Year 2. April 3. Hail to the Chiefs.

Each year, we welcome a new class of incoming chief residents who have an important role in guiding our residents through training across our various sites. I'm pleased to introduce you to the incoming cohort of chief residents who will assume their leadership roles this summer. Learn all about them and please extend a warm welcome as you run into them throughout our training sites.

Beda Cha, MD

Beda grew up in Baltimore then attended Amherst College, where he majored in art history while playing on the lacrosse team. After receiving his MD from UPenn, he traded in his winter coat for the warm weather and the amazing community at UCLA. Beda has enjoyed participating in the Medical Education Pathway during residency, and he hopes to continue teaching and working with learners as he pursues a fellowship in cardiology. Outside of the hospital, you can find Beda surfing, running, hiking, and discovering all that Los Angeles has to offer with his partner and future co-chief, Claire Drolen! 

Claire Drolen, MD

Claire is a Southern California native from Pasadena. She spent 10 years living on the East Coast, first in Western Massachusetts at Amherst College, where she studied chemistry, and then in Philadelphia, where she attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. While in medical school, Claire also completed a master’s degree in bioethics. She was thrilled to return home for residency at UCLA and has enjoyed being involved in the Medical Education Pathway and in clinical research projects in oncology and palliative care. Beyond practicing clinical medicine, her career interests also include health systems research, administration, and leadership in medicine. When she’s not at the hospital, Claire enjoys spending time with her partner, Beda (another rising chief resident!), swimming, sourdough baking, listening to audiobooks, and boardgame nights.

Alex Kokaly, MD

A Michigan native, Alex is thriving in the California sunshine. He is a triple Wolverine with a BS in biochemistry & Spanish, master of health services administration, and MD all from the University of Michigan. During residency, he has pursued his interests in healthcare administration and quality improvement through various quality-related research projects and as a member of the Health Systems Management Pathway. He plans to practice as a hospitalist with the goal of becoming a physician-administrator. Through these roles, he plans to advocate for healthcare reform and improved access to care for individuals with low socioeconomic status. In his spare time, Alex enjoys playing video games, brushing up on his poker skills, and daydreaming about his future pet pigs and dogs.

Priyanka Moolchandani, MD

Priyanka Moolchandani was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee before being swept away to California to attend the University of Southern California where she received her degree in chemistry and health care studies. She then ventured off to Houston, Texas where she completed her MD degree at Baylor College of Medicine. The California sunshine called her back to the west coast to complete her internal medicine residency at UCLA. Her clinical and research interests include medical education, point-of-care ultrasound, and quality improvement and patient safety. She is excited to explore her interest in quality improvement more as the QI chief this year. Her interests outside of work include exploring the LA food scene, weightlifting, cooking and reading.

Sarah Takimoto, MD

Sarah was born on the east coast in Bethesda, MD and raised in Boerne, TX, and Dresher, PA; however, her love of the west coast started from childhood when visiting her family in California and Hawaii. She attended Stanford University where she majored in chemistry. After graduating, she attended UCSF School of Medicine and was thrilled to pursue her love of internal medicine and primary care at UCLA for residency. She is passionate about medical education, systems improvement, and improving primary care access for all. Sarah looks forward to serving as the primary care chief resident. Outside of the hospital, you’ll find her going on long walks to coffee shops and playing board games.

Shatara (Tara) Townes, MD

A Los Angeles native, Tara attended UCLA for college where she double majored in both physiological science and biology. She then attended medical school at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA where she was heavily involved in leadership and medical education. A proud founder of the UCLA Health Equity Hub, Tara’s research interests include health disparities and ways in which to increase representation in medicine. She is thrilled to have continued her journey at UCLA for residency and has enjoyed being involved in the Medical Education Pathway where her current project involves the development of a novel pipeline program. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding, going to the beach, hiking, exploring new LA restaurants, and supporting new music by local LA artists and friends. She is also an avid Laker and Dodger fan and loves to cheer on her home teams.

Madeline Treasure, MD

Madeline majored in human biology at Stanford University with a concentration in healthcare policy and reform. She received her medical degree from the University of North Carolina before returning to the West Coast to join UCLA’s wonderful IM community. During her residency, she was a part of the Health Systems and Management Pathway with particular interest in value-based care and QI driven systems improvement initiatives. She hopes to use clinical experience to improve the quality of healthcare delivery and continue her ongoing work in women’s health advocacy. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, boogie boarding, and playing basketball with the Hoop Diuretics.

Lindsey Ward, MD

A Santa Monica native, Lindsey was born in Santa Monica Hospital! She grew up volunteering in CHS handing out newspapers and manning the register in the gift shop at 100 Medical Plaza. Lindsey received her BA in art history at Columbia University and worked briefly in art conservation. Drawn back to medicine, Lindsey pursued her MD at University of California San Francisco. During medical school, she spent a year in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar studying how dyslexic adolescents view artwork and received her PhD from Université Paris-Cité. She hopes to pursue a career in pulmonology and critical care, and is excited to see how we can integrate the visual arts into the intensive care setting! Outside of the hospital, you can find Lindsey at the beach, skiing, traveling, or trying new restaurants with her husband, Michael, and her family.

Christine Willinger, MD

Born and raised in New Jersey, Christine learned early on to appreciate coastal living and tolerate traffic. She studied biochemistry and biophysics at Yale University and did research in cardiovascular epidemiology at the Framingham Heart Study before attending medical school at the University of Pennsylvania with co-chiefs Claire and Beda! Christine is forever thankful that she took a cross-country leap to join the UCLA internal medicine family for residency. She has deepened her passion for outpatient medicine in the primary care track while building skills in medical education, quality improvement, and global health. She hopes to pursue a combined geriatrics-palliative fellowship to provide person-centered care for older adults with multimorbidity. Outside of the hospital, Christine can be found running on the beach, playing word games, or experimenting with vegetarian recipes.

Out and about in the community with the department of medicine

Nimit Sudan, MD

I am pleased to highlight examples of community engagement being led by our faculty in our community practices. This past month Nimit Sudan, MD, from the division of hematology oncology, joined the West Ranch High School’s I.C.Stem (Inspired and Connected by Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Program, to discuss careers in the field of medicine with Santa Clarita Valley high school students. He is recognized as a community leader and ambassador for our patient services in the region. Most recently, he and other leaders from hematology oncology and radiation oncology, spoke with the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal about the depth and breadth of services provided to keep their community healthy.

They also discussed our leadership in driving medical innovation. The pillars of our mission are evident in this feature, but most importantly, so is our teamwork and examples of our willingness to go above and beyond for our patients. Dr. Sudan’s community outreach efforts and commitment to advancing cancer care is representative of the impactful work performed each day by all of our faculty spanning from the South Bay region, up to San Luis  Obispo. Whether it is in a classroom, at a community event, or in the news, our DoM faculty can be found leading a conversation about how we can improve community health and ensuring that all have access to high-quality care. You may read the full story below.

SCV Business Journal March 2023

Read SCV Business Journal March 2023 by Signal on Issuu and browse thousands of other publications on our platform. Start here!

Remembering our esteemed colleagues: Laurel B. Yates, MD, MPH and Wilfred Weinstein, MD

During the month of March, our department experienced the passing of two revered leaders in the DoM whose legacy will permeate throughout our department for years to come. Recognized as an inspirational leader, outstanding clinician, and esteemed role model, we unfortunately lost Dr. Laurel Yates on March 8, 2023. Over the course of her career at UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine, she became known as a doctor who demonstrated “a strong sense of common humanity and kindness.” She touched the lives of countless of students, trainees and patients who will carry forth that legacy in their work. You may read Dr. Yates tribute from the DoM HERE.

We also experienced the unfortunate loss of Dr. Wilfred Weinstein, gastroenterologist in the division of digestive diseases, who was also a valued colleague, physician, faculty member, fellowship program director, mentor, and friend to many within the department and beyond. Dr. Weinstein passed at the age of 83, and after having dedicated nearly 40 years of his career to UCLA Health and the department of medicine. Dr. Weinstein had a deep passion for training the next generation of leaders in medicine who will continue to build upon his work. You may read a biography provided by Dr. Weinstein’s family HERE.

Building the First-Gen in Medicine Community in the DoM and DGSOM

Our department is actively seeking opportunities to continue to advance our values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are proud to support initiatives set forth by UCLA and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA who recently launched efforts to provide students who identify as First Gen, mentorship, networking opportunities, advocacy and support so that students can feel connected, empowered and celebrated within the community of medicine. Within the DoM, Alejandra Casillas, MD, from the DoM Office of EDI, is spearheading efforts to build the DoM First Gen Faculty Community. The goal of the DoM First Gen Faculty Community is to provide participants a community focused on well-being and self-preservation and raise awareness of the First Gen experience. An email announcement inviting faculty to sign-up to receive more information about the DoM First Gen Faculty Community was sent out last week. In case you missed it, you may sign up by clicking below. If you would like additional information, please contact Dr. Casillas at



My mother made it back safely to Jamaica on Friday, and our granddaughter and family to Chicago on Saturday. The house is quiet….

Our son who leaves tomorrow encouraged us to see some California super blooms, so we drove to Point Dume State Park. Although past their peak, it was worth the visit.

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