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COVID Pandemic - Lessons Learnt Virtual Conference

In 2020 the most important health crisis for the World Health Organization (WHO) as well the priority on the agenda of ministries of health in every country is the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid rate of spread of this infection has devastated the humanity as a whole and made significant changes in every life on earth. It is not more than 6 months since the WHO has declared the COVID-19 infection a pandemic, and we now see the true tragedy from the death toll that it has brought globally.

Unfortunately Armenia is not immune from this disaster, the rate of infection and death rate has been increasing dramatically especially from the end of May and well into month of June. The health care workers as well as authorities are in dire need for finding the effective defense mechanism against this infection. There are multiple studies under way and many different strategies have been suggested, however we still need scientifically proven methods to identify, control the spread, treat and prevent the infection as well as design strategies to attend the pre-pandemic health care issues.

This conference addresses thisglobal problem by discussing the experience gained through the period of pandemic worldwide,hence the name –“Lessons Learnt”. The goal is to scale the efforts and shift the course of action in finding the suitable ways to face current surge in infection as well as to address the correct way to return attention to other, usual and pre-pandemic health care matters.

Experts from across the world will be discussing related topics in 4 major categories, the epidemiology of COVID-19 including the comparison of defense strategies globally, clinical issues in general population, subspecialty topics in pregnancy and pediatric population with COVID, and finally the effect on health care industry, innovations, role of information technology and strategies to return to normal work in health care centers. The lectures will be followed by live Q&A sessions by moderators in a virtual format to address concerns from participants.

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Conference Agenda

25-07-2020 | 13:30 - 20:15

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Conference Speaker

Ani Aprahamian

Experimental Nuclear Science

Professor Ani Aprahamian is the director of A. Alikhanyan National Laboratory of Armenia and a Frank M. Freimann professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame. She is an experimental nuclear scientist interested in the origins of the heavy elements in the universe and the evolution of structure in neutron rich nuclei. Outside of her research, she has strong interests in the applications of nuclear science to energy and medicine. Aprahamian has served as a program director at the NSF, Mathematical and Physical Sciences Division in Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics, and Nuclear Physics. She has been a member of the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee and a member of several Long-range Plan Committees. She has been chair of American Physical Society’s (APS) Division of Nuclear Physics, and as a member of the APS Policy Committee. She has served on various committees of the United States National Science Academies giving advice to funding agencies on launching new projects, most recently, as co-chair of the Academies study of the Science of the EIC (2018), the decadal review of nuclear physics (NP2010: released in 2012). She is a fellow of the APS (1999), and the AAAS (2008). She is an elected foreign member of the Science Academy of the Republic of Armenia. She is on the JINR Scientific Council of Dubna (Russian Federation), the GSI-GAIR project (Germany), SPIRAL-II (France), and the FRIB project in the USA.

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Arbi Karapetian

Experimental Physics and Spacecraft System Architecture & Engineering

Arbi V. Karapetian is the Technical Group Supervisor for the Technology Infusion Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California. In his 17 year tenure at JPL, he has been involved with various flight projects, to include Cassini’s mission to Saturn, Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit & Opportunity), Soil Moisture characterization mission (SMAP), the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity), as well as a number of technology development projects.  In the recent years, Arbi has been working on the development and infusion of new technologies to enable a new era of space exploration, using smaller spacecraft. Developing partnerships with universities and industry partners, Arbi has been concentrating on the development of multi-function structures, integrated system-level optimized designs, and topology optimized design for additive manufacturing. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Experimental Physics from University of California Los Angeles and a Master of Science in Spacecraft System Architecture & Engineering from University of Southern California.

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Dr. Armen Aboulian

General and Colorectal Surgery

Dr. Armen Aboulian is board certified in General and Colorectal Surgery. He completed his residency at University of California-Harbor program and colorectal fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. He currently enjoys a busy cancer and inflammatory bowel disease practice out of Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. His research interests lie in outcomes of laparoscopic and robotic surgical procedures and quality improvement. He is also currently involved in international colorectal cancer screening programs.

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Dr. Ashot Sarkissian


Dr. Ashot Sarkissian as graduated from Yerevan State Medical Institute and completed his residency in Pediatrics at the Children’s University Hospital in Yerevan. He completed his fellowship in the field of pediatric nephrology at the Institute of Pediatrics in Moscow, Russia. Dr. Sarkissian had professional training in the field of pediatric nephrology at the University Children’s Hospital of Zurich (Switzerland). Since 1993 he is the one of main active persons who constituted the basis of long-term partnership program with University Children’s Hospital of Zurich. He had training in nephrology, hypertension, dialysis and kidney transplantation at the University Hospital of Antwerp (Belgium). As a result, living kidney donor transplantation regular program has been established in Armenia. Dr. Sarkissian is teaching pediatric nephrology at the National Institute of Health (Yerevan, Armenia). In 2006 he has become a Full professor of Paediatrics and a Chairman of Paediatric Department at the Yerevan State Medical University and contributed to the reformation of pediatric education in Armenia. He is a member of European Society on Pediatric Nephrology, International Pediatric Nephrology Association, International Society of Nephrology (ISN), Swiss Society of Nephrology, Armenian Physician Association of Nephrology, Hemodialysis and Transplantation (President), Armenian Pediatric Association (President). He has 78 full papers (14 in international journals) and editor of the Textbook on Pediatric Nephrology (in Russian). He and his collaborators are very active in Sister Renal and Transplant Center programs of ISN having permanent partners including Antwerp University Hospital (Belgium), Guy’s Hospital (London, UK), Bern University Hospital

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Dr. George Melikyan

Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine

Dr. George Melikian, MD, MPH is a Board certified physician (in infectious diseases and internal medicine), medical director, and professional statistician. He received his masters degree in infectious disease epidemiology and biostatistics from Yale University and his medical degree from New York Medical College. He completed his medicine residency at the University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital, and his specialty training infectious disease medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Since that time, he has practiced medicine in several roles. Serving as attending physician regional medical director for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, he has successfully managed over 40 specialty clinics in HIVAIDS healthcare. He is also Principal Investigator on numerous clinical research studies. Dr. Melikian is currently director of infectious disease at Facey Medical Group.

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Dr. Hambardzum Simonyan

Public Health, Pediatrics

Dr. Hambardzum Simonyan is the Deputy Country director on developments and the Healthcare programs director of Fund for Armenian Relief of America (FAR). Along with his work in FAR, Dr. Simonyan holds the position of the monitoring officer in Armenia of Artsakh-Armenia Fund (AAF). Along with all the administrative work, Dr. Simonyan has never given up practicing pediatrics. Treatment of children has always been one of the most important and favoriteactivities, that Dr. Simonyan is involved in. Dr. Simonyan earned his Medical Doctor (MD) degree from the Yerevan State Medical University Pediatrics department in 1997. The geography of Dr. Simonyan’strainings includes Austria, Armenia, USA and Russia, the topics are even more diverse –from clinical (pediatric cardiology, intensive therapy etc.) to more broad and public health related (medical education and leadership, good clinical practice, biosafety, monitoring and evaluation). Dr. Simonyan authored articles, which published in both local and international journals. Dr. Simonyan is a Board member of FAR Fellowship Alumni's Association, International Medical Advisory Board Member of a Direct Relief International organization, Scientific Board Member of National Medical Library, a member of Pediatric Association of Armenia.

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Dr. Khodam Rostomian

Public Health

Dr. Khodam Rostomian is assistant area medical director at Southern California Kaiser Permanente. He is also elected member of Board of Directors of Southern California Permanente Medical Group. He has held multiple leadership roles in Kaiser Permanente over past 25 years in operation, finance, quality, patient safety and risk management. Dr. Rostomian was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to the United States in pursue of higher education in 1984. He completed his medical education at Universality of Southern California (USC) School of Medicine in 1992 and received his ophthalmology training at USC Ophthalmology Department (Doheny Eye Institute). He joined Southern California Permanente Medical Group in 1996. Dr. Rostomian completed his MBA training at California State University in 2003. He has also completed physician leadership development programs at Harvard Business School in 2010 and California Health Care Foundation (CHCF- UCSF) in 2019. He received his Patient Safety Certification (CPPS) in 2018. Dr. Rostomian was recently appointed as COVID 19 Surge Planning co lead for Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley service area to plan and prepare medical center for expanding its capacity to manage COVID 19 surge and hospitalization needs

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Dr. Kim Hekimian

Nutrition in Pediatrics

Dr. Kim Hekimian, PhD is Assistant Professor of Nutrition in Pediatrics (Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition) and the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University.  She is also the Associate Director of Education for the VP&S Program in Education in Global and Population Health. Previously, she taught at the American University of Armenia’s School of Public Health and served as the Associate Director of the MPH Program and Director of the Center for Health Services Research. Dr. Hekimian received her PhD in Health Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Her research has focused on maternal and child nutrition. Dr. Hekimian teaches courses in public health nutrition and research methods (including qualitative methods and survey research) at VP&S and the IHN where she was also Associate Director of the Medical Nutrition Program for Health Professionals. As an educator at Columbia, she has been a recipient of the Provost Award, Hybrid Learning Course Redesign, for Research Methods in Global and Population Health. In addition, she is a member of Apgar Society of Medical Educators. Kim Hekimian serves on the executive boards of the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO), the Armenian Medical Fund (AMF), the Columbia University Armenian Center, and is active in the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). In Spring 2020, she co-organized a Public Health Working Group for Armenia during the time of COVID 19. This group of epidemiologists, biostatisticians, public health policy makers and risk communication experts from academic centers around the globe aims to support efforts of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia and the American University of Armenia School of Public Health in health system strengthening activities.

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Dr. Lorky Libaridian

Internal Medicine and Pediatrics

Dr. Lorky Libaridian graduated from Yale School of Medicine and completed a combined residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester, New York. She currently works at Cambridge Health Alliance, where she sees patients of all ages, and is the Medical Director for Performance Improvement in Primary Care. She completed a fellowship in Innovation, supported by the Gold Foundation. Her work and research interests include improving chronic disease management, as well as pediatric well care and vaccination. Lorky is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Lorky's experience in healthcare in Armenia spans several decades; her most recent work in Armenia focuses on education and training of family medicine residents as well as practicing primary care physicians using group and problem based participatory methods. She has presented and lectured at numerous conferences in Armenia.

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Dr. Narina Sargsyants

Infectious Diseases

Dr. Narina K. Sargsyants, MD, PhD is Health Ministry Advisor in the field of Infectious Diseases, infectionist in Elit-Med Medical Center, Hepatologist, Medecins sans frontiers (MSF), HCV treatment with DAA among MDR-TB patients․ She is a graduate of Yerevan State Medical University, Faculty in General Medicine and was a resident in Infectious diseases, Her PhD research topic: “Clinical, epidemiological peculiarities and results of treatment with Pegylated interferon-alpha 2a and Ribavirin of chronic viral hepatitis C in Armenia” Publications: 135 (53 in English), include 13 in Russian and 71 in international publications, 33 abstracts and\/or posters in international conferences

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Dr. Norayr Ghukasyan

Obstetrics and Genecology

Dr. Norayr Ghukasyan is a senior obstetrician/gynaecologist at Erebօuni Maternity in Yerevan since 2010. After graduating from Yerevan State Medical University after Mkhitar Heratsi in 2003, he had his residency in Obstetrics and gynaecology at National Institute of Health from 2003-2007 and took his PhD in 2011. He has also completed MBA at Yerevan State Medical University this year 2020. Parallel to his job, he is engaged in post-diploma education of residents, which lasts for 4 years. Erebuni Medical Center is considered a university hospital, where Obstetrics and gynaecology are equally effective. 2800-3000 operations (small, medium and massive) are performed annually at the department of operative gynaecology, while the Maternity House has over 4,500-5,000 deliveries annually. Norayr Ghukasyan is an author and co-author of a number of scientific articles published in recent years. He also actively takes part in seminars and conferences abroad, among them 2-month observership program at Cleveland Clinic in 2017, and 2-month practice at Heidelberg Frauenklinik, Germany, which contribute to his professional growth and enhance his skills and knowledge.

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Dr. Rafi Avitsian


Dr. Rafi Avitsian M.D. FASA, is a Professor of Anesthesiology in the department of General Anesthesiology in Cleveland Clinic. He is the program director of Neuroanestheisology Fellowship and one of the founders, as well as executive board member, of International Council for Perioperative Neuroscience Training (ICPNT). He is the immediate past president of Society for Neuroscience in Anesthesiology and Critical Care (SNACC). He is an American Board of Anesthesiologists’ Applied Senior Examiner, as well as a member of the Association of University Anesthesiologists & recipient of ASA-SEA Distinguished Education Award. His academic interest is mostly in brain tumors, anesthetic methods for seizure surgery, brain protection and outcomes of spine surgery as well as Difficult Airway Management. His clinical studies are mostly directed to finding ways to improve the outcome of surgery after neurosurgical procedures. He is also interested in medical innovations with already filed as well as published patents. Dr. Avitsian is on the executive board of International Center for Professional Development (ICPD) in Armenia.

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Dr. Samvel Badalyan

Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Dr. Sargis Ghazaryan

Anesthesiology and Intensive Care

Dr. Sargis Ghazaryan, MD, PhD, is an Anesthesiologist at Astghik Medical Center, Adviser to Director, Chief of COVID clinic at St Grigor Lousavoritch Medical Center. He is and Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Specialist. From 1998-2001 anesthesiology residency in Miqayelyan Surgical Institute, from 2002-2004 cardiac anesthesiology fellowship in Norq-Marash Medical Centre, from 2004-2016 staff anesthesiologist in Norq-Marash Medical Centre, from 2016 to now staff anesthesiologist in Astghik Medical Center. From 2018 chief advisor to the director of the Surb Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center, from 04.05.2020 to now chief of COVID 19 clinic in Surb Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center

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Dr. Shant Shirvanian

Internal Medicine

Dr. Shant Shirvanian attended Medical School at Ross University, where he graduated with Highest Honors. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was also elected Chief Resident. Dr. Shirvanian obtained his specialties in Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and is board certified in all specialties by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Shirvanian currently practices full-time Critical Care in the ICU at Adventist Health, Glendale, in addition to operating a Pulmonary private practice, Altitude Pulmonary and Critical Care Associates.

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Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian


Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian, MD obtained her Bachelor of Sciences degree with honors and her Medical Doctor degree at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. She subsequently moved to the United States to complete her pediatric residency in Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. She then proceeded with pediatric infectious diseases fellowship at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, New York, the only children’s hospital in the borough, where she stayed as faculty for 15 years. She has extensive expertise in treating a variety of infections in healthy as well as immunocompromised children, and she is a specialist in pre and post- travel counseling. She holds leadership positions at hospital and departmental level committees which include infection control, evidence-based treatment guidelines and housestaff education. Her basic research has focused on adenoviruses and she has been the principal investigator of multiple clinical trials; her work in both has been published in premier medical journals. She has won a faculty teaching award and is a strong advocate for quality assurance in medical care. She recently moved to Maimonides Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, the only children’s hospital in that borough, and has been tirelessly working in all aspects of COVID-19 at her organization, including publication of their pediatric experience. She volunteers as a board member of the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization and has informed the Armenian community about the new COVID-19 disease in a timely and thorough manner.

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Dr. Vahe Khachaturyan

Public Health

Dr. Vahe Khachadourian earned his MD from Yerevan State Medical University and Master of Public Health (MPH) from American University of Armenia (AUA) in 2011.  After graduating from the AUA MPH program, he worked at Zvart Avedisian Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development (CHSR) on a number of research projects. He also served as a Monitoring and Evaluation consultant for the National Tuberculosis Control Center of the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Armenia, overseeing practice in and performance of more than 70 Tuberculosis outpatient clinics in Armenia. In 2014, Dr. Khachadourian began his PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he received advanced training in quantitative research methods. His PhD thesis applied a mediation analysis framework and machine learning algorithms quantifying the impacts of natural disasters on diabetes and mortality. To pursue his passion in education and research, in 2017, Dr. Khachadourian returned to AUA, mentoring MPH students and teaching research methods courses. Dr. Khachadourian’s research in public health focuses on the theoretical and methodological, as well as the applied aspects of epidemiology in the field. His main interest in theory lies in advanced epidemiologic and statistical methods, with an emphasis on causal inference using data from observational studies.

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Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan

Public Health

Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan is a professor and dean in the Turpanjian School of Public Health (SPH), American University of Armenia (AUA). She also directs the Avedisian Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development (CHSR). Dr. Petrosyan was the associate dean in 2007-2015. She earned her PhD from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management. She also has a Master of Science, focusing on environmental health, from the University of Idaho and a degree in biochemistry from Yerevan State University. She has successfully led health services research projects in Armenia and the region focusing on public health services, tobacco control, tuberculosis control, primary care, ophthalmic care, diabetes care, environmental health, and other important topics. Dr. Petrosyan teaches graduate courses in health services research, program evaluation, and comparative health systems. In 2011-2016, she was a member of the Country Coordination Mechanism for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs in the Republic of Armenia. In 2012-2014, Dr. Petrosyan was the Advisor on Health Reforms to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia on a voluntary basis. Currently she is a member of the Public Council next to the Minister of Health of the Republic of Armenia, and the Management Council of the Health Inspectorate Body of the Government of Armenia. Prior to her arrival to AUA, she held a position of Research Assistant at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she conducted research on comparative health systems (focusing on health spending and cross national comparison of quality) in member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. She has been elected to Delta Omega Alpha Chapter, the US National Public Health Honorary Society in 2006. Dr. Petrosyan has authored many peer-reviewed publications and has extensively presented her work at international scientific meetings and conferences. She is currently the Associate Editor of the International Journal for Equity in Health, an open access, peer-reviewed journal.

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