Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Columbia University
Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
ColumbiaCPS Seal.png
TypePrivate medical school
Established1767; 255 years ago (1767)
Endowment$1.136 billion[1]
DeanKatrina Armstrong, MD
Academic staff
StudentsTotals: 1,520
606 M.D.
94 M.D./Ph.D.
776 Ph.D.
Location, ,
United States

40°50′29″N 73°56′28″W / 40.841519°N 73.941139°W / 40.841519; -73.941139Coordinates: 40°50′29″N 73°56′28″W / 40.841519°N 73.941139°W / 40.841519; -73.941139
Vagelos college of physicians and surgeons logo.svg

Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) is the graduate medical school of Columbia University, located at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Founded in 1767 by Samuel Bard as the medical department of King's College (now Columbia University), VP&S was the first medical school in the Thirteen Colonies to award the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. Beginning in 1993, VP&S was also the first U.S. medical school to hold a white coat ceremony.[2]

According to U.S. News & World Report, VP&S is one of the most selective medical schools in the United States based on average MCAT score, GPA, and acceptance rate.[3] In 2018, 7,537 people applied and 1,007 were interviewed for 140 seats in its entering MD class.[4] The median undergraduate GPA and average MCAT score for successful applicants in 2014 were 3.82 and 36, respectively. Columbia is third for research among American medical schools by U.S. News & World Report.[5]

In 2018, Columbia became the first medical school in the nation to replace loans with scholarships for all students who qualify for financial aid. The scholarships are funded by an endowment that was established by Dr. P. Roy Vagelos and his wife Diana Vagelos; in December 2017, the 250-year-old medical school was renamed in their honor. The Vageloses committed more than $310 million to Columbia, $150 million of which was directed toward the scholarship fund.[6]

Columbia is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the nation's 4th-ranked hospital according to U.S. News & World Report.[7] Students additionally rotate through its affiliate hospitals: Harlem Hospital Center; Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT; and Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, NY.


Beginning in the fall of 2009, the medical school implemented a new curriculum that differed markedly from more traditional structures. The largest change involved a reduction in the number of preclinical months from twenty-four to eighteen and the expansion of the electives and selectives period to fourteen months. Each student now is required to spend four to ten months working on a scholarly project before graduation.[8]

Student life[edit]

Aerial view of the Columbia University Medical Center


Situated on land overlooking the Hudson River and separated from Columbia's undergraduate campus in Morningside Heights by approximately fifty blocks and the neighborhood of Harlem, the Columbia University Medical Center has its own unique standing and identity. The campus comprises not only VP&S, but also the College of Dental Medicine (formerly the School of Dental and Oral Surgery), the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the Presbyterian portion of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (including the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Affiliated hospitals include Harlem Hospital, Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, and Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York. In August 2016 the Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center, new 100,000-square-foot, 14-story glass medical education tower opened at 104 Haven Avenue, between 171st and 172nd Streets, near the northern tip of the campus. Housing options on Columbia's Medical Campus include Bard Hall and the Bard-Haven Towers, a complex of three, 31-story apartment buildings overlooking the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge. Students are guaranteed housing on campus all years, although many students choose to live in other parts of New York City.

P&S Club[edit]

There are student clubs covering a range of professional and personal interests, all of which fall under the umbrella of the P&S Club. One unusual element is the Bard Hall Players, a theatrical group entirely run by the students of the medical campus, and one of the largest and most active medical school theater groups in the country. They perform a musical and two plays each year. Founded over a century ago by John Mott, the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the P&S Club serves to support and provide activities and organizations for the enrichment of the lives of VP&S students. The P&S Club is well known for its humanitarian aims; most notably the 1917 purchase of a steam launch delivered to Sir William Grenfell, a physician living in Labrador. This launch was used to deliver medical services to the Inuit and First Nations fishermen living on the islands of the Labrador coast and frequently, was crewed by P&S students.[citation needed]


Colonial years[edit]

In 1767, Dr. Samuel Bard, an alumnus of then-King's College and the University of Edinburgh Medical School, opened a medical school at Columbia. At the time, the medical program at King's College was the first to open in the Province of New York and only the second to be opened in the American Colonies. The school was modelled on the University of Edinburgh Medical School, which at the time was the world leader. Three years later, in 1770, King's College conferred its first medical degree to Robert Tucker, this would prove to be the first Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) awarded in the Thirteen Colonies. Prior to King's College of Medicine offering of the M.D. degree, other American and Canadian medical schools had been offering the M.B. degree. King's College continued to educate young doctors until 1776 when the school was forced to close due to the onset of the Revolutionary War and the occupation of New York by British soldiers. King's College remained closed until 1784 when the school was reopened as Columbia College and in December of that year, the faculty of the medical school were re-instated. In 1791, Bard, now a prominent colonial physician whom George Washington credited with saving his life, was named dean of the medical school.

The original entrance to the college
Bard Hall

Merger with the College of Physicians and Surgeons[edit]

In 1807, with a growing young nation in need of adequately trained physicians, the New York State Board of Regents founded, under separate charter, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Merely four years later, in 1811, Dr. Samuel Bard, dean of Columbia University Medical School, became president of the college. The year 1814 then saw the merger of Columbia University Medical School into the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a move that was made in an attempt to reverse what then was perceived as a period of decline for the medical school.

437 West 59th Street in 1893

Despite this merger, the College of Physicians and Surgeons retained its independence from Columbia and it was only in 1860 that the College of Physicians and Surgeons, at that time occupying buildings across West Fifty-ninth Street from the Roosevelt Hospital (its major teaching hospital at the time), after severing its ties to the New York Board of Regents and through agreement between the trustees of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and Columbia, became the official medical school of Columbia University. This new relationship between the college and Columbia was minimal at best, however, with the college retaining independence from Columbia. It was not until 1891 that the College of Physicians and Surgeons would be fully integrated and incorporated into Columbia. In 1886, the Sloane Maternity Hospital, later the Sloane Hospital for Women, was founded as part of Physicians and Surgeons.

Medical Center Formation[edit]

In 1911, Columbia University entered into a "Formal Agreement of Alliance" with Presbyterian Hospital, a hospital founded in 1868 by James Lenox a New York philanthropist. It was this alliance, initiated by philanthropist Edward Harkness, that helped to pave the way for the creation of a new medical center format. In 1928, the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center opened its doors in a building largely funded by Harkness. Set on land in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center was the first place in the world to provide facilities for patient care, medical education, and research all under one roof. It was the first academic medical center and pioneered the practice of combining medical training with patient care. Included in this project with Presbyterian Hospital were the Babies Hospital, the Neurologic Institute of New York, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute; these were then joined in 1950 by the New York Orthopaedic Hospital.

In 1997, the Presbyterian Hospital merged with New York Hospital (partner of Weill Cornell Medicine of Cornell University) to form the NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital. This new hospital system also has incorporated many of the satellite hospitals and affiliated programs of these two institutions. While the two medical schools remain independent of one another, there has been significant cross-fertilization between the two campuses, leading to increasing numbers of shared research experiences and training programs. NYPH is now the largest private employer in New York City. All hospitals in the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System are affiliated with either the Cornell or Columbia medical schools.


At the 2017 Crown Awards, President Lee Bollinger announced that the school would officially be renamed as the Columbia University Roy and Diana Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. This decision was made in response to a gift of $250 million from Dr. P. Roy and Diana Vagelos.[9] $150 million of the gift, was dedicated to endow a fund to help Columbia eliminate student loans for medical students who qualify for financial aid.[9] The remaining $100 million will be divided equally to support precision medicine programs and basic science research as well as an endowed professorship in the Department of Medicine in honor of the Vagelos family's longtime doctor and friend, Thomas P. Jacobs, MD.[10]

Prominent faculty[edit]

Prominent faculty members include Nobel Prize laureates Richard Axel, Eric Kandel, and Joachim Frank; author Oliver Sacks; 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner for nonfiction Siddhartha Mukherjee; and Rudolph Leibel whose co-discovery of the hormone leptin, and cloning of the leptin and leptin receptor genes, has had a major role in the area of understanding human obesity.[11][12] Jean C. Emond, Thomas S. Zimmer Professor of Surgery, participated in the first living-donor liver transplantation in children in North America[13] and established the liver transplant program at Columbia, which has become one of the largest in the United States.[14] Joshua Sonett, Professor of Clinical Surgery, performed chest surgery on former President Bill Clinton in 2005.[15]

In November 2018, Expertscape recognized Columbia as #1 in the world for expertise in Celiac Disease and Dr. Peter Green as the world's #1 expert.[16]

Notable alumni[edit]

Medical innovators[edit]

Nobel laureates[edit]



Other alumni include astronaut Story Musgrave, Olympic champion Jenny Thompson (twelve medals, including eight gold medals), former Afghan prime minister Abdul Zahir, mayor of the City of Rancho Cucamonga, California (2006–) Don Kurth, and philanthropists Theodore K. Lawless and Jean Shafiroff. George Fletcher Chandler served with the US Army Medical Corps and practiced as a physician and surgeon throughout New York in addition to organizing and serving as the first Superintendent of the New York State Police. Charles W. Berry was New York City Comptroller.

Serb politician and accused war criminal Radovan Karadžić studied at Columbia for a year. Former NBA player Mark Pope attended P&S, but left to coach college basketball.

John L. Leal's application of chlorine disinfection technology and his defense of the chemical's use, contributed significantly to the eradication of typhoid fever and other waterborne diseases in the U.S.

In fiction[edit]



  1. ^ "Facts & Statistics (2010) | College of Physicians and Surgeons". Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "White Coat Ceremony '10 | Columbia University Medical Center". September 13, 2010. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  3. ^ "Facts and Statistics | Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons".
  4. ^ url=
  5. ^ "Columbia University - Best Medical School". U.S. News & World Report.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "2020–21 Best Hospitals Honor Roll and Medical Specialties Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on August 3, 2016. Retrieved July 4, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Columbia Curriculum".
  9. ^ a b Otterman, Sharon (December 4, 2017). "With $250 Million Gift, Columbia Medical School Looks to End Student Debt". The New York Times. p. A21. ISSN 0362-4331.
  10. ^ "Thomas Jacobs obituary". The New York Times. April 20, 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019 – via
  11. ^ Shell E (January 1, 2002). "Chapter 4: On the Cutting Edge". The Hungry Gene: The Inside Story of the Obesity Industry. Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 978-1422352434.
  12. ^ Shell E (January 1, 2002). "Chapter 5: Hunger". The Hungry Gene: The Inside Story of the Obesity Industry. Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 978-1422352434.
  13. ^ CUMC LiverMD 2007.
  14. ^ CUMC Immunology 2007.
  15. ^ Altman, Lawrence K. (March 11, 2005). "Clinton's 4-Hour Surgery Went Well, Doctors Say". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  16. ^ "Expertscape: Celiac Disease, November 2018". November 2018. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  17. ^ The Crafoord Prize in Polyarthritis 2013, Crafoord Prize. Press Release. January 17, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2019.

External links[edit]