Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, and Dr. Keith LaScalea, an associate professor of clinical medicine, have been selected for the Crain’s 2021 Notable in Health Care in New York City list.The annual honor recognizes outstanding individuals in the healthcare community who have made an impact on New York City in significant ways, in their professional, civic and philanthropic achievements, with special consideration given to their work during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Choi, a nationally recognized leader in academic medicine, has helmed one of the nation’s top-ranked medical and graduate schools since 2016, where he has fostered an environment focused on comprehensive patient care, innovative research and premier education, while emphasizing diversity and inclusion. Successful endeavors under his leadership include an expansion of Weill Cornell’s scholarship program to ensure qualifying medical students can graduate debt free and enhancing the institution’s research portfolio through increased investigator recruitment. He also broadened the scope of the institution’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, establishing an annual Diversity Week and expanding its annual Diversity Awards, and created the Office of Institutional Equity to advance equity programs and initiatives.
“I am honored to be considered by Crain’s as one of its notable figures in healthcare in New York City,” Dr. Choi said. “This is also an honor for the faculty and staff of Weill Cornell Medicine, who have demonstrated true resilience—delivering outstanding patient care, making key strides in medical research and maintaining excellence in education during this challenging global health crisis. Each day I am humbled in the work we have undertaken at our institution, from classroom to clinic, and the work we continue to do to advance a more inclusive and equitable healthcare environment.”
During the peak of the pandemic, under Dr. Choi’s leadership, Weill Cornell Medicine safely and effectively treated thousands of COVID-19 patients, while successfully transitioning to a more remote work and study environment. He introduced several programs to support faculty and staff during the pandemic, including expanded childcare and temporary accommodations for healthcare workers, meal delivery to front-line workers and an employee relief fund aimed at helping those experiencing financial hardships. As a leading research institution, Weill Cornell Medicine faculty have also been at the forefront of the global effort to investigate the causes, impact and treatment of COVID-19 by contributing to more than 500 peer-reviewed publications, 11 clinical trials and two vaccine studies.
Dr. LaScalea, associate director of the Margaret and Ian Smith Clinical Skills Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, has devoted much of his nearly two-decade career with the institution to innovations in teaching and mentoring students. Significantly, in 2012 he helped create a longitudinal program called LEAP, which he then directed for eight years, that provides medical and physician assistant students the opportunity to engage in patient care from the very beginning of their Weill Cornell education.
As an educator committed to the development of future physicians and scientists, Dr. LaScalea teaches and mentors premedical students in addition to overseeing the Clinical Skills Center, where students practice their clinical skills on standardized patients and state-of-the-art simulation models. Dr. LaScalea has nimbly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching his students the need for compassionate care and clear communication, specifically during a healthcare crisis. Through his work with the Medical Society of the State of New York and the New York County Medical Society, of which he currently serves as president, Dr. LaScalea is helping to lead conversations about the composition of post-pandemic clinical models, along with best practices for physicians across the county and state.
“I’m thrilled that Crain’s has recognized the work that I’m doing as valuable, so I thank them for the honor,” Dr. LaScalea said. “Every day that we work with patients and students, we have an inherent responsibility to practice to the best of our abilities and it is a privilege. So to be acknowledged in this way is just icing on the cake.”
Drs. LaScalea and Choi join multiple past Crain’s honorees from Weill Cornell across numerous fields, including Drs. Rainu Kaushal; Silvia Formenti, Barbara Hempstead, Lisa Newman and Laura Riley; and Rahul Sharma and Adam Stracher.