SC CTSI Scholars

2014 KL2 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Gregory Idos, MD
  • Education: University of Vermont College of Medicine, Doctorate of Medicine; University of California Los Angeles, Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology

    Research Project: Multiplex Gene Panel Testing in the Diagnosis of Hereditary Cancer

    Background: Dr. Gregory Idos is a gastroenterologist with specialized training in hereditary cancer syndromes. Having trained in Boston at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Center under the direction of national experts, Dr. Idos has an extensive background in caring for patients with hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes, notably Lynch Syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). Currently, he works with Stephen Gruber MD, PhD, MPH, Director of USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, as part of the Norris Cancer Genetics Clinic. The Cancer Genetics Clinic specializes in care for persons with a personal or family history of cancer who may benefit from genetic testing and counseling to understand and manage their risk of cancer. In addition, Dr. Idos’ research interest is focused on the study of gastrointestinal cancer and cancer chemoprevention. Currently, he directs studies aimed at understanding the use of genetic information for the overall risk reduction and prevention of cancer
  • Name: Sarah Rubin, MD
  • Education: University of Southern California, Master of Science in Clinical, Biomedical, and Translational Investigations; Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Doctorate of Medicine; University of Virginia, Bachelor of Arts in Biology

    Research Project: Enabling Early Recognition of Pediatric Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

    Background: Dr. Rubin is an Assistant Professor at the USC Keck School of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics. She is also an attending physician in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Dr. Rubin received her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia and went on to receive her medical degree from the Chicago Medical School in Chicago, Illinois. She completed her clinical pediatrics residency and pediatric critical care fellowship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in 2010. Dr. Rubin spent a year honing her clinical skills in the PICU and CTICU at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York before returning to CHLA to pursue a career as a physician-scientist. She will receive a master’s degree in clinical and biomedical investigation from USC in May 2014. Dr. Rubin is passionate about preventing critical illness in children. Her current work focuses on early identification and prevention of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, an often deadly pediatric illness. Her work leverages informatics techniques for extraction of complex medical data and utilizes both conventional statistics and novel machine learning algorithms to develop the first predictive model for pediatric ARDS.
  • Name: Christopher Russell, MD
  • Education: Harvard Medical School, Doctorate of Medicine; Harvard University, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Biology

    Research Project: Evolution of bacterial lower respiratory tract infections in pediatric patients with tracheostomies

    Background: Christopher J. Russell, M.D. is a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. He completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Biology at Harvard University, his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, and his pediatric residency at the University of California, San Francisco campus. His research interests focus on developing evidence-based care for hospitalized children with medical complexity, particularly those with tracheostomies admitted for bacterial respiratory tract infections. Through the KL2 program, he hopes to: (1) determine risk factors for development of bacterial lower respiratory tract infections in patients after initial tracheostomy placement; (2) define the association between respiratory tract microbiome evolution and patient outcomes; and (3) document the evolution of the respiratory tract microbiome after treatment of lower respiratory tract infections in tracheostomized patients. Completion of this project will provide preliminary data to inform multicenter retrospective studies and prospective therapeutic trials for the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections in pediatric patients with tracheostomies.
  • Name: Mark Shiroishi, MD
  • Education: University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, Doctorate of Medicine; University of California Los Angeles, Bachelor of Science in Biology

    Research Project: Multiparametric Functional MRI to Differentiate Pseudoprogression from True Early Progression in Newly Diagnosed Glioblastoma Treated with Temozolomide Chemaradiation.

    Background: A native of the Los Angeles area, Dr. Mark Shiroishi completed college, medical school and radiology residency at UCLA. Following this, he completed a 2-year neuroradiology fellowship at USC, including a dedicated year-long pediatric neuroradiology fellowship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Division of Neuroradiology of the Keck School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology as well as Chief of Pediatric Neuroradiology at LAC/USC Medical Center. His main research interests are in the application of advanced imaging techniques such as diffusion and perfusion MRI as well as imaging genomics in the fields of neuro-oncology, cerebrovascular disease, pediatrics and neurodegenerative disorders. His research project for his KL2 award centers on the development of novel imaging biomarkers to differentiate pseudoprogression from true early progression in newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients treated with temozolomide chemoradiation.

2014 TL1 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Amber Angell, PhD Student
  • Education: Texas Woman’s University, Master of Occupational Therapy; Texas Woman’s University, Bachelor of Science in Health Studies

    Research Project: Understanding Bilingual Latino Families’ Experiences of Autism Diagnosis and Services

    Background: Amber Angell, MOT, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist and a PhD candidate in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, conducting her doctoral research in the lab of Olga Solomon, PhD. Her clinical experience working as an occupational therapist with children with disabilities and their families in Los Angeles has informed her research interests in health disparities, autism, and clinical translational research. Her multi method research project titled Understanding Bilingual Latino Families’ Experiences of Autism Diagnosis and Services combines urban ethnography with social networks analysis to examine the experiences of bilingual Latino families of children with autism related to obtaining an autism diagnosis and services for their children.
  • Name: Jordan Despanie, PhD Student
  • Education: Louisiana State University, Bachelor of Science in Biology

    Research Project: Enhancing drug synergy using protein polymer nanoparticles against Metastatic breast cancer

    Background: Jordan Despanie is a second year Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD student at the USC School of Pharmacy. After obtaining his BS in Biology from Louisiana State University, Jordan worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital studying how defective protein trafficking underlies Cystic fibrosis prior to starting graduate school. His current research focuses on developing protein polymer nanoparticles as chemotherapy drug carriers to reduce their toxicities in the treatment of Metastatic breast cancer.
  • Name: Julie Jang, MD/PhD Student
  • Education: Pepperdine University, Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

    Research Project: Targeted Immunotherapy for the Treatment of Solid Tumors

    Background: Julie Jang is an MD/PhD student of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. At Pepperdine University, she completed an undergraduate honors thesis on chaperone proteins and the unfolded protein response. Preceding her graduate work, she conducted research on hematopoiesis and stem cell transplant at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and at the University of California, Los Angeles. She currently is in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Epstein, where she is investigating the use of antibody-drug conjugates in bolstering an immune response against tumors. With her diverse background in bench research, she is excited to join the SC CTSI program as she learns how she can translate her work to improvements in medicine.
  • Name: Elizabeth Siantz, PhD Student
  • Education: Columbia University School of Social Work, Masters in Social Work; Indiana University, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Gender Studies

    Research Project: Implementation of Peer Providers in Integrated Health Care Settings

    Background: Elizabeth’s research interests include implementation of integrated health care services and services provided by peers supports. She has worked on several projects related to the implementation of integrated health services. From 2007-2010 she worked as a research project manager at the Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence at New York State Psychiatric Institute on a community level assessment, which evaluated the availability of integrated primary and mental health care in Northern Manhattan. She is currently a research scientist on the Mental Health Services Act Los Angeles Innovations Study, which is a policy experiment evaluating a system wide implementation of primary care services within public mental health clinics in Los Angeles County. Her dissertation research focuses on the implementation of peers in health settings integrated under this initiative, and will explore the barriers and facilitating factors associated with their implementation; the network influences that contribute to integrating peers into health care teams; and the perspectives of peers on providing care in integrated health settings. She recently completed a systematic review on Chronic Disease Self-Management interventions for persons with SMI, which is in press at General Hospital Psychiatry.

2013 KL2 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Stefanie Bodison, OTD, OTR/L (Occupational Therapy)
  • Education: Postdoctoral Fellowship - University of Southern California, 2013; OTD in Occupational Therapy - University of Southern California, 2010; MA in Occupational Therapy - University of Southern California, 1994; BS in Occupational Therapy - University of Southern California, 1992.

    Research Project: Investigation of the Neural Mechanisms of Sensorimotor Integration in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Background: Stefanie Bodison, OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist specializing in sensory integration, Neuro-Developmental Treatment™, and feeding and oral-motor interventions for children. She is currently completing an NIH-funded Ruth L. Kirschstein T32 Postdoctoral Training Program entitled Training in Rehabilitation Efficacy and Effectiveness Trials, which is administered through the USC Divisions of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, and Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy (1T32 HD64578-01A1). Her research interests are on the study of neural mechanisms underlying sensorimotor integration in both typically developing children and those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the development of a screening tool to identify developmental dyspraxia in children. The primary aim of this KL2 award is to accelerate Dr. Bodison's development as an independent scholar conducting multidirectional translational research evaluating the efficacy, effectiveness and implementation of rehabilitation interventions for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

  • Name: Elizabeth Burner, MD, MPH (Emergency Medicine)
  • Education: Research Fellowship USC Department of Emergency Medicine 2013; Masters in Public Health UC Los Angeles School of Public Health 2012; Emergency Medicine Residency LAC+USC Medical Center 2011; Medical Internship Cedars Sinai Medical Center/West Los Angeles Veteran’s Affairs Hospital 2008; Medical School UC San Diego 2007; B.S./B.A. Biology/Latin American Studies UC San Diego 2003

    Research Project: Harnessing mHealth and social support to improve diabetes related health behavior for inner-city patients

    Background: Elizabeth Burner, MD, MPH, is an Emergency Physician with the USC Department of Emergency Medicine, and the current research fellow. Her current research fellowship is supported by an F32 NRSA grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (1F32DK094547.) She will begin as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine in July 2013 when her fellowship is complete. Her research interests are understanding how cultural experiences interact with health outcomes and exploring new communication technologies to improve health behaviors and healthcare access for medically underserved populations, particularly for inner-city Latino patients with diabetes. The KL2 Scholar Program will allow her to grow into an independent investigator useing a mixed method paradigm of quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate these complex social and behavioral issues.
  • Name: Danieli Salinas, M.D. (Pediatric Pulmonology)
  • Education: Pediatric Residency, Stanford University, 2008; Pediatric Pulmonology Fellowship, University of California, San Francisco, 2005; Medical School, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), 1995.

    Project Title:
    Outcome Prediction in Children with a Positive California Cystic Fibrosis Newborn Screening.

    Background: Danieli Salinas, M.D. has been an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine practicing at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in the Pediatric Pulmonology Division for 4 years. Dr. Salinas is originally from Brazil and first came to California for her fellowship training in 2001. Since then, she has committed her clinical and research career to Cystic Fibrosis (CF). She is a recipient of the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Award 2013. She plans to use this award to develop her skills as a clinical translational researcher investigating the prediction of clinical outcomes based on the CF genetic defect identified by the newborn screening program.
  • Name: Alex Wong, MD (Surgery - Plastic and Reconstructive)
  • Education: Microsurgery Fellowship - NYU Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, 2008-2009; Resident in Plastic Surgery - University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 2002-2008; Post-doctoral Research Fellowship - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 2005-2006; Doctor of Medicine - Harvard Medical School, 1997-2002; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellowship for Medical Students, 1999-2000; Bachelors of Art - College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell University 1993-1997.

    Research Project: Development of hyaluronan as a biomarker for lymphedema.

    Background: Dr. Alex Wong is a board certified plastic surgeon, fellowship trained microsurgeon, and translational research scientist. He is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Director of Medical Student Education, and Associate Director of the Microsurgery Fellowship. Dr. Wong's clinical practice includes complex reconstruction of head and neck, breast, trunk, and lower extremity defects as well as aesthetic surgery of the face, breast, and body. He has been named a Top Doctor by Pasadena Magazine for 2010-2012 and Rising Star by Super Doctors in 2013. Dr. Wong is a Principal Investigator at the USC Institute of Genetic Medicine as well as an Associate Member of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Broad-CIRM Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. His research interests include the development of a biomarker for the development of lymphedema, adipose derived stem cells therapy for radiation-damaged wounds, microvascular flap physiology, and mechanisms of radiation induced silicone implant capsular contracture. Dr. Wong's research has previously been funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, American Cancer Society, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation, American Society for Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the Robert E. and May R. Wright Foundation.

2013 TL1 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Melissa Agnello, BA, BS (Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics – School of Pharmacy)
  • Education: University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy – PhD Candidate in Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics; The George Washington University - Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences and Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, 2008

    Research Project: Biological basis for the differential adaptation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa tofluoroquinolone exposure

    Background: Melissa is currently working on her PhD in Dr. Annie Wong-Beringer's lab, as part of the Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics Program, in the USC School of Pharmacy. Her research focuses on the correlation of antibiotic resistance and virulence in the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. She is orignally from New Jersey, and attended the George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she earned a BS in Biological Sciences as well as a BA in Psychology. She then went on to complete a year-long post-baccalaureate fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. After earning her PhD, she hopes to continue working in infectious disease research.
  • Name: Dorsa Beroukhim, BS (Neuroscience)
  • Education: University of Southern California, Neuroscience – Phd Candidate; University of California, Los Angeles – Neuroscience, BS, 2010.

    Research Project: Intrinsic Motivation As a Mediator of Plasticity Driven Motor Recovery After Stroke

    Background: Dorsa Beroukhim is a second year student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Southern California, conducting her doctoral research under the guidance of Dr. Carolee Winstein. Her research objective is to advance development of clinical intervention techniques that enhance cognitive and motor function in patients affected by cortical damage, such as from neural injury or neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, she aims to investigate the mechanisms underlying plasticity driven motor recovery as related to stroke neurorehabilitation. Before starting her graduate studies, Dorsa conducted research at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel under the guidance of Dr. Raz Yirmiy, studying the role of microglia in learning and memory after exposure to enriched environments, using mice as an animal model. Dorsa completed her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience at UCLA in 2010. As an undergraduate student, Dorsa conducted research under the guidance of Dr. Stephanie White, where she studied the neural basis of language and vocal learning, using the zebra finch songbird as an animal model
  • Name: Jonathan Tucci, BS, BA (Genetic, Molecular and Cellular Biology Medicine)
  • Education: University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine – MD/PhD Student; University of California, Irvine – BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and BA in Political Science

    Research Project: Investigating the role of adipocyte-derived free fatty acids in leukemia pathogenesis

    Background: I am currently a third-year M.D./Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Steven Mittelman at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Before attending the University of Southern California, I graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a B.S. in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and a B.A. in Political Science. As a member of the Mittelman Lab, I explore the role of adipose tissue in pediatric leukemia pathogenesis. Joining the SC CTSI program will allow me the opportunity to bring my project to the clinical setting and prepare me for a future career in pediatrics and translational research.
  • Name: Andrew Woodham, BA (Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology)
  • Education: University of Southern California - PhD Candidate in Genetics, Molecular, & Cellular Biology Program; University of Washington – Biochemistry, BA, 2009

    Research Project: Prevention of HPV16 infection via small molecule Inhibition of A2t and reversal of
    HPV-induced immune suppression with Poly-ICLC

    Andrew W. Woodham graduated with a B.A. in biochemistry from the University of Washington before joining the University of Southern California where he is currently a fourth year PhD candidate in the Genetics, Molecular, and Cellular Biology graduate program. He works in the laboratory of W. Martin Kast, PhD at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center where he was awarded the 2013-2014 Heidelberger Award. Andrew's current research has identified a novel HPV uptake receptor, the annexin A2 heterotetramer, and he plans to translate these findings to HPV prevention and therapeutics through the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute as a TL1 scholar.

2012 KL2 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Lilyana Amezcua, MD (Neurology)
  • Education: Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Fellowship, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, 2006; Neurology Residency and Chief Neurology Resident-LAC+USC, 2006; Medical Center, 2006Medicine, MD, Jefferson Medical College, 2002

    Research Project: Ancestry: Marking its Impact in Hispanics with Multiple Sclerosis

    Background: Lilyana Amezcua, MD is an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Southern California (USC), Keck School of Medicine. She received her MD degree from Jefferson Medical College. She completed a residency in neurology and was chief resident at USC. She was awarded a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Fellowship by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and trained under the direction of USC's Dr. Leslie P. Weiner. Her research is focused on identifying potential genetic and epidemiological contributions to prognosis in MS and how that may contribute to healthcare disparities observed between Hispanics and other racial/ethnic groups with MS.

  • Name: Lara Nelson, MD (Anesthesiology Critical Care Medicine)
  • Education: Fellowship, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine-University of Minnesota Medical Center, 2004; Residency, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry-Rhode Island Hospital, 2001; St. Louis University School of Medicine, MD, 1996

    Research Project: Stress Response in Children and their Parents after Hospitalization in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

    Background: Lara P. Nelson, M.D., is originally from Minnesota, and first came to California to obtain her Bachelors’ degree from Claremont McKenna College. She followed this with medical school at St. Louis University School of Medicine. Her post-graduate training included a combined residency in Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Child Psychiatry at Brown University and a fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at University of Minnesota Medical Center. She returned to California when she joined the faculty at Keck School of Medicine University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) in 2010. She is the happy recipient of the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Award2012. She plans to use this award to develop her skills as a clinical translational researcher investigating the stress response of children and their parents following admission to the pediatric intensive care unit.

  • Name: Johanna Olson, MD (Clinical Pediatrics)
  • Education: Fellowship, Adolescent Medicine, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, 2003; Internship and Residency, Children’s Hospital Orange County, 2000; Medicine, MD,Chicago Medical School,1997

    Research Project: The Physiologic andPsychosocial Development of Gender Non-Conforming Youth From Childhood to Young Adulthood

    Background: Johanna Olson, MD has been an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine practicing in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for the past 6 years. Dr. Olson specializes in the care of gender non-conforming children and transgender youth. Over the past two years she has begun a career in clinical translational research. In 2010, she received a CHLA Saban Research Institute Clinical Research Academic Career Development Award.

  • Name: Gabriel Zada, MD (Neurosurgery)
  • Education: Chief Resident, Neurological Surgery - University of Southern California, 2011; Fellowship - Brigham and Women's Hospital, 2010; Residency in Neurological Surgery - University of Southern California, 2009; Medicine - University of California of San Francisco, 2004

    Research Project: Integrative Genomic and Epigenetic Analysis of Pituitary Adenomas

    Background: Dr. Gabriel Zada specializes in brain tumor and pituitary surgery, and is the Director of Endoscopic Cranial Base Surgery at USC. Dr. Zada did his undergraduate education in Neurobiology at UC Berkeley, and then went on to receive a medical degree at UC San Francisco. Dr. Zada did his neurosurgical residency training at LA County-USC Medical Center, and then went on to complete a fellowship in Endoscopic Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Following this he spent several additional months learning advanced endoscopic cranial base surgery in Naples, Italy. Dr. Zada has developed a keen interest in brain and pituitary tumors, and specializes in endoscopic transsphenoidal and advanced cranial base surgery, open skull base surgery, and neuro-oncology. He plans to study the process of tumor invasion and atypical behavior in pituitary adenomas via integrative genomic and epigenetic next-generation sequencing techniques.

2012 TL1 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Natalie Kintz, BA (Neurology)
  • Education: University of Southern California -PhD Program in Neuroscience; University of Southern California-BA 2008 Neuroscience

    Research Project: Targeting neruplasticity as a novel therapeutic for treating Parkinson's Disease

    Background: Natalie is currently a PhD Candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program. Natalie is conducting her graduate research in Dr. Michael Jakowec's lab investigating the molecular mechanisms regulating synaptic function and neuroplasticity in the basal ganglia in an attempt to further elucidate the mechanisms driving pathological changes in neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease. Before beginning her doctoral training at USC, Natalie completed her bachelor's in Neuroscience with minors in Natural Science and Gerontology at USC. As an undergraduate, Natalie worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Urological Sciences Research Foundation (USRF) assisting with the management of two clinical research studies. Natalie then worked for several years as an Associate Project Manager at Advanced Brain Monitoring (ABM), a biotech company in Carlsbad, CA. At ABM, Natalie worked primarily on research projects investigating neurophysiological correlates of skill acquisition.

  • Name: Mario Pulido, MSc (Biochemistry)
  • Education: Biochemistry, MSc - College of Science, Chemistry Department, California State Polytechnic University, 2007; Chemistry, BSc - School of Physical Sciences, University of California Irvine, 2003

    Research Project: Clinical Translation of anti-Hu immune response to diagnosis and treatment of SCLC

    Background: Mario Pulido, MSc, a third-year PhD student in the Genetic, Molecular, and Cellular Biology PhD program at USC, is interested in developing early detections tools and innovative treatments for small-cell lung cancer. Mario, who resides in the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, hopes to translate key scientific observations from the bench to patient treatment, supported by the dual mentorship of his principal investigator Ite A. Laird-Offringa, PhD, and collaborating clinical oncologist Stephen Liu, MD. Mario believes that the CTSI TL1 award will provide competencies to properly perform clinical research and to learn about the decision-making process for incorporating basic research findings into the clinic. Mario looks forward to meeting and working with CTSI faculty, staff, and other TL1 and KL2 awardees and is excited to attend the Annual National Pre-doctoral Clinical Meeting at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. Mario also enjoys teaching and mentoring undergraduate and summer students in the lab of Dr. Ite A. Laird-Offringa.

  • Name: Lisa Yan, BSc (Biochemistry)
  • Education: Biochemistry, BSc - University of California Los Angeles, 2009

    Research Project: Forced LIGHT Expression in Prostate Cancer as an Augmenter of Therapeutic Vaccine Efficacy

    Background: Lisa joined the USC family in 2009 and discovered her interest in cancer immunotherapy while rotating in W. Martin Kast’s lab. The focus of her research is to better prostate cancer immunotherapies with an augmenter ligand, LIGHT, found to attract naïve T cells into tumor microenvironments, manipulate regulatory T cells and induce antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. Her interest includes studying tumor microenvironments and suppressive T cells that dampen the efficacy of cancer vaccines.

  • Name: Megan Yardley, BSc (Neuroscience)
  • Education: University of Southern California - PhD Candidate, MS Graduate Student 2014; Stonehill College – Neuroscience, BS, 2009

    Research Project: Development of Ivermectin (IVM) as a therapeutic agent for alcohol-related disorders

    Background: Megan Yardley is a third year Ph.D. candidate in the USC School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Science. Megan is also currently working towards her Masters degree in Management of Drug Development in the Regulatory Science Program at USC School of Pharmacy. Megan’s primary research is conducted under the guidance of Drs. Daryl Davies and Ron Alkana. Megan is focusing her investigations on the discovery and development of novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of alcohol abuse and misuse (alcohol use disorders [AUDs]). The central hypothesis of Megan’s CETCD Pre-doctoral Clinical and Translational Training Program proposal is that ivermectin, a broad-spectrum antiparasitic used worldwide in humans and animals can be repurposed for the treatment of AUDs. In addition to her bench studies, Megan will collaborate with Dr. Michael Neely from the Department of Pediatrics in the Keck School of Medicine. Under Dr. Neely’s mentorship, Megan will learn the methodology allowing her to use a population approach to develop a robust and rich IVM pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) model. This model will be useful in extrapolating the appropriate human IVM dosing regimen for future clinical studies.

2011 KL2 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Joyce Javier, MD, MPH (General Pediatrics)
  • Education: Academic General Pediatrics Fellowship- Stanford University, 2004-2007, UC Berkeley- MPH in Epidemiology, 2006; Pediatrics Residency-Stanford University, 2001-2004; UC Irvine- MD, 2001

    Research Project: Engaging Immigrants in Faith-Based Preventive Parenting Interventions

    Background: Dr. Joyce Javier is a primary care pediatrician and is currently an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at CHLA/USC. She received her medical degree from UC Irvine in 2001 and completed her pediatric residency training and academic general pediatrics fellowship training at Stanford University School of Medicine. During her fellowship she received a graduate degree in epidemiology at UC Berkeley. Dr. Javier has a strong background in studying pediatric health disparities among immigrant populations, especially among Filipino and Asian American youth. The KL2 Award is critically important for her continuing development as a physician scientist who seeks to develop cross-disciplinary interventions integrating science, practice, and policy for health disparities research. Her long- term goal is to become a successful independent investigator focused on translational intervention research, specifically the development and evaluation of theory-driven, community-based strategies to increase participation in evidence-based preventive parenting programs for low-income, urban immigrant populations. Such strategies are critical to addressing and eradicating behavioral and mental health disparities seen among vulnerable immigrant populations.

  • Name: Mimi Kim, MD (Endocrinology)
  • Education: NIH Clinical Center - Research Fellowship, Pediatric Endocrinology, 2008-2009; Brown University – Fellowship, Pediatric Endocrinology, 2005-2008; McGill University – Research Fellowship, Pediatric Endocrinology, 2004-2005; Dartmouth Medical School – M.D. 2001

    Research Project: Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia Due to 21-Hydroxylase Deficiency

    Background: Mimi Kim is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Her research interest is in the area of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), with two ongoing clinical studies at CHLA. She is working with a multidisciplinary team to examine cardiovascular disease risk in teenagers and young adults with CAH.

  • Name: Beth Pyatak, PhD, OTR/L (Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy)
  • Education: PhD in Occupational Science - University of Southern California, 2010; MA in Occupational Therapy - University of Southern California, 2004

    Research Project: Beating the Odds: Facilitating Lifestyle Change in Urban Latino Young Adults with Diabetes

    Background: Beth Pyatak, PhD, OTR/L, will be joining the USC faculty this fall as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry. She received her BA in Psychology, MA in Occupational Therapy and PhD in Occupational Science, all from USC. Dr. Pyatak’s primary research interest is the intersection of chronic care management, occupational engagement, and health and well-being among individuals with chronic illness and/or disability. Her current research is focused on the development of a lifestyle intervention aimed at improving health and quality of life outcomes among young adults with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Currently, she is collaborating with faculty in the Keck School of Medicine to implement a one-year transition program aimed at improving health and psychosocial outcomes, and increase medical follow-up, among young adults with type 1 diabetes transitioning from pediatric to adult healthcare settings (Helmsley Foundation 2010PG-T1D011; PI: A. Peters). Additionally, she works with faculty in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy on the Lifestyle Redesign® for Pressure Ulcer Prevention in SCI (LR-PUPS) study (NIH/NCMRR #1 R01 HD056267-01; PI F. Clark) where she is developing manuscripts detailing the LR-PUPS study methodology and providing recommendations for researchers conducting randomized controlled trial research among disadvantaged populations.

  • Name: Douglas Vanderbilt, MD (Clinical Pediatrics)
  • Education: Boston University School of Medicine - Fellow, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics,2006; UCLA Children’s Hospital Los Angeles - Residency in Pediatrics, 2000; University of Tennessee, Memphis College of Medicine - MD, 1999

    Research Project: Biological and Psychosocial Risk Factors to Neurodevelopment in Infants Treated with Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

    Background: Dr. Vanderbilt is Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, USC School of Medicine. After a Health and Development Psychology degree from Stanford University, he obtained his MD from the University of Tennessee, Memphis. He completed his pediatric residency training at UCLA Children’s Hospital and his fellowship training at Boston University. During that training, he completed a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship at the Shriver Center and the ZERO TO THREE’s Leaders for the 21st Century Fellowship. He was board certified in 2006 in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) and on the faculty of Boston University. Now at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/USC, he directs the DBP fellowship and LEND programs. His research is in the contextual neurodevelopmental outcomes of high-risk infant such as those with Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome and Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation with the division of neonatology.

2011 TL1 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Molly Lancaster-Brightman, BA (Psychology)
  • Education: University of Southern California -PhD Candidate, 2014; Fontbonne University - Psychology, BA, 2009

    Research Project: Personalized Medicine for Smoking Cessation:Unique Perspectives & Barriers Facing an Urban Community of Health Care Providers

    Background: Molly Brightman is a third year doctoral student and research assistant in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Health Behavior Research. Her current research project focuses on personalized medicine for smoking cessation with a translational focus. She is specifically interested in applying Diffusion Theory to this project and examining specific characteristics that would make such tools more likely to be recommended by a physician - thus helping to speed the translation of such genetic findings into clinical applications and methods. As a secondary part of this project, she is also building an online resource for researchers or clinicians interested in research studies on personalized approaches to smoking cessation. Her other research interests include biobehavioral and psychosocial determinants of drug addiction. She is specifically interested in drug use outcome expectancies and their role in the onset and maintenance of habitual drug use. Her interests cut across other addictive behaviors, as well as overall health and well being. In May 2009, Molly completed her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Biology at Fontbonne University in Saint Louis, Missouri.

  • Name: Erik Serrao, BS (Molecular Biology)
  • Education: University of Southern California - PhD Candidate, 2012; Loyola Marymount University - Molecular Biology, BA, 2005

    Research Project: Analysis of Alterations in Human Gene Expression in Response to HIV-1 Infection

    Background: Erik Serrao is a fourth-year Ph.D student in the USC School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Science. He is studying in the laboratory of Dr. Nouri Neamati. Specifically, Erik is working to identify novel host cell cofactors of HIV-1 integrase and designing and developing small-molecule compounds to inhibit the interaction of these cofactors with integrase. For his CETCD Pre-doctoral Clinical and Translational Training Program proposal, Erik plans to build a collaboration between Dr. Neamati’s lab and that of Dr. Andrea Kovacs, from the Keck School of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the USC IMPAACT Clinical Trials Unit. Erik will work to characterize HIV-induced alterations in human gene expression by attempting to identify the precise immune cell type harboring these changes and to illustrate the effect of multiple commonly-prescribed HAART treatment regimes in reversing these alterations.

  • Name: Ahva Shahabi, MPH (Biostatistics & Epidemiology)
  • Education: University of Southern California - PhD Candidate; University of Southern California - Biostatistics and Epidemiology, MPH, 2008; University of Southern California - Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, BS, 2006

    Research Project: Predictive biomarkers of clinical outcomes in localized prostate cancer

    Background: Ahva is currently a third year doctoral student in the Molecular Epidemiology program in Preventive Medicine/Keck School of Medicine. She has a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a Master of Public Health in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from USC. In addition to being a student and research assistant under the mentorship of Dr. Mariana Stern (Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine), Ahva has been a teacher’s assistant for several undergraduate and graduate courses. Her current research is focused on the role of genes and environment on prostate cancer risk and prognosis. Ahva is currently working on the identification of biomarkers of prognosis for localized prostate cancer using expression profiles from malignant prostate glands from tumors of patients who underwent radical prostatectomy. She plans to develop improved predictive models to aid clinicians in prognostication with the goal of preventing over-treatment of indolent cases and more efficient treatment of aggressive disease. Dr. Jacek Pinski (Associate Professor of Medicine-Oncology) is her co-mentor.

  • Name: Ryan Walker, MS (Applied Physiology and Nutrition)
  • Education: University of Southern California - PhD Candidate in Systems Biology & Disease ;Teachers College, Columbia University - Applied Physiology and Nutrition, MS, 2009

    Research Project: Diets Based on PNPLA3 Genotype for Reducing Liver Fat in Hispanics with Pediatric NAFLD

    Background: Ryan is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Systems Biology and Disease doctoral program at the Keck School of Medicine at USC and a research assistant under the direction of Drs. Hooman Allayee and Michael Goran. Before beginning his doctoral training at USC, Ryan received a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2001. Ryan then spent 7 years as a professional chef in both San Francisco and New York City prior to earning his Master of Science in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2008. Ryan has worked as both an Exercise Physiologist and Research Coordinator for the New York Obesity Research Center under Jeanine Albu, M.D. Ryan’s current research focuses on how dietary components and genetic factors may interact to alter liver fat synthesis, storage and accumulation in obese African American and Hispanic youth. Outside of the lab Ryan is an accomplished athlete. He has competed in many triathlons and other swimming events and was a member of Team USA in 2008.

2010 KL2 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Kimberly Aldinger, PhD (Cell and Neurobiology)
  • Education: Harvard University-ALM Psychology, 2004; University of Chicago-PhD, Neurobiology, 2008 , and USC-Postdoctoral 2009 Neurogenetics

    Research Project: Epigenetic Analysis in Syndromic Epilepsy to Identify Novel Causal Genes

    Background: Kimberly is currently a postdoctoral fellow at USC, working with Pat Levitt at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute. The focus of her research is the identification of biomarkers for Rett syndrome and pediatric idiopathic epilepsy that can be leveraged for phenotype discrimination, drug treatment efficacy and novel therapeutic development.

  • Name: Alex Balekian, MD, MSHS (Internal Medicine)
  • Education: University of California San Diego-MD, 2003; University of California Los Angeles-MS in Health Services, 2009; University of Southern California-Instructor of Clinical Medicine, 2009-present

    Research Project: Critical Care Outcomes in Patients with End-Stage Liver Disease: An Approach to Disease-Specific Predictive Modeling and Comparative Effectiveness

    Background: Dr. Alex Balekian specializes in pulmonary and critical care and is currently Instructor of Clinical Medicine at USC. He received his medical degree from the University of California San Diego in 2003 before moving to Texas for his internal medicine residency from University of Texas—Southwestern in 2006. In 2009, he completed his fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and received his graduate degree in health services research at UCLA. During his time at UCLA, he also gained experience in biostatistics and health economics, and learned the methods of cost-effective analysis. Dr. Balekian’s career goal is to become an authority on health outcomes in the intensive care unit, and especially how they relate to reallocating resources.

  • Name: Robert Brown, MD (Surgery, Developmental Biology, Regenerative Medicine)
  • Education: Weill Medical College/Cornell University-MD 2002, St. Barnabas Hospital-Pediatrics 2002-2005, Yale School of Medicine-Ped Heme/Onc 2005-2008, and CHLA-2009-2010 Neuro-Oncology fellowship.

    Research Project: Role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Irradiation Brain Injury

    Background: Dr. Robert Brown is a pediatric hematologist and oncologist with specialty training in the pediatric neuro-oncology and is interested in late-effects of cancer therapy in children, pediatric palliative care, and pediatric hospice.

  • Name: William Mack, MD (Neurosurgery)
  • Education: Columbia University-MD 2001, UCLA-2010 Fellowship Endovascular Neurosurgery, and USC-2010 Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery & Director of Neurovascular Research Laboratory.

    Research Project: Complement Mediated Injury in a Translational Model of Chronic Cerebral Hypoperfusion

    Background: Dr. Mack's clinical interest is cerebrovascular disease and performs both open surgery and minimally invasive, endovascular procedures, and conducts research at the Cerebrovascular Laboratory at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, USC. His scientific interests are focused on translational efforts to treat ischemic stroke.

  • Name: Kathleen Page, MD (Medicine)
  • Education: University of Oklahoma-MS 1998 Physiology, and University of Southern California-MD 2002.

    Research Project: Effect of intrauterine exposure to gestational diabetes on adiposity, insulin sensitivity, and beta cell function in Hispanic children

    Background: Kathleen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Kathleen’s experience and background in neuroimaging and metabolism sparked her interest in determining the role of the brain in the regulation of food intake and glucose homeostasis.

2010 TL1 Institutional Career Development Scholars

  • Name: Tanya Alderete, BA (Systems Biology and Disease)
  • Education: University of Southern California-PhD Program in System Biology and Disease; University of Pennsylvania-BA 2005 Biology/Neuroscience.

    Research Project: Targeting Adipocyte Macrophage Infiltration to Reverse Metabolic Diseases in Obese Hispanic Young Adults

    Background: Tanya’s academic training and research experience have provided her with an excellent background in multiple disciplines including biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, epidemiology, and statistics. Her long-term research interests involve the development of a comprehensive understanding of mechanisms and biological pathways that contribute to human disease.

  • Name: Ian Holloway, MSW, MPH (Social Work)
  • Education: University of Southern California-PhD Program in School of Social Work; UC San Diego-BA 2001 Literature, Columbia University-MSW 2007 Social Work, and Mailman School of Public Health-MPH 2007 Public Health.

    Research Project: Social Network and Contextual Influences on Substance Use and HIV Risk Among YMSM

    Background: Ian’s research focuses on health, mental health and well-being among culturally diverse populations both domestically and internationally. For his doctoral dissertation, he will examine the influence of social networks and contextual influences on substance use and sexual risk behavior among young men who have sex with men.

  • Name: Jamaica Rettberg, BA (School of Pharmacy)
  • Education: University of Southern Califronia -PhD Program in Neuroscience; Northwestern University-BA 2005 Biology (Neurobiology)/Psychology.

    Research Project: Biomarkers of Mitochondrial Function for Early Detection of Women at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease

    Background: Jamaica worked for several years as a researcher at a start-up pharmaceutical company, where she helped develop a drug formulation which went into clinical trials to treat sickle cell anemia. Currently, she is conducting her graduate research in Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton's laboratory where she is investigating a method for earlier detection of Alzheimer's disease.

  • Name: Melissa Warden, MS (Preventive Medicine)
  • Education: University of Southern California-PhD Program in Preventive Medicine/Molecular Epidemiology; University of Wisconsin-BS 2000 Biological Sciences, and Medical College of Wisconsin-MS 2007 Epidemiology.

    Research Project: Genome-Wide Association Study of Ewing Sarcoma

    Background: Melissa is currently a teaching assistant for the course Introduction to Epidemiology and a Research Assistant in the Hematology-Oncology department at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Her interests include the identification of structural variations in the genome which contribute to observed differences in phenotype and disease susceptibility in human populations and in identifying a genetic susceptibility to the development of Ewing Sarcoma, the second most common bone tumor in children.