Class Notes: Winter/Spring 2024


Leon Chameides, M.D. ’59, in his 26th year of retirement, wants to share two great events: He and his wife, Jean, have been blessed with their first great-grandchild, Nadav Shaked, who was born in Israel; and his grandson, Ilan Small, is now a student at Einstein.


Irwin Singer, M.D. ’62, says (with apologies to Joe Bloom, M.D. ’62, and his recent class note) that he is still “volunteering” by designing puzzles for the Internet (see, catching up on all the reading he missed while employed, trying to stay healthy, and watching the flowers bloom.

Steve Weissman, M.D. ’63, says, as Damon Runyon would have put it, “My croaker told me I have a bum ticker.” But as Mark Twain put it, “The reports of my death are grossly exaggerated.” All things considered, he says, he is grateful for his health and wishes all his classmates a sweet year.

Robert Hoffman, M.D. ’69, reports that his life is better than he ever imagined possible. He continues to work three long days per week because he loves helping. Every few months he works for one week in his Los Angeles–area office, where his administrative staff remains and where he sees his therapy groups in person. When the pandemic forced a switch to telemedicine, he was able to move to San Rafael, Calif., within walking distance of three married daughters and seven of his 11 grandchildren. He also joined the practice of one of his daughters and her husband, both clinical psychologists. Dr. Hoffman meditates and exercises every day and practices his French horn, and he performs with the Awesome Orchestra. He just returned from his annual fly-fishing adventure (11 years thus far) with his sons and sons-in-law. He says he has been married to an angel for the past 26 years who has always insisted that he strive to be the best version of himself.


John Graves, M.D. ’71, sends warm greetings to all his classmates. After his retirement from general psychiatric practice in 2016, he published his memoir, Lessons on the Road to Hope: A Psychiatrist’s Journey (Stillwater River Press, 2020), which describes his experiences at Einstein in considerable detail, explaining why he chose psychiatry rather than surgery. He says those who became neurologists and psychiatrists share immense gratitude to Dominick P. Purpura, M.D., Oliver Sacks, M.D., Elliot Gross, M.D., Joel Kovel, M.D., and Ed Hornick, M.D. Publishing a memoir proved useful for integrating personal and professional experiences as well as allowing him to say goodbye to his patients and practice. Dr. Graves continues to serve others by volunteering with Denver’s homeless population, serving on the board of directors of his church, and visiting members who are unable to attend services. He also facilitates a clinical consultation group for mental health professionals in Denver. He continues to fly-fish, hike, cross-country ski, and pursue classical piano studies.

Romana Primus, M.D. ’71, says she and her husband, Chuck, are retired and, assuming COVID-19 allows them to, hope to visit with their four children and eight grandchildren more often. In the meantime, they are spending time in Waterford, Conn., and New York City, where Dr. Primus is on the boards of several local, national, and international nonprofit groups.

Robert Golenbock, M.D. ’72, reports that his barbershop chorus, of which he is president, recently won a division championship and will soon vie for a district championship, where his quartet will also compete. He and his wife, Jane, have been traveling more now that he is retired. For exercise he works out at the gym, splits wood, and skis. 

Andrew Levitas, M.D. ’72, has published his third novel, Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry: A Love Story. It begins when, to enhance her chances of medical school admission, Lisa Mautner (Barnard College, ’69) decides to take organic chemistry “across the street” with the men at Columbia University. She is hazed mercilessly until Ben Rothstein (Columbia, ’68), her section’s lab assistant, intervenes. When she asks to study with him, this partnership grows into something much more.

Gary Lotner, M.D. ’73, and his wife, Sandra Cuttler, are excitedly looking forward to the b’nai mitzvot of their grandchildren, Bella and Jacob Lala, in Israel. So far, almost 20 family members are on board to travel and tour with them for 10 days.

Dan Mayer, M.D. ’73, has been retired for the past eight years after 35 years of clinical practice, first in family medicine and then in emergency medicine. For the past 27 years he has taught at Albany Medical College, initially in emergency medicine and then also in evidence-based healthcare, which was a course that he developed and ran for 22 years. He has written six books: Case Studies in Emergency Medicine (three editions) and Essential Evidence-Based Medicine (three editions). He is still actively peer-reviewing and is a decision editor for two journals. Dr. Mayer and his wife, Julia, have three children and 10 grandchildren. 

Myron Berdischewsky, M.D. ’74, reports that 10 years following his retirement as chief medical and quality officer for Providence Health & Services, he has continued his passionate commitment to patient safety as cofounder and chief medical officer of MitiHealth AI. Using machine-learning and other artificial-intelligence tools, the company is developing algorithms that can accurately predict impending harmful healthcare-related events in hospitalized patients, allowing for real-time interventions.

Stanley Harris, M.D. ’74, has been appointed chair of the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee of the Marist College board of trustees.

Richard Melker, M.D., Ph.D. ’74, became interested in intellectual property development; this led him to invent medical devices and start a company, which was acquired by Philips Healthcare. While this path is not typical for most physicians, Dr. Melker says he knows many who have taken this rewarding route, and adds that Montefiore Einstein offers a terrific program in biodesign training that works with underserved communities. He reports that he has had the great pleasure of working with its founding director, Sunit Jariwala, M.D., and his teams over the past few years. Dr. Melker encourages alumni to donate to this rapidly growing program, as he has done, along with supporting medical student tuition.

Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D. ’74, performed his last surgical case in June 2023. He has loved being a neurosurgeon, but says he now has more time for family, sailing, fly-fishing, gardening, and reading. He says he is very blessed and grateful for the education that Einstein offered him. 

Ira Helfand, M.D. ’77, helped write an editorial about the danger of nuclear war that was published in 153 medical journals recently, including NEJM, JAMA, BMJ, and Lancet. Dr. Helfand says this is a testament to the level of concern about this issue among members of the medical community. He urges any alumnus who would like to help with this critically important work to write to him at 

Katherine Atkinson, M.D., Ph.D. ’78, moved to Flagstaff, Ariz., after 39 years teaching at the University of California and at public and Catholic high schools. Dr. Atkinson keeps busy part-time as a “lunch lady” at the Flag Catholic school. She reports that her two sons visit her often, and they enjoy cooking together.

Kenneth Pellegrino, M.D. ’78, is fully retired after 35 years of practice as a primary-care physician in Connecticut. He and his wife are in the process of moving to California, on the magnificent Central Coast, to be closer to their three children (and grandchildren). They hope to enjoy the great outdoors there, replete with hiking, tennis, and national parks. He says, “Take a really close look at nature and you will understand everything much better.” He sends well-wishes to his classmates.

Steven Samuel, M.D. ’78, who retired from the practice of cardiology in 2015, recently accepted an interim appointment as second clarinet for the Bucks County (Pennsylvania) Symphony Orchestra.


Elizabeth Rand, M.D. ’80, says she started at Einstein at age 35 and moved to Alabama in 1985 when her husband got a job as an English professor there. She joined and chaired the University of Alabama School of Medicine faculty at the Tuscaloosa branch, training family-practice residents. She is a tenured full professor, now emeritus. In the 1990s Dr. Rand was the president of the Association for Academic Psychiatry. She has published work on mental health and primary care. Dr. Rand retired in 2006 and lived for 10 years in Paris, France, where she worked as a volunteer, training lay caregivers how to answer an English-language crisis hotline. She is married and has three children and five grandchildren.

Alan D. Legatt, M.D., Ph.D. ’81, received the Marc R. Nuwer Service Award for significant lifetime contributions at the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society’s annual meeting this year. Dr. Legatt is director emeritus of the intraoperative neurophysiology service at Montefiore Medical Center; he started the service and ran it for 36 years before stepping down as its director in 2022. He now works part-time at Montefiore, sings in a choral group (Kol Rinah), teaches in his synagogue’s religious school, and mentors high school students in a science research class in Westchester County. He is also a professor in the Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology at Einstein. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have three children and seven grandchildren. Dr. Legatt is also captain of an MS Walk team, the “Hot Flashes,” which has so far raised more than $730,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. All members of the Einstein community are invited to join the team for its 25th MS Walk in the spring of 2024.

John Fazio, M.D. ’82, retired from his pathology practice in Syracuse, N.Y., in 2021 and moved to Georgetown, Texas, a suburb of Austin. Dr. Fazio volunteers as a teacher at the nursing school of the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor. He also plays pickleball and bridge, travels, and otherwise enjoys retirement. 

Joel Cohen, M.D. ’83, is a senior faculty member of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center Stroke Unit in Jerusalem, Israel. He lives in Jerusalem with his spouse, Pearl; their four married children also live in Israel. Dr. Cohen and his wife have seven grandchildren.

Suzanne Kwoka Lewis, M.D. ’85, is now a professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. She works in the gastroenterology division, providing general gastrointestinal consultations and subspecializing in celiac disease, small-bowel imaging, and enteroscopy. 

Michael Zelefsky, M.D. ’86, recently joined NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center as director of brachytherapy and was named vice chair for academic and faculty affairs in the NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s department of radiation oncology. Dr. Zelefsky will also serve as a professor in the department and leader of the genitourinary cancer disease management group. 

Eryn Oberlander, M.D. ’88, has opened a new midtown Manhattan office on East 56th Street for live and telehealth psychiatry appointments. He says that true to the Einstein spirit of service, he and his colleagues meet patients wherever they are. Dr. Oberlander’s youngest daughter recently enrolled at the University of Chicago Booth School of Behavioral Economics, a field akin to psychiatry focused on studying motivation and healthy productivity. 

Mimi Zieman, M.D. ’89, has released a memoir, Tap Dancing on Everest, where she shares her story of being part of the risky Kangshung Face Expedition to Mount Everest while she was a third-year student at Einstein. Dr. Zieman also is a physician, speaker, and reproductive-rights advocate, and has coauthored 16 editions of Managing Contraception. She says she treasures her family, which includes her husband, three children, bonus daughter, granddaughter, and pup.


Camille DiScala, M.D. ’90, has been working in academia for almost 20 years, focusing on anatomy and pathophysiology. Students use her published lab manual for classroom laboratory exercises, which include practical medical scenarios to help students apply their knowledge to real-world situations. Dr DiScala enjoys spending her free time in Arizona with her two granddaughters and engaging in outdoor activities such as swimming, badminton, and bocce ball.

Robert E. Gross, M.D., Ph.D. ’90, was recently appointed joint chair of the department of neurosurgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School, both part of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Dr. Gross was also named senior vice president for neurosurgical services at RWJ Barnabas Health. Since 2005, Dr. Gross has been the principal investigator of five National Institutes of Health–funded projects and is a co-investigator or site investigator on nine additional NIH and industry-supported research projects. 

Dina J. Levin, M.D. ’93, has been named medical director of obstetrics and gynecology at Whidbey Health in Coupeville, Wash. Dr. Levin is also a Menopause Society–certified practitioner.

Sherry C. Huang, M.D. ’94, was recently appointed vice provost and senior associate dean for education at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She is nationally recognized as a medical educator and serves on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Clinical Learning Environment Committee. Dr. Huang was previously the vice chancellor for graduate medical education at Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences.


Igor Matushansky, M.D., Ph.D. ’01, was recently appointed chief medical officer of Senda Biosciences. He also serves as an oncology senior adviser at the company. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Matushansky served as chief medical officer and global head of research and development at Hookipa Pharma, where he was responsible for bringing novel arenavirus technology from early preclinical to clinical proof of concept.

Monica Payares-Lizano, M.D. ’09, has been named a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ board of directors. 

Robert M. Starke, M.D. ’09, is a tenured member of the departments of neurological surgery, of neuroradiology, of neurosciences, and of pharmacology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He specializes in the treatment of cerebral vascular disease, brain tumor, and skull-base surgery. Dr. Starke trained in neurosurgery and in interventional neuroradiology and performs more than 600 surgeries per year. His research laboratory is supported by multiple grants, including more than $4 million from the National Institutes of Health and the Florida Department of Health. He was recently named senior faculty researcher of the year at the University of Miami.


Juliette L. Provenzano-Gober, M.D. ’10, reunited with classmates Sharon Rose, M.D., Rachel Shakked, M.D., and Jessica Prince Wolfish, M.D., in New York City recently, sharing a weekend of laughter and relaxation away from doctoring and parenting. The four reminisced about their time at Einstein and how it shaped them as physicians and adults and provided the environment to develop an amazing friendship. 

Scott A. Bonnono, M.D. ’13, has been named system medical director of emergency medicine at Sound Physicians in Tucson, Ariz.

Joseph Rosenbaum, M.D. ’13, has been named clinical director of hand surgery at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, N.J. 

Jonathan Weinberger, M.D. ’13, has been named fellowship director for gastroenterology at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J.

Monika Karazja, M.D. ’14, completed her master’s degree in global mental health and now lives in Alaska, working as a psychiatrist. 

Dinesh Rai, M.D. ’18, was named Boston Children’s Hospital’s new artificial-intelligence prompt engineer in August 2023.


Riana Jumamil, M.D. ’20, recently completed her internal-medicine/primary-care residency at the University of California, San Francisco. She is now a preventive-medicine fellow at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in public health, conducting research in public and population health, and working in primary care. She and her husband, Brendan Raftery, married in 2021 and welcomed their first child (a baby boy!) in January 2024.


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