Wafaa El-Sadr Named University Professor

Appointment is Columbia University's Highest Academic Honor

May 7, 2013

Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine and Director of ICAP, is one of two new University Professors selected by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger and approved by the University Board of Trustees. Martin Chalfie, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Biological Sciences and winner of a 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was similarly honored.

The rank of University Professor is Columbia University’s highest academic honor and, with the addition of professors El-Sadr and Chalfie, there are now 13 current members of the faculty who hold this special title.

“In everything they do, Marty Chalfie and Wafaa El-Sadr embody Columbia’s core principles of academic excellence and service to our society,” said President Bollinger in making the announcement. “They have lived their lives in the constant pursuit of knowledge and innovation that improve the human condition. It is therefore with great pleasure that we recognize their accomplishments with this distinguished rank and celebrate their contributions as true ambassadors of Columbia University.”

“Dr. El-Sadr's scholarship, leadership, and impact is exemplary. It represents the goals of public health: science for the creation of health for millions, and then translation to impact. This is a moment of great pride for our school,” said Dean Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH.

Wafaa El-Sadr has been a revered member of the Columbia community for a quarter of a century, joining the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1988, and then the Mailman School of Public Health, her alma mater, in 1999. An international expert about epidemiology and research on the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases, Dr. El-Sadr began her career as the HIV/AIDS epidemic took hold in this country. After developing successful methods of responding to the disease through ground-breaking research and innovative models of care in her own community as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Harlem Hospital, she became a renowned leader in the global fight by arming healthcare systems in Africa and Central Asia with effective strategies for confronting the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A MacArthur Fellow, a member of the Institute of Medicine and director of both ICAP and the Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Dr. El-Sadr has transformed the lives of millions of people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. Her focus on the health of women and children and on strengthening health systems around the world has established a foundation for addressing many global health threats. She is widely published in scientific literature, a global thought leader, while serving as a model of service and dedication for countless students and colleagues at Columbia and beyond.

“I am deeply grateful for the honor of being named a University Professor. It symbolizes the fact that Columbia cares deeply about ideas, but also cares how those ideas affect people in the U.S. and around the world,” said Dr. El-Sadr. “It honors not only my work, but also the essential contributions of the many colleagues and collaborators at Columbia and partners across the globe. I hope to take the opportunities attached to the University Professorship to emphasize how research and teaching can be ever more closely tied to changing lives for the better.”

During University Commencement on May 22, Dr. El-Sadr will lead the procession and carry a ceremonial mace.

University professorships are granted to members of the faculty in recognition of exceptional scholarly merit and distinguished service to Columbia. The other current holders of the rank are:

University Professors Emeriti include: