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Academic Communities


One of the cornerstones of the Integrated Scientific Curriculum (ISC) is the creation of 6 Academic Communities (ACs) at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Each incoming student is assigned to one of the ACs and maintain this affiliation over their entire medical school career.

Goals of the Academic Communities

  • Optimize advising and mentoring of medical students
  • Optimize the teaching of clinical skills
  • Better integrate student along all four years of medical school

Role of an Academic Community Director

The Academic Community Directors (ACDs) provide structure and support to all medical students throughout the four years of medical education. ACDs integrate mentoring, service learning, career advice and special community programming for all medical students in their designated communities.

Current Directors

  • Jim Murphy, MD MS

    Jim Murphy, MD MS

    Blue Academic Community Director

    Dr. Murphy is a radiation oncologist and faculty member in the Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences where he sees patients, teaches, and conducts research. Prior to UC San Diego, he completed his residency at Stanford, medical school at the University of Michigan, and undergraduate degree at Columbia University.

    Dr. Murphy teaches in the Master of Advanced Study program at UC San Diego, and he oversees a research group that focuses on clinical epidemiology, health disparities, and health services research. Outside of work he enjoys spending time with his wife Heidi Yeung (also a physician at UC San Diego) and their two young children.

  • Jorge Fernandez, MD

    Jorge Fernandez, MD

    Green Academic Community Director

    Dr. Fernandez is a board-certified emergency physician and has been a faculty and attending physician at the UC San Diego Department of Emergency Medicine since 2012. He went to college at Duke University, where he majored in Comparative Area Studies (a multidisciplinary major focusing on minority and international studies). He attended medical school and completed his internship training at UC San Francisco, and he completed his emergency medicine residency training followed by a medical teaching-learning certificate program at the University of Southern California, where he subsequently served as director of emergency medicine medical student education, facilitated the 2nd year Integrated Case Series course, and co-directed 3rd year Intersessions 1 and 2 courses, at the USC Keck School of Medicine.

    Since moving to UC San Diego, Dr. Fernandez has served as the assistant associate residency program director as well as the director of medical student education within the department of emergency medicine. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the California chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), as well as on the UC San Diego chancellors advisor committee on gender identity and sexual orientation. He completed the UC San Diego National Center for Leadership in Academic Medicine certificate program in 2016 and the AAMC Medical Education Research Certificate program in 2018. His scholarly interests include medical education, physician wellness, diversity inclusion, environmental sustainability. For fun, he enjoys time with his wife, young children, surfing, yoga, mindfulness meditation, bicycle riding, snowboarding, and other outdoor activities.

  • Joe Ciacci, MD

    Joe Ciacci, MD

    Orange Academic Community Director

    Dr. Ciacci is the program director for UC San Diego Neurosurgery residency and Chief of Neurosurgery at VA San Diego Health Care.

    Dr. Ciacci has extensive experience with neuro-oncology of the spine and brain. He has completed neuro-oncology fellowships at UC Los Angeles and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Ciacci was on the faculty at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine for 9 years prior to joining the faculty at UC San Diego. Dr. Ciacci has been Visiting Professor and has given lectures throughout the United States and internationally.

    Dr. Ciacci's primary interests are tumors of the spine and brain, complex spinal reconstruction, spinal cord injury, closed head injury, and stereotactic radiosurgery of the spine. Dr. Ciacci's research focuses on stem cell modulation of spinal cord injury, and concussion in athletes.

  • Lori Wan, MD

    Lori Wan, MD

    Purple Academic Community Director

    Dr. Wan is dual-board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics and has been the UC San Diego Combined Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program Director since 2001.

    She is a UC San Diego School of Medicine alumnus, Class of 1995, after which she completed her combined medicine/pediatrics residency training at UC San Diego Medical Center followed by a Primary Care Women's Health fellowship.

    Her interests are in medical education, mentorship, and career development for both medical students and residents. She is also currently Vice Chair of the UC San Diego Graduate Medical Education Committee. Besides her clinical interest in taking care of patients of all ages, she also enjoys spending time with her own family.

  • Kathryn Winters, MD

    Kathryn Winters, MD

    Red Academic Community Director

    Dr. Kathryn Winters is board certified in internal medicine, providing Palliative Medicine services to patients in our health system. She practices at Jacobs Medical Center, and UC San Diego Medical Center. She is a UC San Diego School of Medicine alumnus, Class of 2013, after which she completed a residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) in Baltimore, and fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

  • Gina Frugoni, MD

    Gina Frugoni, MD

    Yellow Academic Community Director

    Dr. Gina Frugoni specializes in Obstetrics & Gynecology. She has leadership experience in directing obstetrics and gynecology services at UC San Diego Medical Center and has a clinical focus in transgender healthcare. She has also had long-time substantive involvement in pre-clinical courses in the School of Medicine (e.g., the Endocrinology, Reproduction and Metabolism 1 course, Ultrasound course, the Practice of Medicine (POM) course and the Reproductive Health and Justice elective). 

"As an ACD I'm positioned in the middle of our students' lives, providing a great opportunity to mentor and offer general guidance as they make their way through this interesting and challenging educational experience. The fact that I get to know this group of students from the start of school and travel with them over time gives me a chance to offer truly informed and individualized guidance. It also allows us to develop a real sense of community and facilitates vertical mentoring from the other members of our AC. Being an ACD is one of the best jobs in academia as it allows me to connect and learn from an extraordinarily bright, motivated, and caring group of people."

— Dr. Charles Goldberg, Former Red Tide ACD