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Dr. Monika Safford Named Chief of Division of General Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NEW YORK (September 15, 2015) — Dr. Monika Safford, a clinician-investigator known for her patient-centered research on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and health disparities, has been named chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Dr. Safford will apply her research background and clinical expertise to oversee the division, which is housed within the medical college's Joan and Sanford I. Weill Department of Medicine. This division unifies the outpatient and inpatient programs, known as the Weill Cornell Internal Medicine Associates, or WCIMA, and the hospitalist medicine division, respectively. While both sections have already proven their excellence in clinical care and teaching, Dr. Safford will focus on expanding the division's burgeoning clinical research program. She will recruit top investigators and develop and mentor Weill Cornell faculty and students.

Dr. Monika Safford
Photo credit: Misha Friedman/WCMC

"Dr. Safford's research enterprise, skill set and reputation will be tremendous assets to the Weill Department of Medicine," said Dr. Augustine M. K. Choi, the Weill Chairman of the Weill Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. "Her work focuses on how to positively impact the quality, safety and overall care of patients. As a result, she will improve the patient experience here."

A New York native and 1986 graduate of Weill Cornell, Dr. Safford is currently a professor of medicine, an assistant dean for continuing medical education and the inaugural endowed professor in diabetes prevention and control at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, where she has worked since 2003. Among her more than 300 published studies are noteworthy investigations on an underserved and largely African-American region called the Alabama Black Belt, where two-thirds of adults are obese and many have diabetes, hypertension or other chronic conditions. Dr. Safford has studied how health coaches and other non-traditional interventions affect patient outcomes, and was recently awarded a $10 million grant by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to test two ways of improving the blood pressure of 2,000 people in the area.

"While it may seem like Alabama is a world away from New York City, when it comes to what people prioritize and want to know about their health, it's remarkably similar," said Dr. Safford, who was recruited as the John J. Kuiper Professor of Medicine. "The opportunity to return to Weill Cornell and develop a research program in partnership with academically focused clinicians is really exciting."

The Weill Cornell outpatient program, led by Dr. Judy Tung, focuses on many issues that Dr. Safford specializes in, such as preventive healthcare, treatment of acute and chronic illness and the coordination of care for those with complex diseases. The inpatient division, headed by Dr. Art Evans, provides comprehensive care to hospital patients while also overseeing specialized programs, including the Medicine-Physician's Assistant Service and Integrative Medicine. Both are dedicated to the medical education of residents and students. Combining the inpatient and outpatient services in the Division of General Internal Medicine will not affect the patient experience on the micro level, as both programs will continue to look and operate as they do today, with Dr. Tung and Dr. Evans now reporting to Dr. Safford, Dr. Choi said. But on the macro level, building out the patient-centered research focus will ultimately improve patient safety, quality and overall care, he added.

One way that Dr. Safford plans to do that is by introducing a new Patient-Activated Learning System, known as PALS, within the next year. This computer-based system will offer important information on disease conditions and medical tests that is frequently found in pamphlets, and instead present it within an easy to use, online or app-based format. Through this system, patients will be educated on their disease, what to expect from their inpatient and outpatient care providers, what a medical test will look and feel like, and why and how to properly take their medications. The PALS will also provide physicians with an information system that is designed to facilitate shared decision-making, ultimately intending to improve their patients' health.

Dr. Safford has received funding for her research projects from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Diabetes Association, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Her more than 300 research articles have been published in prestigious medical journals including the Journal of the American Medical Association, Diabetes Care and the American Journal of Cardiology. She is committed to mentorship, and has a National Institutes of Health K24 mid-career award that protects some of her time so that she can mentor junior faculty and students.

Dr. Safford received her bachelor of arts degree from Dartmouth College and her medical degree from Weill Cornell. She completed her residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and the Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center in 2003, she earlier worked as an instructor of medicine at Brown University Medical School with a hospital appointment at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island; and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, with a hospital appointment at the affiliated University Hospital.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive hospitals and a leading provider of inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine. With some 2,600 beds and more than 6,700 affiliated physicians and almost 22,000 employees, NewYork-Presbyterian had more than 2 million visits in 2014, including some 14,000 infant deliveries and more than 262,000 emergency department visits. NewYork-Presbyterian comprises six campuses: NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. The hospital is also closely affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area, according to U.S. News & World Report, and consistently named to the magazine's Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation. Affiliated with two world-renowned medical schools, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. For more information, visit www.nyp.org.

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Cornell University is the first in the U.S. to offer a M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.

Weill Cornell Medicine
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