Who We Are

Karolynn Siegel, Ph. D.
Director

Dr. Siegel , Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, is a medical sociologist who conducts qualitative and mixed methods research  on populations living with chronic or  life-threatening diseases.  Most of her work has focused on populations living with cancer or HIV and trying to understand the adaptive challenges their diseases pose and the coping strategies they adopt in an effort to address them.  Her work in HIV has also focused on prevention issues with MSM and MSMW.  Her research has been supported by NIMH, NCI, NICHD, NINR, NIDA and, NIDCR .  Prior to coming to Columbia, Dr. Siegel developed and directed a psychosocial oncology research unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where investigated issues such as cancer survivorship, bereavement and end-of-life care.

Eric W. Schrimshaw, Ph.D. 

Dr. Schrimshaw,  Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, is a social/health psychologist who has employed a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods to address the health of lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations, with a particular emphasis on HIV risk behaviors of MSM populations. His work has focused on how social relationships – including social support, disclosure, and the contexts in which relationships form – are critical to gaining a more dynamic and contextualized understanding of LGB health and behavior. Most recently, his work has examined the role of technology in changing how MSM meet and communicate and how this may contribute to sexual risk behaviors among MSM.  His research has been supported by multiple NIH grants and has resulted in the publication of over 50 journal articles addressing LGB health and well-being.

Helen-Maria Lekas, Ph.D

Dr. Lekas, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at CUMC is a medical sociologist and ethnographer who employs different qualitative methods to explore the health care needs and illness experiences of socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, including those with a substance use and/or mental illness diagnosis. Her work has focused on explaining the structural forces that determine the health outcomes of persons living with HIV/AIDS.  She has also examined the role of patient-provider relationships and institutional settings in engagement in HIV medical care. More recently, she adopted an intersectional approach to understanding illness-related stigma, a major area of her research. Her work has been funded by several NIH grants and is always theoretically-driven. A main feature of Dr. Lekas’s work is teaching and mentoring both Master’s and Doctoral students.