Office for Research
The mission of the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) Office for Research is to facilitate the highest caliber of biomedical research, from basic to translational to clinical, among the VP&S faculty, students, and staff at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. The Office works across departments, centers, and institutes to foster interdisciplinary research collaborations, and supports efforts to secure funding for such collaborations. Communicating and coordinating with school deans, the Office of the Provost, and other offices of research administration throughout the University, the Office for Research works to ease hurdles and provide tools to facilitate research.
The Office has a team devoted, through hands-on support, to the implementation of the strategic plan for research in the school of medicine. The Office for Research strives to achieve its mission through the following goals:
- To facilitate individual research endeavors by providing faculty, students and staff with: (1) aid in navigating and minimizing institutional obstacles to research; (2) tools and services for grants; (3) support for core and shared resources.
- To furnish school-wide research efforts through leadership support and strategic resources to maintain the highest standards in research excellence.
- To assist junior faculty in identifying and successfully competing for extramural funding.
- To foster inter-departmental research collaborations through proposal development and project management services.
- To create systems and resources that facilitate research activities and develop and enhance efficiencies in research management.
- To ensure faculty input regarding the school’s research direction, policy and compliance efforts.
- To recognize faculty accomplishments in research and scientific excellence.
- To promote an environment that incites innovation and is flexible to meet scientific demand.
Through these services, the Office for Research aims to support the VP&S scientific community to achieve excellence in their scientific and academic endeavors.
Investigators should use this service to find answers to their research needs. Email your research questions to the Office for Research and we will reply within one business day.
VP&S Core/Shared Resource Management
There are many core and shared resources at VP&S. For lab facility directors, the Office for Research provides licenses for the iLAB Core Management System to monitor equipment scheduling and ensure timely billing of lab services. Please email the VP&S Office for Research for more information.
Proposal Development Services
Our proposal development team is composed of a highly-motivated group of individuals that can facilitate and manage large, complex grant submissions. Furthermore, they have curated materials for the Grant Toolbox and run a K Club to help junior faculty apply for NIH K awards. Please email the Office for Research for more information.
The Basic Science Pre-Award Core assists faculty in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Genetics & Development, Medical Humanities & Ethics, Microbiology & Immunology, Pharmacology, Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, Systems Biology, the Institute for Cancer Genetics, and the Institute for Genomic Medicine with proposal submissions.
Learn more about the Basic Science Pre-Award Core.
Michael Shelanski, MD, PhD
Senior Vice Dean for Research and Henry Taub Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology
Michael Shelanski became the Senior Vice Dean for Research in October of 2015. He is also the Co-Director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain. Before becoming the Senior Vice Dean for Research, he was the Chairman and Francis Delafield Professor of the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology as well as the Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program. He is a Member of the American Association of Neuropathologists, the Association of American Physicians and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Research in his laboratory has focused on elucidating the molecular causes of memory disruption and synaptic malfunction in Alzheimer’s Disease. His laboratory has identified and purified many of the major cytoskeletal proteins associated with aberrant neuronal structures as well as aims to establish methods to induce neurogenesis in neural stem cells for means of neuronal repair in Alzheimer’s Disease. His lab has served as a training ground for numerous exemplary scholars in the field of neurodegeneration.
Jennifer Williamson, MS, MPH
Associate Vice Dean for Research Policy and Scientific Strategy
Jennifer Williamson joined Dr. Shelanski in the VP&S Office for Research in October 2015 as the Associate Vice Dean for Research. Jennifer and the VP&S Office for Research team support the clinical and basic science research faculty, working with the VP&S departments, centers and institutes to facilitate interdisciplinary research and new initiatives through research support services and core research facilities.
Since 1998, she has worked with faculty and administrative leadership in both research and clinical operations at Columbia University. In Richard Mayeux’s lab, she served as the research coordinator and manager of the genetic research studies of Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegenerative disorders in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s disease and the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center. Prior to joining the Office for Research, she was the director of clinical operations in the Department of Neurology. Additionally, she was genetic counselor for 12 years in the Columbia University Huntington Disease Center of Excellence directed by Karen Marder. She holds a MS in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from Sarah Lawrence College, a MPH in Health Policy and Management from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and a BS in Molecular Genetics from the Ohio State University.
Manager, Research Administration
Naomi Hornedo joined the VP&S Office for Research in 2012. In her role of Administrative Manager, she manages the internal research funding opportunities, honors and awards, and provides executive support to the Office for Research.
Since 1996, She has provided service to Columbia’s faculty and administration in the basic and clinical sciences. The first 14 years were in the Department of Biochemistry’s central office as a Junior Accountant. In 2010, she worked in the Office of the Dean, Finance, and Administration as an Administrative Coordinator and assisted the Associate Vice Dean of Finance/CFO and his staff. She received her BS in Business Administration Management from William Paterson University.
Daichi Shimbo, MD
Associate Dean of Research Career Development, Director of the TRANSFORM, Associate Professor of Medicine
Dr. Daichi Shimbo received a B.S. from the Johns Hopkins University in Biomedical Engineering (1991) and a M.D. from the Albany Medical College (1995). After completing an Internal Medicine residency (1998), Dr. Shimbo went on to complete Chief Medical residency in Internal Medicine (1999) and fellowship in Cardiovascular Medicine (2003) at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, before joining the faculty at Columbia University in September 2003. As faculty, Dr. Shimbo is a clinician-scientist, committed to creating and disseminating an evidence-base of clinical and translational research in how hypertension and its different phenotypes are related to cardiovascular disease onset. In particular, Dr. Shimbo’s work has led to improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension subtypes associated with the highest cardiovascular disease and mortality risk. Dr. Shimbo is currently the Director of the TRANSFORM (Training and Nurturing Scholars for Research that Is Multidisciplinary) Resource and Associate Director of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center Clinical and Translational Research Award (CTSA). Dr. Shimbo is also co-leader of the workforce development initiative at the Irving Institute, and was recently appointed the Associate Dean of Research Career Development. In his roles, he is responsible for directing and refining training and educational programs for early career clinical and translational scientists at Columbia.
Emer Smyth, PhD
Assistant Dean for Cancer Research, Director of Cancer Research Alliances, and Assistant Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology
Emer Smyth joined the the VP&S Office for Research and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) in November 2016 as director of cancer research alliances and assistant dean for cancer research. Born and raised in Ireland, Dr. Smyth received her Bachelor’s Degree in Science and PhD in Pharmacology from the National University of Ireland’s University College Dublin. Before coming to HICCC, Dr. Smyth worked at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) as director of the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) translational research grant programs where she managed the administration and scientific review and oversight of US and international “Dream Team” multimillion dollar grants, as well as other funding models. She provided scientific administrative and communications support to SU2C and their funding partners, as well as SU2C scientists and Scientific Advisory Committees, across all phases of program launch, evaluation, selection, and post-award review. Prior to her time with the AACR, Dr. Smyth was a research associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where her group investigated a family of inflammatory lipid mediators in breast cancer and vascular disease. She has contributed close to 50 peer-reviewed research publications, scholarly reviews, and chapters over the course of her career thus far. At the HICCC, Dr. Smyth manages and directs the operations that establish, enable, and support the discovery efforts of the Celgene Cancer Drug Discovery Consortium. More broadly, she enhances the scope and impact of cancer research at Columbia by supporting development of large scale funding programs in cancer research and increasing awareness of CUIMC’s cancer research and care programs, within and beyond Columbia.
Danielle Matsushima, PhD
Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives
Danielle Matsushima joined the VP&S Office for Research in August 2016 to provide research development support for VP&S investigators and to foster new initiatives that promote research excellence. She is passionate about science and Columbia’s scientific educational community having served as: Co-President of CUIMC’s Graduate Student Organization; a Board Member for the Columbia Women in Science Club; a lecturer for Columbia Splash; and a mentor for Columbia’s Science Matters Research Internship Program. For several years, she was a Writing and Critical Thinking Mentor for Minds Matter NYC, a non-profit organization helping high school students attain their college dreams. Her graduate thesis work focused on the molecular pathways that regulate hematopoietic stem cell quiescence and her undergraduate research elucidated the role of Sox2 in retinal progenitor cell differentiation. Dr. Matsushima holds a PhD in Genetics and Development from Columbia University and a BS in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Stefanie Makinson, PhD
Grant and Research Development Associate
Stefanie Makinson joined the VP&S Office for Research in October 2020 to support investigators in securing extramural funding for basic science, translational, and clinical research at Columbia University. She is deeply committed to advancing transformative science having worked at a gene therapy start-up focused on neuromodulation for three years prior to joining VP&S. She also has expertise in translating complex ideas into readily-digestible concepts, developed in part as an HHMI teaching fellow where she co-taught Neuroscience for Non-Majors and through her experiences presenting at scientific advisory board meetings, as well as national and international scientific conferences. Her graduate thesis work was in basic science where she determined the role for a novel scaffold protein in the regulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission. She completed her postdoctoral training in translational science at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, CA where she determined how the thalamus and its microcircuits become pathological in epilepsy and neurodegeneration. Dr. Makinson holds a PhD in Neuroscience from Emory University and a BS in Neuroscience from Furman University.
Michelle Ryndak, PhD
Grant and Research Development Associate
Michelle Ryndak recently joined the VP&S Office for Research in October 2020 as Grant and Research Development Associate. Michelle is a certified Project Management Professional and has a PhD in Molecular Microbiology from Stony Brook University. She has a background in both scientific editing and academic research. Michelle was junior research faculty at NYU School of Medicine where her work focused on M. tuberculosis transcriptional adaptation to physiologically relevant environments to understand M. tuberculosis pathogenesis and primary dissemination with implications for the diagnosis of extrapulmonary forms of tuberculosis and novel strategies for tuberculosis vaccine development. Michelle also enjoyed mentoring PhD students and clinicians through the NIH Fogarty International HIV/TB Research Training Program at NYU. She is very excited to support the researchers at Columbia through the grant writing process.
John Seeley, PhD
Director of Research Operations
John Seeley joined the VP&S Office for Research in December 2017 to support initiatives to acquire and maintain the physical infrastructure and specialized scientific instruments that enable cutting-edge research. Dr. Seeley’s graduate thesis work described a novel role for microRNAs in regulating persistent changes to the transcriptional response of innate immune cells, ultimately determining whether these cells are likely to contribute to disease. In subsequent research performed as a postdoctoral research scientist, he verified these findings in vivo and identified potential biomarkers for rapid diagnosis of sepsis. His work was presented at talks in multiple international conferences and in several publications. As a student at Columbia, Dr. Seeley served on the executive board of CUIMC’s Graduate Student Organization and also as a departmental representative for the intercampus Graduate Student Advisory Council. Dr. Seeley holds a PhD in Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection from Columbia University and a BS in Biology from the College of William and Mary.
Jeffrey Hoinacki, MS
Finance and Research Operations Manager
Jeff Hoinacki joined the VP&S Office for Research in June 2019, but has been at Columbia since 2012 working as the Finance Manager for Core Research Services at the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. While at the Irving Institute, Jeff developed budgets for its biobanks and its core facilities, including the Biomarkers Core Lab and the Clinical Research Resource. He also managed the service center license process for the cores and assisted with the day-to-day logistics for the BRIDGE and All of Us biobanks. As the Finance and Research Operations Manager in the Office for Research, Jeff will be assisting with the management of iLab, assisting with the service center rate licensing process and management, and leading various other research-based financial initiatives. Jeff Hoinacki holds a MS in Applied Analytics from Columbia University and a BS in Business Administration from Fordham University.
John Smerdon, PhD
Director of Special Scientific Projects
John Smerdon joined the VP&S Office for Research in January 2019 to guide institutional and external teams toward the completion of specialized scientiﬁc initiatives that promote the growth of the VP&S research mission. He has been an engaged member of the Columbia and broader New York City communities, cultivating several multidisciplinary collaborative scientific projects throughout his graduate student career, holding an observer’s seat on the University Senate Commission on Diversity, and mentoring multiple student trainees. He co-founded and directed the Science Matters Research Internship, a successful high school outreach program now in its 6th year, that has matched over 25 under-privileged high school students with mentors in Columbia laboratories. As a graduate student and NIH/NINDS Kirschstein-NRSA predoctoral fellow (F31), he specialized in electrophysiological analyses aimed to elucidate how electrical tuning in motor neurons lead to their unique action potential firing properties and in turn, make them selectively vulnerable to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Dr. Smerdon holds a PhD in Physiology and Cellular Biophysics from Columbia University, and a BS in Neuroscience and a BS in Biochemistry/Biophysics from Washington State University. Prior to his undergraduate education, he also attained World Class Technician status during his decade of work for General Motors.
Claudia Cosentino, PhD
Research Administration Fellow
Claudia Cosentino joined the VP&S Office for Research in October 2020, as a Research Administration Fellow. Claudia has a PhD in Molecular Oncology and Endocrinology from the University of Naples, in Italy. Her graduate studies showed how thyroid cells switch between growth and proliferation signals. She then became a postdoctoral fellow at Clare Hall Laboratories (UK), where she identified a novel link between DNA damage and metabolism. After completing her work in the UK, Claudia joined a laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she investigated the effect of epigenetic changes on metabolism in an in vivo model. Claudia’s graduate and post-graduate work has been presented in international symposiums as well in peer-reviewed publications. During her studies, Claudia also enjoyed mentoring students and teaching genomic and genetic undergraduate classes. Her research and teaching experiences fostered her passion to support the investigators to succeed in their research, and she is incredibly excited to have the opportunity to do so at the VP&S.
Anna Cetnerowski, MPA
Director of Pre-award
Anna Cetnerowski joined the VP&S Office for Research in June 2017. In her role as Director of Pre-award Core, she manages and provides support for grant submissions and all administrative activities within the Pre-award Core for the Basic Science Departments (Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Genetics & Development, the Institute of Genomic Medicine, Medical Humanities & Ethics, Microbiology & Immunology, Pharmacology, Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, and Systems Biology).
Since 2012, she has worked and supported Columbia’s faculty and administration in the basic sciences and clinical departments. She has extensive experience in pre- and post-grant management and has previously successfully managed submissions of complex, multi-projects awards, including NIH P, T, and U series grants. Prior to joining the Office for Research, she worked as a program coordinator in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, and as a Grants Manager in the Department of Medicine. She holds a MPA in Public Management from Baruch College, CUNY and a BS in Business Administration Management from the University of Gdansk in Poland.
Cristina Chen, PhD
Grants Coordinator, Pre-award Core
Cristina Chen joined the VP&S Office for Research in October 2018. As Grants Coordinator, she will be providing pre-award grant preparation and submission support for the basic science and clinical research faculty. Prior to joining the Office for Research, her doctoral and postdoctoral research focused on the identification and characterization of modulators of skin sensory neuron development and the characterization of neuropsychiatric risk genes identified via next-generation sequencing, respectively. In addition, Cristina has held a number of academic service leadership positions, including Chair of the Postdoctoral Career Development Program, Elected Member of the Postdoctoral Liaison Committee, and Co-Chair of the Graduate Student Recruitment Committee. She is also committed to science outreach and advocacy efforts, and has served as a mentor for the Partners for the Future Program for high school students and has advocated for increased funding to the NIH at the Rally for Medical Research in Washington D.C. Cristina holds a BA in Economics from Cornell University, a PhD in Neuroscience from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed her postdoctoral training at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Senior Research Administrator, Pre-award Core
Wendy Goldberg joined the VP&S Office for Research in July, 2018 – as a role of Senior Research Administrator, Pre-award Core. She received her BA in Business Studies from Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland UK. Since 2001, she has 17 years of experience providing service to Columbia’s faculty in pre and post award management in the following departments; Biomedical Engineering Department, Neurology Department, Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Joint Systems for Systems Biology and G.H. Sergievsky Center. Grants have ranged from NIH (P, T, U, F and R01’s), NSF, DOD, NYSTEM and private Foundations, in which she assisted from proposal to closeout in regards to budget, compliance and administrative guidance. In her new role, Wendy will provide support for grant submissions and all administrative activities within the Pre-Award Core for the Basic Science Departments at CUIMC.
Dola Sengupta, PhD
Senior Research Administrator, Pre-award Core
Dola Sengupta joined the Office for Research as Senior Research Administrator in late July 2017. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and then did her postdoctoral training at the Harvard Medical School and Yale University School of Medicine. Before coming to Columbia in 2008, she worked as a Project Leader at the biotechnology firm Curagen in New Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Sengupta began her work at Columbia University in the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative (CSCI) in the Dept. of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine. As the Administrative Director of CSCI, she very successfully administered all of CSCI’s activities, including strategic and financial planning, as well as research administration. She was also responsible for research (pre and post award) administration for the entire department of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine. Since the beginning of 2017, she has assisted the financial and research administration of the Departments of Neuroscience and Dermatology and has also assisted the VP&S Finance group. In her new role in the Office for Research, Dr. Sengupta will work in the Pre-Award Core group and will manage and provide support for grant submissions and all administrative activities within the Pre-Award Core for the Basic Science Departments at CUIMC.
VP&S Office for Research Advisory Committee
- Swarnali Acharyya, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology
- Henry Colecraft, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and Pharmacology
- Henry Ginsberg, MD, Professor of Medicine
- Ivaylo Ivanov, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
- Fangming Lin, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology
- Rodney Rothstein, PhD, Professor of Genetics and Development
- Alexander Sobolevsky, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
- Ronald Wapner, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Ai Yamamoto, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology