Our Residents



Saba Afzal. MD


My name is Saba Afzal and I am a PGY IV Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I am originally from Pakistan. My interest in medicine goes back to my High School years. Upon finishing high school and about to enter college, my mind was made up that I would become a physician. Simultaneously moving through my own series of personal discoveries, I took full advantage of the opportunities in my clinical years to rotate through many specialties, each of which felt more exciting and stimulating than the last--though none so much as Psychiatry, which truly embodied everything that had inspired me to study medicine.

During my residency, I enjoyed every aspect of my training and had an opportunity to work with great mentors. I met a lot of amazing people and made some great friends here at NJMS family.  My areas of interests include Addiction Psychiatry, Psychosomatic medicine, Wellness including Mindfulness and Meditation. During my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling, baking and playing tennis.

Danilo Been Carrasco, MD


My name is Danilo Been Carrasco and I am a PGY IV Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I am originally from the Caribbean. My passion for psychiatry was born through exposure to volunteer work at local low resources communities back in my country for many years from High School to current times. I earned my MD degree in Dominican Republic in the University of the state, (Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo). During this time, I also explored other health related areas and became an acupuncturist at Nei Jing School in DR. I also completed a number of post grad-studies on Sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation. I had the wonderful experience of teaching pre-med students as well as other health related professions from several US institutions such as Michigan state University, Howard University, amongst others. I became the Medical Director of Guanin Foundation Inc. and had the joy of serving the community right until coming to US to continue my professional training.

I enjoy spending time with family and friends, enjoy sports and outdoor activities. Professionally, I have great interest in addiction psychiatry and plan to pursue an addiction fellowship. I have presented abstracts on Acupuncture in both, cocaine and opioids as a treatment for dependence and withdrawal symptoms.

Alexandra Berliner, MD


My name is Alexandra Berliner and I am a PGY IV Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. Originally from Russia, I grew up in New York City. I majored in biology as an undergraduate student and earned my medical degree from St. George’s University. My interests have ranged from addiction psychiatry to forensics. I would like to develop a career in outpatient psychiatry and incorporating addiction. In my spare time, I love traveling, scuba diving, cooking and most of all spending time with family

Hanan Khairalla, MD


My name is Hanan Khairalla and I am a PGY IV Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in the United Arab Emirates, where I attended private school from K-10. After that, I moved to the Sudan, where I attended medical school at the University of Medical Sciences and Technology.

The highlights of my career include establishing a medical student counseling center and publishing a book on psychiatry for medical students called "Ward Wisdom". My areas of interest include student mental health, psychiatric emergencies, psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. I would like to practice as an adult psychiatrist in student counseling centers and/or psychiatric emergency rooms. For fun, I like to binge on movies, make jewelry and spend time with family.

Noah Melikian, MD


My name is Noah Melikian and I am a PGY IV Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I am originally from New York where I grew up in Manhattan and Westchester County. During my undergraduate studies I obtained a B.S. in Biology at The George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC while concurrently working as an Anesthesia Technician at GWU Hospital. Prior medical school, I obtained a Masters degree in Biotechnology from Georgetown University.  I attended Medical School at St. George's University, completing my clinical years in Brooklyn and New York City. I subsequently completed a preliminary year of General Surgery training at the University in Jacksonville,FL followed by a second year of training in General Surgery at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, NY before joining the the distinguished physicians in the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers University where I began my training as a future psychiatrist.

My skills, interests, training and experiences are uniquely diverse which I believe make be well suited for this field and are why I look forward to a lifetime of its enriching practice. My areas of interest in the field include Organizational and Occupational Psychiatry as well as psychodynamic therapy, sleep and pain management. My interests outside of work include film, computers & technology, and finance.

Kalliopi Nissirios, MD


My name is Kalliopi Stamatina Nissirios and I am a PGY IV Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I am originally Greek but also proud to be a NJ born and raised kid! My interest in Psychiatry goes back to my High School years. I still can feel the excitement I had when I entered my first child development and psychology classes. I developed a passion about medicine early on and I decided to continue my medical education in the University of Athens Medical School in Greece, a decision that gave me the opportunity to connect with my cultural background and heritage.

The path to psychiatry residency has been an exciting journey for me! I started my training at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus NJ where I completed my intern year in a very rigorous and diverse training program. I continued my training at Rutgers NJMS as a PGY II which was always a dream of mine! I have enjoyed every day of my training so far. I feel that with the broad clinical exposure and with our faculty’s strong support and supervision I have grown as a physician and have developed my interests further. I have been exposed to a wide variety of clinical cases which have provided me with the confidence that upon graduation I will be prepared to handle any case that will come my way. But what has made residency truly special to this point are my fellow NJMS residents who I can also call my friends!

Working with young people was always my passion and it was only natural for me to choose Child and Adolescent psychiatry as my future career. I will be continuing my training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship after completion of my adult training. During my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling, cooking and reading.




Senthil Vel Rajaram, MD


My name is Senthil Vel Rajan Rajaram Manoharan. I am a PGY III resident. I am very passionate about clinical psychiatry. I very much love my residency training at Rutgers NJMS and enjoy working with the diverse patient population.  

Before moving to the US, I graduated from Madurai Medical College in India.  I was involved in research studies on Mood disorders and Addiction in Manipal University, India. My areas of interests include Mood disorders, Addiction Psychiatry, Geriatric psychiatry, Cognitive remediation therapies, Mindfulness and Yoga. I enjoy listening to relaxing music, working out and spending time with friends and family.   

Veeraraghavan Iyer, MD


My name is Veeraraghavan Iyer and I am a PGY III Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. After completing my MBBS from India, I am now halfway through my psychiatry residency at Rutgers NJMS. I am passionate about autism spectrum and child developmental and mental health. I aspire to become a child and adolescent specialist.

My prior contributions have spanned elopement in autism spectrum disorders, psychosomatic endeavors and addiction psychiatry, including conducting peer reviews for journals. In my spare time, I love to go on road trips, spending time with family, strumming out mellow tunes on the guitar and reading about religious and world history.

Allen Dsouza, MD


My name is Allen Dsouza and I am a Psychiatry third year resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in the city of Bollywood Mumbai, India. I love the opportunity my specialty gives me to help people function in the society. I aspires to be a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with special focus on ADHD, Autism and Transgender Psychiatry. 

I love learning new languages and in my three years so far in the United States, the journey from “Como estas?” to being able to complete basic clinical assessments in Spanish has been exciting and it drives me to strive for fluency in the coming few months.  I love writing case reports about interesting cases or review literature about topics that are interesting. My work so far entails impact of Cannabis on Adolescent mental health, addiction psychiatry and psychopharmacology. When not at work I love working out and doing high intensity training but unfortunately my biggest weakness is dark chocolate and ice cream! I love to dance Salsa to some latin music, Jive to a rock n roll number or sometimes even enjoy a waltz or free style.  

Xiaojing Shi, MD


My name is Xiaojing Shi and I am a PGY III psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in a family of doctors in China, where I earned my M.D degree and completed three years of residency training in Internal Medicine. My interest in psychiatry started from witnessing many patients with serious medical conditions suffering from psychiatric comorbidities such as depression or anxiety.  I realized that only treating the physical body without addressing mental health is not sufficient for patients' long term recovery. To further explore my interest in the relationship between physiological symptoms, mental illnesses and the molecular pathways linking them,  I continued my education in biomedical research and earned Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. I then pursued Post-Doctoral Scientist training at Columbia University and published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals.

As I have been always interested in exploring the relationship between the human mind and behavior, I decided to become a psychiatrist.  This field allows me to contribute using my diverse experience in research and clinical work, multicultural life experience and  my passion for mental health. My areas of interest include mood disorder, C&L psychiatry and addiction psychiatry. As the mother of two children, I enjoy spending time with family, cooking different cuisines, and watching movies in my spare time.

Shivanshu Shrivastava, MD


My name is Shivanshu Shrivastava and I am a PGY III psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS. I am from Mumbai, India. I graduated from MGM medical college, Navi Mumbai. As a medical student I was exposed to mental health problems in India and fell in love with psychiatry. I am interested in psychiatric disorders affecting the child and adolescent population, mood disorders and exploring how religious beliefs  affect mood disorders. I have worked on Papers on ECT, Mass Media and online psychotherapy. Currently I am also involved in research on Autism at Rutgers NJMS. Away from work I like playing outdoor sports, history, and exploring new places.

Zain Khalid, MD


My name is Zain Khalid and I am a PGY III resident. I grew up in Lahore and completed medical school at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan. While at Rutgers, I have availed of the many opportunities for personal and professional growth on offer. In addition to learning from a diverse patient population and experienced faculty, I have had the chance to develop complementary academic and scholarly interests, teaching classes on psychopharmacology and anxiety disorders, authoring a book chapter on ‘inpatient treatment of co-occurring disorders’ and presenting research at national conferences.

I have also gained from participation in the Wellness and Ethics committees and continue to cultivate a growing fascination with (Lacanian) psychoanalysis and ethical and forensic issues in psychiatry. When not at work or socializing with fellow residents, I devote time to an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and English Literature, enjoy theatre and cinema and meander flaneur-like in New York City.

Bimla Rai, MD


My name is Bimla Rai and currently I am PGY III Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I grew up in the majestic land of Himalayas- Nepal. I completed my medical school from China. During my clinical year in medical school, as I began interacting with the patients I was fascinated to learn how the human mind controls one’s behavior, actions and interactions. My curiosity to learn more about relationship between human mind and behavior lead me to do an externship at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, NY. This experience further solidified my interest in Psychiatry and to join one of the reputable programs in the country.

I continue to enjoy everyday of my residency training. I like working with patients of all age group population but I am more passionate about working with child and adolescent group and I plan to become Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in the future. When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I also like listening to music, cooking and traveling.  

Zeshawn Ali, DO


I earned my medical degree from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and am currently a third year psychiatry Resident at the Rutgers Program. I enjoy relaxing with family/friends, engaging in ironic discussions about life, dancing tastefully in public places, and experiencing serendipitous epiphanies. The workings of the human mind, human behavior, and helping others within this context, while simultaneously growing and learning more about myself are what attract me to the field of psychiatry.




Ketan Hirapara, MD


My name is Ketan Hirapara, PGY II Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in India. After completing my medical school in India at SMIMER, I decided to come to USA to pursue my graduate degree. During my journey from medical school to this residency program, I have gone through many ups and downs, which has solidified my intense desire to be good physician. The journey begin when I started working as a research volunteer in ECT research and worked with depressed and psychotic patients. Excellent research experiences at Hillside hospital and Rutgers NJMS helped me to match at this program and I was thrilled when I matched here.

This program offered me a very well balanced work environment between my work and home. Not just giving me great friends and colleagues, this program also gave me opportunity to explore psychiatry in detail, which has enriched my experience further. My interests in the field include mood disorders, developmental disorders, addiction, psychotherapy and medical education. I plan to pursue fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. When I am not working, I enjoy playing with my son, going out with family and friends, listening to music and last but not the least, cooking.

Robert Rymowicz, DO


My name is Robert Rymowicz, and I am a second year psychiatry resident at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. I graduated from Western University of Health Science in Pomona, California, in 2016. While in medical school, I served as Region 6 Chair, and later, as National President of PsychSIGN, the APA’s medical student interest group. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Of Science in Psychology in 2003, and then served 3 years as an Air Force officer. My interests include addiction psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, medical student education and wellness, and donuts.

Bishara Bhasi, MD


My name is Bishara Bhasi and I am a PGY II Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born in Kerala, India and grew up in Muscat, Oman. My mother, who worked as a nurse, was always an inspiration growing up, and I was first introduced to the field of medicine through her work. So after finishing high school,  I returned back to India to do my medical school at Amala Institute of Medical Sciences in Thrissur. When I started my Psychiatry rotations there, I found myself drawn to the field and intrigued by the "whys and hows" of each disorder. Observations at NYSPI, UNMC and Einstein Medical Center, all solidified my interest in the field and I was elated to have matched at Rutgers NJMS.

The diverse clinical exposure, amazing faculty and ability to work in 3 different hospital settings with a diverse patient population, were just a few of the features that attracted me to the program. Growing up in different countries, I always believed home is where friends and family are, and I am happy to have found my new home here at NJMS. I have made great friends and colleagues in the program, which has enriched the experience further. My interests in the field include mood disorders, developmental disorders, addiction, psychotherapy and medical education. I want to build a career in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and intend to complete a fellowship in it. When I'm not working, I enjoy exploring NYC and sampling the local cuisine.

Sebastian Cisneros, MD


My name is Sebastian Cisneros-Trujillo and I am a PGY II Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in Colombia and obtained my medical degree in my home country at the Pontifical Xavierian University. All my life, I have been surrounded by the environment of responsibility, compassion, hardworking and love for medicine instilled from my parents. During medical school, I was thrilled by my behavioral science lectures and my passion for this field was solidified during my psychiatry rotation and the support and courage of my father who took me to my first American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in 2008.  Before starting residency, I worked as a postdoctoral research assistant at New York State Psychiatric institute studying the neurobiology of suicidal behavior, exploring the serotonergic dysfunction, neuro-inflammation and dysregulation in stress response. My determination and dedication helped me to win an award in the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in 2017 for the best poster in the biomedical and psychosocial category.

Needless to say that I am excited to do my residency training at Rutgers NJMS! The clinical exposure is outstanding and makes me feel more and more confident with my medical knowledge and patient care. I am delighted to do my residency in psychiatry because we are in a unique moment where mental health and science are evolving fast. Therefore, we have an optimal opportunity to obtain a better understanding of mental illness in order to give the best care possible to our patients. I would like to commit my career to the academia, involving clinical work with teaching and research, working with children and adolescents, contributing in the comprehension of psychopathology and fighting the stigmatization of mental illness. During my free time I play and watch sports including soccer and basketball, I visit museums and parks, and enjoy exploring new restaurants and learning new languages and their cultures.

Usman Ahmed, MD


My name is Usman Ahmed and I am PGY II Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers. I was born in Karachi Pakistan, after graduating from medical school and working in Karachi for few years, I came to USA for my MBA in Business of Medicine from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. I did my prelim PGY I year, in internal medicine in Brooklyn New York, where dealing with patients, makes me realize that a strong mind in a weak body can strive against difficulties in a better way than a diseased mind in a strong body, and that has infused in me passion for psychiatry.  
I am confident that my Psychiatry training at prestigious Rutgers will enhance my horizon and my career pathway uniqueness will help me to step into a psychiatrist and administrator shoes, and tie their perspective together.
My hobbies include traveling all over the world, meeting different people, and learning about their cultures. I have explored China, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Portugal, Paris, United Kingdom, Canada and several states in USA, Africa is my future destination.

Banu Karadag, MD


My name is Banu Ozkan Karadag. I am a PGY II psychiatry resident at Rutgers University, NJMS. I am originally from Turkey, where I completed my medical training. I developed some awareness of mental illnesses during my childhood as a daughter of a psychiatry professor. This awareness has become a more focused and refined interest for me as a growing young adult and I had decided to go to medical school to become a psychiatrist. Pursuing my passion and joining the Rutgers Psychiatry family to complete my psychiatry training in the US is a very exciting experience for me.

My specific interest is clinical research in first episode psychosis and I worked as a postdoctoral associate at Yale University at 'Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis' clinic. My other area of interest is geriatric psychiatry since I have always been fascinated by the broad life experience and wisdom of elderly people.
During my spare time I enjoy being with family, cooking and baking, watching movies and yoga.

Matthew Olesiak, MD


I am a PGY II Psychiatry resident at Rutgers University NJMS. I was born in Poland, where I returned to attend medical school at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. I went to the College of William and Mary where I majored in Kinesiology and Health Sciences and competed gymnastics at the elite level for most of my life. I spent my first year of residency as a General Surgery Resident at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. In my free time, I enjoy pushing myself physically, taking colleagues with me to the gym, and seeing friends and family. My areas of interest in Psychiatry are broad, and I look forward to finding my niche in the upcoming years.

Gezel Saheli, MD 


My name is Gezel Saheli. I am a PGY II psychiatry resident at Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School. I was raised in Iran and graduated from Tehran University of Medical Science. I moved to USA for residency. I did two years of categorical Internal medicine residency where counseling anxious patients and effective patient centered individualized communication turned out to be the most rewarding part of my residency.

I decided to pursue psychiatry because it allows me to realize my desire to be active and vigilant with respect to the health problems in my community and provide the best healthcare service without limitation. My hobbies are hiking, dancing, volunteering in fundraising events for charities and schools.




Samar Alimirzaei, MD


My name is Samar Ali Mirzaei and I am a PGY-I psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in Iran where I finished medical school. I found psychiatry fascinating as it is one of the last truly enigmatic branches of medicine, dealing with the mysterious and mostly unexplored frontier of the human mind. I also find it fulfilling to improve mental health of individuals, which contributes to their overall well-being. The holistic approach, one of the fundamentals of psychiatry, requires knowledge in a wide array of scientific disciplines, ranging from medicine to anthropology and sociology- transcending the divide between life and social sciences. I also love the fact that psychiatry requires a focus on aspects which make us uniquely human. My brief experience in research, exploring the effect of different neurotransmitters on neurocircuitry of nicotine addiction, exposed me to the huge potential of neuroscience applications in mental health and substance-use disorders.
I am very excited about the opportunity to train at Rutgers NJMS.I feel confident that here, I have all the resources, mentorship and encouragement that I need to pursue my goals of becoming a well-rounded psychiatrist; capable of forming a sound therapeutic alliance with my patients, while contributing to research exploring the neural correlates of mental illnesses that will hopefully lead to novel treatments.
In my free time, I enjoy reading, playing Flamenco guitar, doing Yoga and meditation and watching thriller/mystery movies.

Rober Aziz, MD


My name is Rober Aziz and I am a PGY I Resident at Rutgers NJMS. Growing up in Bergen County, earning my bachelor’s degree in psychology at the nearby Rutgers-Newark, and volunteering at what was formerly known as UMDNJ has given Rutgers-NJMS a special place in my heart.

Being a resident at Rutgers-NJMS has given me the opportunity to serve the community I have known and loved since my childhood. I earned my MD from the American University of Antigua where I also received the Medical Scholar Outstanding Leadership Award for my work as the lead teacher’s assistant and served as chief student during the psychiatry clerkship.  Human behavior and the mind as well as teaching have always been my two passions. Along with being a successful psychiatrist, it is a career goal of mine to be a medical school professor.

Rafael Coira, MD


My name is Rafael Coira, I am a PGY I resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in New York City and Bergen County, New Jersey. I attended college at Montclair State University where I majored in biology. After college, I earned my Juris Doctorate with a concentration in Intellectual Property from Seton Hall University School of Law. I had the privilege of serving as a Judicial Intern at the Superior Court of New Jersey, as well practicing as a litigation attorney at a private law firm. I attended medical school at St. George’s University where I was a member of the international honors society and Vice President of the Student Government Association. I also received a Distinction in Research for work in anatomy and psychiatry, with a particular focus in equine therapy.
At Rutgers NJMS, I am training to fulfill my dream of becoming a third generation psychiatrist. Through my experiences in the law and medicine, I have developed a strong sense of social justice, and believe that access to high quality healthcare is a fundamental right of every human being. I live in Bergen County where I love to spend all of my free time with my beautiful wife and daughter.

Mayowa Olusunmade, MD


I am a PGY I Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in Nigeria where I earned my medical degree from the University of Ibadan. After graduation, I worked in an underserved area in rural Nigeria as a medical officer and, seeing how the system functioned, became interested in community health and health systems which led me to complete a Master’s Degree in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Besides Psychiatry, my life revolves around my wife, learning new languages (Spanish mostly but also some Arabic) and my very addictive fragrance hobby (incense, fragrances, attars etc).
I am delighted to be completing my residency training in Psychiatry at Rutgers NJMS.

Sidra Qadir, MD


I am a PGY I Psychiatry resident. I graduated from Pakistan. Psychiatry first became my interest, then fascination. I am deeply inspired by what is known, and more so by what is unknown about the evolving realm of human mind. Public speaking has been my forte. I am very excited to be a part of Rutgers NJMS and look forward to an inspiring journey of four years of remarkable training.

James Sherer, MD


My name is James Sherer and I am a PGY I Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born in in New York City but have lived in New Jersey most of my life. I grew up around psychiatry and medicine: my mother is a licensed clinical social worker and my father is an infectious disease physician. Despite this, I always saw myself becoming a lawyer.  I studied English Literature and Law at New York University. During college I worked for The Legal Aid Society of Manhattan and New York City Council. After graduating from college I worked as a paralegal for a commercial litigation firm, working on pro-bono cases for individual clients at night. Throughout my legal experience, the most rewarding parts of my day were working one-on-one with people in tough situations. Soon after graduation, I realized law school wasn’t for me, and began shadowing my father and learning about medicine. I was immediately hooked.

I attended Rutgers - New Jersey Medical School, where I received the Psychiatry Faculty Award for Outstanding Achievement. I have presented posters at several annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association and am the co-author of the review book Ward Wisdom: Psychiatry Questions for Medical Students, Written by Medical Students (2017). I am thrilled to have matched at NJMS, where I can continue to learn from the talented physicians I have come to know over the past four years.