Tag Archives: Precision Medicine

Think Big: Imagine the Possibilities

All-Staff Meeting Highlights
On February 10, members of Columbia’s Alumni and Development community gathered in Lerner Hall for a morning devoted to rethinking risk-taking and improvisation. Here are four takeaways and our photo gallery. 

24870728581_11ec6a500d_z1. Reinventing The University 
How can a university help the world cope with massive change? That was one of the questions posed by President Lee C. Bollinger in his discussion with Nicholas Lemann, director of Columbia Global Reports.

We can no longer rely on the old paradigm of faculty individually pursuing research. We must adjust our thinking, to do more. Through interdisciplinary cooperation, a network of Global Centers, and partnerships with scholars, alumni, and donors throughout the world, Columbia is redefining the role of the university. We are uniquely positioned to solve complex problems in an increasingly interconnected world.


24870728001_b93eefaf95_z2. What Jazz Can Teach Us
 Chris Washburne, director of Columbia’s Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program, demonstrated the power of improvisation.

He led a quintet of Columbia’s jazz faculty through a selection of standards, and they knocked the room’s socks off, though it was their first time playing together. How did they do it? Each member of the group was improvising and listening to each other.

The lesson? Staying in the moment and really listening to someone is key. Sometimes, improvising leads to failure. But from failure comes transformation. When pianist Herbie Hancock joined Miles Davis’s quintet in 1963 and hit a wrong note during a performance, he was sure he would be fired. But Davis simply changed the notes to make it sound beautiful. “There are no wrong notes in jazz,” Washburne quoted Davis as saying. “It’s what you play after that matters. It’s not the failure that counts. It’s how you respond to the failure.” Learning to “listen until you sweat” and honor all voices is freeing, allows us to think differently and make something new, as the quintet did. Watch more Chris Washburne in this T@lks Columbia video, “Why Jazz Matters.”



3. Saying Yes to the Unusual
Philip Markle, executive director of Annoyance Theater in Brooklyn, and our own Nina Williams, ‎associate director of development at the Medical Center, riffed on the lessons of improvisation, and led the room through some exercises. “The key to improv,” Markle said, “is to listen to and build on what your fellow performers say.” By saying yes to the unusual, the unlikely, and the improbable, we validate outside-the-box thinking, generate new ideas, and ultimately, better ways of working. 


amelia_retreat4. Full of Possibilities
Columbia raised a record $6.1 billion during its last campaign, and is on track to announce the next biggest number for the Ivy League.

For Columbia and the Office of Alumni and Development, and our peers across the community, FY2016 is full of possibilities,” said executive vice president for University development and alumni relations, Amelia J. Alverson.

We’ve set ambitious goals for dollars, donors, and engagement for the campaign. Each of us, Amelia said, has an opportunity “think big” and imagine the possibilities in our work by “listening to those around you… and taking risks to improvise and innovate.”

Opportunities also exist to engage alumni, donors, and friends in “3D”: through university Big Ideas; school ideas and initiatives; and all the ongoing ways we are are already engaging with faculty, alumni, students, and donors. 

“It all leads to strengthening Columbia’s role in the world,” said Amelia. 

retreatSee the Retreat in Photos
Look for your colleagues (and yourself) in our photo gallery




A Precision Medicine Primer from Three Faculty Members

Learn about precision medicine from faculty members who are leading the charge: Tom Maniatis, David Goldstein, and Wendy Chung.

Tom Maniatis Gives An Overview
Tom Maniatis, chair of the department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at CUMC and director of Columbia’s Precision Medicine Initiative, appeared in this video from Time.


David Goldstein on Genetic Diagnosis
David Goldstein, director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine, shares a story of challenging case: a toddler who had trouble walking, arm weakness, and vision problems successfully treated after advanced genetic testing revealed a surprise cause. Watch the video.


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Wendy Chung on Clinical Genetics
Wendy Chung, Herbert Irving associate professor of pediatrics, discusses her genetic research and how it is changing the treatment of disease in this Q&A.

The Promise and Challenge of Precision Medicine: An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Sponsored by the
Center for Science and Society

Featuring speakers from the fields of science, medicine, and the humanities.


David Goldstein, Professor of Genetics and Development and Director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine, Columbia University
Johnathan Metzl, Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry, and the Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, Vanderbilt University

Rachel Adams, Professor of English and American Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University
Ronald Bayer, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences,  Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
Yaniv Erlich, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University
Gil Eyal, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Columbia University
Kathyrn Tabb, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Alondra Nelson
, Dean of Social Science and Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Columbia University. 

February 18  5:15pm | Low Memorial Library

Register here