Bringing a Classic Back to Life

CUMC students revive the Columbia Medical Review
April 15, 2011


The new issue of Columbia Medical Review, a student-run journal.

Even before medical school, Clem Marshall’13 enjoyed sitting down with the latest issue of NEJM and reading the articles, so when he enrolled at P&S and looked at the list of extracurricular activities, he was naturally drawn to the school’s student-run medical journal. There was just one problem: Columbia Medical Review, last published in 2003, didn’t exist anymore.

“I eventually contacted the person who was last in charge, and she told me earlier attempts to restart it never panned out, so I gradually got the idea of my class reviving the journal,” Marshall says.

After he pitched the idea via email to his classmates, he soon had a group of 14 editors signed on. The new editors concluded that previous revival attempts failed because the journal waited for authors to submit papers.

“What we did instead was come up with topics we thought were interesting and then we personally solicited people in these areas to write articles,” Marshall says. “In that way, we’ve created a way to sustain the journal into the future.”

The first issue, published in March, contains articles on a range of topics from tissue engineering to diabetes, a book review, and a student’s reflections on the most intense patient interaction of his second year.

Michael Devlin, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry and a member of the journal’s Faculty Advisory Board, says he admires the initiative the students showed in reviving the journal.

Columbia Medical Review is a great forum for students to write in a wide variety of styles, from research reports to personal perspectives on medical school, and at a high quality level, as the first issue demonstrates. It provides opportunities for students and faculty to work side by side, and I was really excited to be a part of it. It’s great for the students and great for the school.”

With many of the founding editors now embedded in their clinical rotations, a new set of editors has taken over and is inviting submissions for the next issue.

With a new tactic to attract manuscripts, Columbia Medical Review's new editorial board succeeded in reviving the student-run journal from an eight-year dormancy.

The journal should also have a steady stream of articles from the scholarly projects that are now required for graduation, starting with the Class of 2013. “The journal can become an important outlet for these projects, and that’s one way we think the journal will endure,” Marshall says.

“We don’t pretend to be a real journal. Our goal is to unite the Columbia community and give students a chance to write articles and get good, critical feedback from the people who read them,” Marshall adds.

“I hope it turns out to be a lasting a legacy of our Class of 2013.”

--Susan Conova

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