2023 Junior and Senior Mentor of the Year Awardees

November 2, 2023

The Mentor of the Year Award is presented each year to faculty on the Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus in recognition of their outstanding guidance and support provided to students, fellows, and colleagues.

This award is sponsored by the Irving Institute's TRANSFORM (TRaining And Nurturing Scholars FOr Research that is Multidisciplinary) resource.

Please join us in congratulating this year's junior and senior mentors.

Kiran T. Thakur, MD

Kiran T Thakur, MD
2023 Junior Mentor of the year

Dr. Kiran Thakur is the Herbert Irving Associate Professor of Neurology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dr. Thakur’s research encompasses both local and international scientific studies on the prevention and early diagnosis of neuroinfectious diseases. Her expertise and accomplishments in the field of neuroinfectious diseases have focused on her dedication to improving the ability to rapidly detect neuroinfectious diseases and reducing the burden of neuroinfectious diseases globally focusing on vulnerable, marginalized populations. Equitable access to care has been a central part of her work in neurology and neuroinfectious diseases. In 2020, she became the Director of the Program in Neuroinfectious Diseases in the Department of Neurology, whose goals are to accelerate efforts to implement ground-breaking research to inform clinical care practices in neuroinfectious diseases. The program is building a cadre of physician-scientists Dr. Thakur has mentored who are actively involved in research on neuroinfectious diseases in their local settings including Zambia, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Pakistan. Dr. Thakur is a passionate mentor with special interest in mentoring female trainees and historically underrepresented individuals in medicine. She has mentored several high school students and undergraduates, fourteen Columbia medical students for their fourth year scholarly-projects, Columbia dental school students, several public health students, and neurology resident and post-doctoral fellows.


Ana Navas Acien, MD, PHD, MPH

Ana Navas Acien, MD, PHD, MPH
2023 Senior
Mentor of the year

Ana Navas-Acien, MD, PhD is a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Her research investigates the health effects of environmental exposures (metals, tobacco products, air pollution), molecular pathways and gene-environment interactions, and effective interventions for reducing involuntary exposures and their health effects.

She trained in Medicine obtaining her MD from the University of Granada, Spain, and completed her residency training in Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the Hospital La Paz, Madrid and her PhD in Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD. She directs the Columbia University Northern Plains Superfund Research Program, a center that integrates science, technology, and traditional knowledge to protect the Northern Plains water resources and Indigenous communities from hazardous metal exposures. 

She serves as PI of environmental health research in several studies including the Strong Heart Study, a study of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in American Indian communities; the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a study in urban and sub-urban settings across the US; the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy 2 (TACT2), a clinical trial about the benefits of metal chelation; the VapeScan Study, a study of young adults from New York City; and India-FOCUS, a study evaluating risk factors for chronic kidney disease of unknown origin as part of the CURE consortium. Her goals are to contribute to the reduction of environmental health inequalities in underserved and disproportionately exposed populations.

Susan L. Rosenthal, PhD, ABPP

Susan L Rosenthal, PhD, ABPP
2023 Senior Mentor of the year

Susan L. Rosenthal, PhD, ABPP is Professor of Medical Psychology (in Pediatrics and Psychiatry) with tenure and has served as the Division Director of Child and Adolescent Health and the Vice Chair for Faculty Development within the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Rosenthal also is a certified professional coach. 

Dr. Rosenthal has been involved in faculty development activities for well over 20 years. At CUIMC, she created a multi-departmental, year-long leadership curriculum for mid-level leaders. She has also created a leadership program for Departmental and Divisional Administrators. In addition to the activity of mentoring, Dr. Rosenthal has presented and published on mentoring, leadership training, and well-being.

Her research has been funded by NIH, CDC and industry and focuses on the psycho-social development of adolescents and young adults.  She uses a developmental approach with an emphasis on the acceptability of a variety of preventive methods including vaccines and the inclusion of adolescents in clinical trials of a sensitive nature. In 2020, she expanded her work to examine attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates, as well as the psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on adolescents and families.

Her scholarly work has resulted in over 300 publications.  She was an editor of three books, including Neinstein’s Adolescent and Young Adult Health Care, 7th Edition.  Dr. Rosenthal has held leadership positions in the American Psychological Association, Society of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine, North American Society of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, and AAMC Group on Faculty Affairs. She was awarded the Litt Visiting Professorship in Adolescent Health Research from the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine and the Bud Orgel award from the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers

Magdalena E. Sobieszczyk

Magdalena E. Sobieszczyk, MD, MPH 
2023 Senior Mentor of the year

Dr. Magdalena Sobieszczyk is the Harold Neu Professor of Infectious Diseases (in Medicine) and the Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. Dr. Sobieszczyk is a clinical virologist and the principal investigator of the NIH-funded Columbia Collaborative Clinical Trials Unit which has been advancing the science of HIV and emerging infections like SARS-CoV-2. Her research focuses on the development, testing, and implementation of biomedical interventions to prevent HIV and COVID-19 infections: specifically, vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). She has led many large-scale NIH-funded international studies in these areas.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has established a prospective cohort to study epidemiology of COVID-19, cellular and antibody responses to primary infection and vaccination, and long-term effects of COVID-19 in diverse communities. She has led studies that focus on evaluating safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and other novel interventions to prevent and treat COVID-19. She has also been involved in educational and community outreach efforts to increase knowledge of COVID-19 vaccines and studies that address barriers to uptake. These efforts complement the ongoing clinical and translational research efforts that advance our understanding of this pathogen and are key elements of pandemic preparedness for other emerging or re-emerging pathogens.

Timothy C. Wang, MD

Timothy C. Wang, MD
2023 Senior Mentor of the year

Timothy C. Wang is the Silberberg Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Digestive & Liver Diseases at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC), and Co-Leader of the Tumor Biology & Microenvironment Program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC). He has served as the President of the American Gastroenterological Association Institute (AGA). Dr. Wang received his BA from Williams College, Summa Cum Laude, and his MD (AΩA) from the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. He was on the faculty at MGH/Harvard for ten years before moving to UMass Medical School as Chief of Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases in 2000, and since 2004 has been Chief of GI at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons. He has led an independent research lab for over thirty years focused on the relationship between inflammation, stem cells and cancer, and the molecular mechanisms of gastrointestinal carcinogenesis.

In recent years, his lab has been known for showing that nerves modulate the growth of solid tumors. His lab, in collaboration with Dr. James Fox at MIT, developed numerous mouse models of Helicobacter-dependent gastric cancer. His lab also defined several markers of GI stem cells and defined key niche signals that promote their progression to cancer. Author of over 370 original publications and 80 invited reviews, editorials and chapters, Dr. Wang is currently Senior Deputy Editor of Cancer Prevention Research and the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Yamada Textbook of Gastroenterology. He has organized numerous conferences, including AACR Symposia, NCI Workshops, Keystone Conferences and NCI Clinical Trials Planning Meetings on Gastric Cancer.  He has headed several multidisciplinary research programs, including the CUIMC NCI U54 Tumor Microenvironment (TMEN) program, the CUIMC NCI Barrett’s Esophageal Translational Research Network (BETRNet) program, the NIDDK Intestinal Stem Cell Consortium (ISCC) at Columbia, and most recently has been the Research Director of The Pancreas Cancer Center at CUIMC.

He is the Associate Director of the NIH-funded Digestive and Liver Disease Research Center at Columbia. He also leads the Columbia Institutional Conflict of Interest (ICOI) and is the Columbia Alpha Omega Alpha Councilor.  He is a recipient of the NIH/NIDDK Merit Award (R37) as well as the Outstanding Investigator Award (R35 OIA, 2016-2030) from the NCI, among other grants. He received the Arthur and Irene Fishberg Prize for outstanding research from CUIMC, and the Julius Friedenwald medal, AGA’s highest honor, for his contributions to the GI field.   Dr Wang considers mentoring to be a critical part of his service to the University and has directly trained many faculty, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scientists, students, and staff. His trainees have subsequently established themselves variously, through faculty appointments in reputed academic institutions, entrepreneurships in the field of medical research and leadership positions in pharmaceutical industries worldwide.