It is with deepest humility that I accept the role of your department chair. I’ve gotten to know the rich history of our department over the past year, and I am thoroughly impressed with you and honored that you have chosen me.
First, a bit about myself. I immigrated to this country as a child from Germany of Ghanaian parents. We landed in Miami, and I stayed there until completion of my residency training at the University of Miami. I first moved to New York to complete my fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at the Mount Sinai Hospital and was recruited to Columbia after fellowship training. I was married in my late 30s, so I only go by Gyamfi (Jam-fee) and not Bannerman! I spent the next 16 years at Columbia where I had many jobs. In the first few years, I oversaw the high-risk clinics, the fourth-year student clerkships, and the resident electives, while being a student and completing an MS in Biostatistics. In the middle years, I became the alternate principal investigator for the MFMU network, the associate and then full fellowship director, and the chair of the department’s committee on advancement and promotions. In the final 5 years, I became the PI of the MFMU, the Vice Chair for Faculty Development, and received the Ellen Jacobson Levine and Eugene Jacobson endowed chair related to communications. I was fortunate to receive my first R01 funding fairly early in my career and have somehow maintained continuous funding for the past 12 years. I always tell my fellows, “You can’t do clinical research without being clinically active,” which I hope to maintain. I say all these things not to pat myself on the back but to show that I’ve been there and I get it. I value the clinical work, the research, and trainee education. They are intertwined and cannot exist in silos, certainly not at an academic center of excellence. I’ve also had the fortune of having many national leadership roles, which have taught me the importance of diversity in thought, geography, race, ethnicity, gender, politics, and all of the intangibles that make us unique individuals.
I plan to spend the first several months getting to know all the members of the department, preferably in person and in your environment, pandemic permitting. Please do not be surprised as we schedule these meetings, as it is my way of getting to know you. My early goals are few, since I would like to learn the needs of the department. In my past role as a communications chair, I have a deep under-standing of the importance of branding, marketing and media presence. I understand the importance of philanthropic support, research infrastructure, and the academic mission that keeps us in academic medicine. Our department’s rank in NIH funding, 4th in the nation of all OBGYN departments, has nothing to do with me, yet brings me extreme pride. The need to support and maintain this mission cannot be underscored sufficiently.
Finally, I left I a job I enjoyed in a leap of faith to take the next step and be a part of a great institution. The good-byes were difficult, but the time had come. As the philosopher, C.S. Lewis once stated, “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” I cannot thank you enough for the warm welcome. Taking over from Charlie Nager’s excellent lead will be a pleasure, and Linda Brubaker is a gift to us all. I greet you all with warmest regards.
Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman MD MS Professor and Chair
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences
Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, M.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
University of California, San Diego