Top Physicians Under 40 - 2016 Winners

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2017

Here are the Pennsylvania Medical Society's 2016 Top Physicians Under 40: 

Anastasia Shnitser, MD, Allentown—Dr. Shnitser initiated two separate additions to the Eastern Pennsylvania Gastroenterology & Liver Specialists practice including small bowel enteroscopy and hemorrhoidal banding. These two new initiatives mean that the residents of Lehigh Valley have more options for their healthcare and no longer need to travel over an hour to nearby centers that offer those procedures.

Jennifer Stephens, DO, Allentown—Dr. Stephens is an internal medicine specialist with the Lehigh Valley Health Network. She is very involved with the leadership of the Lehigh Valley Physician Group as regional director. As a result of her amazing efforts, she is currently vice chair of the Department of Medicine. During the past two years, she spearheaded the development of a truly comprehensive opioid practice tool box to assist clinicians when managing a patient’s chronic pain.

Cynthia Bartus, MD, Allentown—Dr. Bartus is a dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology Associates Ltd. She was recently elected president of the Philadelphia Dermatological Society, but more important is the effort she takes to educate patients and her community on the importance of sun protection and skin cancer awareness. From lectures to other medical specialists, volunteering at community skin cancer screenings, providing sun screen, teaching residents and medical students, and community-wide lectures on sun protection and skin cancer awareness, Dr. Bartus will never turn down a chance to help others understand the importance of skin cancer prevention and early detection.

Pamela Valenza, MD, Bethlehem—Dr. Valenza returned from her residency in Colorado, to become part of the faculty at St. Luke's Hospital Family Medicine residency program. She has already been a game-changer: she researched preventive health and obesity, with additional research in prenatal women, and now brings that expertise to her practice. Young in her career, she seems to be collecting titles and accolades: she sits on a Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Network research grant and is Primary Care and Community Health Research Committee Chair at St. Luke's Health Network.

Aaron George, DO, Chambersburg—Dr. George is a primary care physician with Summit Health Primary Care, and also assistant clinical professor at the Penn State College of Medicine. He is described as throwing “his full devotion into so much of medicine.” From serving fellowships in Austria to being a faculty member, he is a physician engaged in all levels of medicine and patient care with multiple awards too numerous to count.

Thomas Jordan, MD, Dickson City—Dr. Jordan practices with Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. His commitment to medical education is outstanding, serving on the admissions committee at Georgetown University School of Medicine and also as a volunteer clinical faculty member at the Commonwealth Medical College. He has also published several journal articles, most recently one cover ACL reconstruction for active, under-50 individuals.

Katherine, Lund, DO, Erie—Dr. Lund is an emergency medicine specialist with Saint Vincent Hospital. Often, she can be seen volunteering her time educating the public on health issues through community events and media opportunities including WJET’s Docs on Call. She has also mentored high school students through the University of Pittsburgh’s Health Care Scholars Academy (formerly the Governor’s School for Health Care).

Jorge Mercado, MD, Erie—Dr. Mercado is an accomplished pulmonary critical care specialist with Saint Vincent Hospital and Chest Diseases of NW Pennsylvania. He is also the associate program director of the only Erie Fellowship in Pulmonary Critical Care, which he helped to initiate. Dr. Mercado practices state of the art, evidence-based medicine and is proficient in new methods of diagnosis such as endobronchial ultrasound and navigational bronchoscopy for the early diagnosis of lung cancer.

Kelli Wienecke, DO, Erie—Dr. Wienecke is a family medicine specialist with Saint Vincent Hospital and the Millcreek Family Practice, who serves as treasurer of the Erie County Medical Society. She is very active in educating the public on various public health issues through health fairs and the media including print, social, and television. She is a regular with Docs on Call hosted by WJET TV.

Maggie Biebel, DO, Erie—Dr. Biebel is a family physician with East Harbor Primary Care. She started as the Chairperson for the Quality Committee for the entire St. Vincent Medical Group and has been charged with guiding the quality initiatives for its 173-member multispecialty medical group. According to her colleagues, this is an enormous responsibility and Dr. Biebel is meeting this challenge.

Atul Kalanuria, MD, Furlong—Dr. Kalanuria is dual-board certified in internal medicine and neurology, while practicing the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. After training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and working at the University of Maryland, he returned to Keystone State and is currently the director of fellowship training program and director of the medical school clerkship program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Eric Griffin, DO, Gibsonia—Dr. Griffin of Genesis Medical Associates has been in private practice for two years and already has been voted into becoming a partner. He has become a local expert on immunizations and practices of such. In addition to a medical degree, Dr. Griffin also earned a master’s degree in public Health, and is described as “constantly thinking about the ‘greater good’ of what we are doing not only for each patient, but for the community as a whole”

Daniel Schlegel, MD, Hershey—Dr. Schlegel is with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. He serves as program director for the Penn State Hershey Family Medicine Residency Program, an accomplishment for a physician so early in his career. With his leadership, he also assisted in setting up the “Reach Out and Read” program that distributes age-appropriate children books to kids at well checkups.

Afif Kulaylat, MD, Hershey—Dr. Kulaylat is a general surgeon with the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. His sense of innovation and creativity in cultivating a positive learning environment are noteworthy, with effects felt among medical students, residents, and attending surgeons alike at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Dr. Kulaylat’s efforts have been manifest at the institutional level within the General Surgery residency, at the regional level within the Keystone Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, and at the national level as he is currently the Secretary of the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons.

Lindsey Surace, MD, Hummelstown—Dr. Surace practices with Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology and West Shore Endoscopy Center, specializing in Hepatitis C diagnosis and treatments. On many occasions she can be found at community outreach programs to promote public awareness of health issues. She has been active with Spirit of Women, 50s Plus Expos, Doc Talk, and Ask the Expert.

Ure Mezu-Chukwu, MD, Indiana—Dr. Mezu-Chukwu is an internal medicine specialist and cardiologist with Indiana Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh Physicians Group. In addition to working in underserved areas of Pennsylvania, she also provides charity medical services in Nigeria. Dr. Mezu-Chukwu has conducted research on health disparities for women and racial minorities in cardiology.

Lyndsey Vu, MD, Kingston—Dr. Vu is a family medicine resident at the Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education in Wilkes-Barre. Despite the busy schedule of a second-year resident, Dr. Vu has found time to provide health and well-being assistance to members of her community through activities such as organizing a fundraising effort to benefit the St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen.

Andrew Batchelet, MD, Mars—Dr. Batchelet is an ophthalmic surgeon with Laurel Eye Clinic and Laurel Laser & Surgery Center. Despite being early in his career, he already has made a name for himself due to his willingness to travel throughout rural Pennsylvania to provide surgical care to patients. While residing just north of Pittsburgh, he provides services to patients several counties away, putting in long hours and driving to ensure that anyone who requires ophthalmic care is able to receive it in the way most convenient to each patient.

Kristin Ondecko Ligda, MD, Mars—Dr. Ondecko-Ligda is an anesthesiologist with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She is the founder of the Physician Anesthesiologists Mom Group (PAMG) and also Women in Anesthesiology, a non-profit organization.

Adam Biuckians, MD, Lancaster—Dr. Biuckians is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Lancaster General Health and Community Services Group, where he serves as medical director. He was instrumental in bringing the services of a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist to Fulton County through telepsychiatry. He is also a consultant to Lincoln IU 12, providing evaluation and services to students in York and Adams counties.

Kristina Newport, MD, Lancaster—Dr. Newport is a palliative medicine specialist with Lancaster General Hospital and Palliative Medicine Consultants. Currently, she is the task force chair for the Pennsylvania Department of Health Palliative Care Plan and for the Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan. Dr. Newport is described as a person who in every effort that she engages in “gives 100 percent to grow and execute any initiative she puts her force behind.”

Marc Yester, MD, McMurray—Dr. Yester is a private practice pediatrician, who has numerous other positions through the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Board of Pediatrics. In addition, he is involved with precepting residents from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He also serves as the physician member of Washington County’s Child Death Review Committee.

Elizabeth Ramsey, DO, Meadville—Dr. Ramsey is a psychiatrist with Meadville Medical Center. Her foray into becoming an attending psychiatrist in a rural area has exposed her to the ability to keenly understand the importance of working in treatment teams, the need to develop intense doctor-patient relationships and to interface with the entire community. Dr. Ramsey currently serves as president of the Western Psychiatric Society.

Mark Matta, DO, New Castle—Dr. Matta is a psychiatrist affiliated with Jameson Hospital. He is described as “not afraid to fight the hard battles against entities that threaten patient care.” Dr. Matta is known for advocating for his patients to make sure their medical needs are met through their managed care companies.

Jason Neustadter, MD, Penn Valley—Dr. Neustadter practices in Philadelphia with Skin & Laser Surgery Center of Pennsylvania. As a melanoma survivor at the age of 28, he is actively engaged in educating the public on proper sun protection through the media. He has testified before the Rhode Island State Legislature for a ban on indoor tanning for minors.

Carlo Bartoli, MD, PhD, Philadelphia—Dr. Bartoli is a physician with the University of Pennsylvania Department of Surgery, where he is devoted to research on heart failure. He has published nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles and presented 35 abstracts at professional conferences worldwide.

David Frankel, MD, Philadelphia—Dr. Frankel practices with Penn Heart & Vascular at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. In addition to being an assistant professor of medicine in cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, he runs a large clinical practice in cardiac electrophysiology. Dr. Frankel is described as the “physician’s physician” because of his expertise and skill set in performing complex electrophysiologic procedures.

Amanda Hu, MD, Philadelphia—Dr. Hu is an otolaryngologist who practices with Philadelphia Ear, Nose & Throat Associates. She is an emerging leader in the Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery as well as their national affiliate where she sits on several committees. She serves on the board of directors for both the Ear, Nose & Throat Journal and the Journal of Voice.

Priya Mitra, MD, Philadelphia—Dr. Mitra is with the Einstein Healthcare Network Department of Radiation Oncology. She has a unique training background that includes internal medicine and vast clinical experience in radiation therapy, radiosurgery, and brachytherapy. In her spare time, she volunteers in a mentorship program for foster children.

Richard Month, MD, Philadelphia—Dr. Month is an obstetric anesthesiologist with the University of Pennsylvania Health System. He led the redevelopment of Bylaws for the Pennsylvania Society of Anesthesiologists, and has also published numerous textbooks and journals regarding his work including initiatives for labor analgesia and analgesia for Cesarean delivery.

Dane Scantling, DO, Philadelphia—Dr. Scantling is the resident chair of the Philadelphia County Medical Society and the resident alternate delegate to the American Medical Association. He has co-authored three PAMED resolutions and one AMA resolution. Dr. Scantling is an active clinical researcher with more than a dozen peer-reviewed publications, a dozen national presentations, and multiple international presentations. He remains committed to community service, public health, and clinical practice as a general surgery resident at Drexel University and Hahnemann University Hospital.

Alexandra Tuluca, MD, Philadelphia—Dr. Tuluca is a heart surgeon with Einstein Healthcare Network and is board certified by the American Board of Surgery. She is the only female heart surgeon in the Philadelphia region that only does heart surgery, and one of less than 15 in the country.

Tamar Carmel, MD, Pittsburgh—Dr. Carmel is a psychiatrist in Pittsburgh with an affiliation with Family Services of Western Pennsylvania in Greensburg. Many of his accolades comes from various boards he sits on including the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the LGBTQ Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Program, the Allegheny County DHS LGBTQ Advisory Council, the Transgender Behavioral Health Initiative in Philadelphia, and Trans Bodies.

Andrew Pogozelski, MD, Pittsburgh—Dr. Pogozelski of Allegheny General Hospital’s McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute became one of the youngest advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologists in the country at the age of 31 in 2014. During his young career, he stabled a first-of-its-kind Heart Failure and Transplant Clinic in Western Pennsylvania, located outside the city of Pittsburgh in order to serve populations without the need to come into the city for advanced care.

Keith Stowell, MD, Pittsburgh—Dr. Stowell is a psychiatrist with the Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. At WPI he serves as medical director of psychiatric emergency services, one of the largest psychiatric emergency rooms in Pennsylvania. Dr. Stowell was recently appointed to the Medical Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Micah Jacobs, MD, Pittsburgh—Dr. Jacobs is an infectious disease specialist with Romano Pontzer & Associates Ltd. He is at the forefront of developing acute care in the outpatient setting for patients with moderately severe infections. Additionally, he is active in the development and promotion of antibiotic stewardship at a system level in the UPMC health system.

Nicole Velez, MD, Pittsburgh—Dr. Velez is director of surgical dermatology with AHN. She completed a combined internal medicine and dermatology residency at Harvard Medical School, working at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Lahey Clinic, and the Boston Veterans Affairs Hospital. She went on to complete a fellowship in Mohs micrographic surgery, cutaneous oncology, cosmetic dermatology, and nail surgery in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Matthew Novak, MD, Sayre—Dr. Novak is a nephrologist with Guthrie Medical Group PC-Sayre. Not only is he the section chief for the nephrology department at Guthrie Medical Group, P.C., he is also the current program director for the internal medicine residency program. Dr. Novak has a large patient base and is actively involved in Quality Improvement projects with both his outpatient clinic, outpatient dialysis center, in addition to the care patients who are admitted the Guthrie Robert Packer.

Ariane Conaboy, DO, Waverly Twp. —Dr. Conaboy, who recently turned 34, is one of the youngest presidents in the history of Lackawanna County Medical Society. She has been integral in formulating the region’s first Clinically Integrated Network that services three counties and allows physicians who are both independent and employed to work together to provide high quality, cost-conscious medical care. Dr. Conaboy is a member of the Medical Executive Committee at Moses Taylor Hospital.

John Vasudevan, MD, Wayne—Dr. Vasudevan is an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and is board certified in physical medicine & rehabilitation as well as sports medicine. He is very active with organized medicine through the Philadelphia County Medical Society, Pennsylvania Medical Society, and American Medical Association.

Diane Shih-Della Penna, MD, York—Dr. Shih-Della Penna is a general surgeon. After graduating from York Hospital's Residency in General Surgery program, she chose to stay locally in a private practice setting. As she started her practice, she also found the time to accept a board position at the York County Medical Society, where last year, she participated in the board's strategic planning.

Luis Garcia, MD, York—Dr. Garcia, a family medicine physician with Family First Health and York Hospital Family Medicine Residency, is described as a modest person, but with a large footprint being engaged in both medicine and his community. He works tirelessly to advocate for Latino health through health fairs and radio programs.

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The Pennsylvania Medical Society was founded in 1848. To learn more about PAMED, visit its web site at or follow on Twitter @PAMEDSociety. Members of the media are encouraged to follow Chuck Moran on Twitter @ChuckMoran7.

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