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Leading the Way in Research, Education & Quality

The Staff

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Russell K. Portenoy, MD
Executive Director, MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care
Chief Medical Officer, MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care

Dr. Russell Portenoy is Director of the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care and Chief Medical Officer of MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care. He is also a Professor of Neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Prior to joining MJHS, Dr. Portenoy was founding Chairman of the Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care and the Gerald J. Friedman Chair in Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center.

Renowned as a health care leader, Dr. Portenoy is Past President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Past President of the American Pain Society. He previously chaired the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the organization that successfully formalized hospice and palliative medicine as a medical subspecialty. A recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Leadership Award of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Dr. Portenoy has also received the Wilbert Fordyce Award for Lifetime Excellence in Clinical Investigation and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Pain Society, and was given the Founder’s Award by the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

Dr. Portenoy has been Editor in Chief of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management for more than two decades, co-edits the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine and is editor for the palliative care section of The Oncologist. He has written, co-authored or edited 21 books and more than 525 papers and book chapters on topics in pain and symptom management, opioid pharmacotherapy and palliative care.

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Ebtesam Ahmed, PharmD, MS
Director of Pharmacy Internship
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

Dr. Ebtesam Ahmed is Director of the Pharmacy Internship for the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care. She is a delegate for the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care and a frequent speaker at major academic medical centers and medical conferences about various pain-related topics to physicians, pharmacists and other health care providers.

Dr. Ahmed teaches extensively in the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum on pain management, palliative care, hospice and end-of-life care. She has authored many book chapters and peer-reviewed articles on pain management, opioid pharmacotherapy in cancer patients and other topics.

An Associate Clinical Professor at St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Dr. Ahmed earned her Doctor of Pharmacy from St. John’s University and completed a post-graduate residency in pharmacy practice with a focus on pain management in palliative care at the University of California, San Francisco. She also holds a master’s degree in bioethics from Columbia University.

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Marilyn Bookbinder, RN, PhD, FPCN
Director of Quality and Performance Improvement
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

Dr. Marilyn Bookbinder is internationally-recognized as an expert on guideline implementation and building evidence-based practice (EBP) through the quality improvement process. In addition to serving as Director of Quality and Performance Improvement for the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, Dr. Bookbinder is currently conducting research to validate a tracer for end-of-life that measures the quality of care provided to dying inpatients.

Earlier in her career, she co-directed and published the results of a hospital-wide effort to implement and evaluate the American Pain Society standards; created and tested the “Palliative Care for Advanced Disease Pathway” to improve end-of-life care of dying inpatients; developed screening approaches for cancer-related fatigue; evaluated the sustainability of a nurse practitioner model to provide home-based palliative care for underserved frail elderly in New York City; and implemented novel web-based nursing education related to symptom management at end of life. She has also been the director of a fellowship program in palliative care for nurse practitioners and is active in the Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing Association to promote EBP for advanced practice nurses.

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Brenda Breuer, PhD
Research Scientist
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

Prior to joining the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, Dr. Brenda Breuer was the Director of Epidemiologic Research of the Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where she collaborated on numerous studies and research projects funded by the federal and New York State governments, industry and foundations. She also instructed department members in epidemiology.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Breuer held similar positions at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, Jewish Home Lifecare and Strang Cancer Prevention Center, as an epidemiologist in pain, geriatrics and cancer, respectively. She also served as an infectious diseases epidemiologist at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Dr. Breuer has published more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals. She has a PhD in biochemistry and an MPH in epidemiology.

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Lara Dhingra, PhD
Director of Health Disparities and Outcomes Research
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

Dr. Lara Dhingra is a clinical psychologist with expertise in palliative care and outcomes research.

In addition to being Director of Health Disparities and Outcomes Research for the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, she is the principal investigator of an American Cancer Society-funded research scholar grant testing the effectiveness of a quality improvement intervention to enhance symptom control for underserved Chinese-American cancer patients in community-based oncology practices.

Formerly the Co-Chief of Research in the Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, her research interests include evaluating novel service delivery models for palliative interventions and reducing disparities in care.

Colleen Fleming-Damon, PhDc, APRN-BC, ACHPN-BC, C.T.
Director of Education and Training
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

As Director of Education and Training for the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, Colleen Fleming-Damon provides leadership for the Institute’s training programs in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, social work and complementary therapies, as well as education and training for MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care staff.

Ms. Fleming-Damon joins the Institute with extensive home, hospice and palliative care experience in administration, education and clinical practice. A board-certified nurse practitioner in adult medicine and hospice-palliative care, she has been a member of an inpatient palliative care team for more than 10 years.

A nursing faculty member at Adelphi University and PhD candidate in research and education, Ms. Fleming-Damon holds a post-master’s certificate in thanatology from the College of New Rochelle, an MSN from Hunter College and a BSN from SUNY New Paltz. Her professional mission is translation and education of innovative research in hospice and palliative care to enhance care for individuals and families at end of life.

Myra Glajchen, DSW
Director of Medical Education
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

Dr. Myra Glajchen is nationally known as an educator and researcher for her work in caregiver burden, pain and palliative care. A Fulbright Scholar, she holds a master’s degree and doctorate in social work from Columbia University.

Prior to joining the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, she served as Director of the Institute for Education and Training at Mount Sinai Beth Israel for 17 years. During this time, she established and co-managed fellowships leading to the graduation of 100 physicians; oversaw 50 electives each year; and participated in development of 20 continuing medical education conferences.

Dr. Glajchen 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 caregiver handbooks and designed NetofCare, an award-winning online caregiver resource.

Internationally recognized for her scholarship, Dr. Glajchen’s leadership roles include serving as Co-Editor for the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care Communication, Board Member for the National Cancer Institute, Associate Editor for PC-FACS and Book Review Editor for the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

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Helena Knotkova, PhD
Director of Clinical Research and Analytics
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

Dr. Helena Knotkova has published and presented at numerous international congresses and conferences on topics related to neural mechanisms of pain, neuroplasticity and neuromodulation and development of novel methods and techniques for management of symptoms associated with chronic illness.

Currently, Dr. Knotkova is the Director of Clinical Research and Analytics for the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care. She is also Founder and Chair of the Special Interest Group on Neuromodulation of the International Association for the Study of Pain, editor of several textbooks for medical professionals and a member of editorial boards of numerous biomedical journals, including the Journal of Pain Management, Open Pain Journal and Analgesics.

Dr. Knotkova received her PhD in biological sciences/neuroscience from the Institute of Physiology of Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague and doctorate in psychology from Charles University in Prague. She also completed a Fulbright Scholarship at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University.

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Pauline Lesage, MD, LLM
Physician Educator
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

Teaching has been a major part of Dr. Pauline Lesage’s career. At Sherbrooke University in Canada, she developed a program in palliative care and ethics and law at the Faculty of Medicine and also taught a master’s program course on the health care system.

When Dr. Lesage joined the department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Beth Israel as Director of the Palliative Care Division, she developed and sustained the palliative care division and fellowship programs.

Dr. Lesage has contributed to multiple publications in the fields of palliative and hospice care, legal medicine and bioethics. She has authored articles on cancer pain, palliative care, legal aspects of medical practice and informed consent. Her master’s in law thesis is entitled “Withholding and Withdrawing Treatment.” She has lectured frequently on this topic and served on many ethics committees.

Dr. Lesage is a graduate of McGill University School of Medicine in Canada, and earned her master’s in law at Sherbrooke University in Canada.

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Karen A. Richards, PhD, EdS
Director of Instructional Design, Media and Technology
MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care

Dr. Karen Richards has been working in the field of e-learning and web development for the past 16 years, specializing in online scenario-based and problem-based learning. As a member of many 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 and nursing education, but also health care consumer education. Her research and development interests are also focused on online interprofessional education.

Dr. Richards holds an appointment as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Rutgers University Biomedical and Health Sciences, School of Health Related Professions, where she is recognized for her work and contributions 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.

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

Prior to joining the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, Wini Schein served for nine years as Director of Development and Special Funds for Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care. In that capacity, she brought in approximately $10 million in support from foundations, corporations and individuals for programmatic initiatives, palliative care fellowships, continuing medical education conferences and research. Ms. Schein also initiated an individual giving program, produced a series of e-newsletters for the department, and managed special funds including government grants and budgets. Previously, she was a Development Officer for St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center and Continuum Health Partners.

Ms. Schein has a B.A. in history from Queens College, CUNY and a certificate in financial development/nonprofit management from Adelphi University. She has also studied music at Dalcroze School of Music.