Columbia Medicine Fall/Winter 2017
This November 2nd, the lighting of the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan commemorated the day in 1767 that classes began at Columbia’s medical school. The Columbia blue lighting symbolized our 250 years of scientific and medical contributions that confirm what we have been saying during this anniversary year: “We don’t just practice medicine. We change it.”
One of those scientific contributions—cryo-electron microscopy—was recognized this year by a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Joachim Frank, professor of biochemistry & molecular biophysics at P&S, shared the prize for his contribution to a discovery that allows us to visualize the structures of large biological molecules at atomic resolution, providing researchers with images that will improve our basic understanding of life’s chemistry and biology and, as a result, open the door for new diagnostic and therapeutic advances.
P&S faculty and alumni have received Nobels frequently enough—we count 22 faculty or alumni, including three current faculty members—that we know our 250th anniversary is not just a celebration of longevity. A school that can boast as many discoveries and firsts as we can—the antibiotic bacitracin, identification of cystic fibrosis, a cure for bacterial meningitis, cardiac catheterization, bone marrow transplantation, a vaccine to eradicate Rh disease, a test to assess newborn health, and multiple genes implicated in disease—is celebrating 250 years of changing medicine.
The November 2nd lighting of the Empire State Building also recognized P&S as the school that granted the first MD degree in the Colonies and has given nearly 21,000 MD degrees since. It honored the oldest medical school in New York state, the 40-year anniversary of the first heart transplant performed here, the 100-year anniversary of the admission of women to P&S, the 100 year anniversary of the hiring of the first woman to a professorial rank, the groundbreaking partnership between P&S and Presbyterian Hospital to create an academic medical center, and so much more.
As we have celebrated our past throughout 2017, we also continue to look to our future, confident that we will build on our legacy by remaining at the very forefront of biomedical research, innovative education, and cutting-edge clinical care.
With best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018.
Lee Goldman, MD, Dean
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