Family News: Fall 2015



Welcome to new students and welcome back to our returning students, faculty, and staff!  September is always a thrill—to see our second year students back from travels around the globe and to start getting to know our new first year students.

And welcome to the Fall 2015 issue of the Family News, a resource designed to keep the PopFam Family—students, faculty, alumni, and friends of PopFam—informed about the latest developments in the Department including our teaching, service, and research efforts. This year, each issue will highlight a focus area of our Department. This month we focus on the Department’s leadership in the arena of humanitarian assistance and forced migration.

With newspapers sharing harrowing stories of refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict, including a major new exodus from the Middle East to Europe, it is only fitting to share how our Department long-standing work in humanitarian action and recent effort to aid this population. As Neil Boothby, EdD, explains in our feature article, the protracted nature of the conflict in Syria has challenged traditional models of response and created an urgent need for new thinking and new action. Dr. Boothby’s Program on Forced Migration and Health (PFMH), which he founded in 1998 to “professionalize humanitarian response,” is engaged in three projects that are working to spur both.

This issue’s faculty spotlight is on Jaime Eliades, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine physician who is also working to improve global efforts to combat malaria in Africa. Our practicum spotlight is on Lina S. Rojas, MPH ’16, who spent this past summer investigating attacks on education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of six “grave violations” against children tracked by the UN.

We are also delighted to share an interview with Catherine R. Chen, MPH ‘04, a PFMH alum who has worked for more than a decade to combat human trafficking—also known as “modern slavery”—in the U.S. and globally. Catherine is just but one example of the impact our alumni are having in the field.

Finally, we have two new features in Family News. Beginning this month, we will spotlight one of our DrPh students in each issue, highlight one of the Certificates that our Department leads, and tell you about new books published by our faculty. For this issue, we spoke with Sally E. Findley, PhD, who has just published an extraordinarily timely new book illuminating the role that Community Health Workers can play in ensuring the health of immigrants and other vulnerable populations.

I am so pleased to share this very full issue of the Family News with you and I hope you will spend some time with it.


John S. Santelli, MD, MPH
Harriet and Robert H Heilbrunn Professor of Population and Family Health and Pediatrics
Chair, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health

Please consider supporting PopFam’s students by making a gift to the Lynne Loomis-Price Fund. Each contribution is a promise to help us end healthcare disparities and a tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to our mission. Fund are used to help second year students with unexpected financial needs. Gifts can be made online at Please make all checks payable to Columbia University with the memo line Lynne Loomis-Price Fund and mail to: Mailman School of Public Health, 722 West 168th Street, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10032.

Ruth Mayer

Jennifer Heitel,MPH
Director of Special Projects

John Santelli, MD, MPH
Chair and Heilbrunn Professor of Population and Family Health and Pediatrics