Year 2. April 24. Honoring Our Physician Scientists.

Since 1885, the Association of American Physicians (AAP), an honorary medical society, has advocated for the advancement of scientific and practical medicine by promoting professional and social interaction among physician scientists, disseminating research, and recognizing outstanding physician scientists through membership into the organization. Election to the AAP is limited to 70 members per year and it is one of the highest honors a physician scientist may achieve in recognition of their credentials in basic or translational biomedical research.

I am pleased to share that this year, four faculty from the department of medicine (DoM) have been elected to AAP membership, which includes Arleen F. Brown, MD, PhDPatricia A. Ganz, MDTzung Hsiai, MD, PhDand Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD. Each of these physician scientists have made remarkable contributions to the advancement of medicine, they are committed to mentoring future generations of physicians and physician scientists and provide the exceptional patient care that supports our reputation as leaders in healthcare. The newly elected members join the ranks of of over 30 AAP members from the Department of Medicine at UCLA, 1300 active AAP members in the US and Canada that include Nobel laureates, members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine.  

On behalf of the department, I extend our congratulations to this group and invite you to learn more about each newly elected member.

Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Chief of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center

When Dr. Brown and her family immigrated to the United States from Jamaica, they relied on safety net hospitals and clinics to access healthcare services. She experienced the difficulty of navigating a complex U.S healthcare system which influenced her decision to pursue a career in medicine. She made a commitment to helping others access the care they need as well as strengthening community-partnered research recognizing that social factors are critical towards achieving well-being.

Her research focuses on improving health outcomes, enhancing health care quality, and reducing disparities for adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, particularly those with complex medical and social needs. Her research has included studies to improve diabetes care for older adults and minority patients and studies to understand clinical, socioeconomic, and health system influences on chronic disease management in under-resourced communities. LEARN MORE.

Distinguished Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Professor of Health Policy & Management, Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA
Associate Director for Population Science, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Ganz is a pioneer in the assessment of quality of life in cancer patients and has focused much of her clinical and research efforts in the areas of breast cancer and its prevention. She began her medical training when women were infrequently accepted to medical school and for many years, she was often the only woman in the room. She developed a career as a physician scientist which allowed her to combine her passion for clinical care, teaching and research in oncology.

Her major areas of research include cancer survivorship and the late effects of cancer treatment, measurement of patient reported outcomes in clinical treatment trials, and was one of the early leaders for research about the quality of care for cancer patients. LEARN MORE.

Maud Cady Guthman Endowed Chair in Cardiology
Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering at UCLA

As a teenager, Dr. Hsiai’s world travels, influenced his decision to pursue a career in medicine. He witnessed health disparities faced by local communities which inspired him to become a physician. Along his journey as a physician, he decided to pursue an investigative pathway focusing on research that explores the mechanobiology of cardiovascular diseases, more specifically on integrating advanced imaging, computation, and mechanobiology to address cardiovascular injury and repair.

He is a leader in promoting team science, has mentored numerous trainees, developed a peer-mentor system to match trainees with physician scientists, and many of his trainees have developed successful careers in academia and industry. LEARN MORE.

Professor of Medicine, Surgery, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA,
Director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Center at UCLA

When Dr. Ribas started his clinic 20 years ago, patients with advanced melanoma had a one in 20 chance of responding to treatment. Today, approximately half of his patients are deriving long term benefits with new drugs for melanoma that have been developed in his laboratory and clinical translational research program. He has been instrumental in the clinical development of several agents approved by the FDA, including pembrolizumab (Keytruda), vemurafenib (Zelboraf), cobimetinib (Cotellic), dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist).

His most recent work includes research in adoptive cell transfer therapy with T-cell receptor engineered lymphocytes; examining the antitumor activity of PD-1-blocking antibodies; testing novel targeted therapies blocking oncogenic events in melanoma; and studying primary and acquired resistance to melanoma therapies. LEARN MORE.

In addition to celebrating our faculty’s election to AAP membership, I had the privilege of joining Olujimi Ajijola, MD, PhDRajat Singh, MDZander Nguyen, MD, PhD and Utibe Essien, MD, MPH at the American Society for Clinical Investigation’s (ASCI) annual meeting where they were each bestowed awards in recognition of their contributions to research. Made up of over 3,000 physician-scientists from all medical specialties, the ASCI is a medical honor society dedicated to the advancement of research that extends our understanding of diseases, improves treatment, and whose members are committed to mentoring future generations of physician-scientists. Election to the ASCI is one of the highest honors afforded to mid-career physician scientists in the United States. Members of the ASCI have subsequently been elected to membership of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Ajijola and Dr. Singh celebrated their election to the ASCI. Each year, the ASCI considers hundreds of nominations for membership with bylaws limiting recommendation for membership to 100 candidates per year. Inductees are selected based on outstanding scholarly achievement.

Dr. Ajijola is noted for his exemplary research in the peripheral neural circuits that regulate the heart, utilizing cutting edge electrophysiologic, genetic, optical, and computational tools to examine how myocardial infarction structurally and functionally perturbs the sympathetic nervous system, and how this dysregulation drives arrhythmogenesis and sudden cardiac death risk.

Dr. Singh has been a leader in demonstrating the novel roles of autophagy in regulation of food intake, energy metabolism, cell signaling, and the circadian clock. His lab has also developed a novel feeding intervention that protects against fatty liver and type II diabetes in various mouse models of obesity and aging without the need to cut caloric intake.

Newly elected ASCI member Olujimi Ajijola, MD, PhD at ASCI annual meeting.
Newly elected ASCI member Rajat Singh, MD at ASCI annual meeting.

Dr. Nguyen was selected as a recipient of the ASCI Emerging Generation Award (E-Gen Award) which recognizes post-MD, pre-faculty physician scientists who are engaged in immersive research. Dr. Nguyen’s research has focused on elucidating fundamental mechanisms that drive metabolic liver disease. He is currently performing post-doctoral research training in the Tontonoz Lab developing experimental and conceptual expertise in the study of lipid regulation at the molecular, cellular, and physiologic levels.

E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD & Zander Nguyen, MD, PhD

Dr. Essien was awarded the American Society for Clinical Investigation’s 2023 Young Physician-Scientist Award (YPSA). The YPSA recognizes early-stage physician scientists in their first faculty appointment who have made notable contributions in their research. His research interests focus on racial and ethnic disparities in the use of novel medications and technologies, particularly in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. His research is funded by a VA Career Development Award, the Harold Amos Faculty Development Program, and the American Heart Association.

E. Dale, Abel, MD, PhD and Utibe R. Essien, MD, MPH

I extend heartfelt congratulations to all award recipients from this past weekend who embody and advance the missions of the department of medicine. We continue to be inspired by their vision and commitment to driving research and medicine. You may view additional pictures from the AAP and ASCI annual meeting by clicking HERE or below.

Newly elected AAP members Tzung Hsiai, MD, PhD and Arleen Brown, MD, PhD with E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD.
DoM Faculty and AAP members at AAP Annual Meeting and celebration.

#FaceofScience Campaign

In continuing our celebration of the physician scientist community, I would like to invite you to participate in a national social media campaign called #FaceOfScience taking place on Wednesday, April 26. This annual campaign is supported by the National Institutes of Health and brings together the scientific community for one day to show that a scientist can look like anyone and everyone. This is the third annual campaign organized by the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) at UCLA and the Diversity Program Consortium (DPC), which is an initiative funded by the NIH to support innovation in research training and mentoring. The #FaceOfScience campaign was inspired by the CEC’s Enhance Science project, which uses visual media to increase diverse representation in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine (STEMM). Participating in the campaign is easy. Simply: 

  • Write “#FaceOfScience” on a piece of paper. 
  • Take a photo of yourself holding it. Post it to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #FaceOfScience and tag @enhancescience.
  • Tell us what you love most about being a scientist in your post. 

2023 DoM Strategic Planning Survey

Last week, we invited the department of medicine to participate in our strategic planning process by taking part in the 2023 DoM Strategic Planning Survey. If you have not had a chance to submit your responses, please do so by April 28, 2023 by visiting HERE. Your feedback is essential as we plan for our future.

Reminder: Voting to Approve DoM Compensation Plan Bylaws Ends TODAY

For faculty members in the DoM Compensation Plan, today is the last day to vote for approval of our bylaws, which have been updated. You have received ballots directly to your emails.



At the end of each AAP meeting, the now > 100-year gavel that was made from the wood of the original founder of the AAP Sir William Osler’s house, is passed from the outgoing president to the incoming president. This is what is looks like.  It lives in a wooden box, pray that the next president does not lose it as he goes through the TSA check at O’Hare Airport.

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