Edward B. Leahey, Jr., MD
The annual Leahey Lecture, sponsored by the Leahey Foundation, the Department of Medicine, and the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, memorializes two outstanding individuals, Edward B. Leahey, Jr., MD and his brother, Michael I. Leahey.

Edward B. Leahey,Jr., graduated from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1973, joined its faculty in 1978, and served as Associate Director of the Cardiovascular Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory. He was nationally recognized for his discovery of a life-threatening interaction between digoxin and quinidine, two drugs that had routinely been prescribed together to control cardiac arrhythmias. Edward died of cardiomyopathy in 1981. In Edward’s time, young clinical investigators faced many obstacles and had little infrastructure support.

Michael I. Leahey came to the medical center in 1983 as a result of Edward’s death. His mission was to remove the impediments that young investigators, like his brother Edward, faced. In 1991, Dean Herbert Pardes created the Office of Clinical Trials—a joint venture of the Columbia University Health Sciences Division and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital—and, in 1992, Michael Leahey was appointed as its first Director.

Michael I. Leahey
Michael accepted with enthusiasm because it was an ideal position to facilitate the research activities of medical center clinical investigators.  Under his visionary leadership, the Office of Clinical Trials became a model for best practices in clinical research at academic institutions across the United States and around the world. Michael served as Director until his death in January 2003.

During Michael’s 10-year tenure as Director, the Office of Clinical Trials led a renaissance in clinical investigation at the medical center by creating and using novel administrative, legal, and financial systems. During his tenure, the Office signed more than 1,500 clinical trials agreements worth close to $300 million. He built many strong ties with industrial research entities.  Michael also built a magnificent research infrastructure at the medical center, including a Research Pharmacy, a Hispanic Research and Recruitment Center, and a Research Data Warehouse/Core Computing Facility.

Michael crafted a number of creative programs to support young investigators, including Resident Staff “Mini-Fellowships”, New Investigator Pilot Awards, Faculty Scholarships to pursue Master’s Degrees in Clinical Trials and Biostatistics, and Infrastructure Awards for multidepartmental research resources. These programs supported more than 350 investigators, most of whom have active, successful programs today.


Past Leahey Lecturers

Year Speaker and Title
2015 George D. Yancopoulos, MD, PhD
Founding Scientist and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron and President, Regeneron Laboratories
“Biotechnology Innovation: Translating Genetics and Basic Science Discoveries to Therapies”
2014 Christopher P. Austin, MD
Director, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
“Catalyzing Translational Innovation”
2013 Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD
Physician-in-Chief, The Mount Sinai Medical Center
“From Cardiovascular Disease to Health: The Journey of the High-Risk Plaque”
2011 Christopher P. Cannon, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
“The Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) Trials: The Ever Changing Management of Cardiovascular Patients”
2010 William T. Friedewald, MD
Professor of Clinical Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Clinical Medicine, Columbia University
“The Randomized Clinical Trial as a Long and Complicated Journey: Lessons from the ACCORD Trial”
2009 Garret A. FitzGerald, MD
Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania
“Translational Therapeutics of the Arachidonic Acid Cascade”
2008 Barry S. Coller, MD
Professor of Medicine, The Rockefeller University
“The Joys of Translational Research”
2007 Lee Goldman, MD
Harold and Margaret Hatch Professor, Columbia University
“A Vision for the Future of Clinical Research – and How to Position CUMC for That Future”
2006 Steven M. Paul, MD
President, Lilly Research Laboratories
“Drug Discovery and Development: The important complimentary roles of industry and academia”
2004 Robert J. Temple, MD
Associate Director for Medical Policy, U.S. FDA
“Demystifying the US FDA: How Best Practices in Clinical Trials Advance Human Health”
2003 Robert M. Califf, MD
Fortin Professor of Cardiology, Duke University
“The Societal Imperative for Academic Medical Centers to Develop Efficient Clinical Research Capability”

The Leahey Foundation

The Leahey Foundation honors the accomplishments of the Leahey brothers – Edward’s pioneering cardiac research and Michael’s vital contributions to the funding and administration of clinical trials. The Leahey Lecture was established to address scientific and administrative issues in the conduct of clinical research, including relationships among academic medical centers, governments, and industry.

Donate to the Leahey Fund