Advisory Board



Dr. Rita Charon (Chair)

Rita Charon is Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. A general internist with a primary care practice in Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Charon took a Ph.D. in English when she realized how central is telling and listening to stories to the work of doctors and patients.

She directs the Narrative Medicine curriculum for Columbia’s medical school and teaches literature, narrative ethics, and life-telling, both in the medical center and Columbia’s Department of English. Her literary scholarship focuses on the novels and tales of Henry James. Her research projects center on the outcomes of training health care professionals in narrative competence and the development of narrative clinical routines to increase the capacity for clinical recognition in medical practice. She is currently Principal Investigator on an NIH project to enhance the teaching of social science and behavioral science in medical schools.

Her work in narrative medicine has been recognized by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American College of Physicians, the Society for Health and Human Values, the American Academy on Healthcare Communication, and the Society of General Internal Medicine. She is the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residence and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. She has published and lectured extensively on the ways in which narrative training helps to increase empathy and reflection in health professionals and students. She is author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness and co-editor of Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine and Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics.



Dr. Robert LefkowiLefkowitztz

Dr. Lefkowitz is the James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University. He has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1976. He was the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, a prize he shared with his former trainee Dr. Brian Kobilka, who is currently a Professor at Stanford.

Lefkowitz was born on April 15, 1943, in The Bronx, New York. After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science in 1959, he attended Columbia College from which he received a bachelor of arts in chemistry in 1962.

He graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1966 with an M.D. Degree. After serving an internship and one year of general medical residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, he served as Clinical and Research Associate at the National Institutes of Health from 1968 to 1970. Upon completing his medical residency and research and clinical training in 1973 at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston he joined the faculty at Duke where he has worked ever since.

Lefkowitz studies receptor biology and signal transduction and is most well-known for his detailed characterizations of the sequence, structure and function of the β-adrenergic and related receptors and for the discovery and characterization of the two families of proteins which regulate them, the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) kinases and β-arrestins.

He has served as President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and of the Association of America Physicians, and on the Council of the USA National Academy of Sciences. In 1988, he was inducted into both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1994, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lefkowitz has received more than 70 awards for his work on cellular receptors, including the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1988), the Association of America Medical Colleges’ Biomedical Research Award (1990), the American Heart Association’s Basic Research Prize (1990) and its Research Achievement Award (2009), the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cardiovascular Research (1992), the National Academy of Sciences’ Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal (2001), Fred Conrad Koch Award of The Endocrine Society (2001), and three honorary doctorates. In 2007 he received the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research and The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine. He received the 2007 National Medal of Science, presented by President George W. Bush on Sept. 29, 2008, in a White House ceremony and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2012.


Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 10.15.03 AMDr. Donald Landry

Donald W. Landry, M.D., Ph.D. is the Samuel Bard Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of the Medical Service at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Landry completed his Ph.D. in organic chemistry under R. B. Woodward at Harvard University and obtained his M.D. degree from Columbia University, followed by a residency in Internal Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital before joining Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine.

His basic research focuses on drug discovery, and his clinical research focuses on his discovery that vasopressin insufficiency contributes to vasodilatory shock. He developed the alternative, embryo-sparing approach for the production of human embryonic stem cells based on the harvesting of live cells from dead embryos. He was a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2008 to 2009, and is Co-Chairman, along with Dr. Robert P. George, of the Witherspoon Council on Ethics & the Integrity of Science. In 2009, Dr. Landry was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian award.


ChungDr. Wendy Chung

Wendy Chung, M.D., Ph.D. is a clinical and molecular geneticist who directs the clinical genetics program at Columbia University and performs human genetic research. She is an associate professor of pediatrics and medicine.

She received her B.A. in biochemistry and economics from Cornell University, her M.D. from Cornell University Medical College, and her Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University in genetics. Dr. Chung directs NIH funded research programs in human genetics of obesity, breast cancer, pulmonary hypertension, and birth defects including congenital diaphragmatic hernia and congenital heart disease. She leads the Simons VIP study characterizing genetic forms of autism and tests novel treatments for autism in clinical trials.

She has authored over 200 peer reviewed papers and numerous chapters in medical texts. She was the recipient of the American Academy of Pediatrics Young Investigator Award, the Medical Achievement Award from Bonei Olam, and a career development award from Doris Duke. Dr. Chung is renowned for her teaching and mentoring. She is a member of the Glenda Garvey Teaching Academy and has won many awards for teaching including the Charles W. Bohmfalk Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching, American Medical Women’s Association Mentor Award, and Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching. She was the original plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned the ability to patent genes and is a member of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research and the Genomics & Society Working Group.

Dr. Chung enjoys the challenges of genetics as a rapidly changing field of medicine and strives to facilitate the integration of genetic medicine into all areas of health care in a medically, scientifically, and ethically sound, accessible, and cost effective manner.


goldmanDr. Lee Goldman

Lee Goldman, MD, MPH, is the Harold and Margaret Hatch Professor and Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences at Columbia University, where he also serves as Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Goldman received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Yale University, where he also earned a Masters degree in Public Health. He did his clinical training in medicine at UCSF and Massachusetts General Hospital, and in cardiology at Yale New Haven Hospital. Before joining Columbia he was the Julius R. Krevans Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs of the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to moving to San Francisco, he served as Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine and later Chief Medical Officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Goldman’s research has focused on the costs and effectiveness of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, with special emphasis on how the delivery of medical care can be improved based on the results of high-quality clinical investigation. Dr. Goldman is best known for his pioneering work in applying the latest methods of multivariate analysis, cost-effectiveness, quality-of-life, and computer-simulation models to key topics in clinical medicine. This work at the interface between ‘public health school methods’ and clinical medicine is exemplified by his work predicting the cardiac risk of non-cardiac surgery (the ‘Goldman Index’), determining which patients with chest pain require hospital admission (‘the Goldman Criteria’), establishing priorities for the prevention and treatment of coronary disease (the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model), and changing the way medical care is delivered (the scientific basis for the now ubiquitous chest-pain evaluation units and the creation of the first academic hospitalist program).

His more than 450 publications include more than 20 first- or senior-authored articles in the New England Journal of Medicine, the premier journal for patient-oriented research. The more than 45 trainees who have first-authored peer-reviewed publications under his mentorship include many who are now leaders in cardiology, general internal medicine, and public health nationally and internationally. As a creator of the Harvard Program in Clinical Effectiveness (Nature 1994;371:100), he has contributed to the training of hundreds of physician investigators and developed approaches that served as one of the models for the National Institutes of Health’s K-30 program, which now provides analogous training to patient-oriented researchers at numerous academic medical centers throughout the country.


Sparer(1)Dr. Michael Sparer

Michael S. Sparer, PhD, JD, studies and writes about the politics of health care, with a particular emphasis on the health insurance and health delivery systems for low-income populations, and the ways in which inter-governmental relations influences policy, both in the U.S. and abroad.

His current projects include a review and analysis of lessons learned from thirty years of Medicaid managed care programs, a book funded by the RWJ Investigator Program, which examines how American Federalism influenced the politics and substance of the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and a comparison of inter-governmental health politics in the U.S. and the UK.

He is a two-time winner of the Mailman School’s Student Government Association Teacher of the Year Award, as well as the recipient of a 2010 Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching. Professor Sparer spent seven years as a litigator for the New York City Law Department, specializing in inter-governmental social welfare litigation. After leaving the practice of law, he obtained a PhD in Political Science from Brandeis University. Professor Sparer is the former editor of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, and the author of Medicaid and the Limits of State Health Reform, as well as numerous articles and book chapters.


phillip_lopateDr. Phillip Lopate

Phillip Lopate was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943, and received a bachelor’s degree at Columbia in 1964, and a doctorate at Union Graduate School in 1979. He is the author of three essay collections: Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, and Portrait of My Body; two novels: Confessions of Summer and The Rug Merchant; a pair of novellas: Two Marriages; two poetry collections: The Eyes Don’t Always Want to Stay Open and The Daily Round; and a memoir of his teaching experiences, Being With Children.

He has edited the following anthologies: The Art of the Personal Essay, Writing New York, Journal of a Living Experiment, American Movie Critics; along with a series collecting the best essays of the year, The Anchor Essay Annual, Getting Personal: Selected Writings was published by Basic Books in 2003. His two most recent books are At the End of the Day, a collection of poetry, and Notes on Sontag, part of a new series from Princeton University Press.

He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. He received a Christopher medal for Being With Children, a Texas Institute of Letters award in the best non-fiction book of the year category for Bachelorhood, and was a finalist for the PEN best essay book of the year award for Portrait of My Body. His anthology, Writing New York, received a citation from the New York Society Library and honorable mention from the Municipal Art Society’s Brendan Gill Award.

After working with children for twelve years as a writer in the schools, he taught creative writing and literature at Fordham, Cooper Union, University of Houston, Hofstra University, New York University and Bennington College. He is the director of the nonfiction graduate program at Columbia University, where he also teaches writing.


Sideli(1)Dr. Robert Sideli

Bob received a bachelor of arts in chemistry from Middlebury College and then studied medicine at the University of Rome, Italy, graduating with honors in 1985. Bob did his internship and residency in anatomic pathology at Presbyterian Hospital in New York.

In addition to his medical training, Bob did a three year fellowship in Medical Informatics at the Center for Medical Informatics at Columbia University in New York, joining the faculty as an assistant professor upon his completion. In 1993, he accepted the position of Director of Administrative Information Systems at Presbyterian Hospital. In that position, he was responsible for overseeing the selection and implementation of several large scale projects including HIS, HRIS, and Payroll Systems. In 1995, Bob became a partner with Preferred Health Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in physician practices. In 1998, he became the Chief Information Officer at Metropolitan Jewish Health System in New York. There he consolidated the information technology staff from several separate business units and implemented an ambitious overhaul of the technology infrastructure. In 2003 Bob took a senior position at Cerner and led the implementation of Cerner information technology products at a major hospital system in Indiana. He became the Chief Information Officer for Columbia University Medical Center on June 15, 2007.

He is an associate professor in the Columbia University Department of Biomedical Informatics and studies the application of business process reengineering in healthcare. He is co-director of a new medical school curriculum thread titled Systems, Leadership, Improvement and Management (SLIM).


herbChaseDr. Herbert Chase, MD, MA

For more than 30 years, Herbert Chase, MD, MA, has taught clinical medicine and basic science at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. He is a board-certified internist and nephrologist who spent the early part of his career as a basic scientist. After shifting his interest from research to education, he participated in, developed, and directed several major medical school courses. In 2000 he was appointed the first Deputy Dean for Education at Yale School of Medicine, where he introduced several major programmatic changes. In 2006 he returned to Columbia to enter the Masters program in Biomedical Informatics as a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Chase has been recognized for his outstanding teaching with many awards, including the Presidential Teaching Award of Columbia University.

Dr. Chase is currently a Professor of Clinical Medicine (in Biomedical Informatics) and is involved in several research projects that explore the development and potential integration of artificial intelligence into the electronic health record (EHR) to improve medical practice. Projects include developing automated methods to detect chronic kidney disease in its earliest stages; using machine-learning to predict the future natural history of chronic illnesses; implementing strategies for pharmacovigilance operating through the EHR; and creation of a patient record summary in the EHR. Dr. Chase served as a medical advisor to the IBM team that developed the medical version of Watson and is currently a member of the Watson Healthcare Advisory Board. He continues to develop new educational programs at Columbia, where he is currently implementing two four-year curricular threads, one in Biomedical Informatics and the other in Medical Decision-Making.


JacobAppelDr. Jacob M. Appel, MD, JD

Jacob M. Appel, MD, JD, is a psychiatrist and professional bioethicist who writes about issues at the nexus of law, medicine and morality.  Dr. Appel taught bioethics for many years at Brown University, and later at NYU and Columbia, before joining the faculty at Mount Sinai.  He has been a regular ethics columnist at the Huffington Post, Opposing Views and Education Update, and has contributed Op-Eds and commentary to dozens of national and regional newspapers including The New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, San Francisco Chronicle and Providence Journal.   He publishes regularly in such journals as Hastings Center Report, The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, The Journal of Law, Medicine and EthicsThe Journal of Medical Ethics, The Journal of BioethicalInquiry and numerous law reviews.  His essays, which have been shortlisted for Best American Essays on multiple occasions, were recently collected in the volume, Phoning Home (University of South Carolina Press, 2014)  His sixth volume of fiction, a collection of short stories, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in July 2015.  Dr. Appel can be contacted at