• Donald Edmondson, PhD, MPH

    • Executive Director, Center For Behavioral Cardiovascular Health; Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine

    Dr. Donald Edmondson is an Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine (with tenure) at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC), and the Director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health (CBCH) at CUMC. He has received more than $20M in funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research focused on cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients, examining the development of PTSD due to CVD events and its association with secondary CVD risk after acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and stroke. He is also principal investigator of the Resource and Coordinating Center (RCC) for the NIH Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program, which promotes the application of the experimental medicine approach to identify the underlying mechanisms of behavior change. He received the 2018 American Psychological Association award for Distinguished Scientific Contribution in Early Career, for theoretical and empirical contributions to health psychology for work in CVD patients. Previously, he won the 2014 Neal Miller award for early career contributions to behavioral medicine from the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, for research showing that hospital environment factors and perceived threat during emergency department evaluation influence psychological stress and secondary risk in CVD patients.

    Dr. Edmondson’s primary goal is to support research at CBCH by further developing the collectivist approach to science and the work of research that has been pioneered by CBCH scientists. From grant writing and research design, through team-based research management and budgeting, the CBCH collectivist approach attempts to reflect the actual behaviors of team-based science in budgeting and management decisions. The result is a culture of incentivized collaboration and mentorship, as well as financial security, for CBCH, and the faculty and staff that form its core. CBCH scientists secured a historic number of new NIH research grants in the past year, with tenure track faculty and early career scientists leading the way. Many of those awards represented new directions for CBCH, which had been identified in prior years’ strategic planning (e.g., cardiac arrest survivorship, LGBTQ health, telemedicine). Further, in 2020, junior scientists and staff members led a collective effort to evaluate CBCH’s values and actions with respect to racial and ethnic equity, diversity, and inclusion, which delivered CBCH’s first EDI Mission Statement and a roadmap for aligning CBCH processes with its values.

    Headshot of Donald Edmondson
  • Ian M. Kronish, MD, MPH

    • Associate Director, Center For Behavioral Cardiovascular Health; Florence Irving Associate Professor of Medicine

    Ian Kronish, MD, MPH, is a general internist and Associate Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC). He is Associate Director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health and Co-Director of the Hypertension Center at CUIMC. Dr. Kronish’s research has shown why those at greatest risk for recurrent cardiovascular events are least likely to adhere to prescribed regimens, and that patients’ distress about past and future cardiovascular events undermines health behaviors. As Director of an NIA-funded Roybal Center, he now aims to foster the development of interventions that improve mental health, adherence to recommended health behaviors, and cardiovascular outcomes in patients that have experienced acute cardiovascular events such as acute coronary syndrome and stroke. He has expertise in medication adherence, and has advanced methodologies for adherence measurement. He has been the PI of multiple federally-funded randomized clinical trials. He also has experience in implementation science research, and applies these methods to increase the uptake of evidence-based hypertension guidelines. He is a founding member of New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Digital Health Evaluation initiative, and has led the implementation of remote monitoring programs for hypertension and COVID-19.

  • Tyla Yurgel, MA

    • Director of Research, Administrative and Clinical Operations

    Tyla Yurgel, M.A., is the Director of Research, Administration and Clinical Operations at the Center for Behavioral Health (CBCH). She earned a dual Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Stony Brook University (SUNY) and a Master’s degree from Adelphi University. She is an ACHE (American College of Health Care Executives) member and has attended Harvard School of Public Health Leadership Strategies courses.  

    Tyla joined CBCH in May of 2019 and oversees the administrative, research, clinical and operational management at CBCH. She works closely with the Executive and Associate Directors and core administration to create and implement strategic plans, track and balance center-wide budgets and support CBCH EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) Keeping the Momentum mission. 

    Years before joining CBCH, Tyla worked on research studies that focused on the factors that cause peoples’ blood pressure during everyday life to differ from their blood pressure in the doctor’s office, and the effects that emotions, thoughts, and feelings have on blood pressure. These studies were done in collaboration with CBCH which gave Tyla a unique understanding of the research pace and culture at CBCH prior to joining the team.

    Tyla is passionate about promoting self-growth, supporting and inspiring her team and giving CBCH’ers the tools to be a success.

  • Alexandra Sullivan, MPH

    • Director of Research Implementation

    Alexandra Sullivan, MPH, is the Director of Research Implementation at the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health (CBCH) at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She attended the University at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) and received her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Environmental Health. Alexandra serves as a liaison to the Department of Medicine Human Resources and her role includes oversight of all hiring processes and implementation of grant-funded research projects at CBCH. She works directly with the research managers and staff and assists with various administrative tasks, including regulatory procedures, budget preparation and grant submissions. In former roles at CBCH, she served as a Clinical Research Coordinator, Regulatory Coordinator and Project Manager. Alexandra’s primary research and public health interests include environmental health, environmental and food justice, chronic disease prevention and nutrition.

  • David Hiti

    • Grants Manager
  • Diane Cannone, MPH

    • Regulatory Manager

Project Management

  • Jennifer Mizhquiri-Barbecho

    • Project Manager
  • Gaspar J. Cruz, MHA

    • Project Manager

    Gaspar J. Cruz, MHA, is the Project Manager of the Psychological Predictors of Recovery after Acute Cardiac Events (PACE) Study and the Community & Effort Chair at the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health (CBCH). He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Hunter College (CUNY) and a Master’s in Health Administration from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

    Gaspar joined CBCH in 2017 as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the ReACH Suite of Studies. As a Dominican American, he enjoys connecting with Dominican patients that resemble his family and upbringing. His connection with the Washington Heights community is extended to his relationship with the local nonprofit, Fresh Youth Initiatives. With the full support of CBCH, Gaspar was able to create collaboration with FYI to organize volunteering efforts, fundraisers, book drives, and more.

    CBCH’s culture, research, collaboration, and mentorship are what Gaspar feels make our center great. He is excited every day to mentor his coordinators and assist them in achieving their personal, academic, and professional goals. He is especially passionate about innovation in healthcare and how the cost implications that may impact patients physically, behaviorally, and psychologically.

    Headshot of Gaspar Cruz, MHA
  • Robin Cumella

    • Project Manager

    Robin Cumella leads the research team for the Columbia Roybal Center for Fearless Behavior Change at CBCH, an NIA-funded P30 grant awarded to Dr. Ian Kronish where she coordinates the launch of pilot studies on a rapid-cycle (annual) timeline. She attended the College of the Holy Cross, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Asian Studies after studying Mandarin for 8 years. Robin joined CBCH in 2018 and has conducted research on a wide array of behavioral intervention studies including heart rate variability biofeedback training, chronotherapy, and interoceptive exposure with counseling, among others. She is passionate about improving patient outcomes following distressing events.