News in Brief

Photo by Barbara Alper.

Rui Costa, DVM, PhD, and Anil K. Rustgi, MD, have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Members are elected by their peers in recognition of outstanding achievement, one of the highest honors bestowed in the field of medicine. Drs. Costa and Rustgi are among 100 new members elected in 2019. The contributions of Dr. Costa, an expert on how the brain learns and initiates movement, extend to many key areas of neuroscience. His work on the brain circuitry that drives movement initiation has brought critical understanding to movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. He has developed powerful new approaches that combine genetics, cutting-edge imaging technology, and brain-machine interfaces. He is director and CEO of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia and professor of neuroscience and of neurology at VP&S. Dr. Rustgi, director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian/CUIMC, has made substantial contributions to the fundamental molecular understanding of gastrointestinal cancers. He and his collaborators use genetically engineered mouse models and novel 3D culture models to investigate the role of cancer-causing genes and tumor suppressor genes in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal cancers, including esophageal, colon, and pancreatic cancers. Dr. Rustgi also is associate dean of oncology and the Irving Professor of Medicine at VP&S. 

Photo by Jörg Meyer.

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, PhD, University Professor, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In her Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering at the medical center, Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic creates new ways to engineer human tissues that could repair damaged organs, help scientists study development and disease, and provide faster methods to test new drugs. Her research has potential to develop new materials and techniques to grow bone grafts for facial reconstruction, create heart patches that could repair damage after a heart attack, and improve the way lungs are recovered for transplantation. The lab is designing “organs on a chip”–miniature tissues and organs that mimic human physiology–to test new drugs and personalize patient treatment. Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic, also a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering, has appointments in medicine at VP&S and in engineering at Morningside.

David Buchholz, MD, has joined Columbia as senior founding medical director for primary care. Working with ColumbiaDoctors and NewYork-Presbyterian, he will lead an expanded primary care strategy that will provide greater access for patients to primary care services across the New York metropolitan area, with the goal of improving clinical care for patients and their families. Dr. Buchholz joined Columbia from Premera Blue Cross near Seattle, where he was medical director of provider and customer engagement. He previously served as executive medical director of UCSF Primary Care in San Francisco.

Velocity, Columbia’s Ride to End Cancer, raised a record $1.5 million in its third ride in October 2019. More than 1,000 riders, volunteers, and supporters participated in the event, which raises funds to support cancer research and patient care at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. The photo above shows participants who biked from the 10-mile mark to the medical center. Photo by Melanie Einzig.