Alumni Association Activities

September 2014 through January 2015

Alumni Council Dinners

Alumni and guests gathered Sept. 17, 2014, for a dinner program devoted to a tribute to the late Richard J. Stock’47, past president, longtime treasurer and historian of the P&S Alumni Association, and legendary chairman of the P&S Annual Fund. Speakers included Thomas Q. Morris’58, Alumni Association historian and Alumni Professor Emeritus of Clinical Medicine at P&S; Gerard M. Turino’48, retired professor of medicine at P&S; Jane E. Salmon’78, professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College; Jerry Gliklich’75, the David A. Gardner Professor of Medicine at P&S; and Kenneth A. Forde’59, the Jose A. Ferrer Professor Emeritus of Clinical Surgery at P&S and a Columbia University Trustee. Dr. Morris called Dr. Stock “a driving force in changing the care of atherosclerosis at this institution. He spearheaded the development of the first coronary care unit at this hospital. This is something we now all take for granted but if not for his vision and fundraising ability, it might never have happened.” Dr. Stock was, to quote Dr. Morris, the recipient of “a real trifecta of honors”: the P&S Alumni Gold Medal for Excellence in Clinical Medicine, the Conspicuous Service Medal of the Columbia University Alumni Federation, and the P&S Alumni Medal of Service. Recounting one of his first memories of his old friend, Dr. Turino as a first-year medical student borrowed the histology notes of Dr. Stock, then a second-year student, and admired their clarity. Dr. Salmon recalled how Dr. Stock “put the “I can do” in “can do” in whatever he did, whether it was daredevil skiing, fundraising for P&S, or gardening in Sagaponack. Dr. Gliklich recalled Dr. Stock as “a teacher, mentor, role model, colleague, friend, and patient,” lauding him as “a man of protean talents.” Dr. Forde, who first encountered Dr. Stock as a teacher, particularly valued the lesson on “the very practical art of writing prescriptions. He was a stickler for decency and protocol, a trait often mistaken for diffidence.” Later, upon getting to know him as a colleague, he recalled that Dr. Stock “was a supporter of inclusiveness and diversity long before its political correctness was even debated.”

Wendy Chung and Brenda Aiken At the council dinner on Nov. 19, 2014, Alumni Association President Brenda Aiken’81 read a memorial resolution into the record for Edgar M. Housepian’53, professor emeritus of neurological surgery at P&S, who died a few days earlier. Guest speaker Wendy K. Chung, MD, PhD, (pictured above with Brenda Aiken) associate professor of pediatrics and medicine and director of clinical genetics at P&S, took to the podium to set the record straight and debunk much of the hype about human genomics. Today, said Dr. Chung, “we have become very good at making the diagnosis of a genetic condition,” cautioning, however, that “significantly more effort will be needed to advance knowledge to a point at which genetic diseases can be treated at the molecular level.” The upside, as she sees it, is that even if no treatment is available, some parents can be greatly reassured to know what the genetic diagnosis of their child is and in some cases what it isn’t. A member of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research and of the Genomics and Society Working Group, Dr. Chung was the original plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned the ability to patent genes. A member of the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators at P&S and devoted mentor to her students, she received the American Medical Women’s Association Mentor Award and the Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.

On Jan. 14, 2015, P&S Dean Lee Goldman hosted the annual “Dean’s Council Dinner,” an occasion at which he offers alumni an inside look at the state of the school. “We are a school that trains the very best medical students to become the very best doctors with what we believe is the very best curriculum. That balance between a very well taught, but succinct, core body of knowledge and lots of other learning opportunities at a great medical center, I believe, is what really differentiates our curriculum from many others across the country.” He reported that “relations between P&S and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital have never been better. We’re growing programs together, recruiting top faculty, expanding our clinical programs. And, of course, much of our eminence comes from our research, and I am proud to say that the research programs here are flourishing. Every year our NIH-funded research has been going up.” He also highlighted a new initiative in precision medicine and the school’s commitment to the small African nation of Lesotho, where P&S is a pivotal partner in the establishment of the nation’s first medical school. Following the completion of the new education building, Dr. Goldman said the next priority will be renovation of Bard Hall, an Art Deco gem in which generations of alumni came of age.           

Dr. Goldman introduced the evening’s guest speaker, Anne L. Taylor, MD, the John Lindenbaum Professor of Medicine, vice dean of P&S, and senior vice president for faculty affairs and career development at CUMC. Among numerous past accomplishments, Dr. Taylor co-authored a book on faculty mentoring and co-directed a joint NIH/National Medical Association mentoring program for minority house staff seeking academic appointments. She also chaired the steering committee for the African-American Heart Failure Trial, the first major clinical trial to test the effectiveness of heart failure medication in self-identified African Americans. Dr. Taylor outlined her ongoing initiatives to change the faculty title system and promotion criteria to place greater value on the accomplishments of faculty who do things other than research. “We wanted to make very explicit and clear,” she said, “what the work was that is so valuable that all of our faculty do, encompassing education, clinical care, research, community outreach, and then to define the parameters for success, and finally to develop programs that support faculty and help foster that success.”