May 5, 2004

Tri-Institutional Research Program executive director is chosen to lead Cornell's College of Human Ecology

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Lisa Staiano-Coico, executive director of the Tri-Institutional Research Program (TIRP) and vice provost for medical affairs at Cornell University, has been selected as dean of the College of Human Ecology at Cornell.

Since 2003, Staiano-Coico's work as executive director of the New York-based TIRP has put her at the helm of an alliance encompassing New York City's Rockefeller University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College, as well as Cornell's main campus in Ithaca. Established in 2000 with a $160 million gift, TIRP's collaborative research is focused in three areas -- chemical biology, computational biology, and cancer and developmental biology -- with tri-institutional graduate training programs offered in chemical biology, computational biology and medicine.

Cornell President Jeffrey Lehman said he enthusiastically supports the selection and will recommend that it be approved by the Executive Committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees in late May. The State University of New York Board of Trustees is expected to ratify the appointment in June. The College of Human Ecology is one of four state-supported units at Cornell's Ithaca campus. Staiano-Coico's appointment will be effective July 1, 2004.

"I have worked with Lisa Staiano-Coico in her capacity as executive director of the Tri-Institutional Research Program," said Lehman. "I have witnessed her intelligence, energy and commitment, and I know that she will be an exceptional leader for the College of Human Ecology."

Provost Biddy Martin, who chaired the Search Committee, said, "Lisa has an impressive talent for inspiring and encouraging collaboration among her colleagues. Her dedication and leadership in the Tri-Institutional Research Program have been invaluable, and I know that same spirit and drive will make her a superb dean."

Staiano-Coico succeeds Patsy Brannon, who has held the post for five years and will take a one-year sabbatical leave before returning to teaching at Cornell full time in nutrition in July 2005.

As dean, Staiano-Coico will take over leadership of a college with a $57.4 million budget, more than 1,400 undergraduate and 230 graduate students, 91 faculty and an annual $13 million research program in five areas: design and environmental analysis, human development, nutritional sciences, policy analysis and management, and textiles and apparel.

"I am truly thrilled to be taking on the leadership of the College of Human Ecology," Staiano-Coico said. "With its vibrant and interdisciplinary faculty, the college is uniquely poised to expand the understanding of human development and disease within the context of social communities and the environment. This knowledge may contribute to the development of innovative strategies and policies for improving the quality of life of individuals in New York state and worldwide. I look forward to working with the faculty and leadership to foster a vision that will place the College of Human Ecology as a leader in the creation of knowledge and its translation to global improvement of the human condition."

Staiano-Coico earned her B.S. degree in biology with honors (1970) at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and her Ph.D. in microbiology (1981) at Cornell. After conducting postdoctoral research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (1981-83), she joined the Cornell medical college faculty in 1983 and was promoted to professor in the fields of surgery and dermatology and cell biology and genetics in 1996, and professor in public health in 2002. She is also vice provost for external affairs at Weill Cornell Medical College.

As the co-author of nearly 100 academic publications, Staiano-Coico focuses her research on both basic and translational aspects of epithelial cell biology. She has explored the molecular mechanisms that govern epithelial migration and repair, is developing biological wound dressings to accelerate injury repair, and is exploring new paradigms for the treatment of burn patients who have underlying diseases such as diabetes. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation and other agencies.

Her recent professional appointments have included service as chair on the NIH National Institute of General Medicine Sciences Special Emphasis Panels concerning trauma training, the Special Emphasis Panel of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Task Force on Research Institutes and Centers of the Association of American Medical College. She is past president of the International Society for Analytical Cytology.