Rita Kukafka DrPH, MA, FACMI

Chief Diversity Officer; Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Sociomedical Sciences at CUMC

Dr. Kukafka received her Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences from Brooklyn College, a Masters in Health Education from New York University, and a Doctorate in Public Health with a concentration in Sociomedical Sciences from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Nearly a decade after receiving her doctorate, she returned to Columbia where she completed a National Library of Medicine postdoctoral fellowship, and received a Master’s degree in Biomedical Informatics. Having worked at public health agencies, academia and leading large-scale population health interventions, she was convinced then and remains convinced that public health’s “winnable battles” are amenable to informatics solutions. For the duration of her training to the present, Dr. Kukafka has been involved in leadership roles at the national level to influence the growth and direction of public health informatics.

At Columbia, Dr. Kukafka holds joint appointments with the Department of Biomedical Informatics and the Mailman School of Public Health (Sociomedical Sciences). She served as director of the graduate training program from 2008-2013. She is also director of the Health Communication and Informatics Laboratory at DBMI and certificate lead for Public Health Informatics at Mailman. Her research interests focus on patient and community engagement technologies, risk communication, decision science, and implementation of health promoting and disease prevention technologies into clinical workflow. Her projects include developing decision aids, portals for community engagement, requirement and usability evaluation, and mixed-method approaches to studying implementation and outcomes.

Dr. Kukafka was appointed Chief Diversity Officer for the Department of Biomedical Informatics in September, 2021. She is an elected member of the American College of Medical Informatics and the New York Academy of Medicine. She has been an active contributor to American Medical Informatics Association, and is an AMIA Board member. She has chaired the Consumer Health Informatics Working group for AMIA, and served on an Institute of Medicine study committee that asked the question, in the 21st Century, of ‘Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? Dr. Kukafka has authored over 100 articles, chapters and books in the field of biomedical informatics including a textbook (Consumer Health Informatics: Informing Consumers and Improving Health Care with D. Lewis, G. Eysenbach, P.Z. Stavri, H. Jimison and W.V. Slack , New York: Springer, 2005).