Alumni News

At this year’s virtual alumni reunion, Henry Buchwald received a gold medal for outstanding achievements in medical research. A professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota, Henry is a renowned surgeon-scientist in obesity management, atherosclerotic coronary heart disease, and implantable artificial internal organs. His landmark trial for the NIH proved the link between lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease. He holds 20 patents for bioengineering devices, including the first implantable infusion pump used in insulin delivery and continuous chemotherapy delivery.

Bernard Talbot retired in July 2021 after 51 years at the NIH. After receiving his MD from Columbia, he received a PhD from MIT. At NIH, he held several positions including special assistant to the NIH director and deputy director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (and acting director of NIAID in the summer of 1984 before the appointment of Anthony Fauci as director). He was an important member of the NIH team overseeing the NIH Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Research, testified at a number of Congressional hearings, was cited in front-page articles in the Washington Post and New York Times, represented NIH at many international meetings, and received a number of awards.

At this year’s virtual alumni reunion, Geraldine Poppa Schechter received the Virginia Kneeland Frantz Award for Distinguished Women in Medicine. She is former chief of hematology at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where she served for more than 40 years, and professor emeritus of medicine at George Washington University. Geraldine’s research has advanced the diagnosis and treatment of chronic lymphoid malignancies and autoimmune hematologic disorders. Virginia Kneeland Frantz’22—for whom the award is named—was the first woman to pursue an internship in surgery at Presbyterian Hospital and the first woman to become president of a major national medical organization, the American Thyroid Society.

Patricia Donahoe received the 2021 Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons during a June 2021 virtual event held in her honor. She is director of pediatric surgical research laboratories and chief emerita of pediatric surgical services at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The award recognizes her pioneering and ongoing research on mullerian inhibiting substance and on lung development. She is the 27th recipient of the Jacobson Innovation Award, which honors living surgeons who have been innovators of a new development or technique in any field of surgery. Her research has contributed to understanding the complications of disorders of sexual differentiation and understanding of the molecular and genetic causes of birth defects, particularly congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which adversely affects lung development. Her interest in lung development led her to devise a new technique for the repair of laryngotracheal esophageal clefts, a fatal condition before her technique was developed. The American College of Surgeons recognized her as an Icon in Surgery in 2019.

At this year’s virtual alumni reunion, Suzanne Oparil, distinguished professor of medicine and professor of cell, developmental and integrative biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, gave a talk, “Hypertension in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic: New Issues and Enduring Controversies,” at the reunion’s scientific session.

Peter Budetti has a new book out. Read more in Alumni in Print.

Ken Tomecki became president of the American Academy of Dermatology, the largest dermatology group in the world with more than 20,000 members, in April after a year as president-elect. Ken is a medical dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, his address for the past four decades. “Still a New Yorker at heart and still married to Eileen,” he writes. “Life is good, no complaints.”

At this year’s virtual alumni reunion, Karen Antman received a gold medal for outstanding achievements in clinical medicine. She is provost of Boston University’s medical campus and has been dean of its medical school since 2005. Based on her group’s translational research, Karen developed now-standard regimens to treat sarcomas and mesotheliomas. She has developed regimens for breast cancer and supportive care of patients receiving chemotherapy. Karen previously served as deputy director for translational and clinical sciences at the National Cancer Institute. Before that, she was the Wu Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at VP&S.

Mindy Fullilove, a renowned social psychiatrist and professor of urban policy and health at the New School, gave a talk, “The Social Structure of the COVID Pandemic,” during the alumni reunion’s virtual scientific session.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has selected Andrew Kaunitz to receive the ACOG Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions to the practice of obstetrics and gynecology and the promotion of women’s health. Andrew is a tenured professor and associate chairman of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville. He sees patients at UF Southside Women’s Health at Emerson, where he serves as medical director and director of menopause and GYN ultrasound services.

Mary Bassett became New York’s state health commissioner Dec. 1. She was New York City’s top health official from 2014 to 2018.

1980 MD/1978 PhD
Ruth S. Weinstock is the 2021 president for medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association. Ruth is Distinguished Service Professor and chief of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. She also is medical director of the Clinical Research Unit and Joslin Diabetes Center at Upstate. She has served on the national board of directors and many committees of the American Diabetes Association over more than 25 years. She has been associate editor of Diabetes Care and section editor for endocrinology for Mayo Clinic Proceedings, served on the editorial board of Endocrinology, and been on national committees for the Department of Veterans Affairs and other national, regional, and local committees and task forces related to diabetes research and to improving diabetes care.

Leon “Lee” Jones was appointed dean for medical education and professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Lee is a national leader in efforts to advance equity and inclusion at medical schools, with extensive work in developing evidence-based policy, initiatives, and educational programs that focus on medical school admissions, diversity, student support and learning environment, and student financial assistance. He chairs the AAMC Task Force on Redesign of the Medical Student Performance Evaluation and is AAMC’s representative to the Coalition for Physician Accountability. He previously served as associate dean for students at the medical schools of the University of California Davis, University of Arizona, University of Texas at San Antonio, and the University of California, San Francisco. He joined Georgetown from UCSF, where he was health sciences clinical professor of psychiatry and associate dean for students.

Peter Bolo has started his three-year term as president of the VP&S Alumni Association. He is medical director of Atlantic Behavioral Health and resiliency advocate for the Atlantic Health System, both in New Jersey. Peter will focus on physician wellness as well as diversity and inclusion. He assumes the post from outgoing president Thomas Lo’08.

David F.M. Brown has been named president of Massachusetts General Hospital and will also serve as executive vice president at Mass General Brigham. David has been chair of emergency medicine at MGH since 2013 and co-founded Mass General Brigham Urgent Care, a regional care network. He is the MGH Trustees Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School and recently served as interim president of Cooley Dickinson Health Care in Northampton.

Daniel Schechter has been medical director of perinatal and early childhood ambulatory care and research on the Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Service at the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland since July 2019. He also is associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Lausanne Faculty of Biology and Medicine but retains his appointment as adjunct associate professor of child & adolescent psychiatry at NYU. A rare feat for American physicians in Switzerland, he received both the Swiss Federal Medical Diploma in November 2019 and full Swiss Federal Board Certification in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in August 2021. More recently, he received a major grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation to look at maternal early adversity, contextual memory, and mother-toddler interactive behavior.

At this year’s virtual alumni reunion, William B. Macaulay received a gold medal for meritorious service to VP&S and its alumni association. He is chief of adult reconstructive surgery, the William & Susan Jaffe Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, and medical director of international patient services at NYU Langone Health. Bill was president of the VP&S Alumni Association from 2009 to 2010 and is co-chair for the class of 1992. He is current president of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons.

See Alumni in Print to read about the latest book by Scott Small, professor of neurology and psychiatry at VP&S and director of Columbia’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. His lab has been funded by the NIH for more than 20 years, and he has published more than 140 studies about memory function and malfunction. He co-founded a biotechnology company, Retromer Therapeutics, to apply what he has learned about Alzheimer’s disease to drug development.

Siva Vithiananthan was named chief of surgery at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Massachusetts community health system serving Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities. In addition to administrative responsibilities, Siva sees patients at the system’s surgical specialties centers and performs surgeries at Cambridge and Everett hospitals. His expertise includes minimally invasive surgery for benign and malignant diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, hernia repairs, anti-reflux and hiatal hernia procedures, and surgery of the spleen and adrenal gland. He is also an expert in robotic surgical techniques in general surgery.

1993 MD/PhD
Roy Chuck has been elected as only the second editor-in-chief of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s Translational Vision Science & Technology journal. Roy is the Paul Henkind Chair in Ophthalmology and professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

When Susan Bukata was named chair of orthopedic surgery at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Health, she became only the fourth woman in the United States to lead a health system’s orthopedic surgery department. She joined UCSD from UCLA Health, where she was an orthopedic surgeon, professor, vice chair of orthopedics clinical operations, physician informaticist lead for musculoskeletal health providers, and chief orthopedics liaison to community practice partners. She credits VP&S for introducing her to the world of osteoporosis care optimization: “My main research focuses on PTH and bone formation. I developed this fascination with bone formation during my endocrine block as an MS 2.” She still works with VP&S faculty members John Bilezikian’69, Ethel Siris’71, David Dempster, PhD, and Felicia Cosman, MD.

At the virtual scientific session of this year’s alumni reunion, Mike Smith, professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Duke University, gave a talk about the ABC Science Collaborative. The project pairs physician-scientists and public health experts from Duke University and the University of North Carolina with more than 50 school districts across North Carolina to assess the epidemiology and impact of COVID-19 on schools and remote learning.

See Alumni in Print to read about a short fiction collection written by Jacob M. Appel. This collection brings his total number of published short stories to over 200, for which he has received multiple awards and award nominations. He also writes novels and currently teaches at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop and Mount Sinai medical school.

Sisters Ezinne Emeruwa and Ukachi Emeruwa, who went to opposite coasts for their residencies, have been reunited as fellows at NewYork-Presbyterian. They were featured in an article on NewYork-Presbyterian’s Health Matters website. Ezinne is a pediatric cardiology fellow and Uk is a maternal-fetal medicine fellow who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Though opposites in many ways—Ezinne describes herself as the introvert and Uk the extrovert—the sisters share a mission to care for mothers and babies in underserved communities.Ezinne has a special interest in global health and wants to expand pediatric cardiology and critical care services in Nigeria, where their parents were born and raised. Uk plans to work in underserved communities in the United States and abroad to reduce health disparities and the high maternal death rates in Black women during pregnancy and childbirth. Their older brother, Obi Emeruwa’13, is a pulmonary and critical care physician at UCLA Health.

Anna Nordvig has joined the neurology department at Weill Cornell Medicine, where she cares for dementia patients. She also is building an outpatient clinical and translational research program in post-COVID encephalopathy. She hopes her research will reveal the implications of post-COVID-19 encephalopathy for neurodegeneration and clarify whether it is a risk factor, early biomarker, trigger, or a combination of factors.

At this year’s virtual alumni reunion, Mary Raddawi received a gold medal in recognition of her interest in and devotion to VP&S and its alumni association. She served as Class of 2020 vice president and co-chair of outreach. Upon early graduation from VP&S in Spring 2020, Mary supported the front lines of NewYork-Presbyterian by working virtually to monitor recently discharged COVID-19 patients, speaking mostly in Spanish. She is now a resident in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-chair for the Class of 2020.

At this year’s virtual alumni reunion, Taiwo Alonge received a gold medal in recognition of his interest in and devotion to VP&S and its alumni association. He was 2021 class president and a member of the Anti-Racism Task Force VP&S Subcommittee. A Daniel Noyes Brown Scholar for immersion in primary care, Taiwo graduated with an additional MPH degree from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.