Leadership and Staff

Department and Division Leadership

  • Rita Charon, MD, PhD

    Department Chair, Medical Humanities and Ethics; Chief, Division of Narrative Medicine

    Headshot of Rita Charon
  • David J. Rothman, PhD

    Chief, Division of Social Medicine and Professionalism; Bernard Schoenberg Professor of Social Medicine

    Headshot of David J. Rothman
  • Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD

    Chief, Division of Ethics

    Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Ph.D., is Chief of the Division of Ethics and tenured faculty in the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics at Columbia University. Trained as a medical anthropologist, Dr. Lee has extensive experience leading multi-disciplinary bioethics research on diversity and inclusion in precision medicine; consent and governance of clinical samples and data; commercialization of biotechnology; race, ethnicity, and ancestry in genetics research; and academic entrepreneurship. 

    Her projects include The Ethics of Inclusion: Diversity in Precision Medicine Research (R01 HG010330), Beyond Consent: Patient Preferences for Governance of Use of Clinical Samples and Data (R01 LM012180) and Social Networking and Personal Genomics: Implications for Health Research (R01 HG005086).  Dr. Lee publishes broadly in the genomics, medical, bioethics, and social science literatures, and co-edited Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age (2008), which resulted from a two year multi-disciplinary, cross-campus dialogue supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Stanford Humanities Institute. Dr. Lee is Co-PI of the newly launched national Center for ELSI Resources and Analysis (CERA) funded by the NHGRI, a collaboration between Columbia and Stanford with partners at the Hastings Center and Harvard University. Dr. Lee is also the PI of the NHGRI funded biennial International ELSI Congress.

    Dr. Lee is a Hastings Center Fellow and has been an Economic and Social Research Council Bright Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Wenner-Gren Foundation Faculty Fellow, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in Medical Humanities and a Resident Fellow at the School for Advanced Research.  Dr. Lee has served as Chairperson of the Institutional Review Board at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and on the NIH/NHGRI Coriell Consultation and Oversight Committee of the International Haplotype Map.  Dr. Lee currently serves on both the Scientific and Bioethics Advisory Boards of the Kaiser Permanente National Research Biobank, the NIH/NHGRI Genomics and Society Working Group, and on the editorial board of Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics. 

Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics Staff

Division of Ethics Staff

  • Rachel Yarmolinsky, MS

    Program Director

    Rachel Yarmolinsky, a longtime Director of Media Relations and Marketing at Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and a Regulatory Specialist at the Columbia University Human Research Protection Office, completed an MS in Bioethics at Columbia University in 2014. Her interests include clinical and research ethics, particularly in neuroethics and ELSI research. Ms. Yarmolinsky is experienced in event and meeting planning, science writing, graphic design, and media relations. She is on the steering committee of the Columbia University Center for Research on the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Psychiatric, Neurologic and Behavioral Genetics, a member of the Pediatrics and Adult Medical Ethics Committees at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/CUIMC, a member of the Social Services Committee of New York City’s Community Board 2, and a member of the board of Science Writers in New York.

    Headshot of Rachel Yarmolinsky, MS
  • Emily Vasquez, MPhil, MPH

    Project Director

    Emily Vasquez, MPhil, MPH, ABD, is an ethnographer of science, medicine, and public health. Drawing on the sociology of health and medicine, science and technology studies (STS), and critical race studies, her research examines relationships between knowledge, technology, health, identity, and social justice. She studies these issues in the context of global health policy and initiatives, especially global and national-level responses to epidemics of chronic disease. Her research has been supported by fellowships from, among others, the National Science Foundation (Science, Technology, and Society Program) and the ACLS/Mellon Foundation. She is a doctoral candidate completing a PhD in sociology and public health in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University.

    Headshot of Emily Vasquez, PhD
  • Mike Bentz, MPH

    Research Coordinator

    Mike Bentz, MPH, worked for several years on an NIH-funded clinical trial investigating race-specific clinical therapies. This is one of the reasons for which he became interested in the justifications for such therapies and how these justifications intersect with emergent genetics technologies.

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Interprofessional Education Staff

  • Jordana Vanderselt, MPH

    Interprofessional Education Coordinator

    Jordana Vanderselt, MPH, is the Project Coordinator for the Columbia Commons Interprofessional Education (IPE) initiative, working towards collaboration across professional health schools. She received her Master of Public Health from Tulane University with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health and special focus on violence prevention. As a public health professional, she has particular interest in health systems change through program evaluation, training, and technical assistance. Most recently, she managed a teen pregnancy prevention study aimed at male foster youth with the hopes of mandating sexual health programming in foster care agencies across New York City. She is excited to be working with CUIMC to promote effective and equitable health care teams that will better serve patients, families, and communities.

    Headshot of Jordana Vanderselt, MPH

Division of Narrative Medicine Staff

  • Cindy Smalletz, MS, MA

    Program Director

    Cindy Smalletz, MS, MA, is one of the first graduates of the Columbia University Narrative Medicine Master's program. She lectures on narrative medicine to both students and clinicians, and is the creator, designer, and director of the first online certificate program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. She also holds an MA in Instructional Design and Technology, and while pursuing her MS, she worked for the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center where she focused on purposefully merging technology and education for students, faculty, and research grants. By bringing together narrative medicine with education and technology, she plans to change health care around the world through better training, communication, self-awareness and action.

    Headshot of Cindy Smalletz, MS, MA
  • Joseph Eveld, MS, MFA

    Program Manager

    Joseph Eveld, MS, MFA, joined the Narrative Medicine program with a background in publishing and creative writing. As an adolescent he survived over two years of treatment for an aggressive form of bone cancer. Having turned to writing as a means to cope with this experience, as well as developing a passion for caregiving from both the patient and provider perspective, he felt as if he’d found “home” when he discovered Narrative Medicine practice. While completing his MS in the program, he studied Narrative Therapy and creative writing as applied in counseling for patients coping with trauma and terminal illness, as well as healthcare and social justice inequities represented in the literature and activism of indigenous cultures in the United States. He also has a BA in English from Northeastern University, and completed his MFA in Fiction at the Creative Writing program at Boston University. He was a finalist for Glimmer Train Magazine’s Short Story Award for New Writers, he has poetry published in the Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, and is currently working on his first novel.

    Headshot of Joseph Eveld, MS, MFA
  • Renée Saindon, MM

    Administrative Assistant

    Renée Saindon, MM, is excited to be integrating her performance experience along the Eastern seacoast and her knack for administrative organization into her work here at Columbia Narrative Medicine. Known for enchanting audiences and critics alike with her "gorgeous voice" (Boston Art Review), Renée has sung with a variety of sacred and secular choirs around Boston including The Landmark Symphony Orchestra's One City Choir and in other such regional award winning ensembles. Renee has also had the privilege to travel for operatic debuts with the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival and the Intermezzo Foundation. Administratively, Renee has served as Company Manager to the Key West Symphony Young Artist Program and coordinated distribution for Academy Award nominated documentarian Frederick Wiseman's film La Danse. After her IRNE-nominated portrayal of Lily in The Longwood Players' The Secret Garden (2011) Renée served as their Development Director during Seasons 15 and 16. Prior to joining the Columbia Narrative Medicine team, Renee also served as Sr. Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) at MIT in Cambridge, MA and Office Manager to Reviewed.com, a division of USA Today Tech. Additionally, Renee volunteers as a consultant for several non-profit organizations and a variety of internship and membership committees. Renée holds a BA in Music and a BS in Theater from Murray State University; a Masters of Music Theater from Oklahoma City University and a Graduate Performance Diploma in Opera from the Longy School of Music of Bard College.

    Headshot of Renée Saindon, MM
  • Rishi Goyal

    Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine

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Division of Social Medicine and Professionalism Staff