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Research and Clinical Staff

Below are profiles of staff members who play key roles in the administration of research studies and clinical programs at the Division of Gender, Sexuality, and Health and the HIV Center.




Renato Barucco, M.S. is the Coordinator of the Program for the Study of LGBT Health in the, Division of Gender, Sexuality, & Health, NYS Psychiatric Institute / Columbia University Department of Psychiatry with the Columbia University School of Nursing. He is a master's-level psychologist and public health advocate.

Renato has extensive experience implementing and managing LGBT health programs, particularly transgender health programs, in underserved New York City neighborhoods. His expertise include development of HIV/AIDS education and cultural competency training curricula.


Renato has presented at national and international conferences including The International Conference on AIDS and The National Transgender Health Summit. He has authored articles about sexual health for The Advocate, The Huffington Post and The New York Times. He was the recipient of the 2013 George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services Geiger Gibson Emerging Leader award.


Contact: 646-774-6977;



Amelia Bucek, M.P.H. is a Research Project Director at the HIV Center, working with Claude A. Mellins, Ph.D. on Project CASAH, a prospective cohort study of perinatally HIV-infected, and HIV-exposed, but uninfected youth. As the cohort transitions to young adulthood, the study examines their behavioral health outcomes and pathways of risk and resilience. Prior to working at the HIV Center, Amelia worked on family planning research projects at the Guttmacher Institute and managed an employment program that connected women to careers in construction and other nontraditional fields.  


Contact: 646-774-6906;


Kusunoki, Y, Bucek, A. Race and other sociodemographic differences in sex and contraceptive use among women. Paper presented at annual meeting of Population Association of America 2014, Boston, MA.

Frost, JJ, Gold, RB, Bucek, A. Specialized family planning clinics in the United States: Why women choose them and their role in meeting women’s health care needs. Women’s Health Issues 2012; 22(6): e519-e525.



Timothy Frasca, M.P.H. is a Research Project Manager at the HIV Center, directing a Bronx-based study of ways to improve point-of-care screening and detection of acute HIV infection directed by Principal Investigator Robert H. Remien, Ph.D. He also collaborates with Alex Carballo-Diéguez, Ph.D., on behavioral aspects of rectal microbicide trials being conducted in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston and San Juan and recently concluded work on a study of home HIV testing for partner screening. He is also a member of the New York metro area Ryan White Planning Council’s Needs Assessment Subcommittee for the period 2014-17.


Mr. Frasca worked as a journalist for 25 years in Washington, D.C. and South America where he filed reports to over 80 print and broadcast news organizations including National Public Radio, The Independent (London) and the BBC. He co-founded the first HIV prevention and services organization in Chile and served as its executive director for seven years. He is the author of the book AIDS in Latin America (2005) and co-editor of two Spanish-language anthologies on sexual health and HIV. He previously directed the Deep South Project at the New York-based Latino Commission on AIDS to improve HIV prevention and care services among Hispanic immigrants living in the southeastern U.S.  


Contact: 646-774-6969;


Selected Publications:

Frasca, T, Balan I, Ibitoye M, Valladares J, Dolezal C, Carballo-Diéguez A. Attitude and behavior changes among gay and bisexual men after use of rapid home HIV tests to screen sexual partners. AIDS and Behavior 2013; AIDS & Behavior 2014, 18(5):950–95.


Frasca T, Dowsett GW, Carballo-Diéguez A. The ethics of barebacking: Implications of gay men's concepts of right and wrong in the context of HIV. International Journal of Sexual Health 2013; 25(3): 198-212.


Carballo-Diéguez A, Frasca T, Balan I, Ibitoye M, Dolezal C: Use of a rapid HIV home test prevents HIV exposure in a high risk sample of men who have sex with men. AIDS and Behavior 2012;16(7):1753-1760.


Frasca T, Ventuneac A, Balan I, Carballo-Dieguez A. "Inner Contradictions Among Men Who Bareback", Qualitative Health Research. 22(7): 946-56.


‘“Know Your Status”: Male Gender Construction in the Age of Routine HIV Testing’. Chapter in Gender and AIDS: Critical Perspectives from the Developing World, Boesten & Poku, eds. Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2009.

‘Lessons from the Latin American AIDS Epidemic’ in Pope C, White RT & Malow R, (eds.) HIV/AIDS: Global Frontiers in Prevention/Intervention. New York: Routledge, 2009


Shaping the New Reponse: HIV/AIDS among Latinos in the Deep South. New York: Latino Commission on AIDS, 2008.



Rebecca Giguere, M.P.H. is a Research Project Manager at the HIV Center, overseeing multiple studies of microbicide adherence and acceptability led by Principal Investigator Alex Carballo-Diéguez, Ph.D.. She has worked with Dr. Carballo-Diéguez on several studies with the Microbicides Trials Network, focusing on the behavioral aspects of microbicide trials being conducted domestically and internationally with women and MSM.  Prior to working at the HIV Center, Ms. Giguere coordinated an NIH funded study of youth access to emergency contraception and worked on several projects promoting women’s reproductive and sexual health. She has several years of experience in public health research and programs in both international and domestic sectors and extensive professional experience in Latin America and with Spanish speaking immigrants in the US. 

Contact: 646-774-6943;


For a list of publications and citation statistics, please see Rebecca Giguere's

Google Scholar page and Research Gate profile.




Cody Lentz, B.S. is a Assistant Research Scientist at the HIV Center working under Drs. Alex Carballo-Diéguez, Ph.D. and Iván Balán, Ph.D.. He currently helps to oversee multiple studies of microbicide adherence and acceptability, as well as an innovative HIV prevention intervention utilizing HIV Home tests among Men and Transgender women who have sex with men in NYC and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Fordham University. Prior to joining the team at the HIV Center, he worked in the Memory Disorders Center at the New York State Psychiatric Institute as a clinical research coordinator.

Contact: 646-774-6929;

Selected Publications:
Lentz, C. L., Glenwick, D. S., & Kim, S. (2016). The relationship of coping style and ethnicity/culture to co-rumination in adolescents. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 35(2), 171-180.


Javier López Rios, M.P.H. is an Project Manager at the HIV Center, working with Dr. Robert Remien on several projects including the NYC AHI Project, a structural intervention looking to modify screening and detection practices for acute HIV infection in primary care settings, and with Dr. Alex Carballo-Dieguez on an innovative HIV prevention intervention using HIV Home tests among Men and Transgender women who have sex with men in NYC and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and obtained his Masters in Public Health in Community Health Education at the City University of New York's Hunter College.


Contact: 646-774-6974;


For a list of publications and citation statistics, please see Javier López-Rios'

Aaron Malark, Psy.D. is the Assistant Clinical Director of the Program for the Study of LGBT Health. Dr. Malark is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the intersections of gender, sexuality, and mental health. In his role as Assistant Clinical Director, Dr. Malark provides outpatient mental health care to LGBT adults. He also works with Columbia University Medical Center's mental health training programs and clinics to meet the needs of the LGBT community. 

Dr. Malark received his doctorate from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University. During his graduate education, Dr. Malark’s research focused on how stigma impacts the mental and physical health of sexual minority men. Dr. Malark completed his clinical training at Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. After graduation, Dr. Malark completed a post-doctoral fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian, where he supervised the training of psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists. He has presented on mental health and psychotherapy with LGBT adults at regional and national conferences





Will Mellman, M.S.W. is the Coordinator of the AFFIRM study of trangender identity development, working with Drs. Anke Ehrhardt and Walter Bockting. He is currently a doctoral student in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s School of Public Health and is primarily interested in studying the social factors that influence the health practices and outcomes of transgender individuals, as well as the particular needs of transgender individuals as it relates to health services. Prior to attending Columbia, Will worked as a clinical therapist for children in various community behavioral health clinics in Philadelphia as well as a patient advocate and clinical case manager for perinatally infected children with HIV at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).


Contact: 646-774-6962;


Selected publications:


Christopoulos, K., Olender, S., Lopez, A., Mellman, W. Jaiswal, J., Geng, E., and Koester, K. “Reasons for Lack of ART Usage Among Well-Engaged, ART-Eligible Clinic Patients” presented at the 8th International Conference on HIV Treatment and Prevention Adherence, Miami, Fl., June 2013.


Molleston, J., Mellman, W., et al. (2013) “Autoantibodies and autoimmune disease during treatment of children with chronic hepatitis C.” J Pediatr Gastroenterol and Nutr, 56(3):304-10


Erlichman, J., Mellman, W., & Haber, B. (2010). Primary Care of Children with Viral Hepatitis: Diagnosis, Management, and General Maintenance. In M. Jonas (ed.), Viral Hepatitis in Children: Unique Features and Opportunities. New York: Humana Press.