In the interview below, Berrie Center researcher Rebecca Haeusler reflects on her path to a well-deserved promotion at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Berrie Center: Dr. Haeusler, you have just been tenured in cell biology/pathology! Congratulations. What does this mean exactly? New title, new responsibilities?
RH: Receiving tenure means that after a year-long review of my accomplishments in research, teaching, and service, including evaluations from national and international leaders in my field, Columbia University has decided to appoint me as a permanent member of the faculty. My new title will be Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology (with Tenure).
Berrie Center: This is such a wonderful accomplishment. Can you tell us a bit about what it took to get to where you are?
RH: My lead-up to tenure, by the numbers:
-16 published research articles from my lab, including 8 for which I am the senior author
-5 invited reviews and commentaries from my lab, including Nature Reviews Endocrinology and the Journal of Clinical Investigation
-$10,328,883 total grant funding raised in the last six years, from the National Institutes of Health, the American Diabetes Association, and other private foundations.
-62 invited talks outside of Columbia, 12 of which were international
-25 research honors and awards, including the Journal of Clinical Investigation lectureship & award, the David L. Williams lectureship & award, and the Schaefer Research Scholar award.
-2 boards of directors
-2 national conferences organized
-22 national and international grant review panels
-3 journal editorial boards
-18 awards and fellowships to my trainees
-13 conferences selections of my trainees
-12 publications on which my trainees are authors
Berrie Center: Who do you consider your mentors?
RH: Mimmo Accili, MD and Rudy Leibel, MD have been outstanding mentors and champions for me, for many years. I have also greatly benefited from the mentorship and advice of Alan Tall, Ira Tabas, Henry Ginsberg, Tony Ferrante, Lori Zeltser, and Ira Goldberg. Another very important source of mentorship has been from my peers, inside and outside of Columbia, including Lale Ozcan, Gabrielle Fredman, Marit Westerterp, Alison Kohan, Utpal Pajvani, Li Qiang, Gissette Soffer, Rob Bauer, Julie Canman, Mimi Shirasu-Hiza, Ai Yamamoto, Clarissa Waites, and several others.
Berrie Center: When we last we spoke, you were studying the link between cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) and type 2 diabetes. Is that still your primary focus?
RH: Yes. In my research group, we spend most of our days thinking about fat and cholesterol – how they get made and broken down and absorbed from the diet, why some people have more fat and cholesterol than others, hand how diabetes and insulin signaling contribute to these processes.
Berrie Center: What is new in your lab since we last caught up?
RH: We have several new members of the research team! Hannah Staab and Jennifer Gamarra are two second-year PhD students working on exciting new research directions. Clarence Manuel and Antwi Oteng are two postdoctoral researchers—Clarence completed his PhD at St. Johns University and Antwi completed his PhD at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Joshua Cook is a physician-scientist who completed his MD and PhD, and his clinical training, at Columbia University. Our two continuing group members, Sei Higuchi and Conchi Izquierdo, were both promoted to Associate Research Scientist. The most recent addition to the group is my new little munchkin, who is about to be promoted to 3-months-old!
Berrie Center: Any advice for other young scientists out there who hope to one day run their own laboratory?
RH: A career as a biomedical researcher comes with a lot of uncertainty, as does the research itself. If you can find yourself a group of people with integrity that you enjoy seeing and working with every day, being among them can help you be your calmest, most clear-headed, most creative scientist self.
Berrie Center: What are your goals for the future?
RH: My goal is to make new discoveries about how the body’s metabolic processes normally work, and how they become disrupted during disease. Ultimately, my goal is for my research to contribute to improving people’s health.
Congratulations on your promotion and your new bundle of joy, Dr. Haeusler!