Alumni News

Albert Starr received the 2015 Grand Prize for Science from the Institute of France. The prize, created in 2002, is awarded annually to a scientist who has made ​​a significant scientific contribution in physiology, cardiovascular biology, and medicine. The 2015 prize was awarded to Albert for his contributions to cardiovascular surgery. Albert co-invented and successfully implanted the world’s first artificial heart valve. He received the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award in 2007 for development of the heart valve. Albert is professor of cardiovascular medicine and chair of the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

Jerold M. Lowenstein recently published a new novel, “And Now a World,” which follows the story of a young physicist navigating personal and scientific relationships. See Alumni in Print to read more about this book that balances history and mystery. Jerold originally trained as a physicist at MIT and participated in atomic bomb tests at Bikini and worked as a nuclear physicist in Los Alamos. After receiving his medical degree, he trained in internal and nuclear medicine at Stanford, where he developed new treatments using radioactive isotopes. He has been awarded the Fellows’ Medal, the highest honor from the California Academy of Sciences, for his research and popular science writing. 

Members of anniversary classes participated in the scientific session at this year’s alumni reunion. Richard Cruess, professor of surgery and former dean of the McGill University medical school and former chair of orthopedics at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, and Sylvia Cruess, professor of medicine and a member of the Center for Medical Education at McGill University and former director of the Metabolic Day Centre and former director of professional services at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, gave a presentation on “Professional Identity: A Journey, Not a Destination.” 

Thomas Q. Morris was Honorary Dean’s Day Chairman at this year’s alumni reunion. 

Robert Hillman is chairman emeritus of the Department of Medicine at Maine Medical Center in Portland and adjunct professor of medicine at Tufts Medical School, where he helped establish the Maine Track Program of Tufts/MMC. He is senior editor of McGraw-Hill’s “Hematology in Clinical Practice,” now in its fifth edition. He lives in Maine with his wife, Sheilah, and notes that his children have followed in his health care footsteps. Daughter Kim is director of medical and academic affairs at Maine Medical Center and son Rob is COO of Maine Community Options, the health insurance company established under the Affordable Care Act.

George P. Canellos received the 2015 Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Clinical Medicine at this year’s alumni reunion. George, the William Rosenberg Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, is an internationally recognized authority on the treatment of lymphoma. He was part of a team at the National Cancer Institute that demonstrated that malignant lymphoma (Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s) could be cured with combination chemotherapy. 

Peter E. Dans, emeritus associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, has published another children’s book celebrating Baltimore’s history. Read more in this issue’s Alumni in Print. Peter’s first children’s book, “Perry’s Baltimore Adventure,” a tale about the return of the peregrine falcons to Baltimore, is used in Baltimore city and county public schools to teach urban geography. Peter (shown below with his nine grandchildren) is an internist with expertise in infectious diseases, geriatrics, quality assurance, and ethics, but he is also known for his movie reviews, particularly his column, “The Physician at the Movies,” published in Pharos, AOA’s quarterly publication, since 1990. His other books, all published since he turned 62, are “Doctors in the Movies: Boil the Water and Just Say Aah!,” “Life on the Lower East Side,” “Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners,” and “La Salle Military Academy: Pro Deo Pro Patria, The Life and Death of a Catholic Military School,” a chronicle about his high school, which closed in 2001 after 118 years. He also wrote “Colette’s Story,” a tribute to his wife who battled metastatic breast cancer with courage and grace. He continues to chair the Lawrence J. Durante’61 Scholarship Fund Committee at P&S.

The Hepatitis B Foundation honored Eugene Schiff with the 2015 Baruch S. Blumberg Prize for advancing the care and treatment of chronic hepatitis B. Eugene is director of the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Blumberg, a 1951 graduate of P&S, received a 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the hepatitis B virus.

Four members of the Class of 1964 gathered for an informal reunion in late August. In the photo at right, from left, are David Forrest, Lewis Hamilton, Ted Robbins, and Bill Stiehm. The gathering featured hiking and “endless reminiscences.”

Daniel C. Bryant lives in Maine and recently published a collection of short stories titled “House Call,” drawn from his 30-year medical practice. See Alumni in Print to read more about the book. After his retirement, Daniel returned to his long-time interest in writing and has published a number of short stories in literary magazines. In addition to the collection “House Call,” he has published a full-length novel, “May We Waken One by One,” about the recruitment of an African immigrant into jihad.

Classmates Jay Levy, Oscar Garfein, and Suzanne Oparil participated in the scientific session at this year’s alumni reunion. Oscar, chair of the reunion committee, was master of ceremonies. Jay, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus, professor of medicine, research associate at the Cancer Research Institute, and director of the Laboratory for Tumor and AIDS Virus Research, all at UCSF, gave a presentation on “Discovery of a New Antiviral Protein.” Suzanne, a past president of the American Heart Association, gave a presentation on “Hormones and the Heart: Promises, Problems and Unresolved Issues.” Suzanne is the Distinguished Professor of Medicine, professor of cell, developmental & integrative biology, and director of the vascular biology and hypertension program, all at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Michael Bender has been named clinical professor of medicine, emeritus, by the UCSF medical school. He had been a clinical attending in gastroenterology at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital since 1975. He is still practicing gastroenterology at the Peninsula Medical Clinic in Burlingame, Calif. 

Anne Moore, professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and medical director of the Weill Cornell Breast Center, received the 2015 Virginia Kneeland Frantz’22 Award for Distinguished Women in Medicine. Anne, the citation read, “has devoted her professional life to the conviction that every breast cancer is different [and] treatment recommendations need to be tailored to the individual patient.”

Harry B. Greenberg, professor of medicine (gastroenterology & hepatology) and of microbiology & immunology at Stanford University, received the 2015 Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Medical Research at this year’s alumni reunion. He was honored for his major contributions to understanding the relationship of Australia antigen (hepatitis B surface antigen) to transfusion-associated hepatitis and the immune response to hepatitis B infection and fundamental research leading to the development of the attenuated rotavirus vaccine, which has saved the lives of thousands of infants around the world.     

Donald O. Quest received the 2015 Gold Medal for Meritorious Service to P&S and its Alumni Association at this year’s alumni reunion. Widely published on the surgical response to stroke, carotid endarterectomy, and other areas of neurosurgery, Don is the J. Lawrence Pool’32 Professor of Neurological Surgery at P&S. His service to P&S and its Alumni Association, including service as association president, is legendary. 

Edward V. Craig has been named CEO of TRIA Orthopaedic Center in Bloomington, Minn. Edward joined TRIA from the Hospital for Special Surgery, where he was an attending surgeon. He also was professor of orthopedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. He spent his early career as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota and a consultant for several University of Minnesota sports teams. After graduating from P&S, Edward completed a residency in orthopedic surgery and two fellowships at Columbia. He also has a public health degree from Columbia. He specializes in shoulder replacement, rotator cuff shoulder injuries, arthroscopic surgery, and sports medicine. He is considered a pioneer in shoulder replacement for having designed an anatomic and reverse total replacement system for patients with severe arthritis in their shoulder.

“Still enjoying plastic surgery after 30 years,” writes Roger Mixter. He teaches at the Partners In Health hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, four times a year. In the photo at right with Roger are anesthesiologist Cornelia Riedl, left, and OR tech Sharon Powell, Roger’s colleagues at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

Melvin Rosenwasser and his daughter, Katie Rosenwasser’13, are featured in a Father’s Day tribute in the CUMC Newsroom (

Kirk Zachary’s essay, “The Power of Prayer—and Chemotherapy,” was published Sept. 24 in the Wall Street Journal. The author describes his son’s Hodgkin’s disease diagnosis and the treatment—and spiritual intervention—that followed. 

Paul Brandt-Rauf, dean of the public health school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was the 2015 recipient of the Allan Rosenfield Alumni Award for Excellence given by Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Paul was honored for contributions to occupational health, health policy, and research into environmental drivers of cancer. Paul, who chaired Mailman’s environmental health sciences department, was a faculty member at the Mailman School for more than 20 years. All of his postgraduate degrees are from Columbia, including MPH and DrPH degrees from Mailman. He also graduated from Columbia’s engineering school. In accepting the award, Paul said he would try to embody the legacy of longtime Mailman dean Allan Rosenfield, a 1959 P&S graduate. “Give me another 20 or 30 years and invite me back. I’ll tell you if I come close to deserving this honor,” he said.

See Alumni in Print to read more about a book edited by Jerry Sebag, “Vitreous - in Health and Disease.” Jerry is a leading authority on vitreous and a member of the prestigious American Ophthalmological Society, the oldest medical specialty society in America, founded in 1864. He is also a fellow of ARVO, the premier eye research organization in the world. He has authored three books and numerous articles, chapters, and editorials about diseases, therapy, and surgery of vitreous, macula, and retina. He is a founder of the Vitreous Macula Retina Institute in Huntington Beach, Calif., and a professor of clinical ophthalmology at the Doheny Institute.

Brenda Aiken became president of the P&S Alumni Association at this year’s alumni reunion. 

Maria A. Oquendo has been elected president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association. Maria is the APA’s first Latina president-elect. She is professor of psychiatry and vice chair for education at P&S and residency training director at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She conducts research on treatment and neurobiology of mood disorders, suicide, and global mental health. She has held several leadership roles at the APA and also serves as vice president of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She is past president of the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry and serves on the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology’s Council and the National Institute of Mental Health’s National Advisory Mental Health Council. Maria will become APA president in May 2016.

Members of anniversary classes participated in the scientific session at this year’s alumni reunion. George Hripcsak, the Vivian Beaumont Allen Professor and Chair of Biomedical Informatics at P&S, gave a presentation on “An Informatics-Enabled Medical Center.

Joshua Hyman played a role in preserving the view the medical center enjoys of the Palisades. “I thought you would like to know,” wrote Allen Hyman, professor emeritus of anesthesiology at P&S, in notifying Columbia Medicine about his son’s contribution to negotiations that resulted in a corporation agreeing to reduce the height of its corporate headquarters planned for the Palisades cliffs. “The extraordinary panoramic view of the Palisades, especially enjoyed by residents of Washington Heights and Inwood, will be preserved.” Joshua, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at P&S, is president of the Board of Directors of the Palisades Park Conservancy, one of several conservation and environmental groups that worked to prevent the high-rise construction at the Palisades. 

Daniel Schechter received prizes this year for two papers published in his field. One paper, “On Traumatically Skewed Intersubjectivity,” (in press in Psychoanalytic Inquiry), received the Hayman Prize for Published Work Pertaining to Traumatized Children and Adults from the International Psychoanalytical Association and the Rieger Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Award from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Daniel also received the Rieger award in 2010. Another paper, on maternal PTSD, mental representations, and change with video-feedback intervention, that was published this year in Child Psychiatry and Human Development, received the biennial International Psychoanalytical Association Exceptional Contribution to Research Award for best published paper. Daniel also received the award in 2005, 2009, and 2013. Daniel is senior lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Geneva and adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at P&S.

Calvin L. Chou, who also received a PhD degree from Columbia in 1992, participated in this year’s Dean’s Day Program at the alumni reunion. Title of his presentation was “The Advantages of Low-Tech: Patient-Physician Communication in the 21st Century.” Calvin is professor of clinical medicine at UCSF.

Peter Stetson, former chief medical informatics officer for Columbia-Doctors, participated in this year’s Dean’s Day Program at the alumni reunion. The title of his presentation was “Communication Through Patient Portals.” 

James Lee, assistant professor of surgery, chief of endocrine surgery, vice chair of new media, and founder of COACH Education in the Department of Surgery at P&S, participated in this year’s Dean’s Day Program at the alumni reunion. The title of his presentation was “Social Media in Medicine.” 

Carl T. Talmo has been named vice chair for orthopedic research at New England Baptist Hospital, a Boston-based regional provider for orthopedic surgery and the treatment of musculoskeletal diseases and disorders. Carl completed his residency training at Tufts University and the New England Baptist Hospital and a fellowship in reconstructive hip and knee surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. He has been in practice at New England Baptist since 2006, specializing in hip and knee replacement surgery.

Prashant Sinha, chair of the John Jones Surgical Society Program Committee, was master of ceremonies at this year’s Dean’s Day at the alumni reunion. The John Jones Surgical Society teamed up with the P&S Alumni Association for the program, titled “Patient Communication in the Digital Age: New Tools and Challenges for Healthcare.” Prashant, who is assistant professor of surgery at NYU, also gave a presentation on “Communication through Apps.” 

Omar Young has joined the faculty at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis as an assistant professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He also will be assistant residency program director.

See Class of 1976 for news about Katie Rosenwasser.

Abdul El-Sayad has been appointed executive director of the Department of Health & Wellness Promotion in Detroit. In this new role, Abdul, a Michigan native, will oversee the health department and health-related initiatives, including the restructuring of the department and its public health programs and services. Abdul, a Rhodes scholar who also received his DPhil in population health from Oxford University, was a member of the epidemiology faculty at the Mailman School of Public Health, where he directed the GRAPH (Global Research Analytics for Population Health) program and conducted research on social determinants of health, health disparities, and obesity. In 2012, Abdul received a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. The fellowships are given to immigrants or children of immigrants to support graduate study. One of the 2015 recipients of a Soros Fellowship is Oswaldo (Oz) Hasbún Avalos, a current P&S student and a native of El Salvador who immigrated to the United States in 2001.

At this year’s alumni reunion, the Gold Medal to a Graduating Student in Recognition of His/Her Interest and Devotion to P&S and its Alumni Association was presented to Kathryn R. Dubowski and Michael E. Steinhaus.