on Fringe Benefits Programs

As you may be aware, the University convened a Task Force consisting of faculty, research scientists, and officers to conduct a comprehensive review of the fringe benefit programs. The Provost's Office sent out an email on April 5th with information about their preliminary report to all officers of the University who are eligible for benefits. The email included a link to the report, which details proposed changes to tuition, retirement, and heathcare benefits and encouraged officers to share feedback, comments, and questions about the proposed changes to fringe benefits.

To view the report online, visit http://hr.columbia.edu/taskforcereport. You will need your UNI and password to access the document. Please send comments to fringe-review@columbia.edu.


Here's a snapshot of promotions, honors, and achievements some of our faculty members have recently earned. If we overlooked you, please contact us.


Zhezhen Jin, associate professor of Biostatistics, was selected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association for 2011, cited for his outstanding contributions to research on nonparametric and semiparametric methods, for excellence in the development and application of statistical methodology in biomedical research and outstanding service to the statistics profession.

Unni Karunakara, faculty member in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health was named by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to an International Research Panel on protecting human subjects in scientific studies. The Panel includes experts on medical ethics, science and clinical research who bring wide experience from academia, government, and industry. Dr. Karunakara's work focuses on the delivery of health care to neglected populations affected by conflict, disasters and epidemics.The announcement was in direct response to a request from President Obama to report on the effectiveness of current U.S. rules and international standards for the protection of human subjects in scientific studies supported by the Federal Government.

Parisa Tehranifar, assistant professor of Epidemiology, was selected for the "Best of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention" session featuring the top recent articles impacting the field at the 35th anniversary meeting of the American Society for Preventive Oncology (ASPO) held in Las Vegas. Dr. Tehranifar was first author on the research which reported increasing racial disparities in cancer mortality as cancers become more amenable to treatment and early detection methods. Serving as overall chair for the ASPO annual meeting was Dr. Mary Beth Terry, associate professor of Epidemiology, who developed the program over the past 12 months with colleagues at MD Anderson and other cancer centers.


Bruce Armstrong, associate clinical professor and director of the Men's Health Initiatives, received the David Joyce service award by Community Impact (CI), a provider of community services programs to more than 8,000 residents in Harlem, Washington Heights and Morningside Heights. Dr. Armstrong was recognized for his support of CI service work throughout the year and honored at the Community Impact's Annual Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony held at Low Library on March 27th which also celebrated the accomplishments of the organization's 25 service groups and more than 900 Columbia student volunteers.

Judy Choi, a post-doctoral student in the Mailman School of Public Health's Department of Environmental Health Sciences, won first place in the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Neurotoxicology Specialty Section (NTSS) Postdoctoral Fellow/Associate Poster competition. Dr. Choi was cited for her entry, "Translocator Protein-18kDa (TSPO)/Peripheral Benzodiazepine Receptor (PBR): A preclinical biomarker of neurodegeneration in Sandhoff disease mice," and received a monetary prize for her work. 


SMS Doctoral Students Demonstrate Academic Excellence

Congratulations to SMS doctoral students Christopher Alley, Kirk Fiereck, Brendan Hart, Nora Kenworthy, Sara Lewis, Anne Montgomery, Siri Suh, and Nancy Worthington, for the myriad prizes and fellowships recently awarded to them. These include dissertation research support from the American Association of University Women, the Fulbright Program, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the National Institutes of Health, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. These fellowships are extraordinarily competitive, with thousands of applicants and usually fewer than 100 awards. The students' success reflects their hard work and creativity as well as the vitality of the SMS Doctoral Program training and the generosity of their faculty advisors Kim Hopper, Constance Nathanson, Richard Parker, Carole Vance, and Lesley Sharp.

Linda Rae Murray to Speak at Commencement

Our Commencement Ceremony will take place on May 17th at 4:00 pm in the Armory Track and Field Center. The keynote address will be delivered by an extraordinary public health leader and stirring speaker: Linda Rae Murray, MD, MPH, president of the American Public Health Association and chief medical officer for the Illinois's Cook County Department of Public Health.

For more than 40 years, Dr. Murray has been a leading voice for social justice and the urgency of defining healthcare as a basic human right. She has devoted her career to serving medically underserved populations. She has worked in a wide variety of settings including as an occupational medicine practitioner at a Workers Clinic in Canada, as medical director of a federally funded health center that served Chicago's Cabrini Green Public Housing Project, and as Chief Medical Officer - Primary Care for the 23 primary care and health centers that make up the Ambulatory & Community Health Network of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services. In her role as Chief Medical Officer at the Cook County Department of Health, she oversees a system that provides disease control and prevention and health promotion to more than 2 million people in the suburbs of Chicago.


Let's Talk About Sex

John Santelli, chair of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, served as a scientific adviser to the filmmakers of the new documentary 'Let's Talk About Sex' which takes aim at the fact that Americans tend not to talk to their teenagers about sexuality and health. Dr. Santelli, an expert on adolescent medicine, has conducted research on HIV/STD risk behaviors, programs to prevent STDs, HIV, and unintended pregnancy among adolescents and women, school-based health centers, clinical preventive services, and research ethics. Dr. Santelli appears in the film and is also participating in a national outreach and education campaign linked to the documentary, which aired on the TLC cable network on April 9th.

Dr. Santelli provides his comments on the film and teen sexuality in America in this video Q&A. 


In the Neighborhood: Movies at Morningside

Start your summer early with C.U. at the Movies, an outdoor screening featuring the work of Columbia University School of the Arts alumni filmmakers. The event is part of the 24th annual Columbia University Film Festival, which takes place from April 25 through May 12 at various venues around New York City and spotlights thesis short films, feature screenplays and teleplays created by graduate MFA students from The Film Program at Columbia University's School of the Arts. Two additional screenings will be held at Miller Theatre, including an event celebrating the Oscar-winning duo of director Milos Forman and producer Michael Hausman.

For a full schedule of the Columbia University Film Festival, please visit www.cufilmfest.com.


In The News

Our faculty make news almost every day. Here are some recent examples:

JAPAN (selected coverage)
April 11, USA Today, Giving comfort to the youngest quake survivors  Irwin Redlener
March 30, New York Times, Japan's Nuclear Crisis Revives Debate Over Iodide Tablets  Irwin Redlener
March 29, New York Times, Scientist at Work: Countering Radiation Fears With Just the Facts David Brenner
March 29, CNN, Congressman wants feds to hand out iodide pills Irwin Redlener
March 23TIME.comJapan Struggles to Deal with the World's First Complex Megadisaster Irwin Redlener
March 23, WNYC, Fallout Shelters  Irwin Redlener
March 22MSNBC.comFDA halts imports of dairy, produce from Japan Norman Kleiman
March 21CNBC,  Squawk Box (Radiation Risk)  Norman Kleiman
March 20ABC NightlineJapan's Nuclear Nightmare  Norman Kleiman
March 16, PBS NewsHour, What Are Health Risks Locally, Globally? Norman Kleiman
March 16, Associated PressCrisis Spikes Demand for Radiation Pills Irwin Redlener 
March 11, New York Times Sunday Week in Review, The Limits of Safeguards Irwin Redlener    
March 11, Associated Press, Japan Quake Causes Emergencies at 5 Nuclear Reactors Irwin Redlener 
March 11, ABC 20/20 http://abcnews.go.com/2020/  (Click on 'Risks in the US' Part 4) Irwin Redlener    

March 9,  Crain's New York Business,  Prime UES townhouse hits market  ILC
ILC Coming to Columbia story covered in Associated Press, Newsday, The Republic, New York Post
March 8MSNBC.comCenter on Aging Coming to Columbia  ILC

April 19, USA Today, Support may help curb suicide among gay youths Mark Hatzenbuehler (additional coverage on Reuters, CBS News, Los Angeles Times, among others)
April 7, U.S. News & World Report, For Young Women, 'Controlling' Partner Often Abusive, Too Marina Catallozzi
March 31, New York Daily News, Mobile Health Team of Project STAY gets high school students to open up  Alwyn Cohall
March 14, NatureNews online, Virology: Fighting for a Cause Ian Lipkin
March 4, Reuters, Drug use linked to airplane accidents Guohua Li
March 4, Washington Post A sweeping survey of Americans' sexual behavior John Santelli
Feb. 21, USA Today Study: Global warming linked to longer pollen season Kim Knowlton
Feb. 15, Wall Street Journal Questioning the Need For Routine Pelvic Exam Carolyn Westhoff (also covered in Los Angeles Times)

Feb. 10 Reuters Common insecticide tied to kids' lower test scores Megan Horton
(covered is USA Today, UPI, U.S. News & World Report, and Newsday 

Select Upcoming Events

Mon., April 27 - Columbia University Epidemiology Grand Rounds (CUEGR) Epidemiology beyond genomics with Albert Hofman, MD, PhD 
4:00 - 5:30 pm; 8th Floor Auditorium

Tues., April 28 - The Japanese Emergency Medical Response: Report from the Field with Robert B. Bristow, MD, FACEP
1:30 - 2:30 pm; Hammer, Room 107

Fril, April 29 - HIV and Aging in Africa with Joel Negin
11:00 am - 12:30 pm; Hammer, Room 404

Tues., May. 10 - Special School Assembly: State of the School and Staff Appreciation Awards
12:00 - 1:00 pm; Hammer, Room 401

For more events and to notify the community about an upcoming event that you are organizing, visit the events calendar online.

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