CECC Affiliates


These scientific professionals serve as consultants to our center across multiple projects and initiatives.

Ivan Balán, PhD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons

Please click here to read Dr. Balán’s CV.
Dr. Ivan Balán focuses his research on HIV prevention, Latino mental health, LGBT mental health, and motivational interviewing techniques.

Dr. Balán is a graduate of Rutgers University (undergraduate) and the California School of Professional Psychology (graduate). His research has been published in over 30 professional journals and he has contributed to several intervention manuals including Substance Use Comorbidity Care: Evidence-Based Stepped Care Strategies for Depression, Module for the involvement of significant others in the treatment of pathological gamblers, and Motivational enhancement therapy for psychiatric referral: Treatment Manual.

Prior to his work at Columbia University, Dr. Balán held teaching and research positions in New York City and New Jersey. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) organization. He also serves as Chair of the MINT International Advisory Committee.

Enrico Castillo, MD

PGY-4, Psychiatry Resident in Adult Psychiatry, NYSPI at Columbia University

Enrico Castillo, MD is recipient of the AMA Foundation Leadership Award in recognition of exemplary leadership skills in medicine and community service, receiving the award for his activities in minority health.

Dr. Castillo’s professional interests include mental health services research, cultural psychiatry, and public psychiatry with an emphasis on outreach-based care (e.g., Assertive Community Treatment, homeless outreach and mobile crisis teams) for diverse, disadvantaged populations.

In 2012, he was awarded the 2012-2014 APA/SAMHSA Minority Fellowship to develop an online resource library on Asian-American mental health in collaboration with CECC. This library includes a collection of filmed interviews of prominent Asian-American psychiatrists and a select bibliography of Asian-American mental health literature.

Dr. Castillo earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in 2005 and his MD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with a concentration in underserved populations in 2010. He is a member of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture and the American Psychiatric Association.

Doris Chang, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology, New School for Social Research
Co-Investigator, New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Center for Excellence in Cultural Competence

Please click here to read Dr. Chang’s CV.

At the New School, Dr. Doris Chang teaches didactic and practicum courses on race, ethnicity, culture and mental health. She is also a licensed psychologist who maintains a private practice in New York City. In 2006, she received the Early Career Award from the Asian American Psychological Association. Dr. Chang received her PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and completed a National Institutes of Mental Health postdoctoral fellowship in clinically-relevant medical anthropology at the Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Chang’s research seeks to address disparities in the quality of mental health services for racial and ethnic minorities by:

  • Describing the role of race, ethnicity, and culture in mental health and service delivery
  • Identifying strategies for improving intercultural interactions, specifically those occurring between racially, ethnically, and culturally-different providers and patients
  • Developing empirically and culturally-grounded therapeutic interventions

At present, Dr. Chang is collaborating with colleagues at the New School on a study of ethnic mismatching and therapy process and outcome. A second local project, being conducted with the Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence, aims at training interpreters to act as cultural brokers to facilitate cultural understanding and communication between providers and Latino and Chinese patients with limited English proficiency. Previous research has also focused on Asian Americans, including diagnostic and assessment issues, acculturation, and treatment considerations.

Dr. Chang has also maintained an active research program in China since 1997, where she has conducted qualitative and quantitative studies of neurasthenia (a culture-bound syndrome), changes in cultural value frameworks, domestic violence, and psychotherapy. She is currently collaborating with Zhang Yalin and Cao Yuping to manualize and test an indigenous treatment, Taoist Cognitive Therapy, with Chinese American immigrant patients diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Ravi DeSilva, MD

Instructor in Psychiatry, Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute

Ravi DeSilva, MD, MA is an inpatient attending psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center additionally working in group therapy, medical education, and cultural and visual anthropology.

He received his MD from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and his MA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Kansas. He completed two years of general surgery training before joining and completing his Psychiatry residency at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Dr. DeSilva is certified by ABPN in psychiatry and his research has received grant funding from the Research Foundation for Mental Health, the Levy Foundation, and the New York State Office of Mental Health, where he received an OMH Policy Scholar Award grant to further the development of a web based teaching module for cultural psychiatry.

He is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, American Group Psychotherapy Association, Eastern Group Psychotherapy Association, and the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture. His research has been published in Ethnicity & Health, Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, and the Journal of Medical Humanities. Dr. DeSilva is also a contributor to the fifth edition (2013) of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Dr. DeSilva continues to be involved in visual media and ethnographic film. Most recently his photographic work appeared as part of a group exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, Rising Waters 2.0: More Photographs of Sandy.

Sapana Patel, PhD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons

Research Associate, 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.

Samara M. Ahmed, MD

Please click here to read Dr. Ahmed’s CV.
Dr. Samara M. Ahmed’s professional focus is Middle Eastern and Muslim Women mental health and improving overall methods of recognition of mental illness within these communities. Dr. Ahmed has extensive work experience with the Orthodox Jewish Community in Brooklyn.

She holds an MD from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, finished her Residency at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and a Child and Adolescent Fellowship at NYU New York in 2013. Her accolades include selection as the resident recognized for accomplished teaching in the Psychiatry clerkship At Tufts Medical Center 2009-2010.

Dr. Ahmed currently serves as faculty at the King Abdul Aziz University Medical and Psychiatry department on a full scholarship for post-doctoral fellowship.


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.