Rita Kukafka

Associate Professor


Dr. Kukafka received her Bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, a Master's in Health Education from New York University, and a Doctorate in Public Health 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, hospitals, academia, and leading large-scale population health interventions, she was convinced then and remains convinced that healthcare reform is 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 biomedical informatics research and training. At Columbia, Dr. Kukafka holds joint appointments with the Department of Biomedical Informatics and the Mailman School of Public Health. She served as director of Columbia University’s graduate training program in Biomedical Informatics from 2008-2013. Currently, with funding from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), she is developing curriculum and training for healthcare workers to use new health information technologies in a variety of settings. This funding is also to update training materials from the original Workforce Curriculum Development program funded under HITECH, for which Dr. Kukafka also served as Principal Investigator. 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 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.