Columbia University Medical Center

CUMC At World Science Festival

The 2nd annual World Science Festival kicks off Wed., June 10, in New York City, featuring three CUMC scientists:

Oliver Sacks, MD, professor of neurology and psychiatry in the College of Physicians and Surgeons
Dickson Despommier, PhD, professor of environmental health sciences and microbiology in the Mailman School of Public Health
Gradjola Hazizaj (a high school student in the lab of Franklin Costantini, PhD, professor of genetics and development in the College of Physicians and Surgeons).
Tickets for festival events featuring CUMC scientists were still available as of noon, Wed., June 10.

Descriptions of CUMC-related events, provided by the World Science Festival, are listed below. For more information, go to

Oliver Sacks

“Time the Familiar Stranger: Mysteries of Mind and Time”
Saturday, June 13, 2009
8:00 PM – 9:30 PM

Time allows us to live in the moment, reflect on the past, plan for the future. It’s our most familiar, precious, yet mysterious commodity. Celebrated author and neurologist Oliver Sacks and psychologist Daniel Gilbert draw on converging insights from physical, biological and neurological perspectives to reflect on this most vital factor shaping the human experience.

Dickson Despommier

“Cool Jobs”
Friday, June 12, 2009
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

This multi-media event invites curious minds of all ages to meet scientists with some of the coolest jobs out there.

“Rising Waters in a Thirsty World”
Friday, June 12, 2009
8:00 PM – 9:30 PM

Climate change and rising sea levels threaten substantial flooding and droughts worldwide. How do we avoid mass migrations, food shortages, disease and political conflict that could accompany such devastation? Join the world’s foremost adaptation experts as they survey threatened regions of the planet, including New York City, and suggest strategies for changing our strained relationship with H2O.

Gradjola “Gladi” Hazizaj

“Pioneers in Science”
Thursday, June 11, 2009
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Selected New York City high school students will interview Nobel laureate Harold Varmus and preeminent marine biologist Sylvia Earle. In these insightful interviews, youthful curiosity compels unusually candid conversations, revealing the essence of pioneering science.

Gladi Hazizaj, who will interview Dr. Varmus, has long dreamed of working in medicine and believes that through science she can help people and make their lives easier. She is a junior at Brooklyn International High School.

In preparation for her interview, she and her fellow student interviewers recently visited Dr. Costantini’s lab to learn about genetic techniques and life in the lab. (