Alumni News


Marianne Wolff’52, Alumni Editor, and Bonita Eaton Enochs, Editor

See Alumni in Print to read about the memoirs of Henry Buchwald. Henry earned his BA degree from Columbia College in 1954. He is a professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota.

See Alumni in Print to read about the memoirs of Norbert Hirschhorn. Norbert graduated from Columbia College in 1958. He joined the U.S. Public Health Service in 1964 and pioneered oral rehydration therapy while conducting research on cholera and other diarrheal diseases. Now retired, Norbert writes book reviews and has published five collections of poetry.

Norma Braun has retired from private practice, but she continues to teach medical students, fellows, and residents and sees patients one day a week at Mount Sinai Morningside (the former St. Luke’s campus of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center). She is clinical professor of medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai after serving on the VP&S faculty from 1965 until Mount Sinai became affiliated with St. Luke’s in 2013. As chair of the Archives Committee for the hospital’s medical board, she conducts video interviews of the many individuals who have advanced research, education, and patient care during the 175-year history of St. Luke’s Hospital and the 150-year history of Roosevelt Hospital. “I have been raising funds to restore the unique and beautiful stained glass window in our chapel as it depicts our founder’s vision for health care for all. William Augustus Muhlenberg, DDS, believed that health care must be accessible to anyone who needs it ‘without regard to financial resource availability.’ No one received an invoice until the Civil War when demands exceeded his capacity to generate funds.” Norma also chairs the Founders Day celebration planning committee and serves on the Patient Experience Operations Council. She advises two developmental non-invasive ventilator (NIV) manufacturers to advance the use of NIV to mitigate the need for intubation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Norma and her husband, Carl, are in their 60th year of marriage.

See Alumni in Print to read about a book by David V. Forrest. David is clinical professor of psychiatry in Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry.

Ian Blair Fries has been a pilot and FAA aviation medical examiner for over 40 years. He has been involved in the HIMS (Human Intervention Motivation Study) Program that helps private, commercial, and airline pilots with alcohol and substance issues recover and return to flying. He has been appointed chairman of the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association Board of Medical Advisors to help pilots with FAA medical certification and to improve aviation safety. A board- certified orthopedic surgeon, he specializes in evaluating musculoskeletal impairment and disability and maintains practices in Vero Beach, Florida, and Brick, New Jersey.

See Alumni in Print to read about a series of books by Peter Budetti. Peter, who also is a lawyer with a law degree from the University of California Berkeley, devoted most of his career as a health policy scholar and Washington insider. He was a senior staff member for Rep. Henry Waxman and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and was part of a small group that drafted President Clinton’s health reform proposal. He also oversaw, under President Obama, the modernization of the government’s outdated systems for detecting and preventing health care fraud, acquiring the amusing moniker of Healthcare Antifraud Czar. His novels are inspired by real events and personal experiences. He decided to write novels partly out of a desire to add to the numerous articles he had published in medical and public health journals that languished in obscurity. He is board-certified in pediatrics and a member of the bar in California and Washington, D.C., and he practices law part time with Phillips and Cohen, the nation’s most successful law firm representing whistleblowers whose lawsuits have returned billions of dollars to the government that was stolen by fraud. He is married and has two grown children and seven grandchildren. When he and his wife decided to leave Washington, they began a new life in Kansas City and also spend as much time as possible at their lake house in Arkansas.

Phillip K. Peterson has written a timely book about germs, drawing on his first-hand experience dealing with an unprecedented emergence of new microbial threats. Phillip, an infectious diseases expert and professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Minnesota, writes a weekly blog called “Germ Gems” to educate anyone—especially people with no medical training, he says—interested in what’s new in the microbial world. Read more about his book in Alumni in Print.

Donald O. Quest, the J. Lawrence Pool Professor of Neurological Surgery at VP&S, was given the 2020 Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Neurological Surgeons, the oldest neurosurgical society in the world. Don has been president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the Academy of Neurological Surgery, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He has been chairman of the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the Residence Review Committee of the American Council of Graduate Medical Education. The Society of Neurological Surgeons also honored Don in 2016 with the Medical Student Teaching Award.

Alan Spiro was appointed chief medical officer in residence of Vital Data Technology, a data science-driven health care information technology company. Alan previously led Blue Health Intelligence’s development of new data services and guided new initiatives for Anthem and Medica health plans. He also founded Accolade, a platform for making benefit management easier for users, and is a strategic adviser for a number of other companies. He is chief clinical officer for DayTwo, a company that uses microbiome research to develop precision nutrition for people with diabetes and prediabetes. He is also chairman of the medical advisory board for Eden Health, a holistic direct primary care company based in New York City. He also is a board member of the Institute for Practice and Performance Improvement. “I spend my time helping young, cutting-edge companies that are seeking positive change in health care,” Alan writes.

Andrew Kaunitz has received the 2020 NAMS/Leon Speroff Outstanding Educator Award from the North American Menopause Society, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond. Andrew is professor and associate chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville. He sees patients at UF Southside Women’s Health at Emerson, where he also serves as medical director.

Ellen M. Gravallese is president of the American College of Rheumatology and has led the ACR’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the Theodore Bayles Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and has been chief of rheumatology, inflammation, and immunity at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital since October 2019. Ellen has a career interest in the fundamental mechanisms of inflammation in rheumatic diseases and her basic research laboratory has elucidated critical pathways resulting in joint destruction in inflammatory arthritis. For this work, she was awarded the international Carol Nachman Prize for exceptional contributions to research in rheumatology in 2019. She lectures nationally and internationally and also serves as an associate editor for the New England Journal of Medicine.

Karin M. Muraszko was elected to the National Academy of Medicine this year. She is the Julian T. Hoff Professor and chair of neurosurgery at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. When she became chair in 2005, she was the first woman in the country to chair an academic neurosurgery department. The NAM elected Karin to the Class of 2020 for her expertise in treating brain tumors and congenital neurologic anomalies. She pioneered localized injection therapy with immunotoxin for leptomeningeal disease, presented the first prospective analysis of cerebellar mutism after posterior fossa surgery, and characterized development of syrinx spinal cord cavities with Chiari 1 malformation.

Richard N. Wissler is president of the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists for 2020. Dick, who also has a PhD, is professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York.

See Alumni in Print to read about a book by Michael Stein. Michael is a professor and chair of health law, policy, and management at Boston University’s School of Public Health. He is executive editor of the popular online forum, Public Health Post, and the award-winning author of six novels and three books of nonfiction. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, the Best American Essays series, and on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

Henry Weil has been named chief academic officer for the Bassett Healthcare Network, a responsibility in addition to his current title of senior associate dean for the Bassett affiliation at VP&S. Henry, professor of clinical medicine at VP&S, has served in a variety of other capacities at Bassett, including director of the internal medicine residency program, assistant physician-in-chief, medical director for inpatient services, director of medical informatics, and director of the intensivist and hospitalist programs. As chief academic officer, Henry will work collaboratively with other Bassett leaders and educational and research partners to develop and implement plans for innovation and growth of the education and research missions at Bassett.

Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts, announced Sareh Parangi as its new chair of the Department of Surgery. Sareh has surgical expertise in treating thyroid and parathyroid tumors. She is an endocrine surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. Her research on the development of targeted novel therapies for thyroid cancer has resulted in over 100 peer-reviewed papers and led to numerous clinical trials to help patients with aggressive cancers.

Adam Saltman was appointed chief medical officer of Eko, a digital health solutions company. He previously served the FDA as a medical officer at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Before joining the FDA in 2013, he practiced as a triple board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon at several hospitals, including Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Stony Brook, and the University of Massachusetts.

Shari Hall, a retired cardiothoracic anesthesiologist, has released her fourth studio album. Titled “Hope,” its message of hope and love during these troubled times can be heard on streaming platforms worldwide. Shari’s website is

The Board of Directors of Community Care of North Carolina announced the appointment of CCNC President Tom Wroth as CEO as of July 1, 2020. CCNC is a community-based, public-private partnership available to North Carolina Medicaid recipients in all 100 counties. It is the largest and longest-running medical home system in the United States. Tom completed his residency in family medicine and preventive medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and earned a master’s degree in public health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

A memoir written by Shannon Sovndal is featured in Alumni in Print. Shannon is board-certified in emergency medicine and emergency medical services. He is medical director for numerous air and ground EMS agencies and works with the Denver FBI Tactical Team. He produces the “Match on a Fire: Medicine and More” podcast and is the founder of 3Hundred Training Group. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his family.

Henry Legere is founder of Reliant Immune Diagnostics. Hank’s company recently made headlines for partnering with a supermarket chain in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to offer its MDBox telehealth service to the chain’s customers. The MDBox app aims to provide cost-effective and quality symptom-specific health care and wellness.

Devinder Singh is the new chief of plastic surgery at the University of Miami and Jackson Health Systems and professor of clinical surgery (interim) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Devinder previously was chief and medical director of plastic surgery at the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland. He previously served as associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and was on the part-time faculty at Johns Hopkins Hospital. From 2014 to 2016, he was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley to be chairman of the Maryland Board of Physicians.

The mayor of Houston named Anjail Sharrief to the city’s COVID-19 response task force, the Health Equity Response Initiative and Task Force. Anjail also co-chairs the group’s medical care subcommittee. She is associate professor of neurology and director of stroke prevention for the Institute of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Julia Iyasere has been named vice president of NewYork-Presbyterian’s new health justice center, launched to understand and improve health equity and drive action that results in measurable improvements in health outcomes for all. The center was formed to address longstanding health disparities due to race, socioeconomic differences, limited access to care, and other complex factors that disproportionately impact the well-being of NYP’s communities. The center will inaugurate a Health Equity Symposium to allow for in-depth discussions, education, and insights that will result in tangible solutions to health disparities. Julia will work collaboratively with representatives from NYP, VP&S, and Weill Cornell Medicine on mutual goals. Her previous roles at NYP and VP&S were associate chief medical officer for service lines, co-director of the Care Team Office, director of the Leadership Education and Development for Physicians (LEAD) Academy, associate designated institutional official for graduate medical education, and associate program director of Columbia’s internal medicine residency training program. She is assistant professor of medicine at Columbia and continues to see patients as an internist in the Section for Hospital Medicine.

See Alumni in Print to read about a book written by Kelly Fradin. Kelly was inspired to pursue medicine after surviving childhood cancer, and she uses her experience as a patient to be a more empathetic physician. She shares parenting and pediatric health advice on instagram @adviceigivemyfriends. Her career in pediatrics has focused on helping children with chronic medical conditions and working as a public health advocate.

Omoye Imoisili is a medicalofficer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products and a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). After completing internal medicine residency at Yale, she joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she commissioned as a USPHS officer.

Elinor Zhou has joined the Melissa L. Posner Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. Elinor completed her gastroenterology fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she served as chief gastroenterology fellow.

2020 (Honorary)
At a virtual farewell ceremony in June, Thomas Lo’08, president of the VP&S Alumni Association, made Lee Goldman an honorary member of the VP&S Class of 2020. Lee stepped down as dean June 30, 2020, after spending 14 years in leadership roles at VP&S and the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. He is continuing as a professor of medicine at VP&S and of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. Through the remainder of 2020 he will also be a special adviser to Interim Dean Anil Rustgi.