Staff Bios

Thomas Riles, MD

Executive Director

Dr. Riles has been a practicing vascular surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center since 1977. During his career at NYU Langone Medical Center, he has served as Chief of Vascular Surgery and Chairman of the Department of Surgery. Currently, he is the Associate Dean for Medical Education and Technology and the Frank C. Spencer Professor of Surgery. Dr. Riles has published more than 250 medical articles and textbook chapters and has served as President of the American Association for Vascular Surgery. Dr. Riles holds degrees from Stanford University (BA) and Baylor College of Medicine (MD).

Daniel M. Lugassy, MD

Medical Director

Dr. Lugassy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, he obtained his medical degree from State University of New York SUNY Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn, NY. After finishing a residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, MD he completed a fellowship in Medical Toxicology at the NYU School of Medicine/New York City Poison Control Center. He has stayed on to be part of the NYU Emergency Medicine faculty since 2010, working clinically in the emergency departments of NYU-Langone Medical Center, Bellevue Hospital, the Manhattan Veteran’s Administration Hospital and is consultant to the New York City Poison Control Center.

Grace Ng, MS, CNM, RN

Nursing Director

Ms. Ng has been an RN and certified nurse-midwife since 1998. During her career in healthcare, she previously served as a nurse-midwife at the Bellevue-Gouveneur Midwifery Service; an inpatient obstetrics RN at NYU Langone Medical Center; an adjunct faculty member at NYU College of Nursing; and a nurse educator for obstetrics at NYU Langone Medical Center; as well as an associate faculty member at the Center for Medical Simulation in Boston. She holds degrees from Cornell University (BS), Columbia University (BS, MS), as well as a Post-Master’s Advanced Certificate in Nursing Education from the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing at CUNY, with a focus on simulation education. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Nursing at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Joanne Choi, MPH

Administrative Director

Ms. Choi has more than 10 years’ administration experience in healthcare institutions in clinical programs including cardiology, heart transplant / ventricular assist devices, and endoscopy. She started her career at Columbia University Medical Center while obtaining her MPH in Health Policy & Management at the university’s Mailman School of Public Health. Her expertise revolves around the design, analysis, and implementation of minor and major program and business strategies, and facilities projects.

Sondra Zabar, MD


Sondra Zabar, MD is the Director of the Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Training Program at the NYU School of Medicine. She is the Director of the Program for Medical Education Innovations and Research (PrMEIR), established in 2006 with the mission of advancing medical education scholarship at NYU and instituting best practices for patient-centered, evidence-based medical education through research, faculty development, and internal grants program.

Adina Kalet, MD, MPH


Adina Kalet, MD, MPH, is a Professor of Medicine and Surgery at the New York University School of Medicine and is the Co-Director of the Program on Medical Education Innovation and Research (PrMEIR), whose mission is to advance medical education scholarship and to institute best practices for patient-centered, evidence-based medical education. PrMEIR supports research and practice that strengthen the links between a physician’s training and patient health and well-being. Dr. Kalet leads PrMEIR’s Research on Medical Education Outcomes (ROMEO) unit, a group of dedicated cross-disciplinary faculty researchers seeking to link education and health services research and studying how educational interventions lead to long-term outcomes in learners and patients.

Jeffrey A. Manko MD

Director for Graduate Medical Education


Deepak Pradhan, MD, FCCP

Faculty Educator

Dr Pradhan is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at NYU School of Medicine. He completed his B.S. at University of Delaware, his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College, Residency in Internal Medicine at Brown University in Providence, and Fellowship in Pulmonary/Critical Care at NYU School of Medicine. He is currently Associate Section Chief at Tisch Hospital, NYULMC, and Assistant Program Director for the NYU Pulmonary/Critical Care Fellowship. His focus is on bedside ultrasound, procedural skills, simulation, and education.

Bishoy Zakhary

Course Director, NYSIM Procedure Prep Course

Dr Zakhary is a clinical instructor of medicine. He completed medical school training at Creighton University. Post-graduate training was at NYU where he completed a Pulmonary and Critical Care fellowship including ne year as a simulation fellow. Areas of interest include respiratory failure and ECMO and using simulation for ECMO training.

Tom Vongbandith

Senior Systems Analyst

Mr. Vongbandith has more than 15 years’ experience in the IT industry. At NYSIM he supports all technical aspects of the center, including the A/V equipment used for recording and reviewing simulation sessions; all computerized simulators; and the online educational management system. He started his career specializing in software training and support for companies in the retail industry, and has worked as a systems consultant for Avaya Communications, formerly part of Lucent Technologies. Prior to joining NYSIM, he worked as an IT customer support specialist for the Department of Surgery at New York University School of Medicine.

Gene Mamaril

IT Systems Analyst 1

Mr. Mamaril graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has 3 years of experience in designing smart homes with theaters, media rooms, distributed video and music systems, and advanced automation controls for security and lighting. He also has 6 years of experience in medical simulation systems from Education Management Solutions. During these 6 years, he has designed, installed, and serviced the A/V behind the online component of these systems nationally and internationally. As an analyst at NYSIM, he is part of a team that supports the technology of the center, which include A/V, the control system, and advanced patient simulators.

Virginia Drda

Simulation Faciitator

Ms. Drda has more than 14 years’ experience merging the art of theatre with the art of medicine. At NYSIM, she is facilitator of NYSIM’s “standardized patients” program—in which trained actors play the roles of patients, a technique used to train medical students how to enhance their communication and listening skills when meeting with patients. Ms. Drda acted, directed, and managed educational theatre programs with Kaiser Permanente Health Maintenance Organization, where she co-wrote and developed live interactive encounters portraying both patients and medical professionals. She has also acted in an array of standardized patient and health care provider roles in the New York City area. She served as Associate Program Manager with the Clinical Competence Center of New York (C3NY), for 6 years before coming to NYSIM.

Meg Anderson

Coordinator for NYU Undergraduate Medical Education

Ms. Anderson’s focus at NYSIM is on standardized patients programs including objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs).
A former professional actor turned trainer, she has performed and facilitated a wide variety of simulation training sessions for clients across a range of fields, including Fortune 100 financial institutions, major law firms, and top-tier retailers. She has served as a consultant for the School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and as a teaching associate at the Clinical Competence Center of New York (C3NY), training hundreds of medical students and health care professionals in advanced communication skills.
Ms. Anderson holds a degree in Communication and Conflict Mediation from the City University of New York (BA).

Nicole Lopez

Simulation Operations Specialist

Nicole Lopez is a simulation facilitator with NYSIM. In this role, Nicole supports and coordinates the delivery of simulation activity. She has more than 10 years of clinical experience as a medical assistant. Before joining NYSIM in 2013, Nicole worked for a diverse range of organizations including NYU’s vascular surgery department, gynecological, and infertility services. She holds certifications for medical assistant and surgical technologist. Her varied background in surgical medical assisting provided the perfect foundation for simulation facilitator.

Alexandra Mack

Simulation Operations Specialist


William Islan

Simulation Operations Specialist


Crysandy Marte

Simulation Operations Specialist


Pedro Sulzona

Simulation Administrative Coordinator

Pedro Sulzona has been an employee with NYU Langone Medical Center since 2007. During his time at NYU he has served as a Program Coordinator for the Department of Organizational Development and Learning (ODL) where he helped on board over 100 employees a month and oversaw all aspects of the New Beginnings Programs. In 2011 he transferred to NYSIM and started as the Administrative Assistant. Currently, he is the Simulation Administrative Coordinator and serves as the point person for the NYSIM Symposiums, Instructor Courses, Fellowship Program, and Visiting Professors/Grand Rounds Workshops.

Maria Olivero

Administrative Assistant

Maria Olivero, B.S. (IONA College) has 20+ years of administrative experience. She joined the Simulation Center in December 2016 as an administrative assistant. She began her career at NYULMC Department of Radiology where she supported 3 Vice Chairs. She also worked in the Office of the Dean and CEO supporting the Chief of Staff, the Dean and CEO and the Vice President for Policy and Administration.