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DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE
Now more than ever we are reminded of our Cancer Centers mission: Working together, we empower innovation and discovery in cancer research, prevention, early detection, therapy, cure, and survivorship to reduce the burden of cancer for our patients, our communities, and the world.
Anil K. Rustgi, MD
Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and
Director of the HICCC
Now more than ever we are reminded of our Cancer Centers mission: Working together, we empower innovation and discovery in cancer research, prevention, early detection, therapy, cure, and survivorship to reduce the burden of cancer for our patients, our communities, and the world.
Anil K. Rustgi, MD
Interim Executive Vice President and
Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University
Irving Medical Center and
Director of the HICCC
This past year has brought remarkable challenges to our Cancer Center and those we serve. Throughout this extraordinary year, we have seen tremendous effort from our entire community—our researchers, clinicians, staff, and patient advocates—who have remained committed to our shared mission and to each other.
At the start of 2021, we joined the national effort to drive COVID-19 vaccinations with an inspiring number of volunteers serving at our vaccination sites and in outreach efforts across Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we are returning to campus safely and responsibly, cherishing the opportunity to reconnect in person.
Through this difficult time our dedication towards accelerating cancer research, treatment, and care has not waned.
Funding to our Cancer Center members from the National Cancer Institute grew by more than 15% in 2020, with over $100 million dollars in cancer-related funding overall. The Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons also reached its highest ranking ever, listed No. 5 among medical schools with funding from the National Institutes of Health. We also are proud to stand by our partner, NewYork-Presbyterian, ranked as the No. 1 hospital in New York by U.S. News and World Report.
This success continues to grow with notable achievements, including establishment of the COMMUNITY Center at Columbia, a new center supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities focused on reducing health disparities in chronic diseases including cancer, funding from Stand up to Cancer to increase diversity and inclusion in clinical trials, and highly competitive grants from the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research and V Foundation for Cancer Research awarded to our faculty. We also celebrated five new Outstanding Investigator Awards from the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health this year.
We are paying it forward through our Cancer Center pilot funding programs, disbursing over $2 million in 2020 across 30 seed projects that drive new ideas, jump-start collaborations, and enhance innovation across the Columbia cancer research community. We have also sustained our clinical research efforts, ramping up clinical trial enrollment as quickly and safely as possible, maintaining and expanding screening and prevention efforts, and continuing our all-important focus on the communities we serve in northern Manhattan and surrounding areas.
We recently announced the Columbia-Pfizer Clinical Trials Diversity Initiative, an exciting new initiative aiming to reduce health disparities by increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities in clinical trials and enhancing the diversity of clinical researchers. Improving diversity among clinical trial participants is a critical step toward reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health, and a crucial hurdle we are determined to overcome.

Next year we’ll reach the 50-year-mark since our Cancer Center’s designation by the National Cancer Institute, one year after the signing of the National Cancer Act that spurred cancer research funding across the country. On the heels of the tremendous advancement in research and in care conducted over the last five decades, we at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center envision the next 50 years filled with accelerated innovation, technological advancements, and breakthroughs in therapeutics.
Undoubtedly, this time in our lives has challenged us, and we have emerged united and stronger than ever before. As we look to the future, one thing remains certain at the HICCC: We are committed to providing the highest quality of care for our patients and delivering innovative solutions to the most pressing problems in cancer research. We will continue in our global fight to solve cancer, uncovering answers, and hopefully in our lifetime, finding a cure for all.
Anil K. Rustgi, MD
Anil K. Rustgi, MD Director, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Irving Professor of Medicine,
Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Chief, Cancer Service, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Anil K. Rustgi, MD Director, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Irving Professor of Medicine,
Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Chief, Cancer Service, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
This past year has brought remarkable challenges to our Cancer Center and those we serve. Throughout this extraordinary year, we have seen tremendous effort from our entire community—our researchers, clinicians, staff, and patient advocates—who have remained committed to our shared mission and to each other.
At the start of 2021, we joined the national effort to drive COVID-19 vaccinations with an inspiring number of volunteers serving at our vaccination sites and in outreach efforts across Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we are returning to campus safely and responsibly, cherishing the opportunity to reconnect in person.
Through this difficult time our dedication towards accelerating cancer research, treatment, and care has not waned.
Funding to our Cancer Center members from the National Cancer Institute grew by more than 15% in 2020, with over $100 million dollars in cancer-related funding overall. The Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons also reached its highest ranking ever, listed No. 5 among medical schools with funding from the National Institutes of Health. We also are proud to stand by our partner, NewYork-Presbyterian, ranked as the No. 1 hospital in New York by U.S. News and World Report.
This success continues to grow with notable achievements, including establishment of the COMMUNITY Center at Columbia, a new center supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities focused on reducing health disparities in chronic diseases including cancer, funding from Stand up to Cancer to increase diversity and inclusion in clinical trials, and highly competitive grants from the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research and V Foundation for Cancer Research awarded to our faculty. We also celebrated five new Outstanding Investigator Awards from the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health this year.
We are paying it forward through our Cancer Center pilot funding programs, disbursing over $2 million in 2020 across 30 seed projects that drive new ideas, jump-start collaborations, and enhance innovation across the Columbia cancer research community. We have also sustained our clinical research efforts, ramping up clinical trial enrollment as quickly and safely as possible, maintaining and expanding screening and prevention efforts, and continuing our all-important focus on the communities we serve in northern Manhattan and surrounding areas.
We recently announced the Columbia-Pfizer Clinical Trials Diversity Initiative, an exciting new initiative aiming to reduce health disparities by increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities in clinical trials and enhancing the diversity of clinical researchers. Improving diversity among clinical trial participants is a critical step toward reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health, and a crucial hurdle we are determined to overcome.
Next year we’ll reach the 50-year-mark since our Cancer Center’s designation by the National Cancer Institute, one year after the signing of the National Cancer Act that spurred cancer research funding across the country. On the heels of the tremendous advancement in research and in care conducted over the last five decades, we at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center envision the next 50 years filled with accelerated innovation, technological advancements, and breakthroughs in therapeutics.
Undoubtedly, this time in our lives has challenged us, and we have emerged united and stronger than ever before. As we look to the future, one thing remains certain at the HICCC: We are committed to providing the highest quality of care for our patients and delivering innovative solutions to the most pressing problems in cancer research. We will continue in our global fight to solve cancer, uncovering answers, and hopefully in our lifetime, finding a cure for all.
Anil K. Rustgi, MD