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Alpha Omega Alpha Iota Chapter Celebrates Academic Distinction During Annual Induction Ceremony

More than 50 medical students, alumni and faculty members inducted

May 10, 2021
Donald S. Chen, M.D. Headshot
Donald S. Chen, M.D.

As one of the leading clinicians, educators and researchers in the areas of infectious diseases, hospital epidemiology and tropical medicine, Dr. Chen played a critical role as WMC grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. During his thought-provoking lecture, Dr. Chen traced the course of the pandemic during the past year, as well as the origins of coronaviruses in general and how infectious diseases spread from wildlife. Looking ahead, Dr. Chen shared his insight into vaccines and variants and the importance of achieving herd immunity to prevent COVID-19 from becoming an endemic infection, similar to the flu and cold viruses.

This year’s alumni inductees into Alpha Omega Alpha included NYMC alumni Peter Bentivegna, M.D. ’85; Noreen Ferrante, M.D. ’84; and Martin Katzenstein, M.D. ’78, associate professor of pediatrics and chair of the Board of Advisors at NYMC. In addition to Dr. Chen, several members of the NYMC faculty were inducted including Apolonia E. Abramowicz, M.D., clinical professor of anesthesiology; Gabriella Dauer, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics; Nisha Lakhi, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and Yehudit Pollack, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics.

The AOA Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award was presented to Adrienne Wasserman, M.D., clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine and AOA Resident Teaching Awards were presented to David Ambinder, M.D., urology resident; Matthew Garofalo, M.D., psychiatry chief resident; Michael Kim, M.D., neurosurgery resident and Maria Pollack, M.D., obstetrics and gynecology resident.

In addressing the new inductees, members of the NYMC administration applauded their accomplishments while encouraging them to continue to be leaders in the profession.

“COVID-19 exposed serious wounds in our health care system and we continue to have serious health care inequalities,” said Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and professor of medicine and pharmacology. “I encourage all of you as healers to represent the values you learned at NYMC to reduce health care inequalities. Being a member of AOA means you must provide the best care you can, irrespective of a person’s color, ethnic background or gender identity. Many of you are already academic leaders and I charge you to continue in that role, whether that is through research or education. There are so many areas to help.”

“This society was started in 1902 by a small group of medical students to recognize exceptional scholarship and citizenship of both students and faculty,” said William H. Frishman, M.D., councilor of the NYMC Iota Chapter and chair emeritus of medicine, professor of medicine and pharmacology. “Since the founding, a duty of membership has been to foster scientific and philosophical features of the medical profession to look beyond self to the welfare of the profession and the public, to cultivate social mindedness, show respect for colleagues and teachers, foster research and in all ways ennoble the profession and advance it in public opinion. As members of AOA, you will be the leaders of your medical and scientific communities and will have the continued responsibility for being examples of excellence for your colleagues and patients.”

“You are here tonight because you have demonstrated excellence thus far in your career, excellence in academic performance, excellence in the integrity of character and excellence in service,” said Jane M. Ponterio, M.D. ’81, senior associate dean for student affairs and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology. “But with excellence comes a call to leadership, and we at NYMC expect that you will all become leaders in your chosen specialty, that you will be lifelong learners and you will commit to educating those who follow you.”

New York Iota Chapter Officers

Cydney Nichols, President

Chelsea Banks, Vice President

Sarah Phillips, Academic Coordinator

Blake Wall, Volunteer Coordinator

Class of 2021 Junior AOA Inductees

Zachary Ballinger

Chelsea Banks

Ryan Fahey

Julie Fishman

Tamar Gomolin

Shannon Kody

Cydney Nichols

Sarah Phillips

Blake Wall 

Class of 2021 Senior AOA Inductees

Anusha Adkoli

Ryan Alcantara

Gabrielle Block

Taryn Boucher

Kathryn Brady

Tucker Callanan

Rebecca Castro

Lillian Chiu

Meghan Derken

William Eddy

Steliana Fakas

Arielle Greenberg

Cristian Jimenez

Gabriela Joaquin

Andrew Long

Kenneth Marsh

Ariana Matz

Joseph McCafferty

James McFarlin

Jessica Palmer

Mathias Palmer

Brandon Pecchia

Jacob Luther

Ben-zion Rotter

Nicolas Sanchez

Philip Sang

Savan Shah

Harrison Smith

Inna Tounkel

Tiffany Truong

Brittany Umanoff

Mayur Urva

Hillary Weisleder

Melanie Winters