University Professor and Dr. Mathilde Krim-amfAR Chair of Global Health Wafaa El-Sadr has been appointed the next director of Columbia World Projects, University President Lee Bollinger announced in an email to the student body Thursday afternoon.
Currently, El-Sadr is the director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs and the director of the Global Health Initiative at the Mailman School of Public Health. She has been a member of the Columbia faculty for more than three decades and in 2013 was elevated to the rank of University Professor, Columbia’s highest academic honor and a position held by only eight faculty members at once.
Over the past year, El-Sadr has been heavily involved in the University’s efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, serving as the head of the Public Health Committee for the President’s Advisory Task Force on COVID-19 and acting as a public-facing expert for both the American and foreign governments.
In 2017, Bollinger announced the creation of Columbia World Projects, an independently funded initiative to inspire collaboration among all departments in the University. The initiative allows Columbia faculty and affiliates to work with governments, businesses, organizations, and communities to generate impactful solutions to real-world problems.
Columbia World Projects is different from other University initiatives, like the Manhattanville expansion, that aim to expand the University’s internal research apparatus. CWP exists to create solution-oriented projects in collaboration and conversation with the outside world. This aim previously left Arts and Sciences professors struggling to understand where they fit into CWP’s mission, despite Bollinger’s claim that it would include departments with a strong humanities focus. Recently, CWP has made room for more Arts and Sciences faculty to take on active roles - six A&S faculty sit on CWP’s advisory committee and many more are involved in ongoing projects.
CWP recently saw the departure of Avril Haines, former deputy director of World Projects, who has left the University and CWP to serve as the director of national intelligence in the Biden-Harris administration. She was confirmed as director on January 21.
El-Sadr will be replacing current director Nicholas Lemann, who has agreed to extend his term into the interim.
“Wafaa is a gifted epidemiologist and public health leader whose expertise and values align exactly with the University’s vision for CWP, an initiative focused on bringing our academic resources to bear on the great challenges facing humanity,” Bollinger wrote in his email. “We could not be more pleased that she has agreed to take on this new role in addition to her responsibilities at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.”