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Faculty involved with the training program are classified into one of two distinct categories: primary mentor and secondary mentor. After discussion, fellows will select a primary mentor whose research expertise overlaps with the research interests of the fellow and who can provide a tangible research experience that focuses on that area of interest. The fellow will also choose a secondary mentor who will provide training and research expertise from a discipline usually distinct from the primary mentors.

Primary Mentors

Matthew Allison M.D., M.P.H. is the Division Chief and a Professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Family Medicine at UC San Diego. He conducts research that broadly investigates the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, with specific focal areas to include subclinical atherosclerosis, metabolism and body composition, kidney disease, women’s health and racial/ethnic disparities.

Cheryl Anderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S. is Professor and Dean of the UCSD SPH, as well as the Director of the UCSD Center of Excellence in Health Promotion and Equity. Dr. Anderson’s research is focused on nutrition and chronic disease prevention, as well as the promotion of health behavior and elimination of health disparities by personal and environmental factors. Dr. Anderson has served on the Pan American Health Organization’s Technical Advisory Group on CVD Prevention through Dietary Salt Reduction, the National Academy of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, and the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. She is the Chair of the AHA Council of Epidemiology and Prevention and immediate past Chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee. She currently serves on the editorial board of Circulation and Annual Reviews of Nutrition. Dr. Anderson was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Medicine in 2016.

Elva Arredondo, Ph.D. is a Professor of Public Health and a Senior Investigator at the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health Studies. Her research focuses on implementing randomized community trials preventing chronic diseases in Latino communities.  Dr. Arredondo has served as PI or Co-I for 22 studies examining social determinants associated with racial/ethnic disparities and evaluating the impact of intervention studies aimed to address these determinants.  She has published more than 130 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.  Dr. Arredondo has served as thesis advisor for more than 60 pre-doctoral students, 2 post-doctoral trainees, and has mentored several early career investigators.

Tarik Benmarhnia, Ph.D. is an environmental epidemiologist with a joint appointment in the UCSD Scripps institution of Oceanography and the School of Medicine. He has a strong eM.P.H.asis on climate change, social inequalities and epidemiological methods involved in research projects; both locally and globally.  His research aiM.S. at developing and applying statistical methods and environmental exposure models to better understand which populations and territories are more vulnerable to extreme weather events in the context of a changing climate and recommend equitable adaptation policies.

Cinnamon Bloss, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the UCSD SPH and Director of the Center for Empathy and Technology.   Dr. Bloss researches social and behavioral phenomena related to emerging technologies, with a particular focus on genetic and genomic research, precision health, and big data. Dr. Bloss serves as a member of the Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research Advisory Committee; a federal advisory committee that provides recommendations to the NIH Director on the scientific, safety, and ethical issues associated with emerging biotechnologies.  Dr. Bloss has given invited talks at the National Academy of Sciences, National Press Club, and NIH, and has presented invited testimony before an FDA Advisory Panel to inform consumer genomics policy.  Dr. Bloss was recognized by the Western Societies of Medicine with the Carmel Prize for Research Excellence.

Kerri Boutelle, Ph.D. is a Professor in the UCSD Department of Pediatrics who has pioneered treatments based on extinction theory for overeating in children and adults, as well as cognitive interventions as ancillary targets to reduce overeating and obesity. Notably, Dr. Boutelle’s developed a novel clinical treatment program (i.e., Regulation of Cues). From this, she developed/implemented a cue-exposure treatment to reduce food reactivity and overeating in overweight children based on learning theory and the enhancement of inhibition. She has also developed and tested a parent-only treatment for childhood obesity, a guided self-help treatment for childhood obesity, an adolescent treatment for obesity that includes emotion management skills, and interventions focusing on attention bias and memory. Dr. Boutelle has mentored 33 graduate students, postdoctoral students and junior faculty.

Christina Chambers, Ph.D., M.P.H. is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and is a Clinical Professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Her research focuses on environmental causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes and childhood disabilities. She has led a number of national and international longitudinal cohort studies and clinical trials of prenatal exposures and child health and development.  She has collaborated with researchers globally to link multiple sources of large, detailed data and biorepositories to answer study questions. She has extensive government and industry funding and is an NIH-funded Principal Investigator on several grants. Dr. Chambers has successfully mentored 4 K-Award fellows, 10 post-doctoral fellows, and 12 visiting scholars.

Harvey Checkoway, Ph.D. is Professor in the UCSD SPH and Neurosciences. His research has focused on epidemiologic investigations of occupational and environmental risk factors for cancers and neurodegenerative disorders. He has mentored many students and post-doctoral fellows. Of particular relevance is his experience as Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)-funded Training Grant in Environmental and Molecular Epidemiology (T32ES07262, 1991-2007). Dr. Checkoway has been awarded numerous NIH research grants including as Program Director of the NIEHS-funded University of Washington Superfund Research Center (P42ES004696,1998-2013). He has taught graduate level courses in environmental and occupational epidemiology for over 30 years and is first author of Research Methods in Occupational Epidemiology, NY: Oxford University Press. Dr. Checkoway served as Associate Director of the UCSD Master of Public Health program from 2016 to 2020.

Lori B. Daniels, M.D., MAS is a Professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and the Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. She is the recipient of the UCSD Cardiovascular Division Fellow’s Teaching Award, Internal Medicine Graduating House staff Teaching Award and the Cardiology Zipser Family Award for clinical excellence, humanitarianism, and teaching. Dr. Daniels’ research focuses on biomarkers to assess CVD risk in various populations, including those with a history of Kawasaki Disease, critical care cardiology and imaging of chronic pulmonary thromboembolic disease. She has received an AHA Postdoctoral Research Grant, an ACC/Guidant Foundation Research Grant in Women’s Cardiovascular Health, and an AHA Scientist Development Grant.

Sheila Gahagan, M.D., M.P.H. is Professor of Pediatrics in the UCSD School of Medicine.  Dr. Gahagan received her first federal grant from HRSA to increase diversity of the residency program and train residents to care for diverse patient populations. She has also collaborated on a Fogarty International Center/National Center on Minority Health & Health Disparities program that prepares diverse students for research in developing countries. Dr. Gahagan’s clinical work continues to focus on diverse populations. Indeed, she is the PI of the Santiago Longitudinal Study, a cohort of Chilean participants born between 1991 and 1996, who have been studied for neurocognitive, socioemotional and cardiometabolic outcomes related to early life exposures. Dr. Gahagan has 117 publications.

Linda Gallo, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Co-Director of the South Bay Latino Research Center at SDSU whose research focuses on understanding sociocultural factors in cardiometabolic disorders, while developing and testing culturally appropriate interventions to reduce disparities in these conditions among Hispanics/Latinos. She is an NIH-funded PI on several ongoing epidemiological studies and clinical trials. She has served as principal research advisor for more than 150 undergraduate trainees, more than 20 masters or doctoral students, four post-doctoral trainees, and several early-stage investigators.

Richard Garfein, Ph.D. has over 30 years of experience conducting epidemiologic and behavioral research on the transmission and prevention of HIV, HCV, HBV, and M. tuberculosis infections among high-risk populations both domestically and abroad. He is the PI of a NIDA-funded program (R01DA031074) to investigate and prevent HIV, HCV, and tuberculosis in the Tijuana/San Diego region. He is also conducting NIAID-funded research (R21AI088326, U01-AI116392) using smartphone technology for monitoring adherence to anti-tuberculosis therapy.  In addition to mentoring pre- and post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students, he directs the Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Medical Informatics core curriculum for the UCSD SOM and the Introduction to Epidemiology core course for the UCSD M.P.H. Program. Since 2011, Dr. Garfein has mentored 59 pre-doctoral students and 18 post-doctoral fellows, of whom 51 were women and 39 belonged to underrepresented minorities.

Sheri Hartman, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the UCSD SPH. She is a clinical psychologist with extensive training and experience promoting health behavior change. Her research focuses on physical activity, sedentary behavior, weight loss, cognitive functioning and quality of life among cancer survivors, as well as a variety of other patient and under-served populations.

Eric Hekler, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Wireless & Population Health SysteM.S. within the Qualcomm Institute, an Associate Professor in the SPH and faculty of the Design Lab at UCSD.  His research includes 1) methods for optimizing adaptive behavioral interventions; 2) processes to help people help theM.S.elves, particularly N-of-1 methods; and 3) research pipelines to equitably improve people’s health efficiently. He is internationally recognized in the area of digital health.

Jan Hughes-Austin, PT, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Director of Patient-Centered Research within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Her research focuses on cardiovascular disease and bone disease; and how these two interact. One area of research investigates the role that autoimmunity, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-related autoantibodies play in cardiovascular disease and bone disease, specifically in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Within this cohort, she further aiM.S. to determine whether an individual’s major histocompatibility complex (MHC) modifies the autoimmunity and CVD link. Dr. Hughes-Austin has recently expanded her interest in bone disease to include bone health and fracture pathology, especially in the area of chronic kidney disease mineral bone disorder (CKD-MBD). Her research aiM.S. to establish a biomarker panel that will indicate bone turnover consistent with what is determined on bone biopsy from the hip in patients with hip fracture and CKD.

Joachim H. Ix, M.D., MAS is a Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension at UCSD. He is also Staff Physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.  His research focuses on two main areas: (1) understanding the contributions of kidney tubule disease on CKD progression and (2) evaluating new approaches to treat CKD related mineral bone disorders.  His group has led research evaluating whether urine proteins that mark kidney tubule damage and dysfunction predict CKD progression independent of eGFR and albuminuria.  In CKD mineral bone disorders, Dr. Ix has led NIH funded clinical trials evaluating novel therapies aimed at lowering serum phosphate and fibroblast growth factor-23 concentrations in CKD patients.  In addition, his team is evaluating novel approaches to diagnose and treat CKD related bone disease using bone biopsies.

Robin Knight, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UCSD, where he is a Professor of Pediatrics, Bioengineering, and Computer Science & Engineering. He co-founded the Earth Microbiome Project and the American Gut Project, which are among the largest crowdfunded science projects. He has written over 700 manuscripts and was honored with the 2019 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for his microbiome research and won the 2017 Massry Prize. His work combines microbiology, DNA sequencing, ecology and computer science to understand the vast numbers of microbes that inhabit our bodies. His lab develops technology to read out and interpret complex microbial communities, with applications in human health, host-microbe interactions, and the environment.

Andrea LaCroix, Ph.D. is Division Chief, Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Women’s Health Center of Excellence in the UCSD SPH.  She is also PD of an NIA-funded T32 Program entitled, “Improving the Health of Aging Women and Men”. Moreover, Dr. LaCroix previously led a NIA-funded T32 training program based at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, WA for 12 years entitled, “Improving Healthcare for Aging Women”. This program trained 13 early-stage postdoctoral scientists focused on women’s health from a wide range of disciplines.

Britta Larsen, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the UCSD SPH. Her research primarily focuses on promotion of physical activity in underserved populations using remote, scalable technology channels. She has developed and tested physical activity interventions both in community populations and as part of clinical care for patients with chronic disease, and also studies the cost effectiveness of health behavior interventions. Her research also investigates body composition, particularly muscle health, as a risk factor for morbidity and mortality, and the role this plays in health disparities. She has served as the Associate Director of the UCSD Center of Excellence for Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology & Prevention, the Physical Activity Topic Chair for the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s scientific sessions, and is the current Associate Director of the UCSD Bachelor of Science in Public Health program.

Elena Martinez, Ph.D. is a cancer epidemiologist with expertise in molecular epidemiology and cancer disparities research. She is currently Professor in the UCSD SPH and Associate Director of Population Sciences, Disparities and Community Engagement at UCSD Moores Cancer Center. She is the lead PI of the NIH-funded SDSU/UCSD Cancer Center Comprehensive Partnership and the Accelerating Colorectal Cancer Screening and Follow-up through Implementation Science Cancer Moonshot grant, which addresses the extremely low colorectal cancer screening in community health centers in San Diego County.  She is also the MPI of the California Teachers Study; an NCI-funded cohort study. Nationally, she has established strong leadership and commitment to the area of cancer health disparities, particularly in relation to Hispanic/Latino populations in the U.S. She has served on NCI’s Board of Scientific Counselors and Board of Scientific Advisors.

Linda McEvoy, Ph.D. is a Professor in the UCSD Department of Radiology and Associate Director of the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Center for Life Course and Vulnerable Population Research. Dr. McEvoy has a leadership role in three NIA-funded training prograM.S.:  1) The Research Education Component of the Shiley Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center; 2) The Research and Education Component of the Resource Center for Minority Aging Research in Alzheimer’s Disease; and 3) Improving the Health of Aging Women and Men T32 program. Dr McEvoy's research program focuses on improved understanding of cognitive changes in healthy and pathological aging; clinical, behavioral, and genetic risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia; sex differences in risk of cognitive decline in aging; and biomarkers for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

Paul J. Mills, Ph.D. is Professor and Chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine in the UCSD SPH. He is Director of the Center of Excellence for Research and Training in Integrative Health and Director of the Clinical Research Biomarker Laboratory. His expertise is in integrative medicine and psycho-neuroimmune processes in wellness and disease with a focus on cardiac rehabilitation.

Mark G. Myers, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD. He is a faculty member of the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and a member of the UCSD Cancer Center. Dr. Myers has participated in NIH study sections, serves on the editorial boards of addiction and behavioral medicine journals and is a fellow of the PI on 14 national and state-funded grants. His work focuses on the treatment of tobacco use among individuals with psychiatric disorders.

Loki Natarajan, Ph.D. has over 20 years of experience as a statistical investigator on multiple studies and clinical trials.  She has extensive experience as an applied statistician, including developing appropriate study designs, and conducting clustered longitudinal, high-dimensional genomic/proteomic, and "time to event" data analysis. She also conducts novel methodological work in the area of functional data methods for analysis of sensor-based physical activity data, high-dimensional prognostic modeling, and network approaches for modeling multiple health behaviors. She has co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications and has mentored 20 pre-doctoral students over the past 10 years, in addition to teaching two graduate level courses:  Applied Multivariate Methods and Introduction to Biostatistics.

Michael Pratt, M.D., M.P.H. is the Director of the Institute for Public Health and the Founding Director of M.P.H. program at UCSD. He is also the Chair of the Global Observatory for Physical Activity. Previously, he was the Founding Chief of the Physical Activity and Health Branch at the CDC and the Founding Director of the CDC-WHO Collaborating Center for Physical Activity and Health and of the International Physical Activity and Public Health courses. He is a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Pratt's research includes increasing global research capacity for physical activity, physical activity policy and evidence-based public health.

Dena Rifkin, M.D., M.S. is a Professor in the UCSD Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, and Associate Chief of Medicine at the San Diego VA. She has been a mentor for one VA Career Development awardee, four T32 post-doctoral trainees, and over 10 medical students and residents who have been funded by O’Brien, M.S.TAR and TL1 prograM.S.. Dr. Rifkin is a VA Merit-funded investigator with expertise in kidney function, hypertension, aging, and frailty, with more than 100 publications. In her 11 years at UCSD, Dr. Rifkin has been involved in teaching and mentoring activities across the continuum of medical education and post-doctoral training. She directs the Renal Pathophysiology and Practice of Medicine courses and served as research director for the nephrology fellowship.

Rany Salem, Ph.D., M.P.H. is a human geneticist, genetic epidemiologist and statistical genetics researcher focusing on application of human genetics and genetic epidemiology to better understand complex human traits and diseases. Dr. Salem’s research broadly focuses on understanding the genetic basis of complex traits and disease, with a particular eM.P.H.asis on obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetic complications, including how diabetes influences CVD risk. A major theme of his research program is phenotypic modeling and incorporation of more informative phenotypes in phenotype-genotype analyses.  He serves as a mentor for the JDP in epidemiology and the T32 program focused on Advanced Data Analytics for Behavioral and Social Sciences.

David Strong, Ph.D. is the Director of the Health Behavior Science Track for the UCSD/SDSU JDP in Public Health whose recent research in tobacco focuses on the population health impact of tobacco product use, promoting awareness of the risks of tobacco use with graphic warning labels on cigarettes, and promoting cessation within large healthcare settings. He is a co-investigator on the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, which was designed to inform FDA through regulatory science that supports the evaluation of the risks and benefits of tobacco regulatory decisions and impacts on population health. With funding from NCI and the California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program, Dr. Strong initiated parallel efforts to extend work on lowering barriers to cessation treatment and thereby increase engagement by smokers at high-risk for poor health outcomes including CVD. He engaged trainees in each of these efforts within multidisciplinary teaM.S. of investigators to understand the links between tobacco use patterns and cardiovascular health.

José Ricardo Suárez, M.D., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the UCSD SPH with a research focus on understanding the role of environmental contaminants on adult cardiovascular/metabolic health and on child development including neurocognitive, mental health, endocrine, respiratory and inflammation outcomes. He is PI and founder of the ESPINA study and the Nuts and Olestra for Persistent Organic Pollutant Reduction (NO-POPs) trial. He also conducts ancillary work in the CARDIA study. Dr. Suarez is PI on several NIH and foundation grants and conducts research in the US and Latin America.

Ming Tai-Seale, Ph.D. is a Professor and Director of Research in the Department of Family Medicine at UCSD and a leading researcher in the practice of medicine, with a specific focus on using electronic health records to inform research and interventions. She also serves as the Director for Outcomes Analysis and Scholarship and Director of Research and Learning in the Population Health Services Organization at UC San Diego Health.  Her publications on patient-physician communication earned the Article-of-the-Year award from AcademyHealth. A co-authored publication on the practice of medicine in the age of electronic health records was the second most read paper in Health Affairs in 2017.

Greg Talavera, M.D., M.P.H. is a Professor in the SDSU SPH and Founder of the South Bay Latino Research Center. He has dedicated his clinical practice, research and advocacy to reducing disparities in the Latino Community; both locally and nationally. Over the last 30 years he has designed and managed research prograM.S. involving CVD prevention, breast and cervical cancer screening promotion, behavioral interventions for diabetes care, recruitment of minorities into long-term clinical trials, and smoking cessation. In total, he has led 21 grants, contracts and supplements totaling over $32 million in direct costs. He is currently the PI for a series of chronic disease clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of the chronic care model on adherence to care among Spanish-speaking Latinos in a community health center. Since 2006, he has been the PI for the Hispanic Community Health Study - Study of Latinos, a longitudinal study of Latino health in 4 US cities and the largest study of Latino health in the US.

Sortorios (Sam) Tsimikas, M.D. is a Professor of Medicine and the Director of UCSD Vascular Medicine. Dr. Tsimikas’ clinical interests include treating patients in the continuum of high-risk primary prevention to endovascular intervention. His research interests focus on two major areas: 1) “biotheranostics”- biomarkers, molecular imaging and therapeutics targeted to oxidation-specific epitopes, and 2) Lp(a) pathophysiology and therapeutics. He has published over 280 manuscripts, review articles and book chapters. He currently has a dual appointment at UCSD and as Vice President of Global Cardiovascular Development at Ionis Pharmaceuticals. He is co-inventor of 13 issued patents.

Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D. is a Professor in the UCSD SPH and the Director of the Center for Tobacco Cessation, as well as the Director of the Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control.  Dr. Zhu is recognized for his research on the effects of telephone counseling for smoking cessation, which led to the implementation of state tobacco quitlines to include developing the first state quitline in the US: California Smokers’ Helpline.  Dr. Zhu’s work focuses on examining the interface of individual- and population-based approaches to tobacco control and how public health interventions interact with market-driven influences. His team investigates the effects of social norM.S. and the impact of emerging tobacco products (e.g., e-cigs) on tobacco use patterns. His work focuses on large datasets, including a statewide school evaluation project in California, with a focus on tobacco and marijuana use behavior.

Secondary Mentors

  • John Bellettiere: Assistant Professor in the UCSD SPH
  • Ryan Bradley, ND, M.P.H.: Assistant Professor in the UCSD SPH
  • Kimberly Brouwer: Professor, UCSD SPH
  • Michael H. Criqui, M.D., M.P.H.: Distinguished Professor, UCSD Department of Family Medicine
  • Job Godino: Assistant Professor, UCSD SPH
  • Richard Kronick, Ph.D.: Professor, UCSD SPH
  • Sarah Linke, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Associate Clinical Professor, UCSD SPH
  • Rohit Loomba, M.D.: Adjunct Professor, UCSD Department of Medicine
  • Borsika Rabin: Assistant Professor, UCSD SPH
  • Yuyan Shi: Associate Professor, UCSD SPH
  • Murray Stein, M.D.: Distinguished Professor, UCSD Department of Psychiatry
  • Zvinka Zlatar, Ph.D.: Assistant Adjunct Professor, UCSD Department of Psychiatry