Our Fellows

A full year of dedicated research time under the one-on-one supervision of a talented mentor is transformative in students’ career. The goal of the DDRF Fellowship program is to teach these exceptional students to be a physician and scientist, rather than one or the other. Historically, physician-scientists have produced many of the major advances in combating disease. They unite the urgency of the ill patient with the power of the scientific method. These talented young people represent tomorrow’s leaders in medicine.

2015-2016 Fellows

Prapti Chatterjee

Prapti Chatterjee
2015-2016 DDRF Fellow

Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, expected graduation May 2017
Undergraduate Degree: Columbia University, Creative Writing with pre-med concentration
Research Focus: Prapti Is working on an analysis of major and life-threatening gastrointestinal bleeding events in atrial fibrillation patients during the Randomized Evaluation of Long Term Anticoagulant Therapy (RE-LY) trial, as well as a review of the current status of the direct oral anticoagulation agents from the hematology and gastroenterology perspectives.
Additional Information: An active member of her medical school class, Prapti was awarded the Presidential Gold Volunteer Service Award for her work with MedStart, a non-profit organization that exposes underprivileged middle-school students to the medical field. In addition, she is a teaching assistant in the Histology Department is co-founder of Comic Clinic (an organization that uses comic books & graphic novels to discuss illness), and is Health Policy Chair with the American Medical Students’ Association. Prapti is also an editor of the Bellevue Literacy Review, a nationally distributed journal of experiences related to health & healing.
Ngheim Bao

Nghiem Bao Ha
2015-2016 DDRF Fellow

Medical School: University of California Davis School of Medicine, expected graduation May 2017
Undergraduate Degree: San Jose State University, Microbiology with a minor in Chemistry
Research Focus: Nghiem is working with Dr. Mindie Nguyen at Stanford University School of Medicine on a retrospective cohort study to determine the differences among Asian- American and non- Asian patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, increasingly recognized as the most common liver disease in Western countries.
Additional Information: Nghiem is an award winning medical student with a current list of 84+ clinical research citations in peer-reviewed medical journals. In addition to his medical school activities, Nghiem is currently a clinical research associate in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Past Fellows

Kathryn Friedman
2014-2015 DDRF Fellow

Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, expected graduation May 2016
Undergraduate Degree: Williams College, Magna cum Laude, Political Science
Research Focus: A study to determine the rate of complete resection of sessile serrated adenomas (SSA) during colonoscopy using the SF/NY technique – a technique developed by DDRF physician scientist mentor investigators. These investigators believe that using this technique will achieve a higher rate of complete resection of SSAs – a common potentially pre-cancerous polyp.
Additional Information: Katie is very active in her medical school class. She is the co-founder and co-president of the Allergy & Immunology Interest & Advocacy Group at Sinai. The group’s mission is to increase awareness about allergies and immunologic disease among the medical student community. She is also a teaching assistant for the Gross Anatomy course at Sinai, co-leader of REMEDY: Recovered Medical Equipment for the Developing World, and a student committee member with the Sinai Medical School Admissions Committee. At Williams, Katie was a Scholar Athlete and a four year member of the Varsity Women’s Tennis Team which was NCAA Division III National Team Champions her four years at Williams.

Sumedha Chablani
2014-2015 DDRF Fellow

Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, expected graduation May 2016
Undergraduate Degree: Columbia University, Magna cum Laude, Philosophy
Research Focus: A study entitled, “CRC screening thoughts and feelings: increasing engagement of African-American”. The purpose of this project is to examine how various community interventions may impact cognitive and affective decision making specifically with regard to colorectal cancer screening among the African-American community.
Additional Information: Sumedha served as Co-President of Mount Sinai Students for Integrative Medicine, which organizes weekly wellness activities for Sinai students and staff, including yoga and meditation. Sumedha was also Co-President of East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership (EHHOP) at the Greenmarket, through which she helped create and teach nutrition tutorials to consumers of Sinai’s weekly Greenmarket. She was selected to attend the Leadership and Education Program for Students in Integrative Medicine (LEAPS into IM), an integrative medicine conference in Stockbridge, MA, and has volunteered at Mount Sinai’s Community Health Fair.

Gregory Yanez
2013-2014 DDRF Fellow

Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, expected graduation May 2015
Undergraduate Degree: Princeton University A.B. Sociology, 2009
Research Focus: A study to investigate whether delayed start times have a negative impact on colonoscopy quality as measured by metrics including adenoma detection rate. Additional Information: Gregory is a teaching assistant for pathology.  He has been involved in many service programs including co-leading First Generation Scholars, a Mount Sinai student run tutoring program for high school students in East Harlem who will be the first in their family to attend college.  Gregory enjoys running, traveling, and exploring New York City and visits his hometown of San Antonio, Texas as often as he can. 

Natalia Leva, MD
2012-2013 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Research Coordinator, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Medical School: Stanford University School of Medicine, May 2014
Undergraduate Degree: University of California, Berkeley, BA English, 2006
Research Focus: To develop the nascent field of obesity research by providing a platform for resolution of obesity and its consequences such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and sleep disorders. Bariatric surgery, with its pronounced, consistent treatment effect allows for a unique opportunity for collaboration where many disease processes may be studied such as the relationship between the aging process and weight loss using the rate of telomere degeneration as a marker of aging.
Additional Information: Before starting medical school, Natalia did clinical research at San Francisco General Hospital working with HIV positive pregnant women. When Natalia is not in the library, she indulges her creativity by cooking, frequents farmers' markets, and dreams of someday having her own vegetable garden. She has spent the greater part of her life in a dance studio studying ballet and modern dance and looks forward to spending her career working with patients.

Jennifer Kolb
2012-2013

Currently: Resident at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Internal Medicine
Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with Distinction in Research, May 2014
Undergraduate Degree: University of Pennsylvania, BA English and History, 2009
Research Focus: A study to see if a new handling system to enhance diagnosis of Sessile Serrated Adenoma, a precancerous polyp, can improve the reliability of the pathologist interpretation.
Additional Information: Jennifer is a teaching assistant for anatomy and microbiology, and a senior peer tutor. She is also involved in quality improvement projects with her student run clinic EHHOP. Jennifer loves to travel whenever she can and explore new cities, hike, and scuba dive.

Long Nguyen, MD/MS
2012 DDRF Fellow

Currently: 5th year M.D. in Medicine/M.S. in Epidemiology
Medical School:Stanford University School of Medicine,  June 2013
Undergraduate Degree: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A. in American Politics
Research Focus: An investigation of the incidence and predictors of hepatitis B surface antigen seroclearance, a rare event but one of the most durable, desirable, and clinically meaningful endpoints in the natural history of hepatitis B.
Additional Information: Long has demonstrated a long-standing interest in community health, minority health outcomes, underserved patient populations. His ultimate career goal is to seek a position in an Internal Medicine residency program and eventually pursue a Gastroenterology fellowship. Long enjoys cycling and golf.


Shannon J. Morales, MBA, MD
2011-2012 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Resident at Georgetown University Hospital, Internal Medicine
Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, May 2013
Graduate: MBA, McColl School of Business, May 2010
Undergraduate: Princeton University, A.B. Mathematics
DDRF Research: Two research studies related to the sessile serrated adenoma/polyp (SSP), a common precursor lesion to colorectal carcinoma.
Additional Information: In addition to his research projects and volunteer activities at Sinai with the Community Health Fair, West 97th St SRO and NYC Marathon, Shannon is an accomplished tennis player having played on the professional circuit in Europe and South Africa in 2006-2007.


Carlene Chun, PhD, MBA

Carlene Chun, PhD, MBA, MD
2011 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Internist in Clinical Practice, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
Residency: Oregon Health & Science University, Portland Oregon
Medical School: Stanford University School of Medicine, December 2012
Graduate: University of Hawaii, MBA 2004 and University of Wisconsin, PhD 2007
Undergraduate: University of California, B.S. cum laude Biological Sciences 2000
DDRF Research: A study to identify a biomarker to be used to differentiate diseased & normal cell states in monitoring the progression from GERD to esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Additional Information: Always an active volunteer, Carlene is currently a mentor for pre-meds with SUMMA – Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance whose goal is to increase the diversity in the health professions to better care for underserved communities. Her goal is to pursue a career in gastroenterology and return to her native Hawaii to practice.


Uma Tadepalli

Uma Tadepalli, MD
2010-2011 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Resident in Primary Care at Cambridge Health Alliance at Harvard University
Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with Distinction in Research, May 2013
Undergraduate: Princeton University, B.S. Music
DDRF Research: A study of endoscopic & molecular characteristics of a pre-cancerous sessile serrated colon polyps which are difficult to detect & remove during colonoscopy.
Additional Information: Uma is active in the East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership and with the National Physicians Alliance, and has a special interest in reforming medical education.


Dennis Feihel

Dennis Feihel
2010-2011 DDRF Fellow

Currently: 3rd year Medical Student at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine
Post Baccalaureate/Pre-Med Program: Columbia University, 2012
Undergraduate: CUNY Honors College/Baruch College, BBA May 2006
DDRF Research: Co-published a paper on the physical characters of sessile serrated adenoma/polyps, a precancerous polyp.  Submitted for publication an instructional video demonstrating expert technique on the identification and resection of sessile serrated adenoma/polyps.
Additional Information:  In addition to school and his research activities, Dennis enjoys bicycle riding, playing soccer, and swimming. He is also an accomplished software engineer, having worked at Bloomberg LP for four years, before going back to school for medicine.


Joseph Freedman, MD

Joseph Freedman, MD
2009-2010 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Resident in Emergency Medicine, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Kings County Hospital
Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with Distinction in Research, May 2011
Undergraduate: Emory University, B.S. Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology
DDRF Research: A microarray analysis of gene changes in gastric mucosa related to treatment with naproxen.
Additional Information: Active in his medical school class, Joseph was a volunteer clinician with the East Harlem Health Outreach Program, a free clinic to provide healthcare services to the underserved population in Harlem. He also served as a teaching assistant in the Sinai Medical School’s anatomy laboratory.


David Harari, MSB

David Harari, MSB
2009-2010 DDRF Fellow

Currently: 4th Year Medical Student at University of Vermont College of Medicine, expected graduation May 2015
Graduate School: Union Graduate College – Mount Sinai School of Medicine, MSB
Undergraduate: Yeshiva University, B.A. Philosophy
DDRF Research: An analysis of gene changes in gastric mucosa related to treatment with naproxen.
Additional Information: David worked at the National Center for Ethics in Health Care at the Veterans Hospital Administration where he was involved in gathering information to help promote the quality improvement of clinical ethics consultation across the nation; he was selected to present at the 2008 National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference, a division of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.


Benjamin Vaccaro, MD

Benjamin Vaccaro, MD
2009-2010 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Resident at New York Presbyterian-Columbia, Internal Medicine
Medical School: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, May 2011
Undergraduate: Georgetown, B.S. Biology, magna cum laude
DDRF Research: A study on gastrin and its association with dysplasia and adenocarcinoma in Barrett’s Esophagus patients.
Additional Information:  Ben’s research resulted in a poster presentation, “Detection of Barrett’s Esophagus After Initial Complete Response with Radiofrequency Ablation” at Digestive Disease Week in May 2010 and manuscript publication in Digestive Disease Science (2011).


Matthew Whitson, MD

Matthew Whitson, MD
2008-2009 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Post Residency GI Fellowship, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Residency: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai completed 2013
Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with Distinction in Research, May 2010
Undergraduate: Brown University, B.S. Bio-Medical Ethics
DDRF Research: A study the markers of cell proliferation & new blood vessel formation in the healing of gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Additional Information:  Matt was an active member of his MSSM class notably with the East Harlem Health Outreach Program which provides clinical services to uninsured adults in the East Harlem area. Matt was a recipient of the Medical Society of the State of New York’s 2010 Community Service Award.


Michael Fingerhood, MD/MPH

Michael Fingerhood, MD/MPH
2008-2009 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Resident at NYU Langone Medical Center, Internal Medicine
Medical School: Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, May 2010
Post Baccalaureate/Pre-Med Program: Harvard University
Undergraduate: Wesleyan University, B.A. Economics & Psychology
DDRF Research: A study of abnormal cell growth for the early detection of Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Cancer.
Additional Information: Michael’s DDRF clinical research project was presented at 2010 American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) Conference and published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, May 2010.


Andrew Dikman, MD

Andrew Dikman, MD
2007-2008 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Chief Resident – Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center
Medical School: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with Distinction in Research, May 2009
Undergraduate: University of Pennsylvania, B.A. European History
DDRF Research: A study examining the way in which ulcers heal with the use of common medication.
Additional Information: Andrew presented his paper, “Is Endoscopic Biopsy Safe in Patients Receiving Anti Platelet Agents?” at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2009. In addition to winning the Mount Sinai Faculty-Student “Art of Medicine” Award, Andrew was named to the prestigious (Arnold P.) Gold Humanism Honor Society, a national society that recognizes humanistic exemplars in medicine.


Caroline von Althann

Caroline von Althann, PA-C
2007-2009 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Physician’s Assistant, private practice affiliated with Hospital for Special Surgery
Graduate School:Emory University College of Medicine, May 2011
Post Baccalaureate/Pre-Med Program: Columbia University
Undergraduate: Georgetown University, B.A. Comparative Literature
DDRF Research: Various ulcer studies including the use of common medications in healing & cell proliferation & new blood vessel formation in the healing of gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Additional Information: Upon completion of the Columbia pre-med program, Caroline worked at Shyira Hospital in Rwanda as a volunteer analyzing the quality of health care for pediatric and adult HIV/AIDS patients, and developed recommendations for better methods of healthcare delivery.


Jay Desai, MD

Jay Desai, MD
2006-2007 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Gastroenterologist, NYGA private practice
Post Residency Fellowship: GI Fellowship, NYU Langone Medical Center completed June 2014
Medical School: Tufts University School of Medicine, May 2008
Undergraduate: Tufts University, B.S. Biology and Community Health
DDRF Research: A study on the effect of common pain medication on the GI tract & the ability to ameliorate these effects with an anti-ulcer medication.
Additional Information:  Jay’s research studied strategies for protecting the stomach against injury from common pain relievers. Presented at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting in 2007, his study received a Presidential Poster Award. With several co-authored publications, Jay has already begun a distinguished career as a physician-scientist.


Shefali Sanyal

Shefali Sanyal
2006-2009 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Medical Student, St. George’s University School of Medicine expected graduation 2016 
Post Baccalaureate/Pre-Med Program: Columbia University
Undergraduate: Brandies University, B.S. Psychology
DDRF Research: Various studies from 2006-2009.
Additional Information: Shefali was involved in several DDRF sponsored studies including a study to explore the safety and comfort of patients undergoing endoscopic procedures with a new combination of sedation medications and a study in conjunction with colleagues at Mount Sinai Medical Center to create a national genetic database for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.


Ari Benson, MD

Ari Benson, MD
2006-2007 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Post Residency GI Fellowship, Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel
Residency: Internal Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai completed June 2014
Post Baccalaureate/Pre Med Program: Columbia University
Undergraduate: University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude, economics & history
DDRF Research: A global survey of GI professionals on their endoscopic sedation practices.
Additional Information: Upon graduation from Penn, Ari joined Barclays Capital as a markets analyst; but his desire for a medical career drew him to the post-baccalaureate pre-med program at Columbia and to a part-time DDRF Fellowship. Ari was lead author on a manuscript published in BF analyzing the results of a global survey of GI professionals and their sedation practices.


Ari Benson, MD

John Nick Gaetano, MD
2003-2005 DDRF Fellow

Currently: Post Residency GI Fellowship at University of Chicago Medicine
Residency: University of Chicago Medicine completed 2013
Medical School:  New York Medical College, May 2010
Post Baccalaureate/Pre Med Program: Columbia University
Undergraduate: University of Colorado, Boulder, May 2003
DDRF Research: An analysis of endoscopic sedation practices from a postal survey of 5,000 nationwide gastroenterologists
Additional Information: AASLD Emerging Liver scholars Research Award 2012 and EASL International Liver Congress Young Investigator Award 2012. Research interests include Hepatitis C, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, and the human microbiome as it pertains to GI disease.