Our Team

Senior Physicians:

Alexandra Popma, MDExecutive Director of the CRF Clinical Trials Center (CTC)
As Executive Director, she is responsible for the strategic direction, management, and operational aspects of the CTC. A distinguished researcher with over 20 years of experience, Dr. Popma comes to CRF from The Baim Institute for Clinical Research, a full-service nonprofit academic research organization in Boston, where she served as Chief Operating Officer. Prior to CRF, she was also the Director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Core Laboratory at Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Under her leadership, the core laboratory developed innovative methods for the analyses of cardiovascular imaging to better understand the outcomes of patients undergoing new device therapy. She received her medical degree from University del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia.

Ziad A. Ali, MD, DPhilDirector, Angiographic Core Laboratory
Dr. Ali is Director of the DeMatteis Cardiovascular Institute, Director of Investigational Interventional Cardiology, and Director of Cardio-nephrology at St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center. Prior to joining St. Francis, he was Associate Director of Translational Medicine at the Center for Interventional Vascular Therapy at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. He was also the Victoria and Esther Aboodi Cardiology Researcher at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He received his medical degree from the University of Sheffield and doctorate in cardiovascular medicine from the University of Oxford. Dr. Ali fulfilled a residency in internal medicine and fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University Medical Center. He also served as Chief Fellow in cardiovascular intervention at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Daniel Burkhoff, MD, PhDDirector, Heart Failure, Hemodynamics and MCS Research
Dr. Burkhoff is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University. A world-renowned expert in heart failure and hemodynamics, Dr. Burkhoff collaborates on heart failure research initiatives across all divisions of CRF. Dr. Burkhoff is author of Harvi, an interactive simulation-based application for teaching and researching many aspects of ventricular mechanics and hemodynamics. Dr. Burkhoff works with the CRF Center for Education to develop novel curricula using Harvi in educational programs for practicing physicians, fellows, and medical students around the world.

Dr. Burkhoff’s interests include cardiovascular modeling and research in basic and clinical aspects of ventricular mechanics, cardiovascular monitoring, heart failure, device and pharmacologic treatments for heart failure, including left ventricular assist devices. He was instrumental in the creation of the CRF Skirball Center for Innovation and served as Director when it opened in 2005. Before returning to CRF, he was Vice President of Medical Science for HeartWare International. Previously, he served as Medical Director of CircuLite. He received his medical and doctor of philosophy degrees from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and completed his cardiology fellowship at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

David J. Cohen, MD, MscDirector of Clinical and Outcomes Research
Dr. Cohen is Director of Academic Affairs at St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center in Roslyn, New York. A world-renowned expert in health economics and outcomes research, Dr. Cohen has devoted his career to studying interventional cardiology devices and procedures, particularly drug-eluting stents and transcatheter aortic valve implantation. His research focuses on the application of formal cost-effectiveness methodology to novel interventions for cardiovascular disease, the extension of traditional cardiovascular outcomes research to include patient-centered outcomes, and the development and evaluation of tools for assessing patients’ health status and preferences.

Previously, Dr. Cohen was Professor of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Director of Cardiovascular Research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. Prior to that, he was Associate Director, Interventional Cardiology and Director of Interventional Cardiology Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where he was also Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Cohen earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School and his master’s degree in health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. He completed his clinical training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and was a clinical and research fellow in cardiology at Beth Israel Hospital. He is board certified in internal medicine, adult cardiology, and interventional cardiology.

Jose M. Dizon, MD Director, ECG Core Laboratory
Dr. Dizon is a practicing cardiologist and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. His area of clinical expertise is cardiac arrhythmia management, including ablation of arrhythmias and device therapy. He received his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Dizon completed his internship and residency at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and cardiology and electrophysiology fellowships at Columbia University Medical Center.

Rebecca T. Hahn, MDChief Scientific Officer, Echocardiography Core Laboratory
Dr. Hahn is currently the Director of Interventional Echocardiography at the Columbia Structural Heart & Valve Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and a Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Hahn is a leading authority in the field of echocardiography. She has served as Course Director for the Annual State-of-the-Art Echo Course which trains and educates health care professionals on established and new recommendations of the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE). Previously, she directed the Echocardiography Lab at North Shore University Hospital and prior to that, was the Director of Clinical Echocardiography at Cornell University. Dr. Hahn received her medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and completed her internship, residency, and fellowship at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

Omar K. Khalique, MD - Director, Structural CT Core Lab
Dr. Khalique is Director of the Division of Cardiovascular Imaging at St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center. Prior to joining St. Francis, Dr. Khalique was Director of Multimodality Cardiac Imaging at the Columbia Structural Heart & Valve Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Medicine (in Radiology) at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, specializing in non-invasive imaging of valvular and structural heart disease.

Dr. Khalique received his medical degree from Sydney Kimmel Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He completed his internal medicine residency and his fellowship in cardiology at Westchester Medical Center of New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York. He did an advanced echocardiography and computed cardiac tomography fellowship, followed by further training in interventional and valvular echocardiography at Columbia University Department of Medicine. Dr. Khalique is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, echocardiography, cardiac computed tomography, and nuclear cardiology.

Akiko Maehara, MDDirector, Intravascular Imaging Core Laboratory and MRI Core Laboratory
Dr. Maehara is a Professor of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a leading authority in intravascular imaging and physiology. She received her medical degree from Yamaguchi University School of Medicine in Yamaguchi, Japan, and is board-certified in internal medicine and cardiology by the Japanese Society of Internal Medicine and Japanese Society of Cardiology. Dr. Maehara completed her clinical fellowship at the Toranomon Hospital in Tokyo, Japan, and a cardiovascular fellowship at the Cardiovascular Center at Toranomon Hospital. She finished a research fellowship in cardiovascular interventions at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California, with an additional fellowship year at the Cardiovascular Research Institute of the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC.

Sahil A. Parikh, MDDirector, Vascular Medicine and Endovascular Intervention
Dr. Parikh is Director, Endovascular Services for Columbia Interventional Cardiovascular Care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Parikh received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He completed his internship, residency and chief residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, fellowships in cardiology and interventional cardiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, as well as a fellowship in vascular medicine and intervention at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Bjorn Redfors, MD, PhD Medical Director, Data Coordinating Center
Dr. Redfors is Professor of Cardiology at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Gothenburg University in Sweden, and a consultant cardiologist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, where he also received his training in internal medicine and cardiology. He received his medical degree from Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, and his PhD in medical science from Gothenburg University in Gothenburg, Sweden. He previously completed a research fellowship in interventional cardiology at CRF.

CTC Management

Maria Alu Director, Publications Office
Maria is responsible for managing sponsored publications, steering committee programs, and CRF-led academic output, including peer-reviewed manuscripts and podium presentations at national and international congresses. Prior to taking on this role in 2019, she spent over a decade working for Columbia University Irving Medical Center, first as a clinical trial project manager and later as Cardiology Publications Manager at the Columbia Structural Heart & Valve Center. She also has experience as a freelance medical writer and editor and serves as Assistant Deputy Editor for CRF’s flagship journal Structural Heart: The Journal of the Heart Team. Maria completed her undergraduate studies at New York University and earned her MS in Epidemiology from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is a certified medical publications professional (CMPPTM) and remains an active member of both the International Society of Medical Publications Professionals (ISMPP) and the American Medical Writers’ Association (AMWA).

Ovidiu Dressler, MDDirector, Medical Analytics and Programming
Dr. Dressler oversees the SAS programming group. He provides clinical input to study teams for protocol development, statistical analysis plans, table shells, case report forms, and database design. He is also responsible for clinical review and quality control for all deliverables and clinical/programming support for academic requests. Prior to joining CRF, he worked as an associate professor of pathophysiology at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Timisoara, Romania, where he also received his medical degree. During his teaching career, he specialized in the field of basic cardiovascular research and completed his residency in nuclear medicine.

Katharine GarciaDirector, Administration & ECG Core Lab Operations
Katharine joined CRF in 2005 and is responsible for all operational activities in the Administration and Data Entry department, including resource allocation, budget review, and strategic planning. She is responsible for the direct oversight of all incoming media and data entry for all departments under the CRF Clinical Trials Center. Prior to joining CRF, Katharine worked at NYC Physical Therapy and Pain Management, which treated more than 200 patients a day, where she oversaw 15 employees. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Cecilia Jade (CJ) Hart Manager, Data Management
Cecilia is responsible for the daily oversight of the progress and quality of all data management deliverables and activities. Cecilia earned a bachelor of science degree in public health and has been with CRF since July 2007.

Ozgu Issever Director, Biostatistics and Data Management
Ozgu is responsible for managing the statistical and data management functions for sponsored clinical trials. Prior to joining CRF in 2015, she worked as a clinical statistician at Boehringer Ingelheim and taught statistical methods classes during her graduate studies. Ozgu holds a Bachelor of Science degree in statistics from Middle East Technical University in Turkey and a Master of Science degree in statistics from the University of Georgia.

Mitsuaki MatsumuraAssociate Director, Intravascular Imaging, Physiology, and MRI Core Laboratories
Mitsuaki is responsible for managing the activities of the lntravascular Imaging, Physiology, and MRI Core Laboratories. He acts as the point-person for sponsors, reporting project status to physician directors, maintaining proper documents, approving paperwork, assigning work, training new staff, and overseeing trial management from start to end. Prior to joining CRF, he worked as a radiology technician at Japanese Red Cross Kobe Hospital and Hyogo Emergency Medical Center in Hyogo, Japan, and did a fellowship at CRF/Columbia University Medical Center in New York. He is a graduate of Nagoya University School of Health Sciences with a Bachelor of Science degree in radiological technology.

Business Development

Project Management

Ecaterina PrepelitaDirector, Project Management
Ecaterina joined CRF in 2011 and is responsible for a wide-ranging portfolio of projects with the Clinical Trials Center. Previously a manager in the CTC data administration department, she is able to apply that experience and understanding to her project management role by keeping internal and external communications flowing. She tracks progress, benchmarks resources and budgets making sure each project is progressing efficiently and smoothly. Ecaterina earned a combined bachelor's and master’s degree in Philosophy and Political Science from the St. Petersburg State University, Russia.

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