Year 3. January 8. Build LEADERS, stand back, and see the impact.

The core values of our strategic plan = LEADERS.

Developing leaders among our early and mid-career women faculty

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), of which the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM) is a member, represents the full spectrum of medical education by developing programs and advocacy for its members that include all accredited medical schools and their faculty who serve in teaching hospitals, health systems, and academic societies.

As part of their medical education efforts, the AAMC facilitates over 16 virtual and in-person leadership programs. Two of those programs are focused on supporting early and mid-career women faculty, respectively, in an effort to advance gender equity in academic medicine. According to the AAMC, "as women continue to be underrepresented in key leadership positions within the physician and scientific research workforce, the early and mid-career women faculty seminars strive to provide participants with critical knowledge, skills, and strategies to enhance their leadership skill set and increase their confidence in seeking advancement to the next stage of their career."

We are proud to share that UCLA DoM's Lama Abdelnour, MDEstelle M. Everett, MDLucinda Leung, MD, MPH, PhDKimberly D. Narain, MD, MPH, PhD, and Veronica Ramirez, MD, were selected to participate in the Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar; and that Anne M. Walling, MD, PhD was selected to participate in the Mid-Career Faculty Leadership Development Seminar. We asked each selected participant to share what participation in these seminars means to them.

DoM Selected Participants in AAMC's Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar

Dr. Lama Abdelnour is an assistant clinical professor of medicine in nephrology and the medical director of the UCLA Living Donor Kidney Transplant Program. Her research interests center around effective management of kidney disease, including end-stage kidney disease, and improving kidney transplantation.

"Being selected to participate in the 2024 AAMC Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar is an honor that speaks to the recognition of my potential to lead and innovate in healthcare. This opportunity signifies not only my personal growth but also a commitment to addressing gender disparities in medicine. I embrace the chance to learn, collaborate, and empower others, recognizing that true leadership extends beyond individual success to the elevation of the entire healthcare community."

Dr. Estelle Everett is an assistant professor of medicine who joined our faculty in the divisions of endocrinology and general internal medicine & health services research in 2019. Her research explores and addresses barriers to care in vulnerable populations with type 1 diabetes. She has a particular interest in addressing inequities in access and use of diabetes technology.

Regarding her acceptance in the AAMC's Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar, Dr. Everett shared,

“I am excited to have been selected for this opportunity because I am certain that it will be invaluable to participate in a program designed to address challenges unique to being a woman in academia. I am a big proponent of self-development and I believe that participating in this program will provide me with the knowledge, skills, support and network to advance my career and my ability to be a more effective leader in the field of medicine and academia.”

Dr. Lucinda Leung is an assistant professor of medicine and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and staff physician at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. She has spent her career at intersections: the intersection between medicine and public health, the intersection between physical and mental health outcomes, and the intersection between research, policy, and practice.

Dr. Leung shared the following regarding her selection into the seminar:

“Being selected to participate in this AAMC leadership development seminar is a significant acknowledgment of my journey, breaking through various ceilings as a first-generation college student to achieving milestones in academic medicine. I express gratitude to UCLA DGSOM for offering me this unique opportunity as an early-career woman physician-scientist and for recognizing the importance of elevating diverse and female voices in academic leadership. Balancing family and clinical commitments, I look forward to gaining insights into research management and making informed decisions to advance my scientific research program.”

Dr. Kimberly Narain is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine & health services research. Her primary research focus involves investigating the implications of social, economic and health policies for health equity among women, individuals with low socioeconomic status and racial/ethnic minorities.

Dr. Narain is thrilled to be selected as one of the members of this competitive seminar, sharing

“I’m extremely excited to participate in the AAMC Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar because I view it as an opportunity to transform my passion for health equity into something actionable. I’m really looking forward to learning how to better utilize my background and skills to develop strategies to promote positive change within our institution. It will also be an opportunity to augment my professional network with like-minded individuals as well as people who think differently from me about the most effective ways to drive institutional change.”

Dr. Veronica Ramirez is an assistant clinical professor and hospitalist focused on addressing complex medical challenges and patient advocacy. Dr. Ramirez enjoys teaching and mentoring medical students and residents. In addition to her own direct patient care, she serves as an attending on the inpatient medicine wards at Olive View - UCLA Medical Center and as a faculty tutor for our second-year medical students during Block 9 of the Problem-Based Learning curriculum.

When asked about what this acceptance means to her, she shared the following:

"It is a tremendous honor to have been nominated and selected for the 2024 AAMC Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar. This is going to be incredibly valuable for my further professional growth at this stage of my career. I hope to take the tools and training I receive from this seminar to become an even stronger clinician, faculty member, patient advocate, and mentor."

AAMC Mid-Career Faculty Leadership Development Seminar

Dr. Anne Walling, associate professor of medicine, is a palliative care physician and PhD-trained health services researcher with a research focus on palliative care quality measurement, advance care planning, and interventions to improve the quality of care for patients with serious illness. She is Director of the UCLA/VA Palliative Care Research Center. 

Dr. Walling was nominated by the UCLA DoM and DGSOM to attend the AAMC Mid-Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar this year and was accepted as a participant after a competitive application process. She joined the full cohort of over 150 other women faculty participants from academic medicine and science in Atlanta, Georgia December 5-7 in 2023. Dr. Walling shared that the conference was simultaneously inspiring and practical, and that she met several colleagues, including in palliative care, that she plans to keep in touch with.

“I’m inspired by my cohort,” Dr. Walling continued, “and look forward to applying what I learn in this seminar to the growth of the UCLA/VA Palliative Care Research Center. My hope is that I gain further skills and resources to better support physician scientists with expertise in palliative care research across divisions in the DoM, and across UCLA and the VA. I'm excited for what we can accomplish, and I am appreciative of the nomination and the ongoing support of our research center.”

Dr. Amy Cummings Named Sole North American Recipient of Prestigious Lung Cancer Research Award

The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is a global multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the eradication of all forms of lung cancer through education, research, funding, and leadership opportunities. IASLC boasts over 8,000 members representing 100 countries, representing the association's global research and commitment to tackling thoracic cancers worldwide.

One of the funding opportunities that the association offers is the prestigious IASLC Young Investigator Grants Program, which funds the training of early-career researchers who wish to pursue careers in lung cancer diagnosis, treatment, or laboratory research. Applications are encouraged worldwide, and the committee selects one applicant from each of the following regions: Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America & Developing Countries (as defined by World Bank), and Australia/Rest of World. 

DoM's own Amy L. Cummings, MD PhD, was selected as the sole 2024 North America recipient for her proposal "Immunogenic peptide priming of dendritic cells for enhanced immunotherapy approaches in resectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)."

Under the mentorship of Dr. Edward B. Garon, Dr. Cummings launched her career as a physician scientist here at UCLA through the STAR Program. Importantly, she now serves as co-director of the STAR PSTP along with Dr. Quen Cheng.  

Dr. Cummings shares that

"being able to compete for and earn this award demonstrates that the top-notch training environment offered at UCLA for physician scientists is recognizable worldwide." She goes on to share that she is "incredibly grateful to IASLC for the support and excited to move our research forward."

Amy, we are proud of this incredible accomplishment, and look forward to learning more about your research breakthroughs!

DoM's Dr. Nida Qadir Spearheads National ARDS Clinical Practice Guideline Update

In 2017, the American Thoracic Society (ATS), in conjunction with the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine and Society of Critical Care Medicine, published the first clinical practice guideline regarding the management of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) -- a life-threatening form of respiratory failure that is commonly seen in ICUs and is a leading cause of death in ICUs. The 2017 guidance has influenced ventilatory and adjunctive measures in ARDS for the past five years, including through the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, the subcommittee of the ATS Assembly on Critical Care began discussing the need to update the set of guidelines given 1) shifts in respiratory epidemiology and treatment as a result of COVID-19, as well as 2) the publication of multiple landmark studies on the clinical management of ARDS. In response, the group convened, co-chaired by the DoM's own Nida Qadir, MD, to publish a paper that summarizes the latest evidence addressing the four "PICO questions" (patient, intervention, comparison, and outcome) using a standardized evaluation schema known as the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) framework.

Based on the GRADE evaluation of ARDS studies, the committee set on the following recommendations, four of which are conditional, and one of which is strong: 1) corticosteroids for patients with ARDS (conditional), 2) venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in selected patients with severe ARDS (conditional), 3) neuromuscular blockers in patients with early severe ARDS (conditional), and 4) higher positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) in patients with moderate to severe ARDS (conditional), and 5) recommendation against using prolonged lung recruitment maneuvers (strong).

The goal of these guidelines is to provide accessible, evidence-based guidance to ICU clinicians worldwide to help improve the management of patients with ARDS, that will be applicable in real-world, day-to-day practice. Given how rapidly the science changes, guidelines such as these are necessary for bridging common gaps between the world of research and the world of practice.

While ARDS especially boomed during the pandemic in terms of cases and awareness, Dr. Qadir explains that these guidelines are just as needed as ever:

"ARDS is a common and serious condition beyond the COVID-19 context," she shares. "Perhaps one of the silver linings of the pandemic is that ARDS gained increased attention, and as a result, we learned a lot that can now be applied to ARDS patients with or without COVID-19."

Kudos to Dr. Qadir on your leadership in developing these guidelines that will impact the care of many critically ill patients around the globe!

Dr. Rastogi Receives the Younes Nazarian Medical Humanitarian Prize

During the last Department of Medicine Grand Rounds of 2023, Anjay Rastogi, MD, PhD, delivered a lecture entitled "Healing and Humanity: A Lost Art of Medicine?" as the 2023 recipient of the Younes Nazarian Medical Humanitarian Prize. This esteemed prize was established in memory of Younes Nazarian, a businessman and vital benefactor to UCLA who passed away in March 2022. The prize is given annually to a visionary UCLA Health practitioner whose clinical care, medical research, and technological innovations are advancing humanity.  Dr. Rastogi received the award in recognition of his commitment to preventing and treating kidney disease, primarily through the UCLA Health's CORE Kidney Program.

Dr. Rastogi is professor and clinical chief of nephrology in the DoM. He completed his internal medicine residency and nephrology fellowship at UCLA, where he also obtained his PhD in pharmacology. In 2016, Dr. Rastogi founded the CORE Kidney Program, which aims to spread awareness of kidney disease -- a silent top 10 cause of death in the US -- and provide resources related to kidney health for patients, health care providers, and the public alike. During his lecture, Anjay opined on how his personal path and fervor for humanity led him to academic medicine.

"As healthcare providers, do we consider ourselves healers, or treaters?"

Dr. Rastogi asked the audience in the Tamkin Auditorium and on Zoom. This rhetorical question set the stage for the remainder of the hour, in which Dr. Rastogi wove together empirical data on kidney care with personal anecdotes, patient stories, and humor. Dr. Rastogi shared about his late father, a physician in their hometown of Jaipur, India.

"I don't know what kind of doctor he was, as I was too young [at the time] to know what medicine was, but it was the kindness, empathy, and compassion he showed that people still haven't forgotten."

He then went on to share that it is precisely this human-centered work that drove him to medicine, and that inspires him to continue working with kidney disease and transplant patients every day.

After discussing some of the key ongoing activities of the innovative CORE Kidney Program, including integrating preventive screening into their practice, integrating psychological wellbeing into kidney care, pushing forward improved shared decision-making models for patients, and leveraging AI to identify at-risk patients, Dr. Rastogi invited the full CORE Kidney Program team and patients, giving the spotlight to multiple patients to share their stories. Three key takeaways from the patient testimonials were 1) immense gratitude, 2) a significant improvement in quality of life, and 3) a deep sense of belonging after experiences of isolation in seeking care and managing their disease alone.

Congratulations were shared by participants in the live and virtual audience.  One virtual attendee based in Italy shared,

"Thank you so much Dr. Rastogi for all you have done for my son Giovanni… Your kindness, empathy, and humanity are such important elements for us all in our path through the disease. Bless you." In reflecting on the award, Dr. Rastogi shared that he is "very humbled and at the same time honored to receive this award on behalf of the CORE Kidney Team, especially our patients. I also hope that attendees were able to reflect on why they chose medicine as a career in the first place and if they consider themselves as treaters or healers."

Congratulations Anjay on this prestigious award.

We also would be remiss not to mention and congratulate the CORE Kidney team on their beautiful and successful float in the 2023 Rose Bowl Parade on January 1, which was featured in the news! With over 800,000 in-person attendees and millions watching on TV globally, CORE Kidney’s Float “Gift of Life: A Tune That Never Fades” won the prestigious 2024 Isabella Coleman Award for most outstanding presentation color and color harmony through floral design. In addition to the media coverage, however, the real impact was the public engagement during the 5.5-mile parade route, which was palpable in the crowd. Kidney disease touches everyone, and so did the float, which included riders and walkers representing people from all communities and walks of life. This was an important shout-out to the silent killer and spread of kidney disease awareness!



I want to give a shout-out to all of our members who are raising young families.

I have had intensive grand-father duties the past 3-weeks, lending a hand to our daughter and son-in-law. Parenting is hard work, especially when multi-tasking and balancing career and family. My grand-daughter wanted to work on her own manuscript, while I was editing mine. Our grandson seems less interested at the moment.

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