Samuel Sia Appointed Vice Provost for the Fourth Purpose and Strategic Impact

Samuel Sia, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, has been named Vice Provost for the Fourth Purpose and Strategic Impact. 

February 01, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce that I have appointed Samuel Sia, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, to be Vice Provost for the Fourth Purpose and Strategic Impact. This role was created at the recommendation of the Fourth Purpose Task Force to support Columbia’s efforts to bring knowledge to directed action for public good, which President Bollinger has identified as Columbia’s Fourth Purpose – one distinct from, but deeply entwined with, research, education, and service.

In this new role, Professor Sia will help build and adapt academic and organizational infrastructure to support activities aimed at leveraging our research and innovation to benefit society. He will work to amplify such efforts, facilitating internal and external partnerships and dismantling barriers to interdisciplinary, cross-school collaboration. He will serve as a central resource for the tremendous array of projects advancing our Fourth Purpose, ranging from University initiatives like Columbia World Projects and Columbia Global Centers to the remarkable and diverse constellation of individual activities taking place in every school and across every part of our campuses.

Professor Sia, who joined the Columbia faculty in 2005, has distinguished himself as both an influential scholar and a successful biotech entrepreneur. In academia and industry, his work has focused on microfluidics and miniaturized wearable and implantable medical devices. He has collaborated extensively with colleagues across engineering and in public health, medicine, and business.

In one such collaboration, conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa with researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health and local government, Professor Sia’s team developed a rapid, low-cost diagnostic test to identify HIV and other infectious diseases. Currently, a rapid COVID-19 PCR test developed in his lab is advancing with support from the NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Initiative, and a point-of-care prostate cancer test based on technology he developed was approved by the FDA and is now being commercialized. Professor Sia’s work has been featured in both leading scientific journals and the international press.

He co-founded Harlem Biospace, a biotech incubator launched in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation that has hosted over 70 biotech startups since 2013. He also co-created and co-taught a course offered jointly by SEAS and Columbia Business School that trained students to identify and pursue innovation opportunities that rely on academic research. Professor Sia has taken on a variety of service roles within the University, including on the Senate External Relations Committee, the Precision Medicine Coordinating Committee, and the Fourth Purpose Task Force, for which he was Chair of the Teaching and Learning Subcommittee.

I am very pleased that he will bring his considerable talents to the Office of the Provost, where he can serve as a central resource, helping to amplify the impact others are making across the University in an effort to benefit the larger world. Please join me in welcoming Professor Sia to the Office of the Provost and congratulating him on his new role.


Mary C. Boyce
Professor of Mechanical Engineering