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The Staff

Eni Bakallbashi, Executive Director

Eni Bakallbashi, MBA/MPA
Executive Director, MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care
Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, MJHS Health System

Eni Bakallbashi, MBA/MPA, is the Executive Director of the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care and Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, MJHS Health System. Officially part of the senior leadership team since late last year, Bakallbashi arrived with a track record of successful and forward-thinking health care strategy experience.

“In the short time Eni has been with MJHS Health System, she has had a tremendous impact on the direction of this organization,” said David Wagner, President and CEO of MJHS Health System. “In just a few months, she has guided and elevated our 2022 and long-term goals development process, assumed leadership of our strategic planning initiative, and overseen submission of our grant applications—several of which we have already been awarded,” Wagner added.

Prior to MJHS, Ms. Bakallbashi worked at Healthfirst, where she spent four years in Clinical Operations and managed an 85-person team in the Medicare and Commercial Utilization Management department. In addition, she managed the strategy, reporting and process improvement team for their clinical operations. Prior to Healthfirst, she spent eight years at VNSNY on the Performance and Innovation team, which served as an internal consultancy to the organization. She worked on strategy mapping and execution as well as restructuring and process improvement efforts across VNSNY CHOICE, their CHHA, LHCSA and Hospice teams, while leading the Innovation practice.

Dr. Lara Dhingra, Director of Health Disparities and Outcomes Research

Lara Dhingra, PhD
Director of Health Disparities and Outcomes Research
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care
Associate Professor of Family and Social Medicine,
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Lara Dhingra is the Director of Health Disparities and Outcomes Research at the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care and an Associate Professor of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Dhingra is a clinical psychologist with expertise in palliative care and health services research. Her career has focused on improving the quality of life of patients with serious chronic illness and on health disparities research.

Dr. Dhingra is nationally known and has chaired the Pain and Disparities Special Interest Group for the American Pain Society and the Pain Special Interest Group for the Society of Behavioral Medicine. She has served as Associate Editor for the journal Ethnicity and Health, and is currently Associate Editor of the journal Pain Medicine. She has published widely and is the recipient of multiple grants, including a research grant from the NIH Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program.

During the past few years, she has directed two studies focused on the underserved Chinese-American community (“Development of an Evidence-based Toolkit to Improve ACP for Underserved Chinese-American Immigrants,” funded by The New York Community Trust, and a 5-year American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant, “Quality Improvement for Symptom Control in Underserved Chinese Patients”). She led a OneCity Health Innovations Award-funded project to improve access to palliative care (“Achieving Best Practices in Advance Care Planning and Hospice Referral: A Novel Nurse-Mediated Collaborative Practice Approach for Primary Care”), and is Co-Principal Investigator of a national project to create a new model of palliative care for patients with cystic fibrosis (“Pragmatic Implementation Trial of a Cystic Fibrosis Primary Palliative Care Intervention,” a multi-site study supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation). Current studies also include: “Race/ethnicity and Pressure Ulcers in Nursing Homes” funded by the Donaghue Medical Research Foundation, and “Understanding Causes of Hospice Utilization in New York State,” funded by the MJHS Foundation.

Dr. Myra Glajchen, Director of Medical Education

Stephanie DiFiglia, PhD
Research Project Manager
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

Stephanie DiFiglia, PhD, is the Research Project Manager for Health Disparities and Outcomes Research at the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care. Dr. DiFiglia is an Applied Developmental Psychologist who received her doctorate from Fordham University, with a focus on health and well-being throughout the lifespan. She completed a research internship at The New Jewish Home where she published research relating to predictors of post-acute care transitions. Following this position, she worked as a Research Project Manager at Fordham University’s School of Social Work, became Deputy Academic Director of the M.S. Applied Analytics program at Columbia University, and did consultative work in research and evaluation. She assumed her current position in January 2020.

Dr. DiFiglia has engaged in research and administrative roles, as well as teaching appointments at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She is also a yoga and meditation teacher and coach, using research knowledge and training of mind-body techniques to optimize individuals’ quality of life.

Dr. DiFiglia received the 2013 John R. Hayes Award for best article in the Journal of Writing Research over the preceding two years, a Research Support Grant from the Fordham Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2015, and the Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging’s Innovative Research on Aging Award in 2018.

“Working to improve the care and lives of those with chronic illnesses through impactful research at the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care provides a deep sense of meaning to the work we do each day. I am grateful to be part of a community with such a strong commitment to service.”

–Stephanie DiFiglia, PhD

Dr. Myra Glajchen, Director of Medical Education

Myra Glajchen, DSW, MSW, BSW, ACSW, APHSW-C
Director of Education and Training
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care
Assistant Professor of Family and Social Medicine,
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Myra Glajchen is widely known as a clinician, educator, and researcher for her work in oncology, caregiver burden, pain, palliative care and social work. A Fulbright Scholar, she holds both a master’s and a doctorate in Social Work from Columbia University.

As Director of Medical Education in the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, Dr. Glajchen manages the Fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Internship in Social Work. As Principal Investigator for the grant-supported National Consensus Project to Define Core Competencies and an Educational Curriculum for Generalist-Level Palliative Social Work, Dr. Glajchen is conducting a study which will yield consensus-derived core competencies for generalist-level palliative social work, and guide development of a new training course for front-line clinicians in healthcare.

Prior to joining the MJHS Institute, Dr. Glajchen served as Director of the Institute for Education and Training at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. During this time, she created the family caregiver initiative to improve the well-being of caregivers facing advanced illness. She led the research team that validated the Brief Assessment Scale for Caregivers (BASC) in English and Chinese, published bilingual handbooks and designed an award-winning online resource. In addition, Dr. Glajchen was Associate Director of two accredited fellowships; oversaw electives; and participated in development of continuing medical education conferences.

Internationally recognized for her scholarship, Dr. Glajchen’s leadership roles include board member for the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network, Co-Editor for the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care Communication, Book Review Editor for the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Continuing Education Provider for Social Work in New York State, past Board Member for the National Cancer Institute, and past Associate Editor for PC-FACS.

Dr. Helena Knotkova, Director of Clinical Research and Analytics

Helena Knotkova, PhD, PhilD
Director of Clinical Research and Analytics
Associate Professor of Family and Social Medicine,
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

I received a PhD in biological sciences/neuroscience from the Institute of Physiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, in Prague, and a doctorate in psychology from Charles University, Prague, and completed a Fulbright Scholarship at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, New York.

My research interests include studies of novel approaches to symptom control in chronic illness with a specific focus on noninvasive neuromodulation. I have extensive practical experience with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in clinical and research settings, and I lead the MJHS Neuromodulation Program. I have served as principal investigator on multiple studies and collaborative projects examining the potential of tDCS for symptoms common in chronic illness, such as pain or cognitive and mood disturbances.

Besides my research work, I am active in the professional community and serve as educator and mentor. I have co-founded and co-direct the international CME-accredited tDCS Fellowship, co-direct tDCS Hands-on Workshops, and direct the MJHS Internship on Neurostimulation and Biomedical Research. I have served as leading editor of several textbooks on neuromodulation, such as the Practical Guide to the Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, the Textbook of Neuromodulation and the books Brain Stimulation in the Treatment of Pain and Brain Plasticity in Chronic Pain. To facilitate collaborations within the neuromodulation community, I have founded and serve on the Executive Committee of the Special Interest Group on Neuromodulation of the International Association for the Study of Pain and serve on the IASP SIG Governance Task Force.

Dr. Karen A. Richards, Director of Instructional Design, Media and Technology

Karen A. Richards, PhD, EdS, MS
Director of Instructional Design, Media and Technology
MJHS Human Resources Department
Adjunct Assistant Professor,
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Biomedical and Health Sciences, School of Health Professions

Dr. Karen Richards has been working in the field of e-learning and web development for the past 24 years, specializing in online scenario-based and problem-based learning. As a member of several awarding-winning teams, she has collaborated with nationally renowned subject-matter experts and talented on- and off-shore developers to advance not only the fields of online continuing medical, nursing, and social work education, but also healthcare consumer education. Her research and development interests are also focused on online interprofessional education in healthcare and information technologies relating to adult education.

Dr. Richards currently heads the Business Analytics and e-Learning Web Operations internships whereby MJHS hosts talented graduate interns preparing to enter the workforce. This program supports their professional growth in the development of critical thinking, real world problem-solving skills, and professionalism.

Dr. Richards holds an appointment as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Rutgers University’s School of Health Professions, Dept. of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions, where she is works in instructional design and development. Her educational specialist postmaster’s degree and doctoral degree in computer technology in education are both from Nova Southeastern University, Florida.

Winifred Schein, BA, Director of Institutional Giving and Grants Management

Winifred Schein, BA
Director of Institutional Giving and Grants Management
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

As Director of Institutional Giving and Grants Management for the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, Wini Schein works closely with every member of the Institute’s research and education teams in developing and writing proposals, preparing budgets, submitting grant applications, managing the post-award processes, overseeing grant reporting, and working as part of the team in many aspects of the Institute’s activities. She maintains relationships with institutional funders as well as individual supporters of the Institute. Ms. Schein oversees all of the Institute’s financial operations, working directly with MJHS’s corporate Finance Department. Ms. Schein has also served as Project Manager for an Institute educational initiative, Palliative Care Training Program for Certified Nursing Assistants, directing implementation of the program at numerous nursing homes around New York City.

Prior to joining the MJHS Institute at its inception, Ms. Schein served as Director of Development and Special Funds for Beth Israel Medical Center’s Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care. Previously, she was a Development Officer for St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center and Continuum Health Partners. She began her fundraising career in the Mount Sinai Medical Center Development Office.

Ms. Schein has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Queens College of the City University of New York and a Certificate in Financial Development/Nonprofit Management from Adelphi University. She has also studied music at the Dalcroze School of Music.