2011 Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Scholars Announced

March 17, 2011


Four P&S physician-scientists -- John Crary, Jose Esquilin, Zachary Freyberg, and Andrew Teich -- have been selected as the winners of the 2011 Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Scholars Program award.

2011 Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Scholars Announced

Designed to support physician-scientists in their goal of bringing new treatments to patients, the Gerstner Award program began in 2008. A committee, chaired by Dr. Robert Kass, selected this year's winners after reviewing 47 applications from 20 departments. The Gerstner Scholars Program is made possible by the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Foundation and the generosity of the Louis V. Gerstner family. Mr. Gerstner, the retired chairman and CEO of IBM, is chairman of the P&S Department of Ophthalmology's board of advisors. He has supported Columbia University Medical Center for many years through the establishment of the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Foundation Retinal Research Fund in the Department of Ophthalmology.

Each year, the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Scholars Program provides four young faculty members with stipends of $60,000 for up to three years to conduct translational research. Collectively, the work of the 2011 winners has the potential to touch a significant portion of our patient population with their varied fields of focus in genetics, psychiatry, oncology, and neurobiology.

John Crary, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and cell biology, is studying Alzheimer's disease: the possible development of tangle-only degeneration through a mechanism, which could be genetic, involving the microtubule-associated protein tau, the principal constitution of neurofibrillary tangles. Dr. Crary graduated with an ScB in neuroscience from Brown University and earned his MD/PhD in neural and behavioral science from SUNY Downstate Medical Center. He completed his residency and fellowship in anatomical pathology and neuropathology in 2010 at Columbia University Medical Center and joined the P&S faculty the same year.

Jose Esquilin, MD, fellow, pediatric hematology, oncology and stem cell transplantation, will investigate the hypothesis that the transcription factor Zfx represents a crucial component of the molecular machine that mediates leukemic stem cell self-renewal. Dr. Esquilin earned his BA in neuroscience form Drew University in Madison, NJ, and his MD from P&S in 2005. He completed his pediatrics residency at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital and joined Columbia in 2008.

Zachary Freyberg, MD, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, schizophrenia, in the Department of Psychiatry and assistant attending in psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, has the goal of becoming an independent translational scientific investigator in the area of neuronal signaling mechanisms in dopamine neurons in order to design novel and effective treatments for psychostimulant abuse. Dr. Freyberg received a BS in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale, and his MS and PhD in developmental and molecular biology and his MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in 2008 and joined Columbia the same year.

Andrew Teich, MD, PhD, currently a postdoctoral fellow, will be assistant professor of pathology and cell biology beginning July 1, 2011. Alzheimer's disease is currently thought to be caused in part by the accumulation of amyloid-B peptides of various lengths in the cerebral cortex. With this research, Dr. Teich intends to investigate how AB-42 accumulates in the brain as a result of normal aging. Dr. Teich earned his BA in science and literature from Cornell, and his PhD, in neurobiology, and MD from P&S. He completed his residency and fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in 2010.

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