- Dara Steinberg, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology in the Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, and Stem Cell Transplantation, and jointly appointed in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Psychiatry. She specializes in pediatric psychology, working with children, adolescents, young adults, and their families, who have chronic and acute medical conditions, particularly in the areas of hematology, oncology, and stem cell transplantation. Dr. Steinberg enjoys treating concerns related to adjustment, adherence, and the emotional and behavioral aspects of living with medical conditions. Her research interests focus on the interaction between physiological and psychological health and well-being. She is dedicated to providing evidenced-based treatment, translating research into clinical practice and program development. Dr. Steinberg graduated from Brown University and went on to earn her Ph.D. in Clinical psychology from Yeshiva University, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. She has worked with a broad range of patients from young children to older adults, presenting with a range of psychological and medical conditions. She completed her clinical psychology internship, and two year fellowship at Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine. She was previously a psychologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Michelle Bombacie, MS, Dipl. Ac., (NCCAOM), LMT, L.Ac. Michelle is the Program Coordinator for the Integrative Therapies Program/Center for Comprehensive Wellness. Michelle received her Masters of Science in Acupuncture from Tri-State College of Acupuncture and her Massage Therapy degree from the New York College of Health Professions. She previously served as a clinician for the Integrative Therapies Program and delivered Complementary and Alternative Therapies (CAM) to children and their families. She is co-author of a publication on non-pharmacological therapies for palliative cancer care and has been involved in research related to the use of integrative therapies with pediatric cancer patients. In 2005 she launched a Family Practice, specializing in Acupuncture Physical Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine for patients undergoing cancer treatment, and those experiencing myofascial pain and stress-related conditions. Michelle is currently a member of the core faculty at the Tri-State College of Acupuncture, where she has extensive teaching experience and curriculum development in the field of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Caitlin McCaffrey, BA. Caitlin McCaffrey is the Educational Liaison for the Center for Comprehensive Wellness. She graduated from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Elementary and Special Education. Prior to joining the CUMC team, Caitlin spent five years teaching hospitalized students in grades K-12 on both pediatric oncology and behavioral health units, collaborating with various school districts in the tri-state area. Caitlin is an education advocate and serves as a liaison between patients and their families, schools, and multidisciplinary treatment teams. She educates school communities on our patients’ medical diagnoses and how treatment directly impacts school functioning and development, focusing on the appropriate school accommodations required for patients to achieve academic success. Her goal is to educate families on their legal rights and to teach parents how to effectively advocate for their children. Caitlin is an active member of APHOES, the Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Educational Specialists, and her position is supported through The Valerie Fund Children’s Center.
Dr. Noémie Le Pertel, DACM, MS, MPH, MAPP, L.Ac., L.M.T. Dr. Le Pertel is an integrative provider in the department of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, and Stem Cell at Columbia University, treating oncology patients and providing medical education on integrative medicine, mindfulness, burnout, and physician wellbeing. Dr. Le Pertel is a co-author of a peer-reviewed publication in Current Problems in Pediatric Adolescent Health Care: Acupuncture in Pediatrics (2016). She has worked in oncology research examining apoptosis in neural cells, palliative care and patient education research at Columbia University Medical Center, as a research trainee building bridges for Harvard Medical School’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and providing acupuncture for NIH-funded studies on chronic pain. Dr. Le Pertel is the founder of Empowered Wellness and the Center for Positive Leadership, LLC, where she consults for individuals and organizations providing leadership development, East Asian integrative medicine and brain-based coaching. She has been teaching contemplative practices such as yoga and meditation in the context of leadership and education since 1998 and has worked with organizations such as: Columbia Women in Business, United Nations, Ireland's Health Service Executive, AppNexus, among others. She holds a Master of Science and Doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, a Master in Public Health in Health Policy Management from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and a Master in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania where she completed her capstone thesis: Self-care in Health Care, an evidence-based approach to promoting wellbeing and resilience for stakeholders across systems, with advisor: Tom Rath, co-author of StrengthsFinder 2.0. She is currently working on a Doctorate in Education at the University of Pennsylvania's Chief Learning Officer Program.
Gayla Marie Stiles, MS, L.Ac, CYT has been devoted to working therapeutically with diverse populations throughout her life. In 1999, Gayla completed her BFA in dance performance and pedagogy from Ohio University. As a professional modern dancer she performed internationally and established outreach programs which used the the transformative, healing, and educational aspects of movement in schools, community centers, assisted living, and hospital settings. She accumulated knowledge from her training in Laban Barteneiff Fundamentals, Pilates Method, Yoga, Vipassana meditation, and a Dance Medicine Internship. Having studied Iyengar and Hatha yoga since 1995, she ultimately completed her Vinyasa teacher training from OM Yoga Center, restorative yoga certification with Judith Lasater, Children’s Yoga with Marcia Monroe, and Pre/Post Natal Yoga with Colette Crawford. She has supplementary training in Thai Yoga Massage, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy with Michael Shea, PhD, as well as the Upledger Institute. After retiring from the world of dance, Gayla became a founding member of The Garrison Institutes’ Transforming Trauma Initiative where she designed and implemented contempletively based resilience programs for survivors of domestic violence, substance abuse, and the agencies who support them. The program evolved globally to include survivors of violence, human rights defenders, and humanitarian aid workers. She received her Masters degree from Tristate College of Acupuncture. Gayla has continued her studies of Chinese Medicine and Trauma with Lonnie Jarret, Shonihari Japanese Pediatric Acupuncture with Takayuki Koei Kuwahara, Essential Oil Therapy with Jeffery Yuan, and Chi Nei Tsang with Karin Sorvik.
Michelle Walters, MS, RD. Michelle is a Research Nutritionist and Clinical Research Coordinator at the Center for Comprehensive Wellness. Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship and Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition at New York University. She has been involved in various areas of nutrition-related research, including the roles of nutrition in preventing kidney stones and promoting healthy brain aging. She has published several research articles on the impact of diet and other lifestyle factors on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Michelle has also developed meal databases for controlled feeding studies and taught nutrition lessons to chefs-in-training. At CUMC, she provides nutrition therapy to pediatric patients focusing on both conventional and complementary nutrition therapy for managing cancer treatment-related symptoms.
Suvekshya Aryal, MPH. Suvu is the Global Health Research Coordinator for the Integrative Therapies Program. She received her Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology, including an Advanced Certificate in Global Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. At the Mailman School, she was awarded Mailman Scholar Scholarship, and the Earth Institute Sustainable Development Research Grant. After the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Suvu worked with several global agencies, including Helen Keller International, World Vision, UNICEF, and Save the Children while conducting childhood mental health research, and nutritional interventions. Her research background is in life sciences and public health. She received her Bachelors of Science in Biology from Salem College, North Carolina. She was born and raised in Nepal and completed her high school education in Kathmandu. She is fluent in Nepali and Hindi.
Katie Irmler, BS. Katie is a research coordinator at the Center for Comprehensive Wellness, leading a multi-site Children’s Oncology Group trial focusing on the role of probiotics in children receiving stem cell transplants. Prior to joining the Center for Comprehensive Wellness, she conducted clinical trials with the adult neuro-oncology team at CUMC. She received her BS from Cornell University.
Rebecca Santiago, BS. Rebecca Santiago is a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Center for Comprehensive Wellness. She works closely alongside several Principal Investigators to enroll patients and organize the start-up of clinical research trials within the Pediatric Survivor Wellness, Psycho-Social, and Neuro-Oncology areas. Prior to joining the CUMC team, Rebecca served as a Clinical Coordinator for metastatic breast cancer patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She received her BS in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University and is completing her Masters of Social Work at Columbia University’s School of Social Work
Sonia Lugo, MS. Sonia is a Child Life specialist at the Center for Comprehensive Wellness. She has been trained to help children and families overcome life's most challenging events. With a background in child development and family systems, she shows the families how to cope through play and self-expression. Her goal is to provide emotional support for families while encouraging the optimum development of children facing health issues. She received her MS from Bank Street College of Education.
Karen Turi, MSW and Candida Batista, MSW. Karen and Candida are outpatient Social Workers at the Center for Comprehensive Wellness. Together they have over 20 years’ experience in counseling, helping children and their families identify their strengths, deal with the consequences of illness and hospitalization, and plan for continuity of care. They assess each family's needs then offer emotional support, advocacy, crisis intervention, and assistance with discharge planning. As expert listeners and problem-solvers, they also field questions about benefits, grants and entitlements, providing families with an essential safety net. Karen received her MSW from Barry University and Candida received hers from Columbia University.