Program Details

General Details

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

6:00-8:00PM EST


This program will be held in a virtual format

Debate #1

Should living donor transplantation be offered to patients with liver cancer that exceeds eligibility limits for priority on the deceased donor waiting list?

Mount Sinai PRO
Westchester CON

Debate #2

Is NASH with advanced fibrosis an indicator for weight loss surgery?

NY Presbyterian CON
Montefiore PRO

EMCEE: Nadia Ovchinsky, MD, MBA

Nadia Ovchinsky

Nadia Ovchinsky, MD, MBA is the Director of Pediatric Hepatology, Medical Director of Pediatric Liver Transplantation, and an Associated Professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine – Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and at Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown (NJ).  She trained in Pediatrics, Pediatric Gastroenterology, and Pediatric Hepatology at Columbia University Medical Center – Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian. Dr. Ovchinsky’s research interests involve improving quality and enhancing the delivery care for children with chronic liver disease, optimizing long-term outcomes of pediatric liver transplantation, as well as advancing therapies for children with cholestatic liver disorders. In addition to Dr. Ovchinsky’s role as a clinician, teacher, and researcher, she is actively involved in public policy and advocacy efforts to benefit children with liver disease. She serves in leadership positions with professional societies such as the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and the American Liver Foundation. Dr. Ovchinsky has been recognized with numerous academic and humanism in medicine awards, as well as teaching awards for her commitment and dedication to the education of medical students, residents, and fellows.

Dr. Ovchinsky has a strong connection to the American Liver Foundation. She has been the team organizer and co-captain at the Liver Life Walk in NY and NJ, speaker at the events such as Re-birthday, Ask the Experts, and Pediatric Education Day. She serves on the Executive Committee of Greater NY Medical Advisory Council and on Professional Education Subcommittee of the National Medical Advisory Council of the American Liver Foundation. When she has time away from her clinical and academic work, Dr. Ovchinsky enjoys traveling the world with her husband and two daughters, running, hiking, and skiing.


Ira Jacobson, MD

The primary source of gratification in my professional life is patient care. I enjoy meeting my patients and their families and hearing about their lives, and I pride myself on spending as much time with my patients as they need. While I focus on their specific conditions, I do so in the broad context of their overall health.

I devote much of my clinical time caring for people who have liver disease, including viral hepatitis and other liver conditions. For patients who require liver transplantation, I work closely with our surgeons at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute. I am also actively involved in the broader specialty of gastroenterology and gastrointestinal endoscopy, including upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and colonoscopy. As the director of hepatology at NYU Langone Health, I aim to expand and enhance the clinical, research, and educational programs in liver disease and mentor the exceptional group of hepatologists here. It’s an honor to work with such a wonderful hepatology team and to provide patient care alongside world-class experts in medicine, surgery, pathology, radiology, oncology, and other specialties.

For more than 30 years, I have participated in hundreds of clinical trials on antiviral therapy for viral hepatitis, including hepatitis B and C, and I have also led a number of them. I have authored and coauthored more than 250 scientific papers, chapters, and reviews on these and other topics. I continue to be involved in studies on viral hepatitis, and am also involved in studies examining treatments for other liver diseases, such as fatty liver disease and primary biliary cholangitis.
I am a fellow of several major organizations, including the American College of Physicians, the American Gastroenterological Association, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, and the American College of Gastroenterology, and a member of the European Association for the Study of the Liver. Recently, I was honored to be elected to a fellowship at the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom. I am a past president of the New York Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and the New York Gastroenterological Association.

Melissa Palmer, MD

Melissa Palmer, MD is an internationally renowned Hepatologist and an experienced biotech/pharma executive. She is currently CEO Liver Consulting LLC, where she provides insight to the biotech and pharmaceutical industry fostering a path forward for the development of innovative medications for liver disease with high unmet medical need. Since 1991 has served as a consultant to > 40 biotech and pharma companies in numerous capacities as a liver disease expert. Dr. Palmer has served on the medical advisory committee of the Greater New York chapter of ALF since 1991. Dr. Palmer’s bestselling book “Dr. Melissa Palmer’s Guide to Hepatitis and Liver Disease” was used as a primer for educating both patient ‘s and healthcare practitioners by the national ALF.
Dr. Palmer was in a solo practice devoted to treating and evaluating patients with NASH, HCV and other liver diseases until 2009 at which time she became a Clinical Professor at NYU Langone and Director of Hepatology at NYU Langone medical center at Plainview. Dr. Palmer left NYU Langone to become Senior Vice President of Clinical Research and Head of Hepatology at Kadmon Corporation developing their NASH other liver disease programs. Dr. Palmer joined Shire in 2015 to run their NASH program and eventually became Global Development Lead of Hepatology in addition to forming and leading the liver safety group. Shire was acquired by Takeda in 2019 and Dr. Palmer was recruited by Takeda, one of the ten largest pharmaceutical company worldwide Head of Liver Disease Development. Dr. Palmer graduated from Columbia University and was trained in Hepatology (as well as medical school) at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Since 1987, she has been the primary or senior author of numerous manuscripts related to Hepatology which have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Dave Frank

David Frank is the author of Impact Event and the founder of, a blog dedicated to raising awareness of the deadly liver disease NASH. He serves on the Executive Committee for the Greater New York Board of Directors of the American Liver Foundation. He has worked in the tedium of the financial markets for over 15 years while biding his time to pursue his lifelong passion of writing. He’s also a tech geek, gamer, advocate, landlord, tinkerer, husband, and father. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

Mount Sinai Team


Mount Sinai MENTOR

The Henry Kaufmann Professor of Surgery
Director of Liver Surgery
Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute
The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York

Dr. Schwartz graduated from Jefferson Medical College AOA in 1976. After a year of rotating internship he joined the National Health Service Corps for three years as a general practitioner in rural Virginia. Dr. Schwartz came to Mount Sinai in 1981, completed residencies in general and vascular surgery, and joined the faculty in 1987. He worked with Charles Miller, MD to establish the Mount Sinai Liver Transplant Program in 1988, and since then has devoted his career to hepatobiliary surgery and transplantation. Over the years he has served as Director of Pediatric and Adult Liver Transplantation, and more recently has focused on liver cancer. Dr. Schwartz is currently the Clinical Director of the Mount Sinai Liver Cancer Program. Together with Research Director Josep Llovet MD, Dr Schwartz has led the collaborative effort that has put Mount Sinai at the forefront world-wide in liver cancer clinical care and clinical/translational research. Dr Schwartz has been funded by the NIH through a K24 Career Development Award entitled, “Systematic Integration of Patient-Oriented Research into the Clinical Pathway for Hepatocellular Carcinoma”. He has published over 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals, as well as 21 book chapters. Dr. Schwartz is an international authority on hepatic resection and transplantation for liver cancer, a subject about which he lectures frequently both in the U.S. and around the world.


Mount Sinai MENTOR

Augusto Villanueva is Assistant Professor in the Liver Cancer Program (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York). He received his medical degree from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), and he is board certified in Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Spain). In 2013, we jointed the Institute of Liver Studies of King’s College Hospital in London as Senior Lecturer and Consultant Hepatologist where he was co-leading the HCC Clinic and Multidisciplinary Tumor Board. In 2014 he was recruited at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with the goal of developing novel minimally invasive biomarkers using liquid biopsy and studying the impact of intratumor heterogeneity in precision medicine for liver cancer. He has more than 120 publications (>11,000 citations, H-index 47) including articles in N Engl J Med, Nat Genet, Nat Biotech, Nat Commun, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, J Hepatol, J Clin Invest, Oncogene, etc. He wrote more than 15 book chapters and edited a book on resistance to targeted therapies in HCC. He served as Associate Editor for J Hepatol and Liver Cancer and he is the current Executive Secretary of the International Liver Cancer Association.


Mount Sinai

After graduating from Charité – University in Berlin/Germany and obtaining his doctorate at Northwestern University, Philipp Haber has been trained in general and transplant surgery at Charité. With a clinical focus on primary liver tumors, Philipp was awarded the Fellowship grant of the German Research Foundation and is currently working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mount Sinai Liver Cancer Program in the lab of Prof. Josep Llovet. Here, he works primarily on developing biomarkers, capable of identifying potential responders to Immunotherapy.

NY Presbyterian Team

Robert S. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH

NY Presbyterian MENTOR

Dr. Robert S. Brown, Jr. is the Gladys and Roland Harriman Professor of Medicine and Clinical Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, as well as Vice Chair for Mentorship and Academic Development for the Department of Medicine. Dr. Brown is the co-founder and Director of the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He has been part of the liver transplant effort at Weill Cornell since 1999 and joined the faculty full-time in 2015. The liver transplant program has the best outcomes and among the largest volume in the region and is a pioneer in laparoscopic living liver donation.  Dr. Brown is heavily involved in clinical research on viral hepatitis, alcohol-related liver disease, and liver transplantation. He received his B.A. from Harvard College, M.D. from New York University, and his M.P.H. from the Graduate School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. He completed his internship in medicine at Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and a fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of California, San Francisco. An internationally recognized expert in liver disease and liver transplantation, he has co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and mentored many trainees and junior faculty. He is the incoming Editor-in-Chief of Liver Transplantation, an Associate Editor for Hepatology, and published a book, Common Liver Diseases and Transplantation: An Algorithmic Approach to Work-up and Management. Dr. Brown is the recipient of a Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Transplant Physicians, the Senior Attending Teacher Award from Columbia University Medical Center, and the American Liver Foundation New York Chapter’s Physician of the Year.

Alyson Kaplan, MD

NY Presbyterian

Hometown: Syosset, NY
Undergrad: Princeton University
MD: New York University School of Medicine
Residency: Massachusetts General Hospital
Hobbies: Hiking, running, indie folk music, traveling, cheap eats
Clinical/Research Interests: Hepatology, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), alcohol-related liver disease, HIV and liver disease, palliative care in transplant

Adam Buckholz, MD

NY Presbyterian

Fellow in Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Adam Buckholz graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina, before matriculating to the University of Virginia for medical school, from which he graduated in 2016. He then completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York and remained on as a gastroenterology fellow. His main research interests are in social determinants of health and preventative health, especially as they pertain to fibrosis and compensated cirrhosis. He is also pursuing a Masters in Health Policy and Economics at Cornell.

Montefiore Medical Center Albert Einstein College of Medicine Team

Samuel Sigal, MD

Montefiore Medical Center Albert Einstein College of Medicine MENTOR

Dr. Sigal graduated from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. After residencies in pathology at the University of Pennsylvania and medicine at St. Luke’s Hospital, he completed fellowships in Gastroenterology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Hepatology at Mount Sinai. He is currently Professor of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director of Clinical Hepatology at the Moses Division of the Montefiore Medical Center. His research includes the treatment of viral hepatitis, hepatitis B of West Africa, and the management of complications of end-stage liver disease, including hepatorenal syndrome, hepatic encephalopathy, hyponatremia, and ascites.

Victor Pal, MD

Montefiore Medical Center Albert Einstein College of Medicine

I was born in raised in Illinois. I did undergraduate, medical school, and Internal Medicine residency at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Prior to starting Transplant Hepatology fellowship at Montefiore I was faculty and Associate Program Director in the Department of Internal Medicine at Texas Tech University.

Westchester Medical Center Team


David Wolf

Westchester Medical Center MENTOR

David C. Wolf, MD, is a Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary Diseases at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY. Previously, he served on the faculties at the University of Cincinnati and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. In 1996, he established the Liver Transplant Program at Westchester Medical Center, where he continues to serve as its Medical Director.
Dr. Wolf received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York and a clinical and research fellowship in Gastroenterology-Hepatology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Wolf is a board certified Internist, Gastroenterologist, and Transplant Hepatologist. He has published more than one hundred papers and abstracts on topics including autoimmune hepatitis, portal hypertension, liver cancer and the economics of liver transplant.

Sarah Olivier, MD

Westchester Medical Center

2nd year gastroenterology fellow

Born and Raised in Dominican Republic, I moved to New York for residency, after which I relocated to the greatest small city in America, New Haven, Connecticut to practice outpatient internal medicine as well as participated in motility research with the Digestive Disease department at Yale University , pursuing my goal of becoming a gastroenterologist. In 2018 I joined Westchester medical center Gastroenterology fellowship. I’m working towards becoming a well rounded specialist with interests in hepatology and motility.
Outside of work I enjoy music,theater, movies and cooking. I achieved a beginner level in Cello and enjoy going to concerts both classical and popular music.
I’m an avid cook and I’m always trying to recreate healthier versions of comfort foods. I have a deep interest in fitness , mindfulness ,often advocating for my co-fellows and other team members well being.

Medical School: Universidad Iberoamericana de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Residency: Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center.