Year 2. May 15. Award Winning Faculty and Trainees Drive National Recognition.

This week, the US News rankings of medical schools and specialties came out. Although there is some controversy around these rankings and the methodology used, the ranking of specialty departments is largely driven by reputation among peers across the country.

The Department of Medicine at UCLA is one of the top 10 departments of medicine in the country.

There are many factors that contribute to our reputation as a leading department, including outstanding faculty, spectacular trainees and training programs, clinical innovation and research accomplishments. Today, I will highlight just a few recent examples of our leadership across multiple missions that continue to drive our reputation as a national leader in internal medicine.

2023 American College of Physicians National Internal Medicine Meeting

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is the largest medical specialty organization in the country, with over 160,000 members that include internal medicine physicians, subspecialists, and medical students. Let me share the following account of this year’s event as reported by Rachel Brook, MD.

“This year, we had an incredibly successful ACP National Internal Medicine Meeting in San Diego, CA from April 27th – 29th, with a great representation of UCLA faculty and resident presenters and many more faculty attending the conference for learning and networking opportunities. We had faculty and residents from Olive View UCLA Medical Center, Veterans Affairs Greater LA (VAGLA), and UCLA sites gather at the Southern California Regional Happy Hour, followed by a UCLA faculty and resident dinner to connect and celebrate with current and former colleagues, residents and other members of the UCLA family."

I’m pleased to share that the following residents and faculty presented at this year’s ACP meeting demonstrating our leadership in research, education and patient care.

Resident presenters included:

Sarah Takimoto, MD (presenting author), Matthew Freeby, MD: Poster Presentation: “Ordered in Bulk, Closing the Diabetes Eye Exam Care Gap.”
Angie Lim, MD, MPH (presenting author), Patrick Holman, MDRachel Brook, MDWendy Simon, MD, and Pamela Tsing, MD: Poster Presentation: “Designing and Implementing a Resident-Run Clinical Coaching Program.”  (Note: Won first place for oral abstracts at ACP Southern California Regional Conference.)
Kaustav Shah, MD (presenting author), Jeffrey Fujimoto, MDCliff Pang, MD: Oral Abstract Presenter – (Note: Winner of the National Abstract Competitions at the American College of Physicians Annual Meeting.)

Faculty presenters included:

Evan Shih, MD (presenting author): Poster Presentation: “Immunosuppressed with Respiratory Distress: A Case Report of Pulmonary Lymphatoid Granulomatosis.
Daniel Kahn, MD: POCUS Faculty
William Carroll, MD: Speaker for “Multiple Small Feedings of the Mind – General Internal Medicine.”
Chidinma Chima-Melton, MD: Speaker for: “Multiple Small Feedings of the Mind – Pulmonology.”
Rachel Brook, MDModerator for: “Multiple Small Feedings of the Mind – Cardiology, Pulmonology, and Neurology.”
David Reuben, MD: Meet the Professor Speaker on “Managing Older Adults with Frailty and Multimorbidity.”    
Jason Napolitano, MD: “Meet the Professor Speaker on “In-Flight Emergencies.”
Carolyn Crandall, MD Expert Panelist on  “Current Clinical Guidelines in Treatments for Osteoporosis and Acute Pain” Session.
Kenrik Duru, MD:  Meet the Professor Speaker on “High-Value Management of Back Pain.”

I would also like to highlight that Michael Lazarus, MBBCh, FACP, hospitalist section chief in the DoM, is the California Southern 1 Chapter Governor of the ACP. He started his four-year term as governor in the spring of 2020. As governor, Dr. Lazarus is the official representative of the College for the California Southern 1 Chapter, providing a link between members at the local level and leadership at the national level, and, along with other governors, was recognized at the meeting. Enjoy a selection of pictures from the ACP meeting below!

National VA Research Week Awards 2023

We also had an outstanding week of faculty being recognized for their leadership locally and nationally. Donna Washington, MD, MPH and Elizabeth Yano, PhD, faculty from VA GLA were honored by the US Department of Veterans Affairs for their research aimed at discovering medical breakthroughs and advancing the medical care provided to veterans. The award ceremony took place during the National VA Research Week 2023 with the Honorable Denis R. McDonough, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs  presiding over the event.

Donna Washington, MD, MPH

Dr. Washington is renowned for her leadership in women’s health research and addressing health disparities affecting vulnerable and underserved populations, that include racial/ethnic minorities and women veterans. She is the director of the Health Equity-Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) at the VHA’s national partner evaluation center. Dr. Washington is also a staff physician at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and a professor in residence at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Medicine (Division of GIM/HSR). Dr. Washington shared the following remarks about the support and mentorship available at the VA:

“Health services research is a team sport and I have many people to thank for my career growth and the impact that I have been able to achieve. I would like to thank my mentors; my earliest mentors were my parents who instilled my sense of curiosity and nurtured my desire to build a career in medicine and science. I’ve received incredible support from the VA HSR&D service, QUERI, from CSHIIP, and early in my career the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A testament to the support received from CSHIIP is the mentorship received from Dr. Becky Yano and Dr. Paul Shekelle… Finally, I would like to thank the veterans without whom we couldn’t do the incredible research studies and the work that we do…”

Donna Washington MD, MPH (center) at National VA Research Week Awards 2023.

Elizabeth Yano, PhD

Dr. Elizabeth Yano is the expert on women’s health research at the VA using evidence-based care to transform the VA research community. She is the director of the VA Women’s Health Research Network. Dr. Yano is also a senior-research career scientist with Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D); adjunct professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health; adjunct professor  of Medicine in the UCLA DGSOM (Division of GIM/HSR), and the director of the VA HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation and Policy at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. She shared the following remarks during her award acceptance:

“When I started my VA career on the same year [1989] as the “Born on the Fourth of July” movie I was told my interest in women’s health research would never amount to anything and that the VA would never fund women’s health research because of their numerical minority, yet here I am receiving an award for everything we’ve accomplished ever since. This includes supporting a national community of women’s health researchers, making it easier to conduct women’s health research, increasing women’s health research funding and accelerating research impact on women’s health practice and policy. This is only possible because of the VA’s enduring commitment to being a learning health system. Where your research matters. Where women veteran’s voices are heard. And where VA health system partners listen and lean in. So, I share this award with many others.”

Elizabeth Yano, PhD (second from left) at National VA Research Week Awards 2023.

I would also like to extend congratulations to Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil awarded the 2023 Productivity Award and J. Enrique Rozengurt, DVM, PhD, AGAF who was awarded the 2023 VA Service Award which were presented by the VA GLA.

Fola May, MD, PhD, MPhil

The 2023 Productivity Award recognizes Dr. May’s outstanding scholarship, providing the greatest number of research publications reported within the past year, having published over 30 papers. Dr. May is the director of the Melvin and Bren Simon Gastroenterology Quality Improvement Program, associate professor of medicine in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, associate director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and associate director of the UCLA Specialty Training and Advanced Research Program. She leads a team of health services researchers that engages in research and quality improvement related to population health, preventive health, and health disparities.

J.Enrique Rozengurt, DVM, Ph.D., AGAF

The 2023 VA Service Award recognizes Dr. Rozengurt’s dedication and career contributions which have influenced research service and the scientific community at the VA. He is a distinguished professor in the division of digestive diseases in the department of medicine, and a senior research scientist at the VA Greater Los Angeles Health System. He is also director of CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center and the director of the Signal Transduction Gastrointestinal Cancer Laboratories. His current research focus is on signal transduction pathways leading to proliferation in normal and cancer cells.

Congratulations to these distinguished members of our VAGLA team!

13th Annual UCLA Santa Monica Board of Advisors Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony

I am also pleased to share that four DoM faculty were honored at the 13th Annual UCLA Santa Monica Board of Advisors Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 12th, 2023. Award recipients were acknowledged for their dedication and hard work over the past year:

Melkon Hacobian, MD, from the division of cardiology, received the Harding Compassion Award for personifying a humane quality of deep understanding and care for his patients and their patient’s family members. Dr. Hacobian is described as a wonderful listener who always makes himself available for his team and patients. He provides the gift of time to those who need additional clarification. His bedside manner is first class, empathetic, and he is extremely knowledgeable.

Melkon Hacobian, MD (center) at 13th Annual UCLA Santa Monica Board of Advisors Awards Ceremony.

Amy Weimer, MD, from the med-peds section, and Roger Lee, MD, from the hospitalist section, received the Leadership Excellence Award in recognition of their exceptional leadership qualities that include sharing a compelling vision for the future, motivating, inspiring, and supporting the team to achieve goals and providing mentorship for professional growth.

Dr. Weimer is the medical director of the medicine pediatrics comprehensive care center and gender health program. She started the gender health program in 2016 and inspires many to engage in advocacy and leadership in gender health and gender affirming care. She is active in the education of trainees and staff to ensure that medical leaders are providing equitable care to members of the transgender and nonbinary community throughout the health care system.

Dr. Roger Lee is described as a leader, mentor, colleague and physician. He is a multidisciplinary collaborator willing to troubleshoot any challenge and assist teams with difficult cases. His colleagues share that he is innovative, kind, and knowledgeable. He works diligently to improve workflows and outcomes and this past year, co-led an initiative to decrease patient length of stay by eliminating discharge barriers.

Roger Lee, MD (center) at 13th Annual UCLA Santa Monica Board of Advisors Awards Ceremony.

Russell Kerbel, MD, from the hospitalist section, received the Physician Collaborator Award for manifesting effective communication with CARE teams, demonstrating leadership among his peers, and his unwavering dedication to his patients and the community. Dr. Kerbel, an attending hospitalist since 2014, fosters collaboration and innovation by uniting sepsis, CDI and the informatics team and has made significant advancements in the sepsis improvement initiative. Dr. Kerbel also leads a clinical excellence committee and is dedicated to the training and mentorship of our trainees.

Russell Kerbel, MD (center) at 13th Annual UCLA Santa Monica Board of Advisors Awards Ceremony.

Congrats Mel, Amy, Roger and Russ!

I close by highlighting a recent landmark publication from the Division of Dermatology and the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Multi-organ landscape of therapy-resistant melanoma” from Roger Lo, MD, PhD published in Nature Medicine

Dr. Roger Lo, from the division of dermatology, recently published new research about a translational study which seeks to understand the genetic and transcriptomic changes in the organs of deceased patients who had metastatic melanoma and first benefited from targeted therapies.

Through this study researchers may be able to identify how melanoma spreads throughout the body and how it manages to evade targeted cancer therapies. With metastasis and the failure of current cancer therapies making up one of the common causes of mortality in patients with cutaneous melanoma, this analysis may help us understand why cancer therapies fail and identify new ways to provide targeted treatment for this condition. Read the article HERE.

Very nice work Roger.



Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I trust that you all had a chance to celebrate everything that our mothers have done for us. To those of you who are mothers, I hope that you received some special TLC. My mom spent the weekend with her 4 sisters in Miami (ranging in age from mid 70s to mid-90s). They are mothers, grandmothers and even great grandmothers. They had fun growing up together and continue to have fun now, even getting their hair braided a few days ago! When I spoke to them on Mother’s Day, one my aunts said that I called when they were dancing!

And for everyone’s Mother’s Day,  I am sharing some roses from our garden.

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