Medical Advisory Panel

Tessa Cigler, MD, Medical Director

Dr. Cigler is a medical oncologist whose work is dedicated to the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. She is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Breast Center and serves an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine. She is Board Certified in Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine. As a believer in the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer care, Dr. Cigler meets weekly with breast surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, genetic counselors and other medical oncologists to ensure that her patients receive well-coordinated and optimal care.
Dr. Cigler pays careful attention to the short and long term effects of diagnosis and treatment on physical and emotional well-being. She provides personalized and comprehensive care, addressing issues such as diet, exercise, fatigue, anxiety, bone health, and hormone mediated symptoms. For younger patients, options for fertility preservation are carefully considered as the treatment plan is formulated. Women are supported both during treatment and beyond, when attention shifts to issues of breast cancer survivorship. Dr. Cigler treats all stages of breast cancer and also counsels high-risk women on options for breast cancer prevention.

Dr. Cigler is an active clinical investigator. As a member of the Weill Cornell Breast Center research team, she heads several clinical trials designed to provide her patients with access to the newest and most promising options for therapy. Her collaborative research focuses on ways to gain a better understanding of breast cancer pathogenesis and side effects of therapy, with the overall goal of improving breast cancer treatment and prevention.

Dr. Cigler teaches second year medical students at the Weill Cornell medical college and mentors medical students and fellows on the wards. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the New York Metropolitan Breast Cancer Group. She is the author of several journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Cigler received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1996. She received her medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in 2001. She also holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in Medical Oncology and Hematology at the Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center. Dr. Cigler joined the Cornell faculty in August 2007 as a medical oncologist and clinical investigator at the Weill Cornell Breast Center.

Valerie Ablaza, MD

Dr. Ablaza was recently inducted as President of The New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons. She is the first female to hold the rank of President of the state society in the modern era. She is a partner and the Corporate Vice President of The Plastic Surgery Group. She is unique in her profession, noting that just one out of 10 plastic surgeons are women. “I know that my perspective and sensitivities are different than my male colleagues,” she says. “Of course, there are things that my female patients will tell me that they would never tell a man, but surprisingly, many men also prefer the insight and perspective of a female plastic surgeon.”

Dr. Valerie Ablaza is board certified by The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and is a Fellow of The American College of Surgeons. She is also a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Phi Beta Kappa and the Alpha Epsilon Delta honor society. She received her medical degree from The Medical College of Pennsylvania, completed her residency in plastic surgery at The New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center, and finished her training with a fellowship in breast and aesthetic surgery in Nashville, Tennessee, with the internationally renowned plastic surgeon G. Patrick Maxwell.

Dr. Valerie Ablaza is currently writing a blog for New Jersey Health and Beauty Magazine on a bi-weekly basis on various topics of plastic surgery. She has frequently been quoted on internet websites including,, and and she has been featured on CN8 One on One with Steve Adubato. She was also a guest author of”Fifty Things To Do When You Turn Fifty”, a book about self-help and personal growth. She has had numerous articles published in medical journals, written chapters for plastic surgery and orthopedic textbooks.

Dr. Ablaza has donated her time and expertise to Healing the Children, an international charity that provides reconstructive surgery to children from low-income communities and third-world countries. She has been an active participant with leadership roles in plastic surgical societies on the state and local level and sits on the executive committee of the NJ Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Richard Crane, MD

Dr. Richard Crane is Board-Certified in Rheumatology and Internal Medicine. Dr. Crane attended Duke University for his undergraduate studies. He graduated from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine completing his internal medicine residency and his rheumatology fellowship there as well. He is still affiliated with the Mount Sinai Medical Center and Healthcare Systems where he is involved with the rheumatology fellowship program. He is also a member of New York County Medical Society and American College of Rheumatology. Dr. Crane has been recognized by Castle Connolly as one of New York City/ Metro Area’s Top Doctors from 2001 through present.

Susan Drossman, MD

Dr. Susan R. Drossman is a breast radiologist in private practice in New York City, specializing in imaging guided biopsies. She graduated magna cum laude from The University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Biological Basis of Behavior and received her M.D. with Honors from the Mount Sinai Medical School. Dr. Drossman did her internship at NYU/Bellevue Medical Center, her radiology residency at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, and a fellowship in breast imaging at Memorial Sloan Kettering. She served as the Director of Breast Imaging at Mount Sinai Medical Center from 1994-1999 and started their Interventional Breast Imaging program. She joined Schaffer, Schonholz & Drossman LLP, a women’s imaging private practice in New York City, in 1999. Dr. Drossman is also a member of the faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she has served for more than 20 years.

She often describes her job as a hybrid between a breast surgeon and a radiologist, performing breast biopsies using imaging guidance. She has lectured all over the United States about the benefits of early detection using mammography and ultrasound, and co-authored a textbook on correlating pathology and breast imaging in evaluating breast core biopsy specimens. She has appeared on numerous news and talk shows, including The Today Show, The CBS Evening News, Good Day New York and The Meredith Vieira Show, as an expert in breast imaging.

Dr. Drossman is an active member of many breast cancer organizations and advisory boards including, The Breast Health Advisory Board at Mount Sinai Hospital and Ticked Pink a division of Susan G. Komen, Greater New York Chapter. She serves on the Board of Overseers of the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and as a member of the Trustees Council of Penn Women. She also serves on the Board of Trustees at Riverdale Country School in Bronx, NY. Dr. Drossman lives in New York City with her husband, Adam Sokoloff, an investment banker, and their three children.

Robert Fafalak, MD

Dr. Fafalak is a Board-Certified Physician Specializing in Internal Medicine & Rheumatology in NYC’s West Village. He received his undergraduate from Union College in 1983. He attended medical school at New York Medical College, Valhalla in 1987. He was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society in 1987. Dr. Fafalak is affiliated with NYU, Beth Israel and Mount Sinai Hospitals. He completed his training at the Hospital for Special Surgery in 1990.

Fredrick Friedman, MD

Dr. Fredrick Friedman received his Bachelor’s of Arts cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his medical doctorate from SUNY Downstate Medical Center where he was awarded the Ronge Prize for excellence in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Upon completion of his Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, he joined the full-time faculty where he has served as the Director of Medical Student Education and Director of Obstetrics.

He maintains a busy clinical practice in general obstetrics and gynecology, and plays an active role in the education of medical students and residents. He is currently an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is the Director of Resident Research, Director of Appointments and Promotions, and Director of The Division of Generalists. In addition, Dr. Friedman was recently appointed Vice Chair of Academic Affairs for the Mount Sinai Network Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

He has received the National CREOG Award for Resident Education as well as several other accolades for his educational and clinical efforts. He has several peer-reviewed publications and has authored textbook chapters concerning both Obstetrical and Gynecologic topics.

Claudia Holland, MD

Dr. Claudia Holland joined the faculty at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in 1986, where she built a thriving private practice that encompasses obstetrics, including preconception counseling, pregnancy and post-partum care and gynecology services from adolescence through menopause. Her academic responsibilities include medical student and resident education, supervision of Labor & Delivery, and mentoring residents in clinical patient care. For many years, she was the OB/GYN Director of the multi-specialty Women’s Center for Health. In 2004, she joined the faculty of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt (now Mount Sinai-Roosevelt) Hospital Center. Dr. Holland is a Board Certified solo practitioner in a small group of caring Obstetrician / Gynecologists. Dr. Holland graduated from Harvard University and attended Mount Sinai School of Medicine for Medical School.

Anne Moore, MD

Dr. Anne Moore is the Medical Director of the Weill Cornell Breast Center. She is Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Attending Physician at The New York Presbyterian Hospital. Although her primary interest is patient care, she is involved in teaching and research both at the national and local level. Her laboratory research on platelets and endothelial cells was conducted at Weill Cornell Medical College with Dr. Ralph L. Nachman. Her current clinical research involves breast cancer clinical trials and studies of side effects of medications commonly used in breast cancer.

She served as a Director of the American Board of Internal Medicine and is an active member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology where she is editor of the recent publication, ASCO-SEP II. In New York, she is a trustee of the New York Community Trust as well as a former trustee of The New York Academy of Medicine and past president of The New York Metropolitan Breast Cancer Group, Inc.

She is listed among “The Best Doctors” by American Health magazine and by New York magazine. She has been recognized by SHARE (Self-Help for Women with Breast Cancer), by JALBCA (Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alliance), and by the Susan G. Komen Foundation for her work in breast cancer. She was honored by The Artists for Breast Cancer Survival with a concert at Carnegie Hall. The Healthcare Chaplaincy recognized her and her husband, Dr. Arnold L. Lisio with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. A graduate of Smith College and recipient of the alumna Gold Medal, she received her medical degree from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and her post-graduate training at The New York Hospital.

Laura Pancucci, LCSW

Laura Pancucci, LCSW, maintains a full-time private practice in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. She received her masters degree from New York University School of Social Work and post-graduate studies at New York University and The Stephen Mitchell Center for Relational Studies. Laura is a member of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work.

Elizabeth Poynor, MD

Elizabeth Poynor, MD, PhD, FACOG is a gynecologic oncologist and advanced pelvic surgeon. After completing advanced surgical training in gynecology, gynecologic oncology and advanced pelvic surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Poynor graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1984. She then graduated from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1988 and completed her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. Dr. Poynor completed her fellowship in gynecologic oncology in 1995 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and remained on the surgical attending staff until July of 2006. While developing and maintaining a busy surgical practice as an Assistant Attending Surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cornell Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences, she also obtained a PhD in cell biology and genetics from Cornell. Dr. Poynor is Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology. In June 2006, she established her private practice in gynecologic oncology and pelvic surgery in NYC.

Cynthia Shechter, OT

Cynthia Shechter is the owner and Director of Rehabilitation at ShechterCare. She earned her masters degree in occupational therapy at New York University. Her clinical practice is devoted to breast cancer and lymphedema rehabilitation as well as hand/upper extremity therapy. Her main focus is educating patients on lymphedema management and enabling them to return to their regular lifestyle. Cynthia is dedicated to increasing the awareness of the medical community on the benefits of rehabilitation following breast cancer surgery.

Norman Sussman, MD

Dr. Sussman is a Professor of Psychiatry at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and Medical Director for the Stephen & Alexandra Cohen Military Family Clinic. A graduate of Queens College in New York, Dr. Sussman obtained a Master of Public Administration degree from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he majored in health care administration. He received his M.D. from New York Medical College and completed his residency in psychiatry at Metropolitan Hospital and Westchester County Medical Center. Dr. Sussman joined the faculty at NYU School of Medicine in 1980 and served both as director of inpatient psychiatry at Tisch Hospital and director of residency training in psychiatry.

Dr. Sussman has been active in medical education for his entire career and developed one of the first university-based review courses in general psychiatry and in psychopharmacology. He has developed a national reputation in the continuing education of both psychiatric and non-psychiatric physicians in the rapidly changing field of psychopharmacology.

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