Anil K. Rustgi, MD, a leading physician-scientist who has made substantial and lasting contributions to the fundamental molecular understanding of gastrointestinal cancers, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

Dr. Anil Rustgi (Credit: Barbara Alper)

Membership in the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Dr. Rustgi is currently the director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Associate Dean of oncology, and Irving Professor of Medicine at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is also an American Cancer Society Research Professor. Prior to his appointment to Columbia in April, Dr. Rustgi served more than 20 years on the faculty at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, where he was the T. Grier Miller Professor of Medicine and Genetics, and Chief of Gastroenterology.

Using genetically-engineered mouse models and novel 3D culture models, Dr. Rustgi’s lab and collaborators are investigating the role of cancer-causing genes and tumor suppressor genes in the pathogenesis of  gastrointestinal cancers, including esophageal, colon, and pancreatic cancers. The laboratory’s aim is to improve molecular diagnostics and therapeutics for patients.

Dr. Rustgi is an avid collaborator and has underscored the importance of approaching the problem of cancer through interdisciplinary team science. As director of the HICCC, an NIC-designated comprehensive cancer center since the early 1970s, he often emphasizes the center’s unique position to connect many disciplines under one umbrella to attack cancer from all sides, with the overarching goal of pursuing translational research and  improving patient outcomes. “What I find motivational and invigorating on a daily basis is to try to bridge discovery science into clinical care … At the end of the day, it’s about our patients and what’s best for them and their families in the context of their communities.”

Among his recognitions, Dr. Rustgi is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was elected in the past to the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians. He has served as president  of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), editor-in-chief of Gastroenterology, and received the Friedenwald medal from the AGA, as well as mentorship awards.

Today, Dr. Rustgi joins three fellow Columbia University faculty who have also been elected to the NAM—Peter S. Bearman (social sciences), Charles C. Branas (epidemiology), and Rui Costa (neuroscience and neurology). At the HICCC, 12 are members in the NAM; most recently, HICCC members Andrea Califano, Dr, and Jordan Orange, MD, both elected in 2018.

New NAM members are elected by current members through a process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health. Dr. Rustgi joins a class of 90 new national members and 10 international elected to the prestigious organization. 

-Melanie A. Farmer 


Taking the Lead on the Future of Cancer: Q+A with Dr. Rustgi

Video: Dr. Anil Rustgi, Director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center