Sharon Akabas, PhD
Sharon Akabas has a Ph.D. in Nutrition Science and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She is currently Director of an MS in Nutrition at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition, and Associate Director for Educational Initiatives. She has taught for over 30 years at Columbia University, first at Teachers College, and currently at The Institute of Human Nutrition. The courses ranged from Advanced Nutrition, Growth and Development, to Nutritional Ecology, Women and Weight, and Obesity: Etiology, Prevention and Treatment, and Essentials of Nutrition Counseling and Medical Nutrition Therapy. Dr. Akabas has organized several symposia in recent years; the goal of the symposia has been to convene national and international experts on controversial topics, and to make recommendations for research, practice and policy. Most recently Dr. Akabas has focused on childhood obesity with an emphasis on working with communities to develop prevention strategies. She works locally and nationally to on inter professional education with the goal of integrating nutrition and physical activity into the training of health professionals. Dr. Akabas has also acted in a consulting capacity to sports teams, government agencies, and private industry on issues relating to the translation of science to public policy and to clinical and public health settings. In 2010, Dr. Akabas was awarded the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, Columbia University. In 2012 she co-edited the “Textbook of Obesity, Textbook of Obesity: Biological, Psychological and Cultural Influences”, published by John Wiley and Sons.
John P. Bilezikian, M.D.
Dr. Bilezikian, the Dorothy L. and Daniel H. Silberberg Professor of Medicine and Professor of Pharmacology at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University is Chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Director of the Metabolic Bone Diseases Program at Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Bilezikian received his undergraduate training at HarvardCollege and his medical training at the College of Physicians & Surgeons. He completed four years of house staff training (internship, residency and Chief Residency) on the Medical Service at ColumbiaPresbyterianMedicalCenter. Dr. Bilezikian received his training in Metabolic Bone Diseases and in Endocrinology at the NIH in the Mineral Metabolism Branch under the tutelage of Dr. Gerald Aurbach. Dr. Bilezikian belongs to a number of professional societies including the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, of which he served as President, 1995-1996 and the International Society of Clinical Densitometry, of which he served as President, 1999-2001. He is a member of the Endocrine Society, the American Federation for Clinical Research, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the American College of Endocrinology that has designated him Master, and the Advisory Medical Panel, Paget’s Disease Foundation (1991-2011). He serves on the Board of Governors of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (1998- ) and on its Committee of Scientific Advisors (2001- ). He is Chair of the Endocrine Fellows Foundation. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (2000-2004) and as Senior Associate Editor of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (2008-2012). He is Executive Advisory Editor of Bone Research (2013- ). His books include Editor-in-Chief of The Parathyroids [1994, 2001, 2014 (in preparation)], and co-editor of The Aging Skeleton (1999), Dynamics of Bone and Cartilage Metabolism (1999, 2006), Principles of Bone Biology (1996, 2002, 2008) and Osteoporosis in Men (2010). He has been on numerous panels, including serving as Chair of the NIH Consensus Development Panel on Optimal Calcium Intake (1994) and Co-chair of the last two NIH Workshops on Primary Hyperparathyroidism (2002, 2008). He is a major national and international spokesperson for the field of metabolic bone diseases. Dr. Bilezikian’s major research interests are related to the clinical investigation of metabolic bone diseases, particularly osteoporosis and primary hyperparathyroidism. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Physician Award of the Endocrine Society, the Frederic C. Bartter Award of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) for Excellence in Clinical Research, the John P. McGovern Compleat Physician Award of the Houston Academy of Medicine, the First Annual Global Leadership Award of the International Society of Clinical Densitometry, and Lifetime Achievement Awards of the Armenian American Medical Society of California and the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization. In 2009, he received the Gideon A. Rodan Excellence in Mentorship Award from the ASBMR. He will be receiving the Laureate Distinguished Educator Award of The Endocrine Society in 2014. His publications, which number over 700, speak to his active original investigative initiatives as well as his authorship of many reference sources of endocrinology and metabolic bone diseases.
Richard J. Deckelbaum, MD, CM, FRCP(C)
Dr. Deckelbaum received his education at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He now directs the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University where is the Robert R. Williams Professor of Nutrition and also holds professorships in pediatrics and epidemiology. In addition to his ongoing basic research in cell biology of lipids and issues of human nutrition, he has been active in translating basic science findings to practical application in different populations. He has let NIH and USAID funded program projects relating to diarrheal diseases in the Mideast and the USA. Dr. Deckelbaum has published over 350 research and other publications, as well as being co-editor of a number of books, such as Preventive Nutrition, now in its 4th edition. He has chaired task forces for the American Heart Association, the European Atherosclerosis Society, the Institute of Medicine, the March of Dimes, and has served on and/or chaired advisory committees of the National Institutes of Health, RAND Corporation, the U.S.A. National Academy of Sciences, and WHO. Early in his career he was a physician in Zambia, and afterwards helped establish the first children’s hospital in the West Bank of the Jordan and then continued to organize research and health programs among Egyptian, Palestinian, and Israeli populations. A current goal is to mobilize Armenia towards increased human and economic productivity through improving nutritional health. He helped initiate and now directs, the Columbia side of the Medical School for International Health (MSIH), a ‘novel’ medical school at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel in affiliation with Columbia University Medical Center. MSIH aims to help build the international health work force through inoculating intersectoral global health skills into medical education. Dr. Deckelbaum has coordinated working groups on “econutrition,” an evolving field integrating agriculture and ecology with food security and nutrition. He has had major roles and responsibilities in designing novel approaches to training and education of health professionals, and evaluation of their outcomes – both at Columbia University and Ben-Gurion University. He now serves on the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences, and is a Senior Fellow of the Synergos Institute. Among other honors, he was the recipient of the Global Health Education Consortium’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 and a similar award from McGill University. Currently, he continues in projects related to health and science as a bridge between different populations in the Mideast, Africa, and Asia.
Anahit Demirchyan, MD, MPH
Dr. Demirchyan earned her MD in Pediatrics from Yerevan State Medical University (diploma with honor), and Master of Public Health from AUA School of Public Health. She has also completed a residency program in Pediatrics (Yerevan State Medical University, 1988), a fellowship program in Human Lactation Management (Wellstart International, 1997), and a clinical fellowship in Child Development (Meyo Clinic, 1998). In 1998 she received Vartkess and Rita Balian Merit Award from AUA for achieving outstanding academic performance and for showing great promise towards a professional career.
During 1992-2000, Dr. Demirchyan was the advisor to the deputy minister responsible for mother and child health issues in Armenia. She was the initiator and first coordinator of the National Breastfeeding Promotion Program in Armenia, managing this comprehensive and successful program for seven years. She has authored a manual on infant nutrition for medical doctors, a guide on feeding of low birth-weight and sick neonates for neonatologists, a curriculum on child development for primary health care providers.
During her employment at the CHSR since 2000, she carried out numerous public health projects, including assessment of Hepatitis B burden in Armenia, health sector’s needs assessment in Nagorno Karabagh, technical assistance to UNICEF in preparing the follow-up report on the Decade Goals set by UNICEF World Summit for Children. During 2001-2005, she managed a multi-faceted quality assurance program at Nork Marash Medical Center – a tertiary-level cardiac hospital. During 2006-2010, she served as the Senior Research Director for the USAID-funded Primary Health Care Reform Project in Armenia, carrying the primary responsibility for the project monitoring, evaluation, and research activities. Currently, Dr. Demirchyan’s work mainly focuses on research covering a broad spectrum of interests such as child nutrition, health outcomes research, healthcare quality, psychometrics, and mental health. Dr. Demirchyan has authored a number of peer-reviewed publications and has made numerous presentations of her work at international scientific meetings and conferences.
Eugene Dinkevich, MD
Dr. Eugene Dinkevich is a primary care pediatrician practicing in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to primary care pediatric practice, Dr. Dinkevich evaluates and treats overweight and obese children and directs the Downstart Healthy Lifestyles and Obesity Prevention Center. Dr. Dinkevich interests include obesity prevention and treatment for very young children and he has published and lectured nationally in this area. Dr. Dinkevich received his Medical Doctor degree from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He also completed a Fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics at the New York University–Bellevue Hospital Center. Dr. Dinkevich is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the State University of New York–Downstate Medical School and the Director of the Division of General Pediatrics. He also plays a faculty role at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition as guest lecturer on infant and young child feeding, as well as obesity prevention.
Naira Gharakhanyan, MD, MPH
Naira Gharakhanyan is a graduate of Yerevan State Medical University after Mkhitar Heratsi in Armenia, qualifying in the field of neonatology. She also holds a Master of Public Health degree from the AUA School of Public Health. Dr. Gharakhanyan has 18 years of professional work experience in clinical practice in Newborn Departments at pediatric clinics and maternity hospital.
Since 2000 Dr. Gharakhanyan’s work experience and professional activities have expanded in the area of public health. She held various positions in health and social programs in international and local NGOs. She has been leading health and social programs at Children of Armenia Fund since 2004. Since 2010 she is leading the World Vision Health Advocacy and Policy programs and Child Health Now Campaign within the Global Health Initiative, addressing maternal and child health issues, promoting innovative health financing mechanisms and strengthening health care system in Armenia. Dr. Gharakhanyan has served as an expert in development of such policy documents as National Child and Adolescent Health Care Strategy, Alternative to Government NGO Report to International Child Rights Commission, Armenia Health System Performance Assessment. She was a team leader in many research projects, funded by UNICEF, World Bank and other organizations. She is an author of publications on health and social topics. Dr. Gharakhanyan is also participant of numerous international conferences, workshops and trainings related to public health, maternal and child health, youth development and child protection.
Susanna Harutyunyan, MD
Dr. Susanna Harutyunyan is an Associate Professor at Yerevan State Medical University, Chair of Paediatrics’ No 1 and pediatrician at “Muratzan” University Hospital. Her responsibilities include teaching medical students, residents and practicing physicians; participation in development of teaching curricula and clinical guides for students and health providers; research work with focus on child nutrition and growth; treatment and counseling of patients with special focus on growth and nutrition disorders.
Dr. Harutyunyan has more than 20 years of experience in advocacy, policy development, planning, management and evaluation of national programmes in the sphere of infant and young child nutrition. She has participated in development of the national program on “Protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding” (1994) and three “National Nutritional Strategies” (2006, 2011, 2013), provided technical support in drafting of the National Law on “Breastfeeding promotion and regulation of infant food marketing”, participated in development and implementation of a new national initiative towards implementing Baby-Friendly practices in the community, coordinated five national surveys on monitoring the marketing practices of baby food companies in Armenia (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011).
Since 1995 Dr. Harutyunyan has been a trainer on a consultancy basis for UNICEF, World Vision, Fund for Armenian Relief, Family Care and other organizations on Maternal-Child Health Care issues, including “BF counseling” 40 hour course, BFHI 18 hour and 20 hour courses, “Essential Newborn Care and BF”, “Implementation and Monitoring the International Code”, “Child Development and Behavior”, “Growth Monitoring and Disorders”, “Child Safety”, “Well child supervision” and other. As an International trainer she has participated in UNICEF–ICDC Training Course on “Implementation and Monitoring the International Code of Marketing BMS” (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 2009) and “BF Counseling” 40 hour course, Training for Trainers (WHO, Tbilisi, Georgia, 1999).
Dr. Harutyunyan is the Founder and President of “Confidence” Health NGO- Member of International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and Mother & Child Health Armenian Alliance. She is a member of committee of Mother & Child Health Armenian Alliance, GIFA (Geneva Infant Feeding Association) and ArAsPed (Armenian Association of Pediatrics).
Dr. Harutyunyan participated in more than 30 international educational courses, conferences, workshops and trainings related to maternal and child health and nutrition. She is an author and coauthor of a number of manuals, guidelines, protocols and articles on PPHC issues, as well as author of 17 booklets for parents on childcare, nutrition and nurturing, growth and development, well child supervision and child protection.
Kim Hekimian, PhD
Kim Hekimian, PhD is Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition in Pediatrics and the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University. She has taught at the American University of Armenia’s School of Public Health since its inception in 1995 and has served as the Associate Director of the MPH Program and Director of the Center for Health Services Research. She lived in Armenia for four years in the mid 1990’s, and has returned annually to teach and consult with international health agencies there such as USAID, UNICEF, World Vision and the World Bank among others.
Dr. Hekimian received her PhD from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Her research has focused on determinants of infant feeding practices and nutrition during pregnancy and lactation. Her dissertation involved conducting the first national survey of infant nutrition practices in the newly independent nation of Armenia. The findings from this study contributed to a four year nation-wide breastfeeding promotion program, and she was involved in the design and evaluation of the social marketing campaign which was funded by USAID, UNICEF, and the Ministry of Health of Armenia. Currently, she is working on initiatives to assess nutrition status in Armenia with focus on causal drivers of stunting in children under five.
Andrew Thorne-Lyman, ScD
Dr. Andrew Thorne-Lyman has been working internationally in the field of nutrition for more than 15 years. His primary research interest lies in studying how nutrition and health interventions targeted during early life (including pregnancy) can affect the subsequent health, nutritional status and brain development of children. He is also interested in the development and application of rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods for use in operational research, evaluation and the adaptive management of nutrition and health programs.
He is currently leading a trial in the context of the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) site in Ruhiira, Uganda that is evaluating the effectiveness of three feeding interventions aimed at improving infant and young child growth and child development: provision of local foods, Supercereal-Plus, and home fortification using a small quantity lipid-nutrient supplement (LNS). He also provides technical guidance on nutrition-related issues to the MVP and the Model Districts Project in India and is developing a research agenda related to nutrition in these projects.
Dr. Thorne-Lyman is also a collaborator with the Global Nutrition Innovation in Nepal, where he is helping to strengthen approaches to the measurement of dietary intake data and its linkage with indicators of nutritional status. He works with researchers in Denmark to explore the emerging role of vitamin D on perinatal and child health outcomes including preeclampsia and preterm delivery in the Danish National Birth Cohort, one of the largest birth cohorts in the world.
He worked for many years in the headquarters of the U.N. World Food Programme where he helped the organization to develop approaches to measure the effectiveness of its nutrition and emergency programs and provided technical guidance on issues related to nutrition and HIV/AIDS, nutritional surveys, and monitoring and evaluation to field offices throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin. He also worked for several years in Bangladesh for Helen Keller International on nutritional surveillance.
Dr. Thorne-Lyman has training in both quantitative and qualitative methods including a Doctor of Science degree in nutritional epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, a Master’s degree in international health with a focus on qualitative methods from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and a Bachelors degree in anthropology from Pomona College. While at Harvard he was a Richmond Fellow at the Center on Child Development.
Ruzanna Manukyan, MD
Ruzanna Manukyan received her professional education at State Medical University in Yerevan, Armenia.
Now she is a Health Coordinator at WV Armenia and responsible for implementation of health program in Aragatsotn Marz (Talin, Aparan). The main functions of this position are development of health related materials, provision of training sessions for primary health care providers and community members. Her nutrition background has developed trough participation in the following training/seminars/workshops/conferences: “Positive Deviance and Behavior Change Communication” provided by Jerry and Monique Sternin from Tufts University, “Human Nutrition”, provided by Benjamen Cabaliero from Center for Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Nutrition Workshop “Alleviating the Hidden Hunger and its Consequences in Middle East and Eastern Europe”, 19th International Congress of Nutrition, Micronutrient Forum, etc.
Ruzanna is an author and coauthor of a number of IEC materials on child care and nutrition, promotion of staple food and healthy lifestyle.
Varduhi Petrosyan, MS, PhD
Dr. Petrosyan is an Associate Professor of Health Sciences from the American University of Armenia (AUA) School of Public Health (SPH). She is the Associate Dean of the SPH and Director of the Center for Health Services Research and Development. Dr. Petrosyan earned her PhD from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management. She also has a Master of Science from the University of Idaho. She has successfully led health services research projects in Armenia and the region focusing on public health services, primary health care, healthy lifestyle and nutrition, tobacco control, tuberculosis, ophthalmic care, diabetes care, environmental health, and determinants of health disparities among women and other vulnerable populations, including working migrants, diabetes patients, tuberculosis patients, pregnant women, and children 0-7 years old. Dr. Petrosyan teaches graduate courses in health services research, program evaluation, and comparative health systems. She has been appointed to be a member of the Country Coordination Mechanism for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs in the Republic of Armenia. Prior to her arrival to AUA, she held a position of Research Assistant at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she conducted research on comparative health systems (focusing on health spending and cross national comparison of quality) in member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Dr. Petrosyan has authored multiple peer-reviewed publications and has extensively presented her work at international scientific conferences. She is currently the Associate Editor of the International Journal for Equity in Health, an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal presenting evidence relevant to the search for, and attainment of, equity in health across and within countries. In December 2012-April 2014, Dr. Petrosyan was the Advisor on Health Reforms of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia on a voluntary basis.
Sergey Sargsyan, MD, PhD
Dr. Sergey Sargsyan graduated from YerevanStateMedicalUniversity in 1990. In 1996, he defended the PhD thesis on epidemiology of Familial Mediterranean fever in children. Later, he attended trainings on different topics of pediatrics in Armenia and abroad.
After graduation he started working at the Chair of Pediatrics as a junior tutor and, simultaneously, at the Republican Children’s Hospital (currently – Arabkir Medical Centre) as a pediatrician – doctor-on-duty. In 1994 he was appointed by the Ministry of Health as a Director of Program for Acute Respiratory Infections, later – project on Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI).
Currently, he is a clinical pediatrician, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Yerevan State Medical University. He works at the “Arabkir” Medical Centre – Institute of Child and Adolescent Health as the Head of the Institute. In this capacity he runs various programs of the Institute, particularly developing clinical recommendations and parental guides and providing post-graduate training of health professionals. Dr Sargsyan and Institute’s team are involved in research activities and trainings. He attended and provided presentations at the highest pediatric forums such as National Armenian Pediatric Conference, European and International Pediatric Congresses, National Conference of American Academy of Pediatrics, different WHO forums.
Since 1995, he was involved as WHO, UNICEF or UNFPA consultant in Moldova, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, China and some other countries, where he acted as a clinical instructor, researcher, trainer, and policy adviser. For one term he was elected as a member of the Technical Steering Committee of Department of Child and Adolescent Health of WHO Headquarters in Geneva. Currently, Dr Sargsyan is a National Principal Investigator for cross-country study on Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) and member of European assembly of HBSC network. Also he is an active member of the expert’s group EuTEACH (European Teaching on Effective Adolescent Care in Health).
Dr Sargsyan is the Vice-President of the Armenian Pediatric Association.
Viktorya Sargsyan, MD, MPH
Dr. Viktoria Sargsyan is the Health Learning Hub Leader for World Vision International Middle East, Eastern Europe Regional Office (WVI MEERO). Her area of expertise has mostly been around the maternal, newborn, child health (MNCH) programming, specifically in infant young child feeding mostly focused on the first 1000 days. She practiced medicine in the maternity hospitals for four years. Since 2003 Viktorya joined the NGO sector, as a health specialist for World Vision Armenia National Office (WVA NO) being responsible for MNCH, then also for the NO Health and HIV programming. After five years of experience with WVA NO, she moved to the WVI Middle East Eastern Europe Regional Office (MEERO) as MNCH and Nutrition Advisor with technical support, consultancy and capacity building efforts to 10 National Offices (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, BiH, Romania, Albania, Lebanon, Jerusalem/West Bank, Pakistan and Afghanistan). From 2012 till now Viktorya leads the MEERO Health Learning Hub, focused in the accumulation of evidence-based also promising practices, validating for effectiveness and supporting their scale-up efforts across the region.
Viktorya received her MPH from the American University of Armenia School of Public Health. Her master thesis focused on promotion of breastfeeding, understanding the enabling, predisposing and reinforcing factors and suggesting effective interventions to support the behavior change. Currently, she is working on validating a promising model that may reduce stunting in children under five. The model is based on WVA five year nutrition project experience in Talin communities that has significantly reduced chronic malnutrition among this age group.
Hambardzum Simonyan, MD
Hambardzum Simonyan is the Deputy country director on developments and the Healthcare programs coordinator of Fund for Armenian Relief of America (FAR). His responsibilities in these positions include but are not limited by conducting monthly/quarterly performance evaluations, identifying the potential resources within local diplomatic community, international organizations, preparing and conducting visits with presentation of FAR, establishing contacts, implementation of continuous medical training for doctors from marzes of RA and from Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and the healthcare component of the program “Breaking the chain of poverty in Tavush marz”.
Along with his work in FAR Dr. Simonyan holds the position of the monitoring officer in Armenia of United Armenian fund (UAF). His responsibilities here include establishing reliable ongoing communication channel with UAF headquarters, developing annual/quarterly/monthly distribution monitoring plans, maintaining close contact with the RA Ministry of Health, as well as beneficiary healthcare institutions, regularly reporting to the UAF on monitoring results.
In his career path Dr. Hambardzum Simonyan has also worked as a Programs coordinator and clinical advisor in Firmplace Corporation, lecturer of pediatrics, medical consultant of medical genetics etc.
Along with all the administrative work Dr. Simonyan has never given up pediatrics. Treatment of children has always been one of the most important and favorite activity, that Dr. Simonyan is involved in. Dr. Simonyan earned his Medical Doctor (MD) degree from the Yerevan State Medical University Pediatrics department in 1997.
The geography of Dr. Simonyan’s trainings include Austria, Armenia, USA and Russia, the topics are even more diverse – from clinical (pediatric cardiology, intensive therapy etc.) to more broad and public health related (medical education, good clinical practice, biosafety, monitoring and evaluation).
Dr. Simonyan authored articles which are published in both local and international journals.