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Judith P. Sulzberger

Donor / Judith P. Sulzberger

Since the age of five, Judith Sulzberger knew she wanted to be a physician—choosing her own singular path, rather than pursuing a role in the family business: managing The New York Times, which her grandfather had purchased in 1896. 

A graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S), Class of 1949, Dr. Sulzberger was a visionary physician-philanthropist committed to advancing medical research at P&S and elsewhere. 

A battle with scarlet fever as a child led the young Judith to a life in medicine. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Smith College, she transitioned to P&S in her fourth year. For many years after she graduated, she remained engaged with both students and faculty at the College. She even penned a column, “P&S Revisited,” on cutting-edge bench work and clinical scientific advances, for the College’s alumni magazine. 

It was at P&S where she first became interested in genetics. Dr. Sulzberger provided the support—both financial and otherwise—to create the Judith P. Sulzberger M.D. Columbia Genome Center, where she also worked on special projects. She also gave a transformative gift to advance the Columbia Initiative in Systems Biology.

Her generosity to P&S includes the endowment of the Isidore S. Edelman Professorship in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, as well as significant support for celiac disease research, bioterrorism research, a genomic autism study, and the Campaign for Diversity, among other areas. 

A member of the P&S Alumni Association Council and for some years chair of the Class of 1949, Dr. Sulzberger also was a major donor to scholarships. She was one of the principal sponsors of the Nolting Student Loan Fund. For many years she hosted visiting alumni at her home, and mentored medical students. Her philanthropy was University-wide, including gifts to the Mailman School of Public Health, Barnard College, and the School of Journalism.

“She was radiant, she sparkled, she glittered, [and] she glowed, when she talked about science and medicine and discovery and opportunities, and what P&S had given her and could continue giving to people," said Jane Salmon, M.D., P&S’78, in a video tribute that aired at the College of Physicians and Surgeons’ Crown Awards on Oct. 26.

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