Precision Medicine and Society Graduate Fellows
One of the PMEPC’s aims is to engage with the next generation of precision medicine scholars. The Fellows represent a broad cross-section of departments at both the Morningside Campus and the Medical Center.
Fellows attend all of the public events and take an active role in subsequent working group discussions. At each working group meeting, a team of Fellows lead the discussion and pose a series of questions to the visiting scholar.
At the end of the meeting, the same group summarizes the discussion in the format of a blogpost (that are posted on our website). The Graduate Fellows (recipients listed below) are also mentored by the co-directors of the PMEPC throughout the year to develop a publishable manuscript based on research they conducted throughout the year.
They then present their work at a mini-conference and submit their final papers for peer-review journal soon after that.
2022-2023 Precision Medicine: Ethics, Politics, and Culture Graduate Fellowship Awardees
Sadie Bergen, MA, Mailman School of Public Health, Sociomedical Sciences
Sadie Bergen, MA, is a sixth year PhD candidate in the department of Sociomedical Sciences, where she studies the history and ethics of public health. Her research examines the complex ways that institutions like hospitals and corporations shape reproductive health access and outcomes. Her dissertation project traces the history of reproductive politics and neonatal intensive care in the United States. Bergen has published on a range of subjects related to reproductive health equity, including women’s perceptions of injectable HIV medications and the role pro-choice physicians play in abortion politics.
JaVe Bonner, Columbia University School of Professional Studies, Narrative Medicine
JaVe Bonner is a graduate student in the Program of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. She is also the founder of GeneHouse, a mobile app that enables consumers to integrate their family health history with personalized care via voice and text. She wants to give patients, primarily across the African Diaspora, their voices back and empower them to use the tools they already have, to advocate for themselves. With previous research experience in genetic cardiovascular diseases and cancer, JaVe has worked to find solutions to the problems Black people face in healthcare, including cultural competency, health equity and data collection. She hopes to effectively capture the lost stories in personal health history and amplify them so we can improve our collective empathy, ethos and most importantly, outcomes. JaVe holds a BS in Chemistry from the University of the District of Columbia. She is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Society of Human Genetics, and American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics.
Alexander Borsa, Mailman School of Public Health, Sociomedical Sciences/Sociology
Alexander Borsa is a 4th year doctoral student in sociomedical sciences and sociology, with a graduate certificate from the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender. He is also a member of the GenderSci Lab at Harvard University. Borsa studies emerging science and technology in the context of gender and sexual healthcare. This includes the societal implications of sociogenomic and precision medicine research on same-sex sexual behavior, and how gender- and sexuality-related variables are defined and operationalized in these fields. Borsa has also published research on private equity investment in assisted reproductive technologies and on HIV treatment and prevention in LGBTQ populations.
Yona Feit, Columbia University School of Professional Studies, Narrative Medicine
Yona Feit is a Clinical Research Coordinator studying transfusion medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in the department of Pathology and Cell Biology. She is also a graduate student in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University (‘22). Her research interests include the study of sickle cell anemia, iron deficiency, genetics of red blood cells, and the intersection of medicine, history, and storytelling.
Emily Gordon, Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, Dermatology-Oncology
Emily Gordon is a third-year medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. She studied the history of science and medicine during her undergraduate training at Harvard College. Her research on the history of disability advocacy and policies of disability exclusion strengthened her interest in the intersection of public health, medicine, humanities, and technology. She is a researcher in the Department of Dermatology, and her focus is on how skin cancer can be better understood and more equitably and individually treated by combining medicine, artificial intelligence, public health, and the humanities.
Alicia Lewis, Mailman School of Public Health, Health Policy & Management
Alicia Lewis is a student in the Masters of Health Administration Program at the Mailman School of Public Health. She holds a BA in Biology and Nineteenth-Century Studies from Vassar College. Alicia currently works as a Senior Clinical Research Coordinator and Training Lead with the All of Us Research Program, part of the nationwide Precision Medicine Initiative, at the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Alicia is interested in the health system’s role in furthering precision medicine and the implications of advancements in genomic sequencing and increased access to genetic testing, particularly within underserved communities. By participating in the Precision Medicine: Ethics, Politics, and Culture Program, she hopes to gain insight into the roles of health care stakeholders in communicating risks, responsibly delivering results, and developing transparent privacy policies related to precision medicine. Alicia looks forward to contributing to meaningful interdisciplinary discussions on the future of precision medicine and is excited to be a part of this effort.
Noelle Lynch, Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, Genetic Counseling
Noelle Lynch is a first-year genetic counseling student in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Her background in genetics, cell biology, and genomic level data analysis led to her interest in the current utilization and limitation of genetic testing technologies. She is interested in understanding the causes of health inequity in precision medicine and how the intersection of technology, research, and provider care can begin bridging those gaps rather than adding to them. She devoted a large part of her undergraduate career making mental health support accessible, equitable, and applicable for those who were afraid to seek help due to cultural and institutional barriers. She aims to utilize these same ideals in her future as a precision medicine practitioner by cultivating knowledge of the ethical, economic, social, and technological implications and challenges that genomics in medicine will face.
Nicholas Martinez, Mailman School of Public Health, Sociomedical Sciences
Nicholas Martinez (he/him) is a second-year MPH student at the Mailman School of Public Health. He joined the PMEPC fellowship as he is interested in how precision medicine is paving the way in understanding the intersectionality of a patient to specifically tailor care while also addressing ethical dilemmas and cultural competency concerns. Currently, some of his research interests include Latinx health, ethics, and health equity. Through this fellowship, he hopes to explore the intersection of how an individual's societal, historical, and cultural differences are addressed within topics such as bioethics and how we can fill research gaps, especially in Latinx health, to see an equitable future in precision medicine.
Lilith Todd, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, English and Comparative Literature
Lilith Todd is a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where she studies 17th- and 18th-century English and Transatlantic Literature. Her dissertation, "Tending Another," describes the rhetoric and labor of nursing in the long eighteenth century. Currently, she also serves as a managing editor for Synapsis: A Journal of Health Humanities.
Kendal K. Whitlock, Teachers College, Health and Behavior Studies
Kendal K. Whitlock is the Head of Digital Optimization, RWE Clinical Trials, with Walgreens Boots Alliance. This role leverages data assets and partnerships to advance culturally responsive approaches to clinical research. In her role, Ms. Whitlock focuses on digital solutions to drive access and opportunities that are both flexible and convenient for participants. Ms. Whitlock brings nearly 25 years of pharmaceutical industry experience to this new role. During her tenure, she has worked globally in digital clinical trials, and in both medical and commercial roles. Ms. Whitlock holds a Master of Public Health degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University and is currently working toward a doctorate. She earned a BA with honors from Spelman College. Ms. Whitlock has published in peer-reviewed journals, speaks internationally, is a Co-Lead of the 3C Decentralized Clinical Trials (DCT) Research Curriculum Initiative for the Decentralized Trials Research Alliance (DTRA), Chair of the Product Development and Clinical Research Sub-committee for the Med Tech Color Collaborative Community, and a member of the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) Health Equity Task Force.
Bella Horton, Mailman School of Public Health, Sociomedical Sciences
Bree Martin, Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, Genetic Counseling
Sarah Adelman, Population & Family Health
Clare Casey, Anthropology
Colby Lewis, Biostatistics
Supriya Kapur, Mailman School of Public Health, Sociomedical Sciences
Yanglu Chen, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Ari Galper, Sociology
Sonia Mendoza-Grey, Student, Mailman School of Public Health, Sociomedical Sciences
Sonia Mendoza-Grey is a Ph.D. student in Sociomedical Sciences in the sociology track. She became interested in mixed-methods research and Latino health as an undergraduate at Stanford where she worked on community-based health intervention studies. As an MA student at Columbia, she continued to pursue her interest in the social determinants of health and minority health. Her MA thesis analyzed the role of social networks and social cohesion in relation to obesity rates and health measures within the enclaves of Latino communities in the United States.
Her publications to date explore social determinants of health and racialized medicine and cover wide-ranging topics such as opioid addiction among whites and Latina health. Current major areas of focus include Latino interactions with health care and genomic research projects, and more specifically, precision medicine projects. As a doctoral student, Mendoza-Grey uses her ethnographic and quantitative research methods to study clinical cultures, the production of medical knowledge, and dissemination of health interventions in ethnic minority communities.
- MA, Sociology, Columbia University (2012)
- BA, Human Biology, Stanford University (2010)
Larry Au, Student, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Sociology
Larry Au is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology with broad interests in political sociology, economic sociology, and science and technology studies. His dissertation examines the global emergence of the techno-scientific field of precision medicine, focusing on the construction of large speculative infrastructures for biomedical research in China. His other projects examine the translation of "good ideas" from the field of traditional Chinese medicine to solve "hard problems" in biomedicine, controversies in human germline gene-editing, and the role of expertise in making sense of the ongoing pandemic. These projects have been supported by grants from the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies Program in China Studies, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and the Precision Medicine and Society Program. Findings from these projects have been published in Science, Technology, and Human Values, BioSocieties, and other venues.
Larry holds a B.Sc. in Social Analysis and Research with Honors and magna cum laude and a M.A. in History from Brown University. He also holds a M.Sc. in Global Governance and Diplomacy from the University of Oxford, where he was a member of St. Antony's College and the Department of International Development.
Diana Garofalo, PhD Student, Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health
Diana Garofalo is a doctoral student in Epidemiology, in the school of public health. Her background in biochemistry and genetics led her to be interested in using epidemiologic methods to understand underlying biological mechanisms in human disease, especially in rare diseases. She also briefly worked at a clinical genetic testing company that screened potential parents for recessive mutations linked to severe diseases. This experience deepened her interest in exploring the technical, ethical, and scientific challenges of using genomics in medicine, with specific concern about the potential worsening of disparities in health care.
Amy Weissenbach, Student, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Sociology
Amy Weissenbach is a Ph.D. student and Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Columbia University. She is interested in the sociology of knowledge and expertise, cultural sociology, and law and society. She aims to understand dynamics among individuals and institutions shaping notions of social responsibility in tech, and in biotech in particular. She holds an MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine from Cambridge University and a B.A. from Stanford University.
Irina Kulichenkova, Graduate Student, Narrative Medicine
Hippocrates said, “Wherever the art of medicine is loved – there is also a love of humanity.” This quote explains her own reflections and values in life. She loves humanity, and she chose to devote her life to science and medicine because she wants to make a difference in patients’ lives, alleviate patients’ suffering, and positively influence the healthcare system of the United States and worldwide. Her academic career equipped her with a variety of valuable skills that she will crossover and use while being a part of the Precision Medicine: Ethics, Politics, and Culture 2019-2020 project. She believes in the value of precision medicine and how ethics, politics, and culture play pivotal roles. Presently, she is a graduate student in the Program of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. She curates and organizes the annual fine art exhibition at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. In May of 2018, she graduated with a Master of Arts in Biotechnology from GSAS, Columbia University. And she holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Long Island University. As a scientist, curiosity is part of her nature. Her art skills and interest in the humanities always help her reveal new horizons and expand her creative ideas. The masterpieces by great artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Cezanne and the philosophical literature by Plato, Descartes, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Søren Kierkegaard, to name a few, are her inspiration to create new concepts that she blends with science and medicine. She is enamored with the way Leonardo da Vinci and the Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel interweave art with diverse disciplines. Their use of form, style, method of writing and painting, color, placement, process, beauty, and imagination are pure genius.
Sunny Jones, Graduate Student, Systems Biology
Sunny Jones is a graduate student in the Systems Biology department working with Dr. Andrea Califano. Her research involves developing algorithms for analyzing cancer genomics data with the goal of better understanding their biology as well matching patients to highly specific treatments as based on their genetics. She has previous research experience in nutrient metabolism and is currently working in conjunction with a startup to build a platform for providing optimal meals and dietary suggestions to cancer patients and survivors. In her free time she enjoys rock climbing, biking and exploring New York City.