Roberto Lewis-Fernández, MD — Director
Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center Director, Hispanic Treatment Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard University
Please click here to read Dr. Lewis-Fernández’s CV.
Roberto Lewis-Fernández, MD has authored a body of research focusing on developing clinical interventions and novel service-delivery approaches to help overcome disparities in the care of underserved US cultural groups. His work centers on improving treatment engagement and retention in mental health and physical health care by persons with anxiety, depression, and other serious mental illnesses. He also studies the way culture affects individuals’ experience of mental disorder and their help-seeking expectations, including how to explore this cultural variation during the psychiatric evaluation. Dr. Lewis-Fernández has had research funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, the American Red Cross, and private foundations like the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.
He is the chair of the Cultural Committee of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, President-Elect of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture, President of the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry, and a member of the Community Services Board and the Health and Mental Hygiene Advisory Council of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He was until recently a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a member of the DSM-5 Anxiety Disorders Work Group, and the chair of the Cross-Cultural Issues Subgroup of the Gender and Culture Study Group of the DSM-5 Task Force.
Leopoldo J. Cabassa, PhD, MSW — Assistant Director
Assistant Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work
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Dr. Leopoldo J. Cabassa joined the CUSSW faculty in July 2012. He is also an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatric Social Work (in Psychiatry) in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Assistant Director of the New York State Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Before becoming affiliated with Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, he was an assistant professor at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work and at the USC Keck School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
Dr. Cabassa has received support for his work from the National Institute of Mental Health and the New York State Office of Mental Health. He was recently awarded an NIMH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01) to examine the implementation of health care interventions for Hispanics with serious mental illness and develop a collaborative planning approach for interventions in outpatient public mental health clinics. Dr. Cabassa is a member of the Society for Social Work and Research, Academy Health, and the American Public Health Association. In June 2011, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry.
Oscar Jiménez-Solomon, MPH — Research Coordinator
Research Scientist, New York State Psychiatric Institute
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Oscar Jiménez-Solomon joined the CECC in 2013 with expertise in competency-based training initiatives, program evaluation, and service-based and applied research methods. He has authored and co-authored reports, book chapters, and training manuals in the area of mental and public health in the United States and Latin America. His programmatic and research experience include consumer economic empowerment, language access, gender inequalities, and HIV/AIDS. Mr. Jiménez-Solomon received a Bachelor of Sociology at Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and a Master of Public Health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He has received grants and subcontracts from the New York State Office of Mental Health (Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene), Syracuse University Burton Blatt Institute, United Nations Population Fund, Great Britain Department for International Development, Peruvian Ministry of Health and United States Agency for International Development, and the Ford Foundation.
Mr. Jiménez-Solomon’s past roles include Director of Community and Economic Development at the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (Albany, NY), Research Staff Associate at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, International Consultant at the United Nations Population Fund (New York City), and Research Associate at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú). He is a member of the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry and the American Public Health Association.
Neil Krishan Aggarwal, MD, MA, MBA — Post-doctoral Clinical Fellow
T32 Post-doctoral Fellow in clinical research at Columbia University
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Neil Krishan Aggarwal’s research focus is cross-cultural diagnostic assessment and treatment planning with racial and ethnic minorities in mental health settings. Dr. Aggarwal has published research on hybridity and intersubjectivity in the clinical encounter, translating medical anthropology into clinical practice, and adapting the cultural formulation for clinical assessments in forensic psychiatry. He has received grants for his research from the New York State Office of Mental Health and the National Institutes of Mental Health.
Dr. Aggarwal holds BA, MBA, and MD degrees from Case Western Reserve University and an MA from Harvard. He performed his psychiatry residency at Yale University. In 2011, he was named Most Distinguished Resident by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. In 2012, he served as an advisor for the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM-5 Cultural Issues subgroup and as a policy scholar for the New York State Office of Mental Health. Dr. Aggarwal has also received an OMH Policy Scholar Award through 2013.
Peter Lam, MPH — Data Manager / Analyst
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Peter Lam joins our team with a professional focus on mental health service usage, stigma, and suicide. He earned a BA from Binghamton University in 2007 and an MPH from Columbia University in 2013. Mr. Lam is a Columbia University Wyman Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Psi Chi. He has been been published in Population Health Management.
Past professional experience includes Health Research Training Program Intern at the NYC Dept of Health & Mental Hygiene; Assistant Data Manager, Dept of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University; Research Assistant at the NY Presbyterian Hospital, Westchester Division; and Research Assistant at Binghamton University.
Samantha A. Diaz, MA — Research Assistant
Please click here to read Ms. Diaz’ CV
Samantha A. Diaz joined the CECC in June 2014. Ms. Diaz earned a BA in Psychology from Siena College in 2013 and a masters degree in general experimental psychology in 2015.
Her research interests involve implicit racial attitudes, culture, and mental health. Past positions include various Research Assistantships at Siena College and the University at Albany, as well as interning at the Schenectady Head Start program working with under privileged children who were being evaluated for future behavioral disorders. As part of her degree, Ms. Diaz produced an undergraduate thesis incorporating Harvard’s implicit association test as well as individuals implicit and explicit perceptions of racial norms.
Sapana Patel, PhD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons
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Research Scientist, Anxiety Disorders Clinic of the New York State Psychiatric Institute
Dr. Sapana Patel, PhD focuses her research on the development and implementation of quality improvement initiatives for mental health care delivery in primary and specialty care settings, with an emphasis in patient-centered care to improve the delivery and quality of mental health services through treatment preferences and shared decision-making, where patients and providers combine efforts as active participants in treatment choices.
She has completed two NIMH research fellowships and was the recipient of a Mentored Patient Oriented Research Career Development Award to develop and test a decision aid for depressed African Americans and Hispanics at a Federally Qualified Health Centers in New York City. Her implementation research efforts focus on the dissemination and implementation of collaborative care models and e-health interventions to improve access to care for mental illness.
Dr. Patel is a graduate of Boston University and Yeshiva University in New York, where she earned her PhD in 2004.
Are you interested in learning more about the research we perform here at the CECC? Please see the CECC Research Initiatives page to learn more.