All Alumni - please remember to update your contact information when it changes so we can stay in touch with you.  This is a link to update your contact information - http://dental.columbia.edu/alumni/contactinfo.html.  For "Class", please enter both your year of CDM graduation (if applicable) and your year of postgraduate program graduation.  For example, CDM 2010, Ortho 2013, or Ortho 2012.


OFFICERS 2013-2014

Eleni Michaildis
Tiffany Madison Christensen
George Pliakas
Jay Cho
Vice President
Ronniette Garcia-Leifert
Michael Leifert
Past President



Dear Orthodontic Alumni:

It is with such enthusiasm that I write to you as the Interim Dean of the College of Dental Medicine. These past several months have given me a true appreciation for the College in general but for the Division of Orthodontics especially. Through the extraordinary and dedicated leadership of Sunil Wadhwa, Orthodontics has begun to set new standards for we at Columbia foresee for the future. That vision is one of incredible research along with quality patient care, education and student inquiry. We recognize that in order to lead, programs must establish themselves in offering what many institutions cannot. At the Columbia University Medical Center, those offerings are plentiful. The postdoctoral candidates in our Orthodontic Program have proven themselves to be amongst the best. They benefit from our amazing faculty, not only those within the CDM but throughout the Medical Center.  I extend my sincere well wishes to the Orthodontic alumni, faculty and our incredible students.

Ronnie Myers, D.D.S. ’79, Peds ‘80



This has been an amazing year at Columbia University Division of Orthodontics.  As I approach the half-way mark of my second year as Chairman, I am very proud and excited about these accomplishments and the strong future ahead.

We have had a very successful year academically. Two manuscripts in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and Orthodontic Craniofacial Research and one chapter in Dr. Greene and Dr. Laskin’s Treatment of TMDs have been published.  In addition, we have had 5 graduates and two faculty members (Drs. Jing Chen and Paul Melone) pass the clinical national board exam.  At AAO this year, Dr. Cangialosi received the 2013 Albert H. Ketcham Memorial Award. We have also been extremely successful in the National Match program and were able to attract some of the best residents in the country.  This year’s first year residents include Shamik Desai (Harvard), Grace Sun Ae Hur – Class President (Columbia), Shivani Patel (Georgia), Lyle Schofield – Class President (NYU), Ajay Singh (NYU), Catherine Woo (Columbia) and Katie Yoo (Columbia) . 

I am also pleased to announce that there are several new faculty members in our Division. 
Dr. Wei Yeh, an excellent clinician and researcher, joins us from the University of Tennessee as a full time faculty member.  Additionally, Dr. Jung Kim (Columbia 2012), Dr. Gabriela Hricko, Dr. Robert Marzban, Dr. Rita Taliwal, and Dr. Howard Tichler have joined our volunteer faculty.   I am extremely grateful to our entire part-time faculty and know that I do not tell them enough how much I appreciate all of their time and effort.

The recent New York State Medicaid changes in orthodontic coverage have forced our Division to become more reliant on self-pay patients. In an effort to meet this challenge, we have reduced our resident rate to $3600 for full fixed treatment and $3998 for full Invisalign cases. This reduction has been modestly successful and we have not noticed a vast difference in the resident's patient load. I strongly encourage you to refer any of your patients that have financial hardships to our clinic. 

We had a number of exciting events this spring and it was great to see so many alumni in attendance along with our faculty and residents.  Dr. Robert Boyd (Chairman, Dept. of Orthodontics, University of the Pacific Arthur Dugoni School of Dentistry) presented the Horowitz lecture in March 15 at the Columbia University Club. Additionally, we had our annual alumni reception  at AAO in Philadelphia.  We are continuing to raise money for the Thomas Cangialosi Endowed Assistant Professor Chair.  This will honor Dr. Cangialosi’s phenomenal dedication and contributions to the Division. Additionally, we are always trying to increase funds for the orthodontic gift account.   This account allows us to pay for the residents to attend educational meetings and for their research expenses. I am extremely grateful for all of those who were kind enough to donate last year and hope your generosity will continue.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in attending future events, volunteer to teach in the clinic or have any comments or concerns.  My door is always open, and I look forward to meeting all of you in the upcoming year.

Sunil Wadhwa, D.D.S. ‘98



I am honored to have served as President of The Columbia University Orthodontic Alumni Society.  I had the opportunity to work with a committed and enthusiastic alumni executive board which helped make this year productive and enjoyable.  I am confident that our alumni society is in excellent hands and will continue to thrive for years to come.

At this year’s Annual Thomas J. Cangialosi Orthodontic Alumni Meeting, our orthodontic alumni society was proud to host The Sidney L. Horowitz Lecture held at the Columbia Club in midtown Manhattan on Friday, March 15th.  Our speaker was Dr. Robert L. Boyd, Chairman of the Department of Orthodontics at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.  Dr Boyd’s lecture “Improving the Predictability of Quality Treatment Results with Invisalign” was very well received and I am pleased to report that there were over 100 orthodontists in attendance.  We are grateful to Dr. Boyd for sharing his knowledge and experience with our alumni and residents.  In addition to Dr. Boyd, I would like to thank Mrs. Sidney Horowitz.  It is because of the Sidney Horowitz Fund that we were able to have all of our orthodontic residents attend the meeting at no charge and we were also able to keep costs down for our faculty members.  I would also like to thank Dr. Sunil Wadhwa, Division Director of Orthodontics, for his support and collaborative work with our alumni board to help make this event a great success.  Lastly, I would like to thank Melissa Welsh, Director of Alumni Relations and Continuing Education for her dedication and commitment to Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine and all of its alumni organizations.

During our annual awards ceremony, Dr. Ronnie Myers, Interim Dean, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, introduced and honored Dr. Thomas Cangialosi for his nearly 40 years of service to the Division of Orthodontics and to the College of Dental Medicine.  I had the pleasure of presenting Dr. Paul Melone with our Orthodontic Alumni Society’s Distinguished Service Award.  Dr. Melone is a Past President of our society, an active alumnus and a part-time faculty member in the Department of Orthodontics.  It is because of committed and generous alumni like Dr. Melone that our society continues to prosper.   

I am proud to be an alumnus of the Columbia University Orthodontics program and I feel that by supporting our alumni society and our orthodontic residents, I can give something back to a program that has given so much to me.  While our main focus as an alumni society is on our current residents, a strong alumni group can also benefit the alums, themselves.  Staying connected with Columbia University and building and maintaining a network of colleagues and friends is a benefit, in itself.  I urge you to stay an active and contributory member of our society and to take advantage of our annual alumni meetings not only for excellent continuing education but also for excellent camaraderie. 

Michael F. Leifert, D.D.S., Ortho ‘04


Interim Dean Myers presents award of appreciate to Thomas Cangialosi


Paul Melone receives the Distinguished Alumni Award from Michael Leifert


Michael Leifert, Tom Cangialosi, Sunil Wadhwa, Helen Horowitz, Joe Ciccio, Ronnie Myers


Michael Leifert with speaker Robert Boyd

Paul Melone, Satish Pai, Joe Ruisi, Victor Pardi, Larry Siegel

President-Elect Ronniette Garcia-Leifert presents president’s plaque to husband Michael Leifert



As third year residents preparing for graduation, we have made the most of our final year here at Columbia.  In between finishing cases, preparing for boards, and job hunting we have found time to attend alumni events and orthodontic meetings across the country.  Next year will find us spread to locations such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, but we will never forget the experience we had at Columbia and the bonds we forged here. -Class of 2013


It’s springtime for Columbia Ortho, which means the second years are busy studying for the ABO written exam; wish us luck!  We’ve watched our program undergo significant changes over the last year and a half, including the change of leadership, the increase in treatment modalities practiced in our clinic, new faculty and changes to Medicaid.

Dr. Wadhwa began as Chairman when my class started, and above all he has shown that he is resident-oriented in his approach to leadership.  I think we all feel that he truly cares about our individual experiences in the program and is committed to doing anything he can to improve it.

One of the things I value most in residency is the variety of experiences I have had.  We are encouraged to participate in the full spectrum of CE courses; I have personally attended everything from The Tweed Study Course to Damon Forum to the McLaughlin Program and many others.  We all have cases being treated with Invisalign and Damon, as well as Standard Edgewise and Straightwire and have the opportunity to place our own TADs and access to a soft tissue laser.  The clinic is entirely digital as of last year and now that most of the growing pains are over, the system is working well for us.  We have welcomed quite a few new full-time and volunteer faculty over the last year and a half, and their differing approaches to practice have helped broaden all of our understandings of the field. The program responded quickly and effectively to the reduction in Medicaid cases, and the first years look to be on track to start as many patients as the classes above them.

As we look up to the third years about to depart, we second years are daring to dream about the glimmer of private practice at the end of the tunnel.  - Eric Frank, Co-President Class of 2014


Invisalign, Damon, TADs... no, these weren't only the headlining topics at the AAO. They're also just a few of the latest treatment options available to us at Columbia University. A wonderful aspect of the program is the variety of treatment options available at our disposal, especially as they represent the most up-to-date and talked about tools out there. But don't worry, we're not getting carried away with the flashing lights and advertising of it all, we've got our noses squarely planted in the AAO boards reading list exposing us to the very best research our profession has to offer. We're also focused on taking board quality records for all our new patients, tracing and treatment planning with Dolphin and OrthoCAD and even practicing the art and science of ceph hand tracing once in a while. With the changes to Medicaid's approval process now being directed by managed care plans, we've had a lower number of Medicaid approvals. Luckily, we've adapted quickly to keep our roster numbers up by attracting a greater number of self-pay patients. The increase in self-pay has given us a greater variety of cases and diversity in patient population which we get to treat. I'd have to say, though, our class is most excited about the wonderful part-time faculty we have here at the program. Their perspective and clinical knowledge is critical to our development as professionals. We don't know where we'd be without them. We all look forward to our bright future here at Columbia. Now, if we could only get out of these darn leveling and aligning wires... -Class of 2015  


The Orthodontic Alumni Association would like to thank the following members for

paying their 2013 annual alumni membership dues in a timely fashion. If your name is not on this list and you would like to continue being a member of the Orthodontic Alumni Association please send your dues in for 2013 as soon as possible. 

Sonia Abraham
Michael Apton
Alex Axelrode
Robert Bobic
Edward Boim
Stephen Bosonac
Gerald Brazzo
Won Chaekal
Shiuann-Rong Chen
Morten Chen
Jay Cho
Tiffany Christensen
Joseph Comizio
Joseph Cosentino
Patricia Crespo
George Davis
Ralph Del Priore
Peter Demarest
Jeano DeMartin
Marie Doulaverakis
Michael Duong
Suzanne Duvalsaint
David Elliott
Mark Feinberg
Alexis Fermanis


Robert Ferris
Allen Firestone
Michael Fleming
George Florentine
Jose Fossas
Scott Galkin
Robert Gallois
Lynette Garcia
Robert Goldman
Myron Graff
Greg Greenberg
Robert Griffin
AB Hammond
Joy Hudecz
Susan Huh
Christel Hummert
Kenneth Huwer
James Isaacson
Richard Isaacson
Robert Isaacson
Margot Jaffe
Jonathan Jeon
Victoria Johnson

Brett Kastin
Jeffrey Kim
Lester LeBlanc
Walter Leclerc
Steven Lee
Melvyn M. Leifert
Michael Leifert
Ronniette Leifert
Frank Lu
Sherrie Lu
Steven Luccarelli
Thomas Lundy
Anthony Maresca
Laura Martin
Jesus Martinez-Leon
Edward S. McCallum
Ernest McCallum
JM Medina
Paul Melone
Eleni Michailidis
Thomas Morgenstern
Carlos Munoz
Kenneth Murphy
Scott Nawy
Richard Newman
Bradley Nirenblatt
Judith Okun
Christopher Overcash
Chester Palmieri
Victor Pardi
Margaret Park
Dorothy Pascale
George Pliakas
Michael Rogow
Sean Rooney
Robert Rubin
Joseph Ruisi
Zayda Sanchez
Gail Schupak
Lawrence Siegel
Julia Starobinets
Jerry Steinberg
Frederic Sterritt
Bryan Taylor
Charles Thomas
Howard Tichler
Jason Vives
Dorothy Whalen
Syin-Ying Yu
Bo Yun

The Alumni Association would also like to acknowledge the following members for donating amounts beyond their dues.  Your support is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Lynette Garcia, Myron Graff, Kenneth Huwer, Melvyn Leifert, Ernest McCallum


Columbia University's website is located at www.columbia.edu

The website contains links to all the schools of Columbia University, as well as many useful links for alumni.  As alumni, you have access to the health sciences library, permanent e-mail accounts, search engines, travel programs and more.  Visit the site and take advantage of all it has to offer.


Stella Efstratiadis, Professor Emeritus, died on January 17, 2013. Upon her retirement in 2010, she returned home to Athens, Greece. She was first appointed to the Orthodontic faculty in July 1982 and served in many roles such as program director, talented teacher and mentor to generations of pre- and postdoctoral orthodontics students.  Dr. Efstratiadis conducted research in the biology of tooth movement and contributed significantly to the orthodontic literature.  She was a member of several professional organizations, including the AAO, AADR, AAWD and the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics.  She earned her D.D.S. from the University of Athens, Greece and completed her postdoctoral training in Orthodontics at Harvard University where she also served on the teaching faculty. Dr. Efstratiadis was awarded the D.D.S. from Columbia in 1989.

Dr. Robert Alexander
Dr. Vincent Labruna
Dr. Barry McNair
Dr. Alexander Smith


Executive Board Meetings are held at regular intervals throughout the year.  The general membership is invited to attend and participate in these important meetings. Contact any of the Executive Board Officers, who can provide information regarding the location and time. We need the support and input of alumni to continue our support of academic activities.  In addition, the meetings are usually held in a fine restaurant, which lends a festive air to a pleasant meeting. 


Any recommendations for the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award are welcomed by the Executive Board and will be considered by the Nominating Committee.  Please make your recommendations in writing and send to:

Dr. Michael Leifert, Distinguished Service Award Committee,
30 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011, 212.533.7880



In appreciation for your support, a list of contributing members will be printed in the next newsletter. Send your checks for $100 payable to "Orthodontic Alumni Society, Columbia University" to:

Dr. George Pliakas
Orthodontic Alumni Society of Columbia University
225 Central Park West #1009
New York, NY 10024

To share announcements, awards and other news with fellow alumni please contact the Editor:
Dr. Tiffany Madison-Christensen: tiffanymchristensen@gmail.com