Week 14: Keeping up With Amazing People

Last weekend I joined the Pacemakers running club for a 7K run on Santa Monica beach. As you know this is a running group that was started by our residents but is open to everyone who wants to “keep up” with them. I think I managed to keep up with them running the distance in ~ 40 minutes, with the main side effect being slightly sore knees.

The spring meeting season is now in full swing. After more than 2 years of COVID restrictions on in-person meetings and endless virtual meetings, many professional societies have resumed in person meetings. I want to share with you what I have learned about the contributions of our trainees in two meetings that took place last week and one that is coming up. I must confess that looking through their amazing contributions makes it nearly impossible to keep up.

American College of Cardiology: UCLA trainees had 17 accepted abstracts that were authored/co-authored by 12 fellows, 8 residents and 4 medical students. 

Kudos to: Negeen Shahandeh, Ashley Stein-Merlob, Munish Kumar Kannabhiran, Rachel Ohman, Andrea E. Diaz, Giuliana G. Repetti, Michael Ahlers, Elizabeth J. Hutchins, Srikanth Krishnan, Dhananjay Chatterjee, Golsa Joodi, Katia Bravo, Yuliya Zektser, Omid Amidi, Roshni Bhatnagar, Juka S. Kim, Wilson Tang, Austin B. Churchill, Neal M. Dixit, Michael Ahlers, Pratyaksh Srivastava, Ashley Pournamdari, Evaline Cheng, Marwah Shahid. A special shout out to Omid Amidi who co-chaired a session: Opportunities Gained, Lessons Learned: A Cardiology Community Experience through COVID

Omid Amidi, MD

Society for General Internal Medicine: UCLA trainees had 16 abstracts that were authored/co-authored by 7 residents/fellows and 6 medical students. 

Kudos to: Eric Apaydin, Rebecca Tsevat, Preeti Kakani, Elizabeth Wang, Kenneth Um, Katherine Chen, Carlos Irwin Oronce, Vivek Shah, Richard Leuchter, Jessica Fernandez, Alex Kokaly, Victoria Sun, Bryan Vuong.  Some special shoutouts are in order: to Carlos Oronce and Richard Leuchter NCSP fellow and Internal Medicine resident respectively, who authored multiple abstracts.

And to: Katherine Chen (an NSCP/STAR fellow) and Rebecca Tsevat a Med-Peds resident, who were both finalists in the Lipkin Award presentations, representing the most coveted award for a trainee given out by the SGIM. The amazing thing is that they both had the same faculty mentor Dr. Lauren Wisk

Carlos Oronce, MD, MPh, MSc
Richard Leuchter, MD
Katherine Chen, MD
Rebecca Tsevat, MD, MS
Lauren Wish, PhD

**********BREAKING NEWS**********

Dr. Chen won the Lipkin Award for her research: “Cost-related residential moves are associated with adverse health outcomes as behaviors among California renters.”  Becky, to be a Lipkin finalist as a resident is a huge accomplishment. Well done!


American Gastroenterology Association: The GI Division is on a roll. Below is the summary provided by Program Coordinator Teresa Olivas.

In our GI Fellowship, 13 of our fellows have 20 abstracts accepted for presentation at the upcoming 2022 Digestive Diseases Week (DDW), our largest GI conference. Our fellows are the first author on 10 of these abstracts. These 20 abstracts include participation from our one Quality Improvement Scholar (first author on one abstract), 11 IM residents (2 first author) and 7 medical students (3 first author). Out of the 20 abstracts 5 are oral presentations and 15 are poster presentations.

In addition to the above, there are an additional 20 abstracts accepted. These included the IM residents listed above plus an additional 9 IM residents for a total of 20 residents with an additional 12 first author abstracts. Also included are the medical students listed above plus an additional 3 for a total of 10 medical students. Our QI fellow also had an additional first author abstract. Within these 20 abstracts 3 are oral presentations and 17 are poster presentations.

A special shout out to: Megan McLeod, one of our Internal Medicine residents, who received the “2022 AGA Abstract Award for Health Disparities Research” for her oral presentation “DECLINE IN COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING RATES IN FEDERALLY QUALIFIED HEALTH CENTERS IN THE UNITED STATES BETWEEN 2019 AND 2020.”

Megan McLeod, MD, Mac

The second set of people I had to keep up with were at a meeting where four of our respected Physician Scientists were honored. As I previously announced, Tamer Sallam, MD PhD was inducted into the Association for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) this weekend, representing the highest national recognition for a mid-career physician scientist.

The next day, Drs. Judith S. CurrierCarol M. Mangione, and Kalyanam Shivkumar were inducted into the Association of American Physicians (AAP), a distinction awarded to only 70 physicians per year who have demonstrated outstanding credentials in basic or translational biomedical research.

Hope you can see why it’s hard to keep up with such esteemed colleagues.

You may recall that a few weeks ago I spent the weekend in New York to lead a career development program for the Endocrine Society. What I didn’t share with you was on my way back to the airport I stopped to visit one of my uncles who lives in the Bronx. Unfortunately, he has suffered a series of strokes and requires 24/7 care, but thankfully lives at home. He generally recognized me, and I was able to have a video chat with my mom in Jamaica, who wanted to see him. During the pandemic he was in and out of the hospital and had some stints in nursing homes. His course and experience got me thinking about our innovative Extensivist Program led by Dr. Sun Yoo. I can only imagine how his care might have differed and some hospitalizations prevented were he under our care. So, a shout out to the extensivists and to Sun on your recent publication on the socio-demographic factors that predict Long Covid, just out in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Finally, many of you might have seen the LA times Op-ed that was critical of the University of California (UC) Health system and the acess to services for Medi-Cal patients. I will share the link below, along with the response from UC Health Leadership.

LATimes Op-Ed:

[ Learn More ]

University of California Responses:

While it is clear that differences of opinion exist with regards to the extent of the problem, I know that many of you have worked hard and expended tremendous effort to obtain care for Medi-Cal patients who come to see us.

Below is an excerpt from a recent communication to me from one of our oncologists Dr. Richard Pietras.

One of the aims of the U54 CDU-UCLA Program has been to find ways to advance cancer prevention, detection, management and survivorship in South LA.  One of the paths to achieve this goal may be to promote more referrals for specialty care and clinical trials at UCLA.  However, there are roadblocks to such referrals due to Medi-Cal restrictions.  South LA is a truly underserved area with a significant under-insured population.  In a recent editorial in the LA Times authored by two UC Professors, some of the issues regarding the eligibility of Medi-Cal patients for care at UCLA hospitals and clinics are detailed (see attached).  If you need additional information about Medi-Cal patient eligibility at UCLA clinics and Medi-Cal population rules, I would recommend that you contact Sandra Gurrola, a Financial Counselor at the UCLA Bowyer Oncology Clinic. Sandra has been working over the past 20 years to find innovative ways to engage Medi-Cal patients in the Bowyer Oncology Clinic and has been a resource to the enterprise for Medi-Cal issues. Her knowledge about the details of Medi-Cal fee-for-service versus managed care have proven important for enhancing patient eligibility at UCLA.  Some of these practices may be applicable to other clinics in our Department.Thanks for your interest in promoting the elimination of medical health disparities.”

Thank you, Sandra. I will be in touch.

I think we can all agree, that although a lot already is being done, there are opportunities to improve. 


Dr. Abel and his granddaughter Reina.


Many of you asked about my grand-daughter’s picture. So, with her parent’s permission, here she is. Meet Reina!

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