The Northern Manhattan Center of Excellence in Minority Health and Health Disparities (NOCEMHD)
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Casandra Almonte, MD

Casandra Almonte studied medicine in the Dominican Republic. She got her degree at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra, School of Medicine, where she got a B.A. in Biochemistry and Chemistry as well as her M.D. She’s been certified in phlebotomy, as a medical assistant and an EKG technician.

Currently, Dr. Almonte serves as the clinical coordinator for NOCHOP at CEMHD. She is in charge of participant recruitment, screening, initial visits and interviewing. She is fluent in English and Spanish.
Rafi Cabral, MD

Rafi Cabral studied medicine in the Dominican Republic. He got his degree at Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM), School of Medicine, where he got a B.A in Biochemistry as well as his M.D. He’s been certified / trained as a Medical assistant ,EKG technician, 24 hours Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM-Spacelab) technician, Sphymocord technician(Radial and Carotid Artery)technician , Clinical and Neuro-psychological interviewer (Testing and Scoring), File maker tracking system, The survey system (Interview Station 9.5), Chompro (Medication tracking system).

He has 8 years of experience in coordination of multi research studies. He had work in multi clinical trials related to Cardiology, Neurology, and Diabetes. He has been acknowledged for his contribution in multi clinical research journals such as the American Heart Association, Journal of The American College of Cardiology Association (JACC), National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Currently, Dr. Cabral serves as the Clinical Coordinator for The Northern Manhattan Center of Excellence in Minority Health Disparities (NOCEMHD) and The Northern Manhattan Center of Excellence for Comparative Effectiveness Research to Eliminate Disparities (NOCERED) at Columbia University Medical Center within the Division of General Medicine in multi clinical research studies such as The Northern Manhattan Metabolism and Mind Project (NOMEM), The New York City Hispanic Dementia Caregiver Research Program (NHiRP), Northern Manhattan Hispanic Caregiver Intervention Effectiveness Study (NHiCE).

He is in charge of participant recruitment, eligibility screenings, interviews, data collection and petty cash management.

Carolina Hoyos, LMSW

Carolina Hoyos LMSW works in the department of General Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. She received her master’s in social work from Columbia University School of Social Work in 2004 and her bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Urban Studies from Fordham University in 2002. Ms. Hoyos worked for 10 years as Director of Family Caregiver Support Programs funded through the NYC Department for the Aging first at the Jewish Association Serving the Aging and later at Sunnyside Community Services where she educated, advocated, supported, and trained family caregivers and professionals on topics related to family caregiver issues as well as on Alzheimer's and other dementias, depression and practical care issues. During her time working with the family caregiver support programs Ms. Hoyos facilitated multiple caregiver support groups and while at Sunnyside Community Services in 2013 received from the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) the innovations in caregiving award for the proposal of a respite project called AD venture. The goal of AD Venture was to provide joint respite for caregivers and their loved ones via enjoyable cultural excursions to local museums as well as provide psycho-educational and skill building workshops to the family caregivers. Before leaving Sunnyside Community Services Ms. Hoyos continued with her innovative work in caregiving with the creation of another project called Pet Pals which matches volunteers to family caregivers of home bound seniors to provide assistance with pet care.

Cynthia Morel, BS

Cynthia obtained her degree from Cornell University and is a versatile coordinator and manager. She joined Dr. Luchsinger's team in July of 2011 to help manage various research activities and formally establish the Center on Aging and Health Disparities (CAHD) within the Division of General Medicine, The Northern Manhattan Center of Excellence in Minority Health and Health Disparities at Columbia University (NOCEMHD) and The Northern Manhattan Center of Excellence For Comparative Effectiveness Research to Eliminate Disparities (NOCERED).


She gained experience in managing a center at the Center for Cardiovascular Behavioral Health also within the Division of General Medicine. Her role there spanned recruitment, supervision of staff, dissemination, and administration of various projects including the renovation of the West and Center wing of PH 9. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Jonathan Matias, MD

Jonathan Matias Studied medicine in the Dominican Republic at Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago. He is certified in Phlebotomy.


He currently works as a clinical coordinator, with Dr. Luchsinger’s team for the IDEAtel study. He has worked with Columbia University Medical Center since 2009 in the department of Medicine. His main responsibilities include participant follow up calls and interviews, as well as data entry. Dr. Matias is fluent in English and Spanish.

Thania Perez, MD

Thania is a Senior Research Associate/Clinical Project Coordinator at the Columbia University Medical Center. Since November 2009 when she joined Dr. Jose Luchsinger's team, she has been a member and coordinator for the CHUM and clinical coordinator for the METMCI study. She was the Project Manager for the SWIFT Stroke Study and co-coordinator for the Community based SWIFT study from 2004-2009. As well as collaborator for few of the SPOTRIAS projects from 2004-2009.

She is a Foreign Medical Graduate with vast experience coordinating and managing Clinical Research in varieties of Neurological oriented clinical research including Febrile Seizures Disorders, White Matter Disease, Memory, MCI, Cardiovascular and Stroke Risk Factors, Clinical Trials, Stroke Awareness and Community Outreach, Education and Intervention during the past 10 years. Thania is a past and current memberships to the AHA-ASA, Dominican Medical Association, and former member of the Executive Committee for the SPOTRIAS-NYCC and an International Red Cross-DR.

Other certifications and experiences include neurological and neuropsychological training/testing in children and adults, IRB and neuroscience workshops/ training, talks at various Community Outreach and Senior Centers, Churches and Community Centers in the areas of Northern Manhattan and Riverdale.
Dante Tipiani, MSW

Dante A. Tipiani works in the department of General Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.  He received his master’s in social work from Hunter College in 2002 and bachelor’s degrees in History and Sociology from N.Y. State University at Buffalo in 1997.  Mr. Tipiani worked as a clinician in the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in 2006.  For almost ten years, he’s been educating, supporting, and training family caregivers, health care professionals and lay people on topics like Alzheimer's and other dementias, depression, grief, palliative and hospice care.  Mr. Tipiani has also facilitated psycho-educative and supportive groups both in person and over the telephone.  In 2009 he decided to join the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Mt. Sinai as a clinical rater that lead to a growing interest in research and is currently the Health Educator for the Caregiver research study.

Gabriela Torres Patiño, BA

Gabriela is the coordinator of NOCERED, and also coordinates the Caregiver Study. She is in charge of participant recruitment, baseline and follow up interviews, outreach material development, and community outreach. She is bilingual in English and Spanish. She studied political science with an emphasis in social science research at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

Before working at the center, Gabriela worked in a nonprofit research and evaluation firm in Colorado, where she led and gained experience in community based participatory research (CBPR) projects. Ms. Torres Patiño worked extensively with the Latino and Asian American communities in projects related to public policy and health disparities.
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