CHA Asylum Program

The CHA Asylum Program (CHAAP) is a volunteer-run organization housed at Cambridge Health Alliance. Our volunteers are health professionals from a variety of disciplines, career stages, and clinical sites (academic medical centers, private practices, NGOs). Our primary aims are service through the provision of forensic medical evaluations; education through our multidisciplinary residency elective and a monthly seminar series; and research.

Please note: CHAAP is not accepting referrals from June 1- Aug 31 2024. If you have an urgent case that you would like to consult on, please email

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Who We Are

  • Mission
    • CHA Asylum Program (CHAAP) is a volunteer-run organization housed at Cambridge Health Alliance. Our volunteers are health professionals from a variety of disciplines, career stages, and clinical sites (academic medical centers, private practices, NGOs). Our primary aims are service through the provision of forensic medical and mental health evaluations (FMEs); education through our multidisciplinary residency elective and a monthly seminar series; and research.

  • Goals
    • Perform FMEs for people seeking asylum and other forms of humanitarian protection in the U.S.
    • Train future forensic medical evaluators in writing expert testimony
    • Build community
    • Ongoing education
  • Core Values




  • History

    In October 2021, after nearly three decades of pro-bono forensic medical evaluations (FMEs), CHA Asylum Program (CHAAP) was formally established at CHA.

    To address the FME provider shortage and the asylum application adjudication bottleneck in Greater Boston, CHAAP mobilized to increase FME capacity by:

    1. Changing our delivery model and service referral pathway.
    2. Expanding training and mentorship availability.
    3. Developing community partnerships with individual health professionals, hospitals, and organizations.
    4. Co-sponsoring the Asylum Medicine Training Initiative (AMTI), a national, multidisciplinary collaboration that has developed a virtual, peer-reviewed introductory curriculum in asylum medicine based on international standards (launched in September 2022).
    5. Partnering with CHA's Center for Health Equity Education and Advocacy, developing the nation’s first interdisciplinary Asylum Medicine Residency Elective for CHA residents utilizing the AMTI Curriculum, paired with live expert-led small groups (Semester One, “flipped classroom” model) and mentored FMEs (Semester Two, skills application with graduated responsibility).
  • Leadership Team
    Portrait of Diya KallivayalilDiya Kallivayalil, PhD

    Co-Director, CHAAP
    Faculty, Asylum Medicine Training Initiative

    Dr. Kallivayalil is the Co-director of the CHA Asylum Program (CHAAP) and a part-time Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Her clinical specialty is in the treatment of trauma-related disorders. She is a member of the task force for human rights of the American Psychological Association and has published in the areas of complex trauma, gender-based violence, homicide bereavement and refugee health. She is the former Director of Training of the Victims of Violence Program at Cambridge Health Alliance.

    Portrait of Eleanor EmeryEleanor (Ellie) Emery, MD

    Co-Director, CHAAP
    Program Director of Asylum Medicine Education, Center for Health Equity Education & Advocacy (CHEEA)
    Co-Lead, Asylum Medicine Training Initiative

    Dr. Emery is an internist with the Department of Internal Medicine at Northern Navajo Medical Center and an Instructor of Medicine, Part-Time at Harvard Medical School. Her work includes clinical, advocacy, and research efforts focused on improving access to high quality, trauma-informed care for underserved communities, including on Navajo Nation where she lives and practices clinically. Ellie has expertise in conducting forensic medical evaluations for people seeking asylum in the U.S. and has founded and led asylum clinics at Weill Cornell Medical College, Massachusetts General Hospital, UCLA, the University of New Mexico, and Cambridge Health Alliance. She co-leads the Asylum Medicine Training Initiative, a national working group of 80 experts from over 40 institutions that developed a virtual, peer-reviewed, introductory curriculum featuring best practices in asylum medicine based on international standards. Ellie also serves as the Program Director of Asylum Medicine Education at the Cambridge Health Alliance’s Center for Health Equity Education and Advocacy, and in this capacity developed and co-leads an interdisciplinary, year-long Asylum Medicine Elective for CHA residents.

    Portrait of Sara SnyderSara Snyder, PsyD, MPH, MA

    Director of Research and Development, CHAAP
    Faculty, Asylum Medicine Training Initiative

    Dr. Snyder is a clinical trauma psychologist and healthy equity researcher. She completed her 50-50% clinical-research postdoctoral fellowship at CHA/Harvard Medical School with time divided between the Victims of Violence Program (final cohort) and the Population Health Department. Prior to receiving her doctorate from Long Island University, Dr. Snyder received two global health degrees from Columbia University; a MPH in Public Health & Humanitarian Assistance and MA in Global Mental Health & Trauma. Sara’s global health projects include a: 1) RCT in Jordan’s Za’atari Refugee Camp & urban pockets assessing psychosocial case management; 2) formative evaluation of a psychosocial & livelihoods support program for former Lord’s Resistance Army child soldiers; 3) monitoring & evaluation plan to assess literacy & numeracy gains for programs in Rwanda resettlements; 4) grant to increase mental health care access for women in the UAE; 5) re-design of HoNOS for a Middle Eastern Refugee population; and 6) pilot normative study of the Rorschach in Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. Her domestic work focuses on equitable mental healthcare access, capacity building, measurement/treatment adaptation, and forensic medical evaluations for asylum seekers. 

    Portrait of Barbara OgurBarbara Ogur, MD

    Dr. Ogur is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and has been a primary care physician at the Windsor Street Health Center of the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), where she cared for an inner- city, largely immigrant population. During her many years of longitudinal primary care she has pursued special training and has acquired significant expertise in diagnosing and treating common conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Ogur has completed trainings in Asylum Medicine from Physicians for Human Rights and the Society of Refugee Healthcare Providers. In addition to her work with CHAAP’s leadership, she also teaches for the CHEEA Asylum Medicine Residency Elective. She has conducted more than 50 asylum evaluations.

    Portrait of Dr. Anita MathewsAnita Mathews, MD, MPH

    Dr. Mathews is a Family Medicine physician at Cambridge Health Alliance. She earned her medical and public health degrees at the Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and completed her family medicine residency at the University of Colorado, where she developed a focus on immigrant health, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment. In addition to her primary care work, she is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at TUSM, a contributor to the Asylum Medicine Training Initiative, and teaching faculty for CHA’s Asylum Medicine elective course. She completed the Physicians for Human Rights’ forensic medical evaluation training in 2021 and is a member of the Society for Asylum Medicine and the Society for Refugee Healthcare Providers.

    Portrait of Jennifer StephensonJennifer Stephenson, MPH, BSN, RN

    Program Coordinator, CHAAP

    Jennifer J Stephenson has been a Registered Nurse for over 8 years with a speciality in Pediatrics. She is currently the Nurse Manager for both Pediatric clinics within Cambridge Health Alliance and the Program Coordinator for CHAAP (CHA Asylum Project). She received her undergraduate degree in Nursing from the University of Rhode Island and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Connecticut. Jennifer desires to address health inequities and implement programs for the benefit of children and their families.

    Portrait of Malak RaflaMalak Rafla, MD

    Dr. Rafla is a board certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist. He is a staff attending psychiatrist at CHA and an Assistant Professor, Part-time in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Alexandria in Egypt and completed his adult and child psychiatry training at the Mount Sinai/Elmhurst training program in New York. In addition to his clinical work, he teaches, supervises and conducts research at CHA on addressing healthcare disparities for vulnerable child populations. Dr. Rafla’s areas of academic and clinical interest include working with immigrant families and minority groups, asylum evaluations, community psychiatry, integrated care, trauma and stressor related disorders, infant-parent mental health, preschool consultation immigrant and refugee health and healthcare equity.

  • Steering Committee
    Portrait of Dr. Gaurab BasuGaurab Basu, MD, MPH

    Dr. Basu is a physician and co-founder of the CHA Center for Health Equity Education and Advocacy (CHEEA). Dr. Basu is the Director of Education and Policy at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Basu has received numerous awards in medical education, including the inaugural Equity, Social Justice and Advocacy Faculty Award and the Charles McCabe Faculty Prize in Excellence at Harvard Medical School. He has been a Curtis Prout Academy Fellow at Harvard Medical School and a Harvard Macy Scholar. At Harvard Medical School, he is the faculty director of the Climate Change and Health curricular theme, has been co-director of the social medicine course and has served on the Task Force to Address Racism. Dr. Basu has been recognized nationally for his work in climate change and health equity. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation named him a “Culture of Health Leader” in 2018. In 2021, he was named to the Grist 50 list of national climate leaders. He has served on the Implementation Advisory Committee in the Massachusetts Governor’s Executive Office Of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

    Portrait of Dr. Rose MolinaRose L. Molina, MD, MPH

    Dr. Molina is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and scholar-activist with a passion for applying language and immigration status as critical lenses for understanding and eliminating inequities in maternal health. She completed the Global Women’s Health Fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and obtained a Master of Public Health in Clinical Effectiveness from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She works at the Ariadne Labs,Dimock Center, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). Dr. Molina is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, the Lawrence Director of Professionalism, Humanism, and Health Equity in Medicine, the inaugural Director of the Medical Language Program at Harvard Medical School, and is the Director of the OB-GYN Diversity, Inclusion & Advocacy Committee at BIDMC. At CHAAP, she specializes in sexual and gender-based violence FMEs with a focus on female genital mutilation/cutting.

    Portrait of Dr. Richard PelsRichard Pels, MD

    Dr. Pels first came to the Cambridge Health Alliance (then Cambridge Hospital) as a primary care resident in 1983. Following residency training and medical education and general medicine fellowships at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Pels joined the faculty as a clinician-educator in primary care at Cambridge and directed the Harvard-affiliated primary care medicine residency program from 1994 to 2017. In 1999 he became director of Graduate Medical Education and served as Medical Staff President from 2003 to 2005. He became Associate Chief of Medicine in 2005 and Chief of Medicine in 2017. Dr. Pels has long been interested in developing innovative residency programming in prevention and population medicine. Throughout his career, he has conducted many asylum evaluations, mentored junior faculty in this work, and co-authored a training manual with colleagues from Physicians for Human Rights. Dr. Pels continues practicing primary care medicine and teaching Harvard medical students, residents, and practicing clinicians.

    Portrait of Jim Recht Jim Recht, MD

    Dr. Recht graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1990 before moving to the Boston area, where he completed his psychiatry residency training in 1994. He was appointed to the clinical faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1996 and has held a continuous teaching appointment, currently as a Lecturer on Psychiatry, since that time. Dr. Recht’s career has combined direct clinical care with teaching and supervision in community and underserved settings. He is currently the HIV Team psychiatrist at Boston Healthcare for The Homeless Program. Dr. Recht’s experience in immigration and refugee health began with a 3rd year residency elective with the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT). He later served as an HPRT attending psychiatrist. Dr. Recht became a member of the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) Asylum Network in 2005, and since then has been busy conducting and supervising forensic psychological evaluations for refugees seeking asylum.

    Portrait of Dr. Rebekah RollstonRebekah Rollston, MD, MPH

    Dr. Rollston is a Family Medicine Hospitalist at CHA Everett Hospital, Faculty of the CHA Asylum Program, Telehealth Primary Care Physician at the Indian Health Service (IHS) Rosebud Service Unit (in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital), Instructor at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and Faculty Affiliate of the HMS Center for Primary Care. She earned her Medical Degree from East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine (in the Rural Primary Care Track) and her Master of Public Health from The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She completed her residency at Tufts University Family Medicine Residency at Cambridge Health Alliance, with specialized training in family planning and addiction medicine. Dr. Rollston has published in the areas of social determinants of health & health equity, gender-based violence, sexual & reproductive health, substance use disorder treatment, rural health, homelessness & supportive housing, and immigrant health. She completed the Asylum Medicine Training Initiative in 2023.

    Portrait of Jenny Wen, MD, Internal MedicineJenny Wen, MD, MPH

    Dr. Wen graduated from Internal Medicine Resident physician at Cambridge Health Alliance pursuing a career in hospital medicine and asylum medicine. As a psychology student at Rice University and later a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, she studied sexual violence in the US and internationally including in Nepal, Sweden, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Myanmar, and India. She graduated with a MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she co-created local and national educational programs in Trauma Informed Care for resident physicians and medical students, and presented nationally on these topics. Jenny also earned a Masters of Public Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she advocated for expanding access to medication based opioid disorder treatment for incarcerated people with national and state legislators, public health organizations, and legal collaborators such as the ACLU. In residency she was fortunate to incorporate her prior experiences and skills in trauma informed care, medical education, and interdisciplinary advocacy to the field of asylum medicine. Jenny contributed to the national Asylum Medicine Training Initiative curriculum and joined the CHA Asylum Program.

  • Evaluators and Residents

    Leadership Team and Steering Committee Members (excluding Drs. Basu and Pels):
    Jaine Darwin, PsyD
    Emily Manove, PhD, LLM
    Ellen Plumb, MD
    Sarah Rosenberg-Scott

    Current Residents (housed at CHEEA)

    2024 Cohort
    Charles de Guzman, MD
    José Domínguez, MD, MPH
    Ian Dwyer, MD
    Jiyeon Lim, MD
    Abigail Solomon, MD

    Former Residents

    2023 Cohort
    Adam Bazari, MD MS
    Kara Carew MD
    Jordan Cahn, MD, Msc
    Shanon Hogan, MD, MPH
    Pamela Rook, PsyD
    Sarah Sanders, MD
    Jenny Wen, MD, MPH
    Preston Williams, MD

How to Submit A Case -- For Attorneys

As a training program, all CHA Asylum Program (CHAAP) forensic medical evaluations (FMEs) will have a lead clinician and a training clinician. If your client does not consent to a training clinician being present at the evaluation, we will provide an appropriate referral to meet his/her/their needs. Please note not-for-profit cases are prioritized.

Asylum Medicine Residency Elective

CHAAP has partnered with CHA's Center for Health Equity Education and Advocacy to develop a year-long, interdisciplinary Asylum Medicine Elective for CHA residents and postdoctoral fellows. Launched in 2022, this elective utilizes the Asylum Medicine Training Initiative's Introductory Curriculum paired with live, virtual small groups, and mentorship to teach trainees to conduct forensic medical evaluations (FMEs) for asylum seekers. This training opportunity is housed with CHEEA, please visit their website for additional information.

Global Health and Human Rights (GHHR) Seminar Series

As part of the CHA Asylum Program’s ongoing efforts to expand open-access education on topics relevant to displacement and asylum medicine, we host a monthly seminar series with local experts across various disciplines (medicine, law, healthcare, environment, etc.). These seminars are free to the public and are intended to encourage dialogue across all persons.

Unless otherwise specified, GHHR seminars are held the third Monday of each month at noon EDT. To view upcoming events, click here. If you want to have your email added to the GHHR calendar invites, please email us.

We cannot guarantee all seminars will be recorded, as speakers are given the choice to opt-into recording. For a list of prior recorded seminars, click here.

If you have a topic of interest or recommendation for a speaker, please contact us at

Learn About Asylum Medicine

  • Key Asylum Medicine Definitions and Resources
    • Asylum Seekers are individuals fleeing their home country due to fear of persecution based on protected categories recognized by international law (race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership to a social group) who request permission to reside permanently in the United States.

    • For more information on the asylum process, please visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services or UNHCR websites.
    • For more information on the types of human migration, please visit Amnesty International.
    • Forensic Medical Evaluation (FME) is a non-medical evaluation conducted by a health professional to document consequences of harms (psychological/physical) experienced by an asylum seeker.
    • Evaluator is a medical professional (typically a physician, psychologist, nurse, or social worker) who conducts the FME. In our clinic, evaluators are accompanied by co-clinicians (or trainees).
    • Medico-Legal Affidavit is the report an evaluator and co-clinician produce for the FME.

  • How to get involved

Contact Us

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