Heather Belle, MD (PGY1)
Heather was born and raised in Tampa, Florida with the desire to be a physician since she was three years old. Heather started volunteering at her local community hospital at the age of fourteen, and she has been in love with medicine since. Heather studied at the University of Florida where she was named one of eight Lombardi Scholars. Through the Lombardi Scholarship, Heather studied abroad in Merida, Mexico; Cuzco, Peru; and Johannesburg, South Africa where she performed various health sanitation projects and research on HIV/AIDS. During her undergraduate career, Heather performed research at Moffitt Cancer Center where she was named an American Cancer Society Fellow for her work in microarray protein phosphatase gene analysis where she identified two potential oncogenes. Heather found her interest in geriatrics, volunteering extensively at Oak Hammock, a local Gainesville assisted living center and memory support unit for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Heather is a proud member of Phi Mu Fraternity where she served several years as the academics chair and was presented the Most Outstanding Greek Scholar Award at the University of Florida. Heather received undergraduate degrees in Microbiology and Cell Science and Spanish, graduating cum laude with honors and Phi Beta Kappa.
At Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Heather pursued her interest in geriatrics and hospice/palliative care with her scholarly project titled, “A Study of Geriatric Medicine” in which Heather volunteered weekly at various independent living, assisted living, nursing home, and hospice sites throughout the central New Jersey area while also working on a reflection comparing the various sites. Heather was appointed to SGA as the representative of Saidi College, one of three learning communities that make up the College Advising Program (CAP) at RWJMS where Heather worked with the other CAP representatives to foster a sense of family and mentorship within the medical school by organizing monthly events to promote community and friendly competition. Heather also served as Co-Vice President for the Medicine Interest Group at RWJMS during medical school, organizing various lunch lectures, panels, and events.
In her spare time, Heather enjoys running in Central Park and taking ballet classes in NYC. Aside from being located in beautiful NYC, Heather’s passion for studying abroad made Columbia an obvious choice for residency with its COPC project in the Dominican Republic as well as her opportunity to work with a vast urban, underserved population that is largely Spanish speaking. Heather hopes to work long term with the geriatric underserved community as she feels they are a group that frequently falls under the system’s radar. Heather is excited to start her career as a physician and could not imagine a better place to do it than Columbia-New York Presbyterian surrounded by people who are kind and share the same passion as her.
Louis Cicatelli, DO (PGY1)
Sheerin Habibullah, MD (PGY1)
Danielle LaSalandra, DO (PGY1)
Born and raised in Stamford, CT Danielle initially became interested in medicine as a child when her parents pursued several different types of integrative treatments. She learned to see the many different opportunities available and wanted to be a part of the movement towards furthering medical knowledge and understanding. She graduated from the University of Virginia in biology and Italian and then completed a masters at Georgetown University in physiology and biophysics with a focus in complementary and alternative medicine. Following this time, she decided to work in the healthcare field before starting medical school.
Her diverse experiences included administrative assistant and medical assistant at an OB-GYN practice, Naturopath administrative assistant, and intake coordinator at a grief and trauma counseling center. Her passion has always been in viewing medicine as a manifestation of mind, body, and spirit, which fit particularly well with the osteopathic philosophy. At the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, Danielle was actively involved in her school. She served on the academic affairs committee as the curriculum representative, treasurer of the neuro-psychiatry club, and founder of the integrative medicine chair in the American Medical Student Association club. She also had the opportunity to study Ayurvedic medicine in India for a month.
During her medical school career Danielle was fortunate enough to be inducted into Sigma Sigma Phi service fraternity and Psi Sigma Alpha academic honor’s society. She is proud of her ability to treat patient’s osteopathically and is always excited about ways to spread awareness. Danielle’s areas of medical interest include integrative medicine, adolescent medicine, and behavioral health. She chose family medicine because it encourages a holistic, patient-centered approach that emphasizes the needs of the community. It allows physicians to treat individuals of all ages, and to serve as an important unifier in patient care. Danielle is so excited to see where medicine takes her, and is grateful to be part of such a supportive and innovative program at Columbia. Aside from medicine, some of her other interests include Latin ballroom dancing, singing (she used to train in opera!), and spending time being lazy with her cat.
Rajat Lamington, MD (PGY1)
Rajat began his journey to become a doctor from New Delhi, India, where he was born and raised. His grandfather’s wish before he passed away was to see him carry on the legacy and practice medicine. With this in mind, Rajat made a very bold decision to enroll himself at the age of seventeen in a six year MD program at Odessa National Medical University in Ukraine, one of the oldest and prestigious schools in Europe. He graduated summa cum laude and ranked first out of his graduating class. Rajat will never forget his experience in Ukraine, a beautiful country with an affluent culture, which happened to become besieged by war and uncertainty. Although it was a troubling time to be in Odessa, Rajat persevered, passed the European Licensing exam, KROK, top of his class, and made the first attempt by an Odessa National Medical University student to transfer and complete his medical rotations at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
New Delhi to Odessa is a big change culturally and mentally for any ambitious kid, but Rajat knew he could not stop there. Apart from his medical studies, he also joined Research with the Department of Surgery at Columbia and co-authored an abstract “Impact of Positive Surgical Margins on mortality after Radical Prostatectomy by disease risk group”, that was published in the American journal of Urology.
After completing his rotations, Rajat decided to prep for USMLE Step 3 and gained more administrative experience at the Renal Research Institute/Fresenius Medical Care North America. Alongside his professional experience, he also volunteered his time with the Research Team at the Center for HIV Educational Studies & Training and tutoring South Asian American adolescents in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics at a local tutoring institute.
Rajat feels that Family Medicine is a program that trains physicians to be exceptional doctors with this multidisciplinary and holistic viewpoint. So it came as no surprise that when the time came for him to choose the best program that matched his ambitions and provided exceptional training, he returned to the Columbia family. Community oriented approach of the program, world renowned academic leaders as faculty, enormous opportunities for research and innovation and highly inspiring and friendly residents were a few reasons that made this top tier program, Rajat’s first choice. Outside of medicine, Rajat is a food connoisseur, likes to travel, go biking, finding the best places for ice cream in New York City and de-stressing on Sunday’s at church.
Rebecca Leeds, MD (PGY1)
Mary Claire Abbot, MD (PGY2)
Mary Claire’s awareness of community health began early as she grew up hearing stories of her mom’s work as the school-health physician in a system that served many immigrant families. Interest in immigrant health led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Spanish and to spend a summer in Madrid working with Sub-Saharan African immigrants there. After graduating from Wesleyan University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, she worked for two years as a clinic manager at a free clinic serving low income and immigrant families in Arlington, Virginia. Her wide-ranging responsibilities at Arlington Free Clinic helped her appreciate every level of the teamwork that goes into providing excellent primary care.
At Drexel University College of Medicine, Mary Claire was able to bring her experience to the student-led Health Outreach Project (HOP) Clinics of Philadelphia. She helped advance the HOP organization in a variety of roles: as a Co-Coordinator of weekly clinics at a shelter for women and children; as the Board Leader overseeing four distinct community clinics; and as an Executive Advisor working on the development of a fifth clinic. These clinics served patients who may otherwise not have had access to quality care: immigrants, intravenous drug users, and the developmentally disabled. For the time and energy spent on these projects, Mary Claire received the Physician’s Society Award for Community Service and the Outstanding Community Service Award upon her graduation from Drexel. Her academic performance earned her the Nathan Samuels Prize for Excellence in Family Medicine and election to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society.
An interest in immigrant health and the desire to be at a residency program that offers fully integrated abortion training were two main reasons that Mary Claire chose to apply to Columbia-NYP Family Medicine Residency. She chose to train here after meeting the wonderful faculty and residents.
Stephanie Arnold, MD (PGY2)
Stephanie Arnold, MD studied Anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University before earning her Doctor of Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School. A strong advocate for public health, Stephanie worked for three years as Assistant Director of A Capitol Women’s Health Clinic in Richmond, VA prior to medical school. Her areas of interest include women's health, primary care for the LGBTQ population, childhood trauma and health literacy.
Laura Belland, MD (PGY2)
Born and raised in Ohio, Laura attended The Ohio State University where she double-majored in microbiology and French and minored in violin performance. She graduated cum laude with Honors and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Following graduation, Laura pursued a two-year research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, where her work focused on understanding the molecular properties involved in early cell migration.
Laura continued up the East Coast to attend medical school at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she co-founded Mount Sinai’s 10-week Music and Medicine nexus course for students. She received grants to develop a performance series in which medical students and professional musicians from the NYC area play music for patients at Mount Sinai and for seniors out in the East Harlem Community. Laura also co-founded the Palliative Care Interest Group and was co-leader of the Geriatrics Interest Group. After her third year of medical school, Laura pursued a scholarly research year focused on disparities in care for older adult patients treated in the emergency room. She presented her research at several national research conferences, and is second author on two published peer-reviewed articles. With an interest in global health, Laura received a scholarship to travel to rural Madagascar where she researched sexual health practices among teenagers and taught basic sexual health classes for eight weeks. Laura was elected to the Gold Humanism Honor Society and to Alpha Omega Alpha.
Laura chose NewYork-Presbyterian/CUMC’s family medicine program because of its ties to the community of Washington Heights and Inwood. She was particularly drawn to The Allen Hospital, where residents do their inpatient, OB, and surgery rotations, which feels like a community hospital but is staffed with world-class physicians. She is excited to train at a top-tier hospital while serving an underserved population. Outside of medicine, Laura enjoys music, food, movies, and exploring NYC.
Jenny Borhman, DO (PGY2)
In NW Philadelphia, born and raised, outdoors was where Jenny spent most of her days. Her love of nature and beautiful spaces drew her to the University of Richmond, where she continued to devote herself to service of the natural and built environment as well as the people in is a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and president of the Students for Environmental Awareness and Action. After graduating Magna Cum Laude with membership to Phi Beta Kappa she joined served in AmeriCorps National Civilian Service Corps followed by AmeriCorps HealthCorps at Drexel University 11th Street Family Health Center.
After witnessing the accumulated stress in patients and staff members at 11th Street, Jenny sought training in Yoga, Reiki and Integrative Health Counseling and created a healing space and the supportive position of Wellness Coordinator at the health center. Two years later, Jenny enrolled at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. There as vice president of Med Students for Choice she advocated for increased training on reproductive health and women's options in the state of WV. She was chosen to be a graduate teaching fellow in Osteopathic Practices and Principles during which time she taught and tutored first and second year students in manual diagnosis and treatment, as well as receiving additional training in the field.
Jenny moved to New York with her son and partner during her 4th year of medical school. New York Presbyterian stood out above all other programs with opportunities to study integrative medicine and women's health, a commitment to the underserved neighborhood of Washington Heights with protected time for research which would benefit the community, and the friendly family like atmosphere among residents and faculty. When not at work, you might find Jenny swing dancing, laying in the sun, playing in neighborhood playgrounds with her toddler son, or creating something deliciously healthy in the kitchen.
Daniela Fanto, MD (PGY2)
Daniela was born in New York, after which her family moved to Rome, Italy where she spent the majority of her childhood before moving back to the US. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Biology from Loyola University of Chicago. Daniela was on the College of Arts and Sciences’ Dean’s List for Scholastic Performance throughout her degree. She was inducted as a member for Golden Key International Honor Society and elected by the National Society of Collegiate Scholars as a delegate to the International Mission on Medicine.
She moved back to Europe to study medicine at the University of London, St. George’s Hospital. Among various academic and clinical achievements, she received an outstanding achievement in the Medical and Biomedical Skills Course. She remained an enthusiastic participant of the medical community as a member of the Royal College of Physicians, Royal Society of Medicine and the British Medical Association. Following completion of her medical degree, she began clinical training within the NHS (National Health Service). During this time, she gained her full General Medical License and also worked as a medical writer publishing two peer-reviewed medical education books and two case studies for international medical journals.
Daniela is proud to have achieved her goal of attending the New York Presbyterian-Columbia Family Medicine Program, particularly after being so impressed with the program’s genuine dedication to the Washington Heights community. This dedication was clear through activities like the community-oriented primary care projects and the medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic. The excellent and engaging residents, faculty and staff during her initial visit solidified her decision to attend residency here. Daniela’s interests outside of medicine include traveling, playing the banjo and attending concerts.
Hyowoun Jung, MD (PGY2)
Hyowoun graduated from Amherst College cum laude with an interdisciplinary major in International Social Justice. Her thesis examined the historical and social conditions under which Kenyans give and volunteer based on her fieldwork and interviews with Kenyans. Hyowoun received a Projects for Peace grant founded Hope for Kibera, a community based organization to empower youth in slums and to promote health education in schools. After graduation, she joined Teach for America to inspire and promote excellent science education for middle school students in the Bronx.
Hyowoun's decision to go into medicine stemmed from her passion to empower individuals and communities through healthcare, education and advocacy. At the University of Rochester School of Medicine, Hyowoun led the Family Medicine Interest group and Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association and continued her work with communities locally and abroad. Locally, Hyowoun was actively involved with the student-run free clinic and Homeless Outreach. She received the Distinction in Community Health for her extensive work on the "Establishment of the Library Resource Outreach Center and Initial Survey to Understand the Demographics and Needs of the Homeless Population." She was the co-investigator of Global Health Task Force International Collaboration Study and was selected to join the Global Health Pathway.
Hyowoun chose to train at the New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Family Medicine for the following three reasons: the unique opportunity to serve the diverse population of Washington Heights; the program's commitment to innovative community based health intervention and research; and the exceptional faculty dedicated to training future leaders of primary care. Hyowoun's interests in medicine include maternal-child health, medical education, and international health. She is a member of the NYSAFP Education Commission. In her spare time she enjoys Zumba, yoga, hiking, traveling, cooking, and painting.
Rebecca Roach , MD (PGY2)
Hi there! My name is Becca and I'm a small town girl hacking it in the big city of New York. I am from outside of Buffalo, NY and did my undergraduate training at University at Buffalo where I studied Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Political Science. I have always been interested in the way politics and medicine influences each other both here and abroad. As an undergraduate, I spent time in Rwanda, South Africa, and Haiti, during which I realized my passion for providing medical service to those in serious need. I went to medical school in Syracuse, NY at SUNY Upstate Medical University and am looking forward to starting my residency in Family Medicine here at Columbia!
I feel that Family Medicine is an incredible specialty that gives the opportunity to study all areas of medicine, while also providing the tools to handle the social barriers that so often impede patient health. Along with global health and healthcare policy, I am very interested in Obstetrics and Gynecology along with learning/performing procedures of any kind. I choose NY-Presbyterian Columbia because it will allow me to be at a world renowned academic center while training in a small, community-based hospital. Columbia's commitment to social justice via primary care is evident through many initiatives including their COPC month. However, it was really the faculty and residents who sold the program for me — I felt like I have found a group that works hard and is passionate about helping others, but still knows how to have fun and enjoy their work.
When I'm not working or studying medicine, I love to be outdoors. I enjoy going to the beach, swimming, hiking, running, skiing/snowboarding, and exploring Central Park with my puppy. I am also passionate about traveling, brunching, watching TV (no GOT spoilers, please), and cheering on my NY Yankees, Brooklyn Nets, and the Buffalo Bills!
Lalita Abhyankar, MD (PGY3)
Lalita graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona Honors College with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and a minor in Political Science. After graduation, she pursued a Masters in Environmental Health Science at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her Masters thesis-- "Arsenic and Hypertension: A Systematic Review"-- became her first first-author publication in Environmental Health Perspectives.
In 2010, Lalita returned to Tucson, Arizona to begin her degree in medicine. During medical school, Lalita had the opportunity to intern at the World Health Organization where she helped aggregate information on the burden of disease from indoor air pollution in developing countries. Her work with student-run free clinics included one year as Asylum Clinic Coordinator, where she helped document history and physicals for asylum seeking refugees. She completed medical school with a distinction in Integrative Medicine.
In residency, Lalita is one of two Social Chairs. She serves as the Family Medicine representative to the NYPH Resident Forum. She is also a member of the New York State Academy of Family Physicians (NYSAFP) Advocacy Committee. Her current research interests include barriers to healthy eating in the Washington Heights area, and she continues to work on the health effects of indoor air pollution with faculty at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. In her spare time, Lalita enjoys photography, music, storytelling, and exploring New York City.
Sharon Chacko, MD (PGY3)
Sharon was born in a suburb outside of Chicago and was delivered by a family physician! Her family moved to Tampa, Florida when she was 9. She attended undergrad at the University of Florida with a full scholarship as a National Merit Scholar and majored in psychology.
She headed back to Tampa for medical school at the University of South Florida. During medical school, she was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society and was awarded Commendations for Clinical Excellence. She served as a Student Director for the Florida Academy of Family Physicians, President of the Family Medicine Interest Group and Secretary of her class. Sharon also co-founded the Wellness Council. She taught medical students as a student preceptor for the yearlong “On Doctoring” course and served as a student preceptor at the Judeo-Christian Clinic for underserved patients. In recognition for her work, she was awarded the Outstanding Medical Student Award for Contributions to the Public Sector Medicine Program. She also was a Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) Student Scholar.
Sharon chose to do residency at Columbia after meeting the amazing residents, learning about our Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) model focused on learning about our unique Washington Heights population, and for the opportunity to train under exceptional faculty at this prestigious academic institution. Within medicine her interests are women’s health, pediatrics, underserved medicine, and integrative medicine. Since starting residency, Sharon joined our Integrative Medicine in Residency program, is a member of the Program Evaluation Committee, is a Patient Care Champion for the Ambulatory Care Network, and is one of two senior residents leading the COPC trip to the Dominican Republic. She helps lead group prenatal care visits and is researching prenatal groups as her COPC research project. Outside of medicine she enjoys yoga, cooking, exploring NYC, teatime, dance parties, and spending time with family and friends!
Elyceia Dortch, MD (PGY3)
Elyceia is from Atlanta, Ga. She received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Georgia where she was a Hope Scholarship recipient. She then attended medical school at the Medical College of Georgia where she was an executive board member of the Student National Medical Association. She was extensively active in the community, volunteering at the homeless clinic and women’s clinic as well as serving as a Junior Medical League Volunteer where she volunteered at the local Boys and Girls Club. She was also inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. With an interest in global health, Elyceia traveled to Peru where she provided healthcare to various rural communities, performing pap smears and breast exams on women where access to healthcare was limited.
Elyceia chose family medicine at Columbia after meeting the amazing faculty and residents and seeing how the training at this institution has set a strong foundation for their medical career. She has enjoyed working in the vibrant community of Washington Heights and getting to know her patients and provide them with accessible health care. She has also noticed that her Spanish is greatly improving! Her interests in medicine include palliative/hospice care, global health, procedures, sports medicine and urgent care. She is currently a Social Chair for the residency.
Elyceia has truly loved working and playing in the Big Apple! In her spare time she enjoys trying out new restaurants and recipes, going to Broadway shows, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, listening to live music at Groove Bar, frolicking through Central park and of course Netflix marathons!
Lara Harisay, MD (PGY3)
Hi! I am originally from the tranquil town of Sublimity Oregon. I migrated to Connecticut for college and I’ve been hooked on the east coast ever since! While in undergraduate at Trinity College I fell in love with econometrics, a branch of economics that provides individual context to the birds-eye view theories of Economics. I graduated with a degree in economics and worked for several years applying my background to the online space, trying to cultivate a better understanding of how people utilized different aspects of the internet within their daily lives. While it was an incredibly interesting task, I realized I wanted to spend more time face to face and quickly turned to medicine. At Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, I gravitated to Family Medicine due in large part to its ability to step back and appreciate an individual’s goals for their own care, and acknowledge how forces outside the exam room like family and community structure influence people’s decisions about their health. I am thrilled to be joining the incredible team at Columbia’s Family Medicine Center and continue to be so impressed by its commitment to its patients and desire to constantly explore novel ideas to help enhance their health. I am also loving the move to Washington Heights / Inwood and in my free time you can find me out enjoying a fantastic bite at El Rey De Pollo, or working it off in Isham park.
Quang Huynh, MD (PGY3)
I grew up in Camden, NJ, where I learned goodness, fortitude, and the ability to see the silver lining in any cloud. I was the first in my family to graduate college, when in 2006 I earned a BA in Biology from George Washington University. I then spent 5 years in Washington, DC working with its HIV-infected and homeless communities. During that time I helped lead a competitive hip-hop dance team called Capital Funk which was the source of so much joy and pride in my life. In fact, I was so devoted that even during medical school, I continued to bus down to DC to rehearse and compete in shows. I returned to my home state to attend Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, NJ – four unforgettable years spent with some of the most gifted and vivacious people I’ve ever met.
My hobbies include dancing, listening to and mixing music, writing, sketching, boxing, and collecting sneakers. I’m shooting to eventually be a world-class connoisseur of tacos and root beer. New York City’s pretty good for all those things, but enough with the parking tickets already! I’d known that I wanted to be a family doctor as far back as middle school. My first-hand understanding of the inner city, moral upbringing, and bright outlook on life all coalesced into a mission to be the kind of doctor who takes root in a community and pours the remainder of his years into it. Yes, I’m a softy! I like to think that if medical school is like learning a new language, then residency must be like learning how to write poetry; in which case, I am so thrilled to be training at Columbia-New York Presbyterian!
David Jang, MD (PGY3)
David initially pursued a career in business, earning a degree in economics and holding various jobs in insurance, finance, and health care administration.
However, multiple experiences in the developing world challenged him to master a trade he could use in the service of others. His ambitions led him to medical school, where he pursued interests in global health, medical student education, and primary care research.
He elected to train at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia because of the opportunity it afforded to practice full-spectrum family medicine in a primarily Spanish-speaking, urban, underserved community. As a resident, his specific interests include research into primary care delivery.