Addiction Medicine Faculty

Sandra Braimbridge, MD, MS

Dr. Sandra Braimbridge is board certified in Addiction Medicine under ABPM (American Board of Preventive Medicine) and Internal Medicine under ABIM (American Board of Internal Medicine). She is a member of ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine)
She has been in practice since 1998.  She graduated from New Jersey Medical School, now Rutgers Medical School with an MD degree 1995.  She was a Hospitalist for 8 years at Somerset Medical Center from 1998 to 2006 and at Hunterdon Medical Center from 2017 to 2018.  She is currently the Regional Medical Director for 2 prisons in New Jersey and has been working in the correctional setting for the past 14 years.  She has served as program attending in medicine for Rutgers undergraduates, nursing students and Addiction Medicine Fellows at Rutgers Medical School.
She earned a Bachelors degree in Mathematics (1986) and Masters Degree in Engineering (1991)  from Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
She has severed on the board of Bonnie Brae a residential program for at risk boys in Liberty Corner New Jersey from 2015 to 2017 and is currently on the Advisory Board.

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Emily Buirkle, MD

Emily Buirkle, MD is originally from Ridgewood, New Jersey.  She attended college at Cornell University and medical school at NYU, where she discovered an appreciation for Addiction Medicine while rotating through a detox unit.  She completed her Internal Medicine residency at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before joining the Addiction Medicine fellowship at Rutgers.  During her fellowship, Emily completed a scholarly project on buprenorphine microdosing and won a prize for her work at the ACAAM national meeting.

Damalia Campbell, MD

Damali Campbell Oparaji, MD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Health at Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School in Newark NJ. She acquired her ABAM certification in Addiction Medicine in 2014 and along with other colleagues and staff helped to establish "Healthy Beginnings" a dedicated clinic session for women with tobacco, alcohol and substance use disorders.  Dr. Campbell has found synchrony in her work advocating for improving breastfeeding support, reducing health disparities, expansion of group prenatal care and treatment of substance use disorder in urban communities and in particular with women of color and other underserved populations. Dr. Campbell has training and experience working in urban areas having undergone primary medical education in North Philadelphia at Temple University School of Medicine and residency training in Jersey City, NJ. Post graduate practice has been in areas including Jersey City, Paterson and Newark.  Dr. Campbell enjoys being involved in community initiatives and working with medical, graduate and public health students involved with community engagement. She is currently the President of the New Jersey Medical Association, the state society of the National Medical Association, a Board Member for Planned Parenthood for metropolitan Northern New Jersey and on the Fundraising committee for Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey.  Dr. Campbell sees her work in the area of addiction medicine and obstetrics as place where she can work with women in meeting goals regarding pregnancy and parenting which can change the trajectory of many lives. Dr. Campbell lives in Essex county with her family and enjoys cooking and eating.

RWJ Doctors. 3/7/19 Photo by John O'Boyle

John Chatlos, MD
John "Calvin" Chatlos, MD is associate professor in the Dept of Psychiatry Rutgers-RWJMS, Medical Director of the AWM Program and outpatient SATS program in New Brunswick. He received his BS in psychology from Washington U St Louis, returned to his home in Maryland to attend the U of Maryland School of Medicine followed by a medical internship at a Johns Hopkins hospital, and a NYC stint as a pediatric resident at Montefiore Medical Center, psychiatry resident at Bellevue-NYU, and a Child & Adolescent Psychiatry fellow at Columbia University. His addiction training was on the job before there was an organized field of addiction medicine, writing chapters on Adolescent Dual Diagnosis in the first ASAM textbook. He has written multiple book chapters on adolescent substance abuse. His work with 12 Step programs has led to exploring the nature of spiritual experience and has identified key experiences to open to a spiritual core that is within everyone. He lives in NJ with his children ages 21 and 23.

Sandra Connolly, MD

Sandra Connolly, MD is the medical director at the Special Treatment Unit, in Avenel, New Jersey.
She completed her undergraduate studies at Rutgers University; and received her medical degree from Robert Wood Johnson-Rutgers Medical School. She is board certified in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine. Her primary care experience has been diverse, including Phase I clinical research trials and international medical missions.
Her current work with Rutgers University
Correctional Health is the culmination of nearly thirty years of clinical practice. She is passionate about empowering her patients through SUD education, MAT, and self-awareness, especially at they face transition back to the community.

Bernadette Cracchiolo, MD

Bernadette M. Cracchiolo MD, MPH, FACOG, FAAPHM, FABPM, a graduate of Oberlin College, developed her dedication to the health care of women during the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, in the early eighties. She is acknowledged as the field coordinator of the first study that, before the virus causing AIDS had even been named "HIV-1", demonstrated conclusively that an 'AIDS -associated retrovirus' was - via the genital route - also infecting women rather than exclusively gay men. Her San Francisco experience led her to study medicine and public health.
In 1991, she received her MD from Chicago Medical School and her MPH from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 1995, she completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University, New York City. In 1997, she graduated from the Fellowship Program in Gynecologic Oncology at Yale University, New Haven, and that same year joined the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School in Newark. She continues to serve as Director of that Division since 2002.
To provide the most expert care to women with cancer, she is not only boarded in Gynecology/Obstetrics and in Gynecologic Oncology, but is also boarded in Palliative Care Medicine and in Addiction Medicine, specializations that grew out of the needs of her patients and their experience with cancer care. In her academic research, she has - as part of a Rutgers-based team - discovered a pediatric drug that selectively kills HIV-infected cells and has shown promise in a clinical trial. The group is translating this method of targeted killing to two of the most aggressive gynecological cancers, uterine serous carcinoma and ovarian serous carcinoma.

Emily Gordon, MD

Emily Gordon grew up in New York City and attended Cornell University for her undergraduate studies.  She graduated from New Jersey Medical School in 2009 and completed a Primary Care and Social Internal Medicine Residency at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.  She developed an interest in treating patients with substance use disorders during residency, and helped to start a primary care addiction clinic once she came back to NJMS as a faculty member.  Aside from her role as Program Director for the Addiction Medicine Fellowship, Dr. Gordon is also the director of the Urban Health track within the Internal Medicine residency program.  Emily's other professional interests include Narrative Medicine and resident wellness.  In her free time, Emily enjoys travel, hiking and serving as a short order cook for her husband and three sons.

Petros Levounis, MD, MA

Petros Levounis, MD, MA, serves as professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and is the associate dean for professional development at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. He has also been named president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, he studied chemistry and biophysics before receiving his medical education at Stanford and the Medical College of Pennsylvania. He trained in Psychiatry at Columbia University and further specialized in Addiction Psychiatry at NYU. Dr. Levounis served as director of the Addiction Institute of New York from 2002 to 2013 and, in 2017, was elected as an honorary member of the World Psychiatric Association. Dr. Levounis has published 13 books including the textbook of "Substance Dependence and Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders," "Motivational Interviewing for Clinical Practice," and "Pocket Guide to LGBTQ Mental Health: Understanding the Spectrum of Gender and Sexuality." His books have been translated into French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. Dr. Levounis is married to actor Lukas Hassel and lives in New York City.

Daniel Matassa, MD
Dr. Dan Matassa obtained his medical degree from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in 2013, then stayed on to complete his Internal Medicine Residency at our institution. Dr. Matassa joined the faculty here in 2017 as Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency. Since starting his professional career at NJMS, he has been heavily involved in the medical education of students, residents, and fellows through the development and delivery of lectures, team-based learning activities, patient care rounds, and board review courses. He also has extensive prior experience in medical education through his work as a professional tutor for both the USMLE Step Exams and ABIM Internal Medicine Certification Exam. Dr. Matassa co-founded the Wellness Clinic within the NJMS primary care practice where, as a certified buprenorphine prescriber, he manages patients with various substance use disorders and helps to train our addiction fellows. Dr. Matassa has twice received the "Best Teaching Attending" Award for Internal Medicine at University Hospital, and he also received the "Golden Apple" Teaching Award in 2020 from our medical students.

Aitzaz Munir, MD

Aitzaz Munir, MD is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and is Associate Program Director for Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program. He is originally from Pakistan. He graduated from FMH College of Medicine in Lahore, Pakistan. He joined Rutgers New Jersey Medical School for General Psychiatry Residency Training and graduated in 2022.  He completed his Fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry form New York University Grossman School of Medicine in New York in 2023.

Dr. Munir identifies himself has Addiction Psychiatrist with strong interest in chemical and behavioral addictions along with patients with Dual Diagnosis. He is a member of American Psychiatric Association (APA) and American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP). He has been actively serving in Scientific Program Committee since 2018. He strives to meet patients where they are in their recovery process and help them achieve their goals.  In his free time, he likes to travel with his family and to explore the world.

Lewis Nelson, MD

Lewis S. Nelson, MD is Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine and Director of the Division of Medical Toxicology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ. He is a Senior Consultant to the New Jersey Poison Information & Education System and is the lead editor of Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. He is board certified in emergency medicine, medical toxicology, and addiction medicine. Dr. Nelson is on the board of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and several other academic organizations and is Past President of American College of Medical Toxicology. His areas of interest include non-opioid pain relief strategies, addiction and withdrawal management, and health policy focused on issues related to medical toxicology (adverse effects of toxic exposures and poisoning in people) and addiction.

Amesika Nyaku, MD

Dr. Amesika Nyaku is an assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and a physician-scientist. She is a graduate of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine where she completed medical school, Internal Medicine residency and Infectious Diseases fellowship. She provides clinical care for people living with HIV and other infectious diseases. Her research interests are two-fold. She focuses on ways to increase the inclusion and participation of racial and ethnic minorities in HIV-related research and she is an investigator in the New Jersey Medical School Clinical Research Center. Also, she is interested in the implementation of treatment models that improve health outcomes for people with substance use disorders and HIV. She is co-director of the Northern New Jersey Medication-Assisted Treatment Center of Excellence (NNJ-MATrx-COE) that is tasked with assisting the state in expanding access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder through education, novel service delivery, community collaboration, and programmatic evaluation. When she is off the clock, she enjoys art and going out to eat.

Edward Phinney, MD
Edward Phinney, MD is a clinical psychiatrist at Lyons VA Medical Center working in their Domiciliary unit for homeless veterans. He studied medicine at UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and did his psychiatry residency at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC). This was followed with an Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania after which he went on to work at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center in their outpatient Addiction Recovery Unit. Prior to medicine, Dr. Phinney trained and worked as a registered nurse at various Philadelphia institutions. Dr Phinney attributes much of his inspiration towards addiction treatment from his experiences working as a PM&R RN on a TBI unit and his exposures to the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings held at that hospital which were started by a "gratefully recovering alcoholic", former TBI patient. Dr Phinney lives in PA with his wife and 2 children.

Natalie Roche, MD

Natalie Roche, MD is a physician dual board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Addiction Medicine (ASAM) who provides addiction medicine services at University. She is a member of the Addiction Medicine Fellowship faculty at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Roche is a graduate of Barnard College and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. She had exposure during her residency to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with opiate and cocaine use disorders during an epidemic of injection drug use during the 1980's. Dr. Roche has been on the faculty at Yale in New Haven Connecticut, Charles Drew University School of Medicine and Sciences in Los Angeles, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York City. She has worked as an attending at Yale New Haven Hospital. King Drew Medical Center, St. Raphael's Hospital and Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Roche started her addiction medicine practice after certification from ASAM through the clinical practice pathway. She is currently the Division Director of General Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Department of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Health at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School where she is an Associate Professor. She is the Director of Gynecology Services and Family Planning Services at University Hospital where she is also Chairperson of the Credentials Committee. Dr. Roche is committed to excellence in the care of patients with substance use disorders and finds time to devote part of every week to care of this underserved patient population.

Cynthia Santos, MD
Dr. Santos is Assistant Professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and is triple board certified in Emergency Medicine, Medical Toxicology, and Addiction Medicine. She is the Medical Toxicology elective course director and residency scholarly tract leader. She is on the International Committee for the American College of Medical Toxicology, where she is a course instructor for the Global Educational Toxicology Toolkit and acts as the committee's research grant leader. She completed her Medical Toxicology Fellowship at Emory University/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her Emergency Medicine Residency at Mount Sinai Hospital. Her specific interests include medical toxicology education, global environmental poisonings, toxicology surveillance, and addiction medicine. She is currently doing research in the genomics of buprenorphine and the hospital outcomes of buprenorphine induction in the ED. She lives in Montclair with her husband who is also an Emergency Medicine physician at Rutgers NJMS and they have two young children and two cats.