Respiratory Epidemiology Fellowship

We offer an NIH-funded two-year postdoctoral fellowship program in Respiratory Epidemiology. We believe that fostering the development of the future generation of epidemiologists and population scientists is of the greatest importance to the national agenda to understand and prevent respiratory diseases, which are the third leading cause of death globally and a leading cause of hospitalization and debility in the United States. The fellowship started before the COVID-19 pandemic, but training in this area has become even more important given the extensive pulmonary sequelae of COVID-19 infection. The goal of our fellowship program is to train future leaders in academic medicine with a focus on the prevention and understanding of pulmonary diseases. Building on existing degree programs and fellowships at Columbia, our fellowship offers a choice of emphasis in the following areas: epidemiology, data science, chronic lung disease, acute lung disease and sequelae.

The fellowship program is funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute to provide fellowship training jointly between the Division of General Medicine, the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, and the Mailman School of Public Health. Our program is open to physicians, regardless of sub-specialization or residency training, and PhDs.  

Length of Program: 2 years (usually)

Program Start Date: July 1 (typically)

Number of Positions Available: 2-3/year

Director:  R. Graham Barr, MD, DrPH

This fellowship focuses on respiratory epidemiology in large, multiethnic cohorts with an emphasis on imaging-based approaches, social determinants of health, causal inference and genomics and entails the following:

  • Advanced training in research skills including completion of research projects and a publishable manuscript(s)
  • Pursuit of a Masters of Science in Epidemiology or equivalent at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
  • Core didactic curriculum in fellows' meetings consisting of research skills and academic development
  • Clinical practice and teaching of primary care or inpatient medicine in an urban underserved community in New York City


Each fellow is assigned to a research advisor and to a mentor as part of the faculty group.  Fellows have the opportunity to draw on the linkages between mentors and research groups. 

Fellows will be expected to present their work at regional and national meetings and prepare at least one publishable manuscript per year. Examples of recent project topics conducted by trainees in our programs include the following:

  • Race/ethnicity and spirometry reference equations
  • COVID and post-acute sequelae of COVID
  • Respiratory risk for cardiac disease
  • Cardiopulmonary disease
  • Airway disease including airway branch variants and dysanapsis
  • Genomics of the pulmonary vasculature
  • Tuberculosis
  • Emphysema subtyping using large-scale machine learning
  • Occupational risk factors
  • COPD and interstitial lung disease
  • Causal inference

Mailman School of Public Health

The completion of a graduate research degree at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health is a centerpiece of our program. Mailman was one of the first schools of public health in the nation. It is committed to addressing health needs locally here in Washington Heights and Harlem, as well as globally through research, education, and service. Mailman also has outstanding research and degree programs in epidemiology, biostatistics, population family health, health administration, sociomedical sciences, and environmental health. The master's coursework provides a strong core curriculum in theory and quantitative and qualitative methods that are critical to a primary care research career. Our collaboration with Mailman allows our fellowship trainees to receive advanced training in public health and opportunities for shared research.

Clinical Practice

The Division of General Medicine has a well-established network of primary care practices staffed by faculty and residents committed to community health in addition to the main hospitalist group at Columbia. Fellows will join one of our practices where they will see patients independently and precept residents and medical students. Fellows will see patients for two clinical sessions a week and/or can work as hospitalist physicians. Starting mid-way through their first year fellows begin to co-precept residents as well. Fellows also have an option to spend two weeks co-attending on the inpatient wards.

The National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute funds the fellowship. Federal guidelines restrict the fellowship to US citizens and permanent residents. We are particularly interested in receiving applications from underrepresented minorities. In addition to MD applicants, we also accept PhD applicants.

Commitment to Diversity

Our program is strongly committed to diversity, reflecting the commitment to diversity at every level of the Division of General Medicine. This fellowship is new but in our older primary care fellowship, of all fellows (n=44) since the program began in 1993, 9 (20.5%) are under-represented minorities (AAMC definition), 11 (25%) Asian/South Asian, and 31 (70.5%) women. Among core general medicine clinical ambulatory faculty, 33% (10 of 30) are under-represented minorities, and 53% (16/30) are women.