Office of External Affairs

Deborah Schwarz, RPA, CIBE, Director, Office of External AffairsThe department has prioritized its communications effort for many years. The role of External Affairs is to publicize the Department of Surgery's wide range of accomplishments and to articulate its vision of the future. Our communication experts have successfully targeted diverse audiences—grant-making individuals and institutions, representatives of the biotech industry, physicians, regional hospitals and patients. Our campaigns have produced significant gains in the department's clinical volume and overall image. As a result, we are now widely consulted by other departments within the University.

Under the direction of Deborah Schwarz, RPA, CIBE, External Affairs has designed award-winning magazines, books, brochures, and direct mail literature. In 2003, we produced our Surgical Innovations Report: A Physician's Resource, with two companion CDs, showing the central parts of 34 operations, and highlighting Columbia's research initiatives along with the latest robotic surgery and minimal access techniques. This multi-media project won the Big Apple award from the New York Public Relations Society of America.

Healthpoints, our patient-oriented newsletter describing various medical conditions that may require surgery won the platinum Marcom Creative Award for consumer awareness in 2004. We also publish NewYork-Presbyterian Heart, a national newsletter about advances in cardiovascular and cardiothoracic surgery at Columbia and Weill Cornell.

Our website highlights clinical studies and surgical innovations for both clinicians and consumers. We offer risk-assessment tools for breast and colorectal cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and provide free on-line courses for the general public, including "A Guide to Breast Care," "A Guide to Surgery," and "Introduction to Cardiac Care."

On a day-to-day basis, External Affairs works with the University's and the hospital's public affairs departments, keeping the press up-to-date on our latest accomplishments, from incisionless procedures to heart surgery in neonates and a "two-way kidney swap" that doubles our transplant donor pool.

External Affairs also hosts ongoing Continuing Medical Education programs throughout the New York metropolitan area on such topics as solid organ transplantation, cardiac disease and surgery, vascular surgery, obesity management, and end-stage organ failure. In addition, we provide both patient and physician information to support our many outreach programs at other hospitals and healthcare centers.

Physician Outreach

For more information about physician outreach, please contact Deborah Schwarz, RPA, CIBE at 212.304.7810 or

As part of our physician outreach, we oversee mailings to internal and referring physicians, announcing recent appointments and promotions, as well as new clinical programs and important research findings.


For more information about the Department of Surgery website, please contact Ju-Mei Shieh, Web Manager, at 212.304.7816 or

In addition to providing regular updates and maintenance work on the Department of Surgery website (, we are currently engaged in a redesign effort for the site. We hope to streamline site navigation and increase its ease-of-use.

An online version of the Department of Surgery Directory with links to physician profiles is available on the Surgery website.

Special Projects

For more information about our special projects, please contact Deborah Schwarz, RPA, CIBE at 212.305.7013.