Weill Cornell Medical College

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Volunteer Evaluators

Medical Directors

Thomas Kalman, M.D. has been on the Cornell Medical Faculty for over thirty years since the completion of his psychiatric training at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. In addition to his full-time private practice of psychoanalysis and general psychiatry, he has worked with the FDNY treating survivors of the 9/11 attacks. Dr. Kalman has published research in a wide range of subjects, including health care delivery, homophobia in the general hospital, and Internet Pornography. A frequent presenter at national and local meetings, Dr. Kalman also has a Master's Degree in Health Care Administration and has over 40 publications.

Joseph Shin, M.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College serving as an academic hospitalist at NY-Presbyterian Hospital.  Prior to joining the faculty at Cornell in 2014, Dr. Shin had spent the last ten years at NYU School of Medicine as a student, resident and attending physician conducting medical evaluations of survivors of torture and asylum applicants, participating in research on human rights abuses in Punjab, India, and serving as a primary care physician at the NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture.  His interests also include advocacy against physician involvement in torture, medical education and global health workforce development.

Volunteer Evaluators 

Joanne Ahola M.D. is board certified in psychiatry and on the voluntary faculty of the Weill Cornell Medical College, and maintains a private practice in general and psychodynamic psychiatry. Dr. Ahola has been a member of the volunteer Asylum Network of Physicians for Human Rights since 2000, conducting psychological evaluations of asylum seekers. With PHR, Dr. Ahola has trained health professionals around the country in evaluating and documenting the psychological effects of torture and other forms of persecution. She has particular expertise in LGBT asylum, the one year filing deadline, and testifying in court asylum hearings. 

John Docherty, M.D. is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and Attending Psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Visiting Professor of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F. Edward Herbert School of Medicine, in Bethesda, Maryland, and External Assessor in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In addition he serves as an Executive Director on the Board of Directors of two companies he founded: Comprehensive Clinical Development and Care Management Technologies. Dr. Docherty also maintains a clinical practice in psychiatry. Dr. Docherty earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA, where he completed a rotating medical-psychiatric internship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He served a psychiatry residency at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, followed by post-residency training in the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Docherty is a distinguished life fellow of the APA, Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists, and past president of the Association for Clinical Psychosocial Research. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Award for Research from the National Association of Private Psychiatric Hospitals, and the Medical Director Leadership Award from the Psychiatric Institute of America. Dr. Docherty has had specific experience with PTSD. He worked for five years in the Yale-West Haven Veterans Hospital at the time of the Viet Nam War, authored an expert guideline on the treatment of PTSD and served as a consultant to the Government of Kuwait after the liberation of Kuwait following the invasion by Saddam Hussein.

Terri Gallen Edersheim, M.D. is a Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal Fetal Medicine. She is an AOA graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at The New York Hospital. She then completed fellowship training in Maternal-Fetal Medicine before joining the faculty in 1986, where she has practiced both on the full time and voluntary faculties. She has participated in the evaluation of torture victims seeking asylum with HealthRight International and Physicians for Human Rights. Dr Edersheim has worked extensively with Victims of female genital cutting and sexual abuse, who are seeking asylum in the United States.

Angela Fairweather, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist specializing in the assessment and treatment of traumatic stress and related disorders, especially mood disturbance, anxiety, and addiction.  Dr. Fairweather completed her Ph.D. at the University of South Florida (Tampa, Florida) and predoctoral internship training at Rutgers University Behavioral Healthcare (Newark, New Jersey).  Dr. Fairweather also completed postdoctoral residency training in the assessment and treatment of acute and complex PTSD in the Women’s Program of Princeton Healthcare System (Princeton, New Jersey campus) and currently provides group psychotherapy services in this program (North Brunswick, New Jersey campus).  Dr. Fairweather is a published researcher in the area of trauma and is particularly interested in the role of intimate relationships in mental health outcomes of trauma survivors.

Dominic Ferro, M.D. is a graduate of Emory Medical School, where he was a Woodruff Fellow. He trained in psychiatry at The New York Hospital-Westchester Division. He is on the faculty at Cornell Weill Medical College and at the NYU School of Medicine. He completed an Intensive Training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. He is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in General and Forensic Psychiatry, as well as by the American Board of Adolescent Psychiatry. Dominic has served as the President of SAP, Inc, and he is a past President of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry. He is also a past President of the West Hudson Psychiatric Society, and he was recognized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness with the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award.

Ruth Gerson, M.D. is the Director of the Children's Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CCPEP) at Bellevue Hospital Center and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Gerson received her bachelor of arts in Biochemistry at Harvard University and received her medical degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She completed her internship and general psychiatry training at the Cambridge Health Alliance-Harvard Medical School. She completed her child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship and a public psychiatric fellowship at the NYU School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center. Dr. Gerson is board certified in both general and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Sarah Jane Grossbard, M.D. is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and completed her residency training at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and New York University Medical Center. Dr. Grossbard has been a member of the volunteer Asylum Network of Physicians for Human Rights since 2014, conducting psychological evaluations of asylum seekers. She has been in private practice since 2004. 

Alka Gupta, M.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, and is a hospitalist at Weill Cornell Medical Center and Lower Manhattan Hospital. She completed her undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University, her medical degree at Virginia Commonwealth University, and her residency in internal medicine at the University of Maryland. She is currently involved in teaching medical students and residents. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. 

Gunisha Kaur, MD earned her B.S. from Cornell University in 2006, graduated from Weill Cornell Medical College in 2010, and completed her Anesthesiology Residency training at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital in 2014. She is an anesthesiologist specializing in international health and is leading the Department of Anesthesiology’s Global Health Initiative. She also serves as the Program Director for the Anesthesia Global Health Fellowship. Dr. Kaur holds a Master’s in Medical Anthropology from Harvard University. In 2008, she published the book Lost in History: 1984 Reconstructed, which documents human rights violations in South Asia.

Carol L. Kessler, M.D., M.Div is a board certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist and an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Church of America. Since returning from volunteering in El Salvador in 1987, she has been conducting asylum evaluations - with the Central American Refugee Committee, and later with Physicians for Human Rights. She is a volunteer with the longtermer's project of the Osborne Association, accompanying people who are serving long sentences for homicide-related offenses on their journey toward parole. She works as a community-based psychiatrist with Astor Services for Children in the Bronx and with Open Door Family Medical Centers in Westchester County. She has been on the faculty of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Columbia University.

Zahra Mehdi Malik, MD was born in the Middle East and grew up surrounded by an array of cultures. She completed her anesthesiology residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and a fellowship in cardiothoracic anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She has participated in voluntary medical work in Tanzania and the Dominican Republic throughout her training. She currently serves as an instructor at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City and specializes in cardiothoracic anesthesiology.

Debora Munczek, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice with a specialty in psychosocial and mental health aspects of human rights violations. She treats, trains and consults about psychosocial traumas. She has worked at the International Trauma Studies Program at New York University, the Bellevue Hospital–NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, Doctors of the World’s Human Rights Clinic, the Assistance to Torture Survivors Project of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, and other institutions and organizations in the United States and in Latin America. She has been a volunteer evaluator for Physicians for Human Rights’ Asylum Network since 1997. She has also served as an expert witness before the Inter-American Human Rights Court of the Organization of American States and was a Fulbright Scholar in Honduras where she worked with several human rights organizations, and researched and taught about these issues. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and an MSW from New York University.

Joseph F Murray III, M.D. is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton, where he majored in Biology, English, and Philosophy. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, he completed hisinternship at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and residency in Psychiatry at the Payne Whitney Clinic of the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Murray worked as a psychiatrist at the New York Presbyterian Hospital's Center for Special Studies (CSS), a multi-disciplinary clinic for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, from 1999-2010. At Weill Cornell Medical College, he is the director of the Medicine Patients Society I course. He is also the associate director for the Psychiatry clerkship. He is a consulting psychiatrist on the Heart Failure/Heart Transplant service at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. He has a particular interest in working with medical students in asylum evaluation and has been a strong supporter of the educational component of WCCHR.

Tom Ott, LCSW is a graduate of Hunter College School of Social Work. Tom has worked with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for most of his 40+ year career. He is now in his 19th year at YAI; Seeing Beyond Disability as a clinician and administrator. Tom works clinically with individuals, couples and families. He is also a staff support person for the self advocates of YAI. He has engaged in volunteer work throughout his life and is most recently involved with the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. In addition, he and his dog, Chapin, are a therapy team sponsored by The Good Dog Foundation and they visit people in Hospice through VNS. Tom is also involved in the LGBTQ community and has mentored younger people struggling with their identity or self image. He is committed to doing what he can to make our world a more positive and life-affirming place for all, especially for those who might be or feel disenfranchised. His interest in and involvement with the WCCHR is a natural extension to do what he can as well as work with others who are similarly passionate.

Deborah Ottenheimer, M.D. is a graduate of The Univ. of Penn and completed her residency training at St.Lukes/Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. Dr.Ottenheimer spent 7 years working with adolescent girls in the South Bronx and continues to focus on adolescent and young adult health care. In addition to her private practice, Dr.Ottenheimer works as a medical volunteer in Haiti. She is also an active member of Physicians for Human Rights and voluntary faculty at the Ichan School of Medicine Human Rights Clinic and the WCCHR, aiding victims of female genital mutilation, domestic violence, and sex trafficking in their applications for asylum to the U.S. Dr. Ottenheimer has lectured to medical students, residents, asylum officers, and immigration judges on FGM and other human rights violations against women and participates frequently in training seminars for asylum evaluators.

Chiti Parikh, M.D. is a board certified internist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Hospital Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College. She is an AOA graduate of the Robertwood Johnson Medical School and completed her residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital – Cornell campus. Currently she is involved in teaching medical students and residents. She has worked on projects involving sexual education, HIV awareness and sexual violence among adolescents and sex workers in India.

Nishant Patel, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist with the Trauma Services department at the Washington DC VA Medical Center and provides individual therapy at Fort Belvoir to veterans afflicted with traumatic stress. Dr. Patel completed his doctorate in clinical psychology at Widener University and his post-doctoral fellowship while working with Heartland Alliance in Kurdistan (Northern Iraq). In his role with Heartland Alliance, Dr. Patel conducted training and delivering technical assistance to local mental health paraprofessionals, therapy to Iraqi survivors of torture and managing programs. Prior to his position at DC VAMC, Dr. Patel served as the program coordinator and later acting director of the Cross-Cultural Counseling Center at the International Institute of New Jersey, providing treatment to survivors of torture seeking political asylum, international human trafficking survivors and immigrant survivors of domestic violence. Dr. Patel’s professional interests primarily include trauma work and cultural psychology.

Vivian B. Pender, M.D. is a faculty member of Columbia and Cornell Medical Schools where she is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry. She has training in Internal Medicine, Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis. She teaches medical students, residents and psychoanalytic candidates. She is a Trustee of the American Psychiatric Association. She is the Main Representative to the UN of the International Psychoanalytical Association since 2009. She chaired the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in New York, from 2007-2011, a coalition of 85 NGOs in consultative relationship with the United Nations.  She has been President of professional organizations including the NY District Branch of the American Psychiatric Association and the Payne Whitney Faculty Council. She volunteered with a NYC mental health team that treats homeless people with mental illness. She is a member of the New York City Medical Reserve Corps. She spent a year in Africa where she visited medical missions and is a psychiatric consultant at the United Nations.  She has authored papers on affect, motivation, pregnancy, female psychology and women’s health.  She is the Editor of a forthcoming book on Women and Psychoanalysis: an International and Political Perspective. From 2006-2013 she produced four documentary films of UN conferences on violence, global health, mental disability, and human rights.  She is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Manhattan. 

Matthew Pius, M.D. is board-certified with the American Board of Emergency Medicine and currently practices in multiple emergency departments in the New York City area.  He graduated from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed a residency at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY.  He has been conducting medical evaluations for asylum-seekers with Physicians for Human Rights since 2004 and joined the WCCHR team in 2015. 

Ariel Shidlo, Ph.D. is a clinical/community psychologist. He practices cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, and psychodynamic psychotherapy. Since 2005, he has been a volunteer for the Asylum Network of Physicians for Human Rights and conducted psychological evaluations of person fleeing persecution and survivors of torture. He has a Certificate in Global Mental Health from the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. He is a member of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He is co-founder of the Research Institute Without Walls (riww.org) where he does research on the impact of human rights violations on the mental health of LGBT persons. Dr. Shidlo speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Hebrew.

Anna Suessbrick, PhD is a faculty member with the NYU Langone Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry. She completed her doctorate at the New School for Social Research in New York, NY, and trained at the Portland (Oregon) VA Medical Center, where she worked with veterans with PTSD. For most of her career, she has maintained a specialty in psychological assessment for the purposes of public safety suitability, legal consultation, neuropsychological function, and psychiatric diagnosis. In addition, from 2007– 2012, she was a member of a practice in Seattle, WA, that specialized in the LGBTQ population. Currently, she is involved in research at NYULMC that aims to identify biomarkers of posttraumatic stress disorder. In this role, she conducts comprehensive diagnostic interviews with combat veterans and civilian survivors of trauma.

Sheida Tabaie, M.D. is a board-certified anesthesiologist with sub-specialty board-certification in critical care medicine. Dr. Tabaie earned her M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and did her residency training and critical care fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Following her fellowship, Dr. Tabaie pursued further training in global health through the Department of Anesthesiology Global Health Fellowship at Weill Cornell.  Currently, Dr. Tabaie works as both an anesthesiologist and an intensivist in the Cardiothoracic ICU at Weill Cornell.

Patricia Tidwell, PhD, LCSW has been in private practice for over 20 years. She works primarily with individuals and is an EMDR practitioner. She is faculty and clinical supervisor at Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center and Institute for Expressive Analysis, both in Manhattan. Having lived and worked in different cultures, Dr. Tidwell has a particular interest in how culture influences the ways that women experience themselves in the world. Her dissertation explored the relationship between women’s sense of self, agency, and ambition.

Gabriel Tudose, M.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Weil Cornell Medical College. He earned his medical degree from “Carol Davila” School of Medicine in Bucharest. Dr. Tudose completed his Psychiatry residency at Chicago Medical School where he served as Chief Resident for Medical Student Education for two consecutive years. He then went to complete his Fellowship in Sleep Medicine at the University of Michigan. In addition, Dr. Tudose completed his Advanced Adult Psychoanalytic Training at The Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. He has worked extensively with the LGBT population. Dr Tudose is Board-certified in Psychiatry, and Sleep Medicine.

Bios Coming Soon

Ellen Arfin, LCSW

Stephanie Brandt, MD

Joann Difede, PhD

Rebecca Dulit, MD

Omar Fattal, MD

Cecily Gallup, MD

Himani Ghoge, MD

Elizabeth Goren, PhD

David Guggenheim, PsyD

Denise Heebink, MD

Karen Hopenwasser, MD

Marc Igdalsky, PA

Laura Josephs, PhD

Sharon Kozberg, PhD

Carolyn Langlier, MD

Amy Miranda, LCSW

Siobahn O'Herron, MD

Susan Pincus, MD

Laura Pinsky, LCSW

Nicki Reno-Welt, PA

Amy Rubenstein, PhD

Lynn Schackman, MD

Melanie Sisti, MD 

Nina Urban, MD

Fawzia Zawahir, MD

Contact Information

Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights
Weill Cornell Medical College
1300 York Avenue, Box #2
New York, NY  10065

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