Medical Students Making Impacts 2019


2019 Mt. Sinai

Dr. Jonathan Ripp

Born at Mount Sinai, I can safely say that my roots are here at this hospital. After eight years at Yale University, where I completed my undergraduate and medical education, I returned to Mount Sinai for my Internal Medicine residency training. Now I serve as one of the Mount Sinai Visiting Doctors, a group dedicated to caring for New York’s home-bound population through home based primary care.

As Co-Director of the Department of Medicine’s Advancing Idealism in Medicine Initiative, I help oversee a curriculum dedicated to the promotion of humanism and idealism in medicine. This curriculum includes several monthly resident luncheons and several invited lectureships that create a venue through which our trainees and faculty are exposed to role models of idealism in medical care.

I also serve as Associate Director of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Global Health Center at the Arnhold Global Health Institute of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is dedicated to improving the health of underserved communities worldwide through training and education of future leaders in Global Health practice and research. In this role I have worked and mentored trainees in assessing the health needs of disadvantaged populations in rural Brazil and Ethiopia, in establishing health education programs in Native American communities in North Dakota and providing service to immigrant populations along the U.S. – Mexico border.

I also helped spearhead and coordinate several service based missions in response to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. My primary research interest is in resident physician and well-being and presently I am assist and advise the internal medicine residency training program in efforts to promote resident wellness. 

2019 Mt. Sinai

Dr. Rainier Soriano

Dr. Soriano completed his medical school at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines followed by a residency and chief residency in Internal Medicine (Primary Care) at Englewood Hospital & Medical Center in Englewood, NJ. He then completed his Geriatrics fellowship at Mount Sinai where he also served as Chief Fellow. He has also received additional training from the Stanford Faculty Development Program and the Harvard Macy Scholars Program for Educators in the Health Professions. He has received numerous awards for medical student teaching from both the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai faculty and the medical student body including the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, the Gold Humanism Award and the Master Educator Award from the Institute for Medical Education. Dr. Soriano’s career interests include medical education, clinical skills, students-as-teachers training and e-learning.

Dr. Soriano currently serves as the Executive Content Editor for the Portal of Geriatrics Online Education and the Associate Editor for Geriatrics for MedEdPORTAL. He has directed the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program at Mount Sinai since 1999. He directs the fourth-year student elective teaching course, “Becoming a Medical Teacher.”

His book, “Fundamentals of Geriatric Medicine: A Case-Based Approach” (Springer, Business Media) was published in March 2007, and received featured and starred reviews from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings and JAMA. He has presented at national and international meetings including the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM), American Geriatrics Society (AGS), World Gerontology Conference and The Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE).

2018 Mt. Sinai-MSMIElisabeth Brodbeck

Elisabeth Brodbeck is the Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Public Health where she feels fortunate to have a role in shaping future public health leaders. She began her career at Mount Sinai coordinating the multi-milliondollar AIDS International Training and Research Program supported by the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center. She acted as a facilitator for the collaborative efforts between Mount Sinai and research scientists, clinicians, social scientists and community partners in and around Buenos Aires and conducted on-site training and scaled up multidisciplinary research partnerships. Later transitioning to the Graduate Program in Public Health, she has overseen the expansive growth of Mount Sinai’s Public Health Program over the last six years, its successful reaccreditation through 2023, the development of new academic programs and curricular opportunities, and the
establishment of new public health practice partnerships locally and internationally, while managing the administrative team.

2018 Mt. Sinai-MSMIDr. Ayla Pelleg

Dr. Pelleg is currently a fellow in Geriatrics and Palliative Care at Mount Sinai. She completed her undergraduate degree in Public Health at The George Washington University in Washington DC where she first became interested in health disparities, helping minorities, and global health. She worked in a medical clinic in Cape Town and volunteered on ambulances in Israel. She stayed in DC to complete her medical school training at The George Washington University. She completed a Primary Care Internal Medicine residency in a combined program between Cook County Hospital in Chicago and Rush University Medical Center. In residency, she spent time in Haiti working in a medical clinic. She is passionate about caring for older adults, patients with multimorbidities, and alleviating symptoms of those chronically ill.


2019 Mt. Sinai

Stephen Cheng

Undergraduate School: Boston College
Major: Operations Management
Degree Program: MPH Nogales Trip Position: Curriculum

Stephen Cheng was born and raised in New York, but also lived in Hong Kong during his early years. For undergrad, Stephen majored in Business Management and minored in Biology at Boston College. During his time there, he was awarded the 2015 Best Product Award at Boston College Elevator Pitch Competition and named the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year for his work on ExoWear LLC., a healthcare technology startup that created wearable sensors for physical therapy. ExoWear also then placed 3rd at the 2016 Cozad New Venture Competition at University of Illinois. With a passion for helping underserved communities, he is now pursuing a Master’s in Public Health at Mount Sinai, before attending medical school in the Fall of 2019.

2019 Mt. Sinai Priya Dave

Undergraduate School: Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
Major: Medical Humanities and Health Studies
Degree Program: MD Nogales Trip Position: Co-leader

Priya Dave is a first-year medical student at Mount Sinai. Priya graduated from IUPUI with a degree in Medical Humanities and Health Studies. At IUPUI, Priya co-led weeklong medical brigades to Nicaragua and Panama. She conducted research in the student perceptions of medical brigades, which she presented at the International Health Humanities Conference. She also traveled to Cuba to conduct research in drug discovery for neglected diseases. Priya currently leads the Global Health community at Mount Sinai. She also volunteers as a medical Spanish interpreter at the East Harlem Health Outreach Clinic. In her free time, Priya enjoys glassblowing and bouldering.

2019 Mt. Sinai Angela Kahl

Undergraduate School: Molloy College
Major: Psychology
Degree Program: MPH Nogales Trip Position: Fundraising

Angela Kahl is a first year MPH student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is simultaneously studying to receive a MSW from Fordham University through their dual degree program with Mount Sinai. She graduated from Molloy College, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and her paralegal certificate. She is an intern at SCO Family of Services as a Case Manager where she advocates for her client’s biopsychosocial needs. She is passionate about improving the standard of living for all by expanding healthcare access and advocating for policy reform through a human rights lens. She would like to apply her experience in Nogales to her work and studies.

2019 Mt. Sinai

Zainab Kiyam

Undergraduate School: Boston College
Major: Biochemistry; Faith, Peace, and Justice
Degree Program: MD Nogales Trip Position: Fundraising

Zainab Kiyam is a first-year medical student. Originally from NJ, Zainab went to Boston for undergrad, and returned to NYC for medical school. While studying biochemistry at Boston College, she added a minor of Faith, Peace, and Justice to her studies. The minor allowed her to explore the intersectionality of race, gender, and religion. Through this exploration she studied how minorities within minority groups are the most vulnerable members of the population. Zainab also explored how the current refugee crisis is amplified by the impacts of marginalization due to race, gender, and religion. She has worked primarily with Afghan and Syrian refugees but is incredibly humbled to be able to travel to Nogales and learn more about the current refugee crisis at the US-Mexico border, and how differences in identity are portrayed and how they affect lived experiences.

2019 Mt. Sinai Marharyta Labkovich

Undergraduate School: Hunter College
Major: Biology
Degree Program: MD Nogales Trip Position: Curriculum

Marharyta Labkovich was born and raised in Belarus. She graduated from Hunter College (City University of New York) with Honors in Biological Sciences and a focus on interdisciplinary studies.
During her undergraduate years, Marharyta conducted extensive research on the neurobiology of stress and trauma. She also performed clinical studies on diagnostic and treatment protocol improvement at Weill Cornell and New York University (NYU,) and worked with non-profit organizations. She also volunteered with the Weill Cornell’s mobile health screening clinic in the underrepresented neighborhoods of NYC. Marharyta piloted a chapter for the non-profit organization called Peer Health Exchange, bringing health education curriculum to the underfunded high schools on Staten Island. Her experiences of working with underserved communities of New York moved Marharyta to do a fellowship called Humanity in Action in Berlin, where she delved into the historical perspective of oppression, after which she carried out an educational project in her home country Belarus.
Marharyta is an artist, and athlete and enjoys studying languages and traveling. In her future career, she wants to focus on global health and improving healthcare delivery through innovation and infrastructure change. She is looking forward to contributing to the population health in Nogales and learning from this experience.

2019 Mt. Sinai

Andrew Pastor

Undergraduate School: University of California, Berkeley
Major: Molecular Environmental Biology; Comparative Ethnic Studies
Degree Program: MD
Nogales Trip Position: Co-leader

Andrew Pastor was born and raised in Los Angeles. He attended Mount San Antonio Community College for the first two years of his higher education where he served as an outreach education and enrollment specialist during the first Affordable Care Act enrollment period.

Upon transferring to UC Berkeley in the fall of 2015, Andrew began research with the Maternal Health division of the Bixby Center for Population, Health, and Sustainability, contributing to a project that expanded access to safe, legal abortion and other family planning resources in Rwanda. Upon graduation, Andrew participated in an NIH Global Health fellowship contributing to a dengue and Zika virus population study at the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health in Managua, Nicaragua. Throughout this time, he further partnered with researchers from Malaysia, Brazil, and Germany to expand our understanding of global Zika seroprevalence and associated socioeconomic factors.

Since arriving in New York, Andrew has become involved in various projects aiming to expand healthcare access to recently incarcerated individuals and immigrants lacking insurance due to status. In his free time, Andrew enjoys playing the drums, reading science fiction, and birding.

2019 Mt. Sinai

Natalie Plick

Undergraduate School: Kenyon College
Major: Neuroscience
Degree Program: MD Nogales Trip Position: Co-treasurer

Natalie Plick is a first-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She grew up in the suburbs outside the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For the past six years; however, she lived first in a small, rural town called Gambier, Ohio and then in Baltimore, MD. In Ohio, she attended Kenyon College, majoring in neuroscience. Following graduation, she moved to Baltimore, where I worked as a research fellow at the National Institute on Aging and volunteered in a primary care clinic for individuals experiencing homelessness. At Mount Sinai, she volunteers on the access to care (ACT) team with EHHOP and is a co-leader of the Geriatrics Interest Group. She is particularly excited to work with the Nogales geriatric patient population, learn about life in Nogales, and better understand how border/immigration politics are directly impacting this community.

2019 Mt. Sinai

Cassandra Pruitt

Undergraduate School: Williams College
Major: Classics
Degree Program: MD
Nogales Trip Position: Fundraising

Cassie Pruitt is a first-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Raised in Ithaca, New York, she graduated summa cum laude from Williams College with a degree in Classics.

She is part of Mount Sinai’s FlexMed program, which allowed her to explore coursework in the humanities as an undergraduate. She hopes to bring her interest in language, philosophy, and ethics to her work in Nogales. This year, she has worked as a volunteer and Clinic Manager for the Mount Sinai Human Rights Program, which provides forensic physical and psychological evaluations for asylum seekers to document torture and human rights abuses. Working with these asylum-seekers, many of whom come from Central and South America sparked her interest in the intersection of immigration and healthcare. She is excited to learn more about rural health and border politics in Nogales, and hopes to apply her experiences there to her work with asylum-seekers in New York. In her free time, she enjoys reading, doing yoga, playing the flute, and baking.

2019 Mt. Sinai Sharleen Sanchez

Undergraduate School: Brandeis University
Major: Health: Science, Society and Policy (Public Health)
Degree Program: MPH – Global Health Track
Nogales Trip Position: Fundraising

Sharleen Sanchez is a second-year graduate student at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is working towards a Masters in Public Health, with a concentration in Global Health.
Graduating with a degree in Health: Science, Society and Policy and a minor in Women and Gender Studies from Brandeis University, she has an engrained passion for learning how society and the environment around us can shape our health status, specifically on a global scale. She previously attended a similar volunteer trip with Global Brigades, on two separate occasions, to two small villages in North Honduras. There, she worked one-on-one with local officials and most affected communities to improve local quality of sanitation and health. She also provided community education on developing and practicing everyday healthy habits that decrease the spread of illness.
” I am interested in combining my experience of communication and marketing with my passion for educating communities on public health. Aside from work, school, and volunteering I love Netflix, the Yankees, working out, and eating.”

2019 Mt. Sinai Michelle Tong

Undergraduate School: University of Wisconsin – Madison
Major: Biomedical Engineering; Asian American Studies
Degree Program: MD
Nogales Trip Position: Curriculum

Michelle Tong is a first-year medical student at Mount Sinai. She is interested in the design of equitable healthcare delivery systems, particularly in the context of geriatric health.
Outside of medicine, Michelle enjoys reading and writing poetry and short fiction. She currently edits THE APOTHECARY, Sinai’s student-run creative arts journal, and reviews submissions for NYU’s BELLEVUE LITERARY REVIEW. Her writing has been published in THE MARGINS (Asian American Writer’s Workshop), WACCAMAW, and WATERSHED REVIEW, among others, and was nominated for a 2018 Best of the Net award.

2019 Mt. Sinai

Michelle Tran

Undergraduate School: Rice University
Major: Biochemistry and Cell Biology; Poverty, Justice and Human Capabilities
Degree Program: MD/PhD
Nogales Trip Position: Fundraising

Michelle Tran is a first-year MD/PhD student at Mount Sinai. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, she moved to Houston to study biochemistry and poverty, justice, and human capabilities at Rice University. Through her interdisciplinary studies, she developed a strong interest in how social, economic, and political factors interact and influence individuals’ health and wellbeing. In Houston, she became interested in migratory health and volunteered with a local immigrant and refugee organization. Within this organization, Michelle started a health leadership club for teenage girls from Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, and Pakistan. She also founded a Red Cross Club and led it for four years. In addition, she implemented a youth disaster preparedness education program for Rice students to teach recently arrived refugee students about home fire preparedness and flood safety in Houston.
Michelle spent a summer abroad in Nicaragua working with a public health center and worked with schools and other local nonprofits to create a local teenage girls’ health club focused around contraceptive use, which included a health workshop series/support group for teenage pregnant patients.
Michelle is very interested in community health systems and establishing collaborations between health centers and local community groups. She is the community outreach coordinator for Mount Sinai’s free, student-run health clinic in East Harlem, and hopes to learn more about how community health systems operate in Nogales through this trip.

2019 Mt. Sinai

Deborah Watman

Undergraduate School: Macaulay Honors College at Queens College
Major: Biology; Urban Studies
Degree Program: MPH Nogales Trip Position: Fundraising

Deborah Watman is a second year Masters in Public Health Student at the Icahn School of Medicine. In the bio statistics and healthcare management track, she is exploring healthcare consulting.
Deborah is passionate about geriatric care and improving the quality of life for the rising population of seniors. She is excited to learn more about geriatric healthcare in Nogales, and about the community at large.
Deborah loves traveling and experiential learning programs and is excited about this group. Deborah enjoys reading, yoga, biking, and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

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