CUIMC Welcomes Community Leaders, Local Residents, Policy Makers, and Others to Campus for Project Medical Education

           Earlier this month, Project Medical Education returned to Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC). Hosted by the Office of Government & Community Affairs, Project Medical Education invites local residents, community leaders, policy makers, and others to spend the day on campus and learn about the day-to-day activities at CUIMC. Columbia’s Project Medical Education is part of a national effort led by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to educate elected officials and others about academic medicine.

            CUIMC has hosted a similar program since 2011 except when the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible do to so in 2020 and 2021. Columbia’s Project Medical Education came back live last year, the first post-pandemic Project Medical Education program anywhere in the country. The 2023 program marks the 14th time that Columbia  has hosted the program (including earlier iterations of the program), more than any other medical school or teaching hospital in the country.

            This year Project Medical Education included 22 guests, about half of whom were from Northern Manhattan. Also, among the group were federal and city health care policy experts as well as representatives from several health care organizations.

           The day started with quick overviews of research and finances at CUIMC. The programming began in earnest with Dr. Jean Marie Alves Bradford discussing the VP&S curriculum. Then it was off to the New York State Psychiatric Institute (PI) for a session on mental health. Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele and Linda Rosenfield welcomed the group and gave an overview of the institute. Dr. Amy Margolis talked about the effects environmental factors can have on mental health, and the group also had the chance to tour the Neuropathology Lab.

            At the Mailman School of Public Health, the grouped toured Dr. Matthew Perzanowski’s lab and heard an update on the Pandemic Response Institute from Mitch Stripling. Maria O’Brien also discussed what is Public Health and how the Mailman Schools trains its graduates to work in the field.

Participants observe stem cells at the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative.

            Several medical students joined the group for lunch and Dean Katrina Armstrong stopped by to chat with our guests for a bit. After a group photo, everybody proceeded to the Black Building to learn about the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative and visit the lab of Dr. Emmanuelle Passegue. There, Project Medical Education participants had an opportunity to try their hand at pipetting and observing zebra fish under a microscope. They also saw some of the latest technology being used in the lab’s core facilities.

            Then it was off to the School of Nursing. After remarks by Dean Lorraine Frazier, Dr. Kellie Bryant led a tour of the simulation facilities where participants got to engage in simulation activities test themselves in an escape room exercise.

           The final stop of the day was the College of Dental Medicine. After touring one of the mobile dental clinics, the group went to the preclinical lab to learn about how dentists could prevent and treat sleep apnea. Participants then had the chance to test their digital imaging skills and practice inserting implants, all on models, not patients.

            The day was capped off with a reception and graduation ceremony. Ross Frommer, vice president for government & community affairs congratulated everybody on completing the program. “Project Medical Education is a wonderful opportunity for community residents and others to see first-hand what we do here at CUIMC each and every day. We had a great group of guests this who have already given us some ideas for the 2024 program.” 

            Dr. Passegue added, “It was wonderful to have Project Medical Education tour our labs and technical facilities and learn about stem cell research at Columbia. Part of our responsibility as scientists is to educate and to help people understand stem cell research and regenerative medicine and to help them understand why it is so important."

           Dr. Biana Roykh, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at the College of Dental Medicine said, “ The Project Medical Education program has been an incredible opportunity to connect with community leaders and advocates. The College of Dental Medicine’s residents and faculty were able to share information about the care and services they offer to patients of Washington Heights, the South Bronx, Harlem and other nearby counties. Participants were able to connect with faculty and students through experiential workshop and share ideas about how to improve oral health.”

The group participated in an escape room activity, practicing skills that School of Nursing students learn.

            Participant feedback was positive. “Attending the Project Medical Education event at Columbia University was an unforgettable journey through their diverse schools and departments. The hands-on experiences, expert insights, and camaraderie left me inspired to further enhance my skills and knowledge – a testament to the event's immense value." said Dr. Clotilde Monguya , MD, MPH , a member of Manhattan Community District Board 9.

           Danielle Turnipseed, chief public policy officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, added, “I really had a great learning experience and felt like I was immersed in the essence of your institution. As a result of this program, I was able to learn so much about CUIMC. I am still talking about all of the things we saw when we toured – the environmental impacts on brain development of local youth, preservation and study of human brains dating back 30 years, the beating heart cell from pluripotent stem cells, and literally running up and down the stairs in a nursing simulation and the much more simplified way to get dental x-rays. I was really excited about all the amazing work going on at the medical center. What a true gem is located right in the heart of NYC.”

            The next CUIMC Project Medical Education will be held sometime in mid-2024.