California and Massachusetts are way ahead in terms of public
and private investment in the life sciences and in the number of startups and incubator sites. In New York, we arguably
have as many discoveries, but many of those researchers leave
town and set up their companies elsewhere. The next step is to
leverage those discoveries in New York.
How do you see Weill Cornell’s global reach as an asset?
Globally, we are a major player. We are the only U.S. medical
school with a branch in a foreign land, Qatar. We have some
of the best global health programs in Tanzania, Haiti, India,
Ghana, and Brazil. We have an exceptional educational program
in Salzburg, Austria. We have started some movement in both
education and clinical activities in China, as consultants. There
are more than 100 million middle- and upper-class Chinese
people who want private healthcare, and only half a dozen
or so Westernized hospitals to accommodate them. Obviously
the need is there. Some of our peer institutions are getting
into the market, but you’ve got to be careful because the culture,
language, and political system are different, so economically
you’ve got to be prudent.
Could you describe your leadership style?
One, I’m transparent. I’ve found with faculty and trainees, if you
are transparent and honest, even if the news is not good, they’re
all professionals and they’ll handle it. Number two, consensus
building is important. In my work, 85 percent of the stuff is
relatively easy, because everyone agrees; it’s the other 15 percent
where you have to come to a solution. My third style is motivation. I can’t see patients for our faculty, do research for them,
or teach for them. My job is to motivate them, to keep them
interested in our mission.
What role can mentorship play in Weill Cornell’s mission?
This is an area I’m very passionate about. I truly believe that
mentoring is the key to whether trainees and early-career fac-
ulty are successful. At that level, they’re all hardworking and
smart. But what dictates that some of them succeed and some
do not? Good mentoring. Many times in academic medicine
there’s no right or wrong answer, and mentors can help navigate
that. In mentoring, there are not obvious metrics, because the
fruits are not next year, or even five years from now. It may be
ten years later when that person is not even at Weill Cornell, › P H O
EXPLORING FUTURE CURES: Choi (center) with members of his laboratory team, which investigates the science of lung disease