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For Immediate Release

New York City Cardiologist Named New Chair of Physicians for Human Rights

Cambridge, MA - 03/25/2013

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is delighted to announce the appointment of Deborah D. Ascheim, MD, as its new board chair.

Dr. Ascheim is an associate professor in the Department of Health Evidence & Policy and a cardiologist in the Cardiovascular Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She is also clinical director of research and director of the Clinical Research Unit at the International Center for Health Outcomes & Innovation Research (InCHOIR) at Mount Sinai.

Donna McKay and Dr. Deborah Ascheim
PHR Executive Director Donna McKay with new Chair of the Board of Directors Deborah D. Ascheim, MD, at a March 7 event in NYC.

Dr. Ascheim first started volunteering for PHR in 2005 as part of its Asylum Network, one of hundreds of clinicians who donate their time to evaluate asylum seekers’ claims of torture or abuse. She joined the board in 2008, recently serving as vice chair.

"For the past five years, I have had the pleasure of observing the remarkable talent and dedication of the PHR staff members and volunteers, as well as that of my fellow board members,” said Dr. Ascheim. “I am confident that together we will continue to build an organization that will have increasing impact on identifying, preventing, and sanctioning human rights abuses by using the tools of medicine and science.”

A graduate of Wellesley College and New York University Medical School, Dr. Ascheim completed her internship and residency in internal medicine, as well as her fellowship in cardiovascular diseases, at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She completed a post-graduate fellowship at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and remained on the faculty as an attending cardiologist in the Heart Failure Center at Columbia P&S and the Mailman School of Public Health from 1995 to 2008.

“As a board member, Deborah has provided critical leadership that has helped to position PHR for the next chapter of our organizational growth,” said Donna McKay, executive director of PHR. “She sees where we can make the greatest impact and has selflessly given countless hours to PHR’s programming and governance.  During her distinguished career, Deborah has earned the respect of her colleagues, patients, and students, as well as all of us at PHR who have worked with her. We look forward to having her able guidance and leadership help us achieve even greater global impact.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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