Alumni News


Marianne Wolff’52, Alumni News Editor | Peter Wortsman, Alumni News Writer | Additional class notes by Bonita Eaton Enochs, Editor, and Peter Wortsman

Class of 1951 outing

A few members of the Class of 1951 met July 30 in Northern Manhattan. “Our 63rd reunion was a blast,” writes Dick Banfield of Stamford, Conn., pictured at right. Others in the photo, from left, are Mannie Friedman of New York City, Anke Nolting from the P&S Alumni Association, Virginia Kanick of New York City, Frank Iaquinta of Pelham, N.Y., and Len and Muriel Moss of Princeton, N.J. “Conversation was very animated and ranged from class anecdotes, world travels, and the introduction for Len’s book about aging. Of course, all you guys and gals who were not there got the worst of it. It was such a success that we all wanted to do it again, especially for our 65th.”

Members of the anniversary classes participated in the alumni scientific symposium at this year’s alumni reunion. P. Roy Vagelos, retired chairman and CEO of Merck & Co. and chair of the Columbia University Medical Center Board of Advisors, gave a presentation on “Development of the Vaccine for Hepatitis B.”

John N. Schullinger officiated as Honorary Alumni Day Chair at this year’s alumni reunion. Professor emeritus of clinical surgery at P&S and a living legend in neonatal surgery and the care of pediatric cancer and gastroesophageal reflux, John mentored generations of pediatric surgeons to hone their skills in the treatment of the youngest and most vulnerable. Beyond the walls of the academy, he reached out for many years on behalf of the Children of China Pediatrics Foundation to treat surgically correctible deformities of Chinese orphans and train young Chinese surgeons to do the same. He received the 1989 P&S Alumni Medal for Meritorious Service to the medical school and its alumni, the 1992 Gold Medal for Conspicuous Service to Columbia University and its alumni, the 1994 Practitioner of the Year Award of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the 1995 Arnold P. Gold Award (for compassionate patient care and for serving as a humanistic role model for medical students and young physicians), and the 2003 P&S Alumni Gold Medal for Excellence in Clinical Medicine.

See Alumni in Print to read about a book of poetry written by Samuel Barondes. Sam began publishing poems while he was an undergraduate at Columbia College and poetry editor of Jester, the college’s humor magazine. His grandchildren were the first audience for his poems. He practices psychiatry and does brain research at the University of California, San Francisco, as the Jeanne and Sanford Robertson Professor of Neurobiology and Psychiatry. He has been at UCSF since 1986 and served for seven years as chair of the Department of Psychiatry and director of Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. In addition to authoring more than 200 original research articles, Sam has written several books for a general audience, including “Molecules and Mental Illness” (1993); “Mood Genes: Hunting for Origins of Mania and Depression” (1998); “Better Than Prozac: Creating the Next Generation of Psychiatric Drugs” (2003); and “Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality” (2011).

Sheldon H. Cherry was appointed associate dean of clinical affairs at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University in Miami. Sheldon joined the college in 2011 as professor of obstetrics & gynecology and founding medical student ombudsman. He later became medical director of the physician assistant program. He will continue in those roles in addition to his work as associate dean. Sheldon is a clinician in the reproductive and women’s health field and has done pioneering work in intrauterine diagnosis and treatment. He was senior editor of “Complications of Pregnancy,” a textbook now in its fourth edition, and he has written several general-audience books on women’s health, including “Understanding Pregnancy and Childbirth,” a Book-of-the-Month Club classic that has been published in four editions, which are now in their 19th printing and have sold more than 1 million copies. His books have been published in Russia, France, England, Canada, Spain, and Israel. He has been consistently named as a “‘Top Doctor In America” and to “Who’s Who In The World.” A former faculty member at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, Sheldon belongs to the American College of Surgeons and the New York Obstetrical Society.

See Alumni in Print to read about the final book in a medical trilogy by Lawrence W. Norton. The three-book memoir traces Larry’s surgical training (the first book, “Masked & Gowned”) the use of his surgical training during five years in a mission hospital in northeast India (“Doctor Sahib”), and his career in academic surgery (the new “Operative Notes”). The latest book includes stories of teaching in American medical schools as well as in schools in Uganda, Mongolia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

George P. Canellos, who has spent the past 50 years dedicated to the fight against cancer, received an honorary doctorate degree from Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in recognition of his leadership and service. The award was conferred in May at the 72nd commencement of Hellenic College Holy Cross in Brookline, Mass. George was clinical associate and senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute and in 1975 became founding chief of medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a role he filled until 1995. He was the first person to hold the William Rosenberg Chair in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and he continues on the faculty as professor of medicine. A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, he received an honorary doctorate of science from Athens University in Greece, and he served as president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Oncology for 13 years. A Boston native and graduate of Harvard College, George returned to Massachusetts after graduating from P&S for internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.

From left, alumni reunion gold medalists Larry Norton’72, Martha Welch’71, Allen Costa’14, Nicholas White’14, and Thomas R. Frieden’86 with Honors and Award Committee Chair Kenneth A. Forde’59, Alumni Association President Neil J. Freeman’85, and P&S Dean Lee Goldman

Henry A. Solomon, senior medical adviser and chair of the Professional and Corporate Consortium at the American College of Cardiology, has returned from China, where he was honored guest at a meeting in Beijing of the Chinese Society of Cardiology and a Distinguished Scholar at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.

Robert S. Waldbaum was honored in September at the 2014 Doctors of Distinction golf invitational at the Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, N.Y. The event raised money to support American Cancer Society programs. Bob is vice president for physician relations at the North Shore-LIJ Health System. He also is professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ Medical School. After graduating from P&S, Bob was a battalion surgeon in the Marines, and he completed his surgical training at Columbia and his urology training at Cornell. The founding partner and president of Urology Associates, a group practice of 10 urologists, from 1970 to 2007, Bob also was founding chair of the Department of Urology and director of urology for 30 years at North Shore University Hospital, where he is now chairman emeritus. He served the New York Academy of Medicine as chair of the urology section and was president of the New York section of the American Urological Association. He currently serves as vice president of the American Urological Association Foundation. His many awards include the National Kidney Foundation Award, the Russell W. Lavengood Distinguished Service Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from North Shore University Hospital. His patients endowed the Robert Waldbaum and Robert Gardner Professorship in Urology. His name also is on the annual Robert S. Waldbaum Rounds in the Department of Radiation Medicine and the Robert S. Waldbaum Center at the Smith Institute of Urology.

David Forrest has been a regular contributor to the annual CUMC art show since it began in 2010, but this year was special because of his 50-year P&S reunion. To commemorate the anniversary, he submitted pop art and op art pieces from the 1960s. One piece, “Arm & Hammer Soda Bicarbonate,” seems appropriate to the location of the show in the lower levels of the Armand Hammer Health Sciences Center. “Who knew in 1964 that Hammer would be built in ’75?” he asks. Though Armand Hammer had no direct connection to Arm & Hammer, a brand in use more than 30 years before Dr. Hammer, a 1921 graduate, was born, Dr. Hammer did own stock in and serve on the board of the company that made the baking soda. “He must have thought it amusing,” David adds. David, clinical professor of psychiatry at P&S, took art courses in high school, took summer classes at the Pratt Institute, and did paste-up and apprentice work in medical illustration at Sudler & Hennessey. He has more than 50 years of experience in life drawing, currently at Spring Studio, the Society of Illustrators, and Salmagundi Club. In the photo, David’s painting to the left of his head depicts the Vermont farm of his classmate, Ted Robbins. David and his wife, Lynne, join Ted and his wife, Caroline, at the farm every Labor Day weekend. Ted continues to practice in a community mental health clinic that covers Vermont’s two southeast counties.

Members of the anniversary classes participating in the alumni scientific symposium at this year’s alumni reunion included Walter Franck, chief academic officer and physician-in-chief emeritus at Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, who spoke about “Columbia Bassett Medical School Program at P&S.”

David Forrest’64

Members of the anniversary classes participated in the alumni scientific symposium at this year’s alumni reunion. Allen C. Steere, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, presented “A Lyme Disease Journey: From Discovery to the Present.”

“After 33 years of clinical practice in Lewiston, Maine, we retired in 2010,” write Edward Z. and Candace C. Walworth. Candace recently joined the board of the Maine Women’s Fund after serving as president of the (dialysis) Network of New England until 2013. “I have done one-month surgical missions with Doctors Without Borders in Cote d’Ivoire in 2011, Haiti in 2012, and the Central African Republic in 2013,” writes Edward.

Ethel Siris received the 2014 Virginia Kneeland Frantz’22 Distinguished Women in Medicine Award at this year’s alumni reunion. Ethel, the Madeline C. Stabile Professor of Medicine at P&S and director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, has worked tirelessly as a clinician, clinical investigator, and medical educator in metabolic bone diseases, particularly osteoporosis and Paget’s disease of bone. She has focused her research on the study of the class of bisphosphonate compounds in these disorders and on selective estrogen receptor modulators in osteoporosis. She also serves as medical director of the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment, a public health initiative and extensive longitudinal study of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women in the United States. She is the author of numerous papers and co-editor of the widely used reference work, “The Bone and Mineral Manual.” Accepting the award, Ethel noted: “The last time I stood on a stage here in Bard Hall is when I had a bit part in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.’ I was respectfully advised to keep my day job as a medical student. P&S means a lot to me. I’ve spent my entire career here. Andy Frantz’55, whose portrait hangs behind me, was my mentor, and so to receive an award named for his mother, another P&S great, is a special honor. And the other very important connection is that I am one of four people in my immediate family who are P&S graduates.” (The fellow family alumni are her husband, Samuel G. Siris’70, her brother, the late Joseph A. Silverman’56, and her daughter, Sara Siris Nash’05.)

Martha G. Welch received the 2014 Gold Medal for Meritorious Service to P&S and its Alumni Association at this year’s alumni reunion. Martha, who holds joint appointments in psychiatry (developmental neuroscience), pathology & cell biology, and pediatrics, has devoted her professional life to the care and service of others, not least of all to P&S and its alumni association. In 1997, after 25 years of practicing child and family psychiatry, she joined the faculty at P&S to translate her bedside findings to the bench. In 2006, she established and became co-director of the BrainGut Initiative. A charismatic past president of the P&S Alumni Association, she has been and remains active on many committees.

At this year’s alumni reunion, the 2014 Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Medical Research was presented to Larry Norton, deputy physician-in-chief for breast cancer programs at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and medical director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center. Larry made major discoveries that changed the field of oncology and gave new hope to millions. He conceived and expounded the Norton-Simon hypothesis, demonstrating that human tumors grow and shrink in response to therapy according to Gompertzian kinetics, which has led to new, more effective, and better tolerated treatment regimens that are new standards of care around the world. He and his team proved that rather than increasing dosages, decreasing the interval between doses of chemotherapy produced better results while decreasing toxicity. In addition, Larry and his collaborators proved that circulating cancer cells do self-seed tumors, in part because they already established a suitable microenvironment for cancer cell growth.

William Theodore, chief of the clinical epilepsy section of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the NIH, was among members of the anniversary classes who participated in the alumni scientific symposium at this year’s alumni reunion. He presented a talk titled “Neurology in Zambia.”

The 40-year-old Class of 1974 at this year’s alumni reunion.

Alice Prince is shown with her son, Benjamin D. Hopkins, as he receives the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, during the MD and PhD graduation ceremony at P&S in May. Alice is professor of pediatrics (in pharmacology) at P&S. Benjamin is also the son of the late Smith Hopkins’75.

Over the past two years, Jim Dunford has served as the emergency medicine expert on several National Quality Forum/Measure Applications Partnership work groups responsible for recommending to the Secretary of Health and Human Services the best measures of quality pertaining to dual eligibles, hospitals, and (most recently) health care affordability.

Andrew M. Kaunitz, professor and associate chairman of obstetrics & gynecology at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville, received a University of Florida Research Foundation Professorship award. The award recognizes faculty who have established a distinguished record of research and scholarship that is anticipated to lead to continuing academic distinction.

After arriving in the United States from Ghana with $12 in his pocket, Oheneba Boachie-Adjei used his MD from P&S to build a career as an orthopedic surgeon. Now chief emeritus of the scoliosis service at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, Oheneba announced plans to return to Ghana this fall to be “president, CEO, surgeon-in-chief, medical director, and janitor” of the Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine Orthopedic Hospital in Accra, capital city of Ghana.

Warren Grundfest, professor of bioengineering at UCLA and director of research and technology development at Cedars Sinai Hospital, was honored with the 2014 Pierre Galletti Award for his pioneering work in the development and dissemination of minimally invasive surgery. It is the highest honor bestowed by the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. The author of more than 120 scientific papers in the fields of laser applications of medicine, biologic spectroscopy, microendoscopy, and minimally invasive surgery, Warren was named in “100 Notable People in the Medical Device Industry.” The award citation stated: “As surgeon, inventor, and educator, Dr. Grundfest has demonstrated that minimally invasive technology can improve health care delivery while lowering health care costs.”

Brenda Aiken became president of the P&S Alumni Association at this year’s alumni reunion weekend in May. Brenda, a graduate of Barnard College, is director of medical services at Columbia Health, the student health service for Columbia University. Brenda is the first African-American woman to lead the alumni association, where she has served on many committees, mentored promising students, and chaired the Campaign for Diversity Scholarship Fund.

Neil Freeman completed his two one-year terms as president of the P&S Alumni Association.

Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, received the 2014 Gold Medal for Excellence in Clinical Medicine at this year’s alumni reunion. His career has encompassed such mega-medical challenges as nipping in the bud a resurgence in multidrug resistant TB in New York City in the early 1990s, coordinating India’s campaign to tame the rise of rampant TB, returning to New York in 2002 to address the city’s diverse public health challenges as city health commissioner in the Bloomberg Administration, and his current outsize task, supervising the nation’s public and preventive health needs, including Ebola (see Page 10). Tom also holds a master’s degree in public health from the Mailman School of Public Health. At the CDC, he helped stop an outbreak of avian flu and has been instrumental in the Million Hearts Initiative to help prevent heart attacks and strokes in the United States.

Allen Ho, the retina research director at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, led surgery in July that restored sight in a 66-year-old blind woman with retinitis pigmentosa. Allen led the team that implanted the new FDA-approved Argus II retinal prosthesis system, often called a “bionic eye,” in her eye. The surgical team implanted the microelectrode device on her macula in the back of her eye. The surgery enables her to use wireless technology activated when wearing a pair of specialty glasses with an attached camera and a video processing unit that transmits images to the brain. Allen and two colleagues at Wills Eye were involved in the early development of the device and refinement of the surgical techniques leading to the approval of the implant, and they were the lead surgeons in implanting some of the first devices in the United States during clinical trials.

At the March dinner meeting of the P&S Alumni Council, Albert Ruenes, a urologist based in Doylestown, Pa., riveted attendees with a presentation on “Advancing the Treatment of Prostate Cancer and Obstetric Fistula in Sub-Saharan Africa.” The founder 10 years ago of ASSISTS (American-Senegal Surgical Initiative: Surgeons Teaching Surgeons), he travels to Senegal and other countries in West Africa to teach local surgeons how to treat prostate cancer; more recently he added the repair of obstetric fistula to his medical mission. In a posting on the website of the Doylestown community, he wrote: “As fortunate as I am to live and work in this community, I realized there are people in other parts of the world in desperate need of urological care. If I can help individual patients by teaching, I am expanding the reach of what I do as a surgeon. It is incredibly rewarding.” Of one memorable operation, during which he performed radical perineal resection in Senegal under difficult conditions, notably the breakdown of the air conditioning system, he recalled: “The room was very humid, I was sweating. Multiple times someone had to remove my glasses, clean them, and put them back on.” He also spoke of his work repairing obstetric fistula on women with no access to obstetric care who, having survived prolonged obstructed labor, become incontinent and are rejected by their husbands and the entire community as unclean. With the assistance of local personnel, Al has performed countless operations to repair fistulas and hopes to help create a training video to help African surgeons learn the procedure. When his patients in Doylestown heard about his work in Africa, Al said, they provided the funding to create ASSISTS, a nonprofit organization to support his work.

A few members of the Class of 1992 gathered in San Francisco in June. “Great times for all,” reported Jason Flamm, left, who lives in Sacramento. Also pictured are Andrew Cheng of Burlingame, Calif., John Barrett of Salt Lake City, Mary Diana of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Bill Reeves of Los Angeles.

Dariush Mozaffarian became dean of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University July 1. As a cardiologist and an epidemiologist, Dariush brings a unique skill set to the Friedman School and Tufts. He was recruited from Harvard University, where he was associate professor and founding co-director of the cardiovascular epidemiology program at the Harvard School of Public Health and associate professor in cardiovascular medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He also has a DrPH degree from Harvard. He has written or co-written more than 200 scientific publications on the diet and lifestyle factors that contribute to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cognitive decline. Dariush is the fourth dean of the Friedman School, which was founded in 1981 as the only graduate school of nutrition in the country. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association and has served in leadership and advisory roles for other groups, including WHO and the United Nations.

The Peter J. Gingrass, MD, Memorial Award, an annual award given by the Plastic Surgery Research Council, recognizes the best paper presented by a medical student or nonplastic surgical resident presenting at the council’s annual meeting. The award this year was received by a P&S student, Naikhoba Munabi, working in the lab of June Wu.

Devinder Singh was appointed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as chairman of the State Board of Physicians. Devinder is chief of plastic surgery at the VA Hospital in Baltimore and co-director of the Kernan Hospital Cleft Lip & Palate Clinic. He has been a member of the board since 2011, when he was then the only plastic surgeon on the board, which regulates all licensed physicians and allied health practitioners in Maryland. Devinder is also associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland and holds a part-time faculty appointment at Johns Hopkins. In 2012 he was voted a “Top Doc” in cosmetic surgery by Baltimore Magazine. He has completed 12 international surgical missions to provide pro bono humanitarian cleft lip care to children all around the world, including Thailand, Vietnam, Colombia, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Uganda.

1998 MD/PhD
The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to sight-saving research, honored Stephen Tsang with its Visionary Award at its Banking on a Cure benefit in April, which raised $1 million for research into prevention, treatment, and cure for vision-robbing retinal degenerative diseases. Stephen is the László Bitó Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and associate professor of pathology & cell biology at P&S. He was honored for his research into inherited retinal degenerations, his internationally recognized contributions to retinitis pigmentosa research, and his advances in gene therapy that have led to clinical trials for RP patients.

See Alumni in Print to read about two books by Sara Monaco. Sara, who was a resident in anatomic and clinical pathology at Columbia after graduating from P&S, is now associate professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She also is program director of the cytopathology fellowship, director of the FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration) Biopsy Service at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and director of the FNA Clinic at UPMC-Shadyside Hospital.

See Alumni in Print to read about a book of short stories by Jacob M. Appel. Jacob has authored several award-winning novels and short story collections and has published short fiction in more than 200 literary journals. He has won the New Millennium Writings contest four times, the Writer’s Digest grand prize twice, and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom competition in both fiction and creative nonfiction. His work has been short-listed for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008), and Best American Essays (2011, 2012). When he is not writing, he is a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Marianna Shnayderman Yugrakh has joined the neurology faculty at P&S as assistant professor of neurology in the Division of Multispecialty Neurology and the Headache and Facial Pain Center. She completed her neurology residency at the Neurological Institute before completing a clinical fellowship in headache medicine at Roosevelt Hospital’s Headache Institute. She will care for patients with all kinds of headache disorders but also is interested in developing a program for patients who are pregnant or undergoing fertility treatments but suffering from intractable migraines.

Three members of the graduating class were recognized at this year’s alumni reunion. Allen Costa and Nicholas White, co-presidents of the P&S Club, shared the 2014 Gold Medal to a Student in Recognition of His/Her Interest and Devotion to P&S and its Alumni Association. Allen also served as co-president of the Columbia chapter of the American Medical Association Medical Student Section, and he attended and helped organize regional and national meetings. Nicholas also applied his creative spark to P&S by co-writing, co-directing, and editing a video for the transition ceremony. Krishna Khanna represented the graduating class in remarks delivered at the alumni reunion’s gala dinner dance held at the Palace Hotel in midtown Manhattan.