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Welcome to the Anderson Laboratory Website

Anderson Lab Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Statement

The Anderson Lab is committed to excellence in planning, development and implementation of relevant and timely research to meet the health-related needs of the populations we serve. Our commitment acknowledges the role of systemic inequities in health outcomes of various people based on their race, ethnicity, social status, gender identity, sexual orientation and other marginalized identity groups*.
We seek to promote accountability to our commitment by:
  • creating all-inclusive policies and procedures that inform sustainable application of equity in our work;
  • pursuing long-term individual and institution-wide learning of cultural humility, anti-racism, internalized bias systems, privilege and social disparities;
  • maintaining updated, evidence-based evaluation and tracking to highlight and make impact in the alleviation of health inequities;
  • building partnerships and collaborations with local, state, national and international groups and communities with shared values;
Furthermore, we are committed to fostering a diverse workplace environment that practices mutual respect and shared dignity to create opportunities for scholarly, professional and intellectual growth.
*The Anderson Lab also joins our university in the full acknowledgment that we utilize the unceded territory of the Kumeyaay Nation and its people.

Meet Our Team

Dr. Cheryl A.M. Anderson, PhD, MPH, MS

Dr. Cheryl Anderson is a Professor and Dean of the University of California San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science. Dr. Anderson's research focuses on nutrition and chronic disease prevention in underserved populations using observational epidemiologic study designs, randomized clinical trials, and implementation science. Her research projects include the California Teachers Study; a study of stable carbon isotopes as novel dietary biomarkers for sweetened foods; clinical trials addressing lifestyle and behavioral factors for obesity reduction in children; and the RESOLVE to save 100 million lives D&I initiative. Her body of work addresses the effects of dietary patterns, sodium, and potassium intake on blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases; behavioral interventions for adherence to dietary recommendations; and identification of nutritional risk factors and for progression of kidney disease and development of cardiovascular events in individuals with chronic kidney disease. Dr. Anderson is the Director of the UC San Diego Center of Excellence in Health Behavior and Equity. She was a member of the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and served on the National Academy of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board. She is the current Chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2016.

Associated Faculty:

Dr. Natalie Sweiss, MD, FASN

Dr. Natalie Sweiss is a board-certified nephrologist who cares for patients with kidney disease including chronic kidney disease, end-stage kidney disease and acute kidney injury. She provides apheresis and hemodialysis treatments to chronic and acute patients.  She currently is the medical director of the nephrology clinics at UC San Diego and the medical director of dialysis services at the VA San Diego. Dr. Sweiss’ past research interests include diabetic kidney disease, adiponectin effects on the kidney, and the accuracy of home blood pressure monitoring. She is a fellow of the American Society of Nephrology (FASN) and has won several awards over the years, including the National Institutes of Health Physician Scientist Training Grant. She was also selected as chief resident after completing residency training. Dr. Sweiss continues to provide regular training to nephrology fellows, internal medicine residents and medical students. Dr. Sweiss completed fellowship training in nephrology and hypertension at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and residency training at Scripps Clinic and Scripps Green Hospital in San Diego. She received her medical degree from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, Ill. Dr. Sweiss completed additional training in home dialysis at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She is board-certified in internal medicine and nephrology. Outside of work, Dr. Sweiss enjoys spending time with her family.


Dr. Tala Al-Rousan, MD, MPH

Dr. Tala Al-Rousan is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UCSD. As a physician and epidemiologist born and raised in Jordan, a top refugee-hosting country in the world, Dr. Al-Rousan focuses her research on understanding migration as a social determinant of health. Her passion for public health started as a medical student at Cairo University engaged in multiple health awareness projects on female genital mutilation among rural Egyptians and Afro-Arab migrants in Egypt. During her internal medicine residency training in Jordan, she cared for Palestinian, Yemeni, Iraqi and Syrian refugee patients and was a volunteer physician with Doctors Without Borders in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, then in Sanaa, Yemen caring for internally displaced Yemenis. She later joined the leadership team at the Headquarters in Geneva before immigrating to train under Dr. Bernard Lown, a renowned cardiologist, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Dr. Al-Rousan is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the University of California San Francisco and a Harvard Bernard Lown fellow at the Harvard T. H. Chan school of Public health. Her past research focused on marginalized populations including incarcerated racial and ethnic minorities, older adults with cognitive and memory impairment, and refugees. Currently, she is leading multiple international and national research projects looking at links between past trauma, cardiovascular disease risk factors and cognitive function in refugees.

Dr. Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH

Dr. Ryan Bradley received his clinical doctorate in naturopathic medicine (ND) from the Bastyr University in 2003 and his Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology from the University of Washington School of Public Health in 2009. Ryan's research expertise includes clinical trials of food, natural products and mind-body interventions, as well as, nutritional and cardiovascular epidemiology. With an emphasis on lifestyle and health promotion towards primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, his research spans disciplines of complementary and integrative health, public health, preventive medicine, cardiology and endocrinology. 

Post-graduate Scholars:

Erica Ambeba, PhD, MPH

Dr. Erica Ambeba received her MPH at Drexel University, and holds a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh. Her dissertation focused on the interrelationships between weight change, change in inflammatory markers, and insulin resistance in adults enrolled in a behavioral weight loss study. Her current research interests include how biological, lifestyle, and environmental factors interact to impact cardiovascular and other chronic disease outcomes, especially among underserved individuals. Recognizing the epidemiological transition that is occurring in many developing regions of the world, where chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease were once in low abundance but are quickly becoming more ubiquitous, Dr. Ambeba's goal is to address these issues in an international setting.


Valerie Mercer, MPH, MA

Valerie Mercer is a Research Program Manager in the Anderson Lab and currently oversees the MEASURE study. She received her BS in Biology from the University of California, San Diego and her MPH in Health Promotion and MA in Latin American Studies from San Diego State University. She discovered the field of public health during her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer. As a result, since 2001 she has been involved in various public health promotion and research projects in San Diego, Mexico, Central and South America. In addition to nutrition-focused research with the Anderson Lab, she has experience implementing a variety of studies focusing on topics such as HIV, STIs, drug use, access and utilization of services among high-risk populations, migration, and mHealth interventions for TB treatment. 

Jolie Susan

Jolie Susan joined the Anderson Lab as a Research Program Manager in 2019. She has a BS in Women’s Studies from Towson University, where she worked at the Institute for Teaching and Research on Women and was the admissions coordinator for the College of Health Professions. Jolie became interested in the field of Public Health in 2001 when she began working at Johns Hopkins University, assisting with research on the public health effects of climate change. She went on to manage public health studies on lead exposure and neurobehavioral decline in seniors in Baltimore City, risk factors for cognitive decline in organolead manufacturing workers, second-hand smoke exposure in Turkey, Egypt, and Russia, arsenic exposure in groundwater on Indian reservations in South Dakota and North Dakota, asthma in children in Baltimore, and COPD in adults in Appalachia. Jolie also managed grants at the University of Arizona School of Nursing, in which nurse practitioner students had the opportunity to conduct clinical placements with rural and underserved populations in the Southwest U.S.

Graduate Students:

Nicole Chimbetete, MPH, RDN

Nicole Chimbetete is a current student of the Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health (Health Behavior Track) at UCSD/SDSU. After completing a BSc. in Dietetics, she continued her studies at the University of Minnesota in a Coordinated MPH in Public Health Nutrition program, where she collaborated with various local organizations that cater to under-served and underrepresented communities. After a year working for the Minnesota Department of Health, Nicole joined the Anderson Lab in the Fall of 2019 as a Graduate Student Researcher and Registered Dietitian, working to provide nutrition expertise in the development, implementation and analysis of studies.


Amy Atun

Amy Atun is a first-year MPH student at UCSD, specializing in Public Mental Health. She graduated from UC Davis with a double major in Animal Science and Spanish and a minor in Comparative Literature. In her career, she hopes to interact with diverse communities, support underserved populations, and fight health disparities. Amy is a part-time barista and enjoys running in her free time.

Undergraduate Students:

Laura Sterns

Laura Sterns is a fourth-year Human Biological Sciences undergraduate student in Thurgood Marshall College. She is particularly interested in learning how to realize more equitable and holistic healthcare. In her spare time, she enjoys playing in the UCSD Pepband and hiking.

Dietetic Interns 2020-2021

Morgan Robbins

Morgan graduated from the University of Arizona (UArizona) with a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences (Dietetics Emphasis) in May 2020. Morgan was the first dietetics student to graduate from the UArizona- Yuma branch campus and also represented the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as the college's Outstanding Senior. During her undergraduate studies, Morgan helped facilitate the Backpack Program at her local food bank, and also interned with inpatient and outpatient dietitians at her local hospital.

Christina Valdez

Christina graduated from UC Davis in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Nutrition. Christina is currently a dietetic intern with UC San Diego Health and aspires to be a clinical dietitian to help monitor, manage, and prevent further disease progression in diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and kidney diseases. Christina wants to be a lifelong advocate of nutrition education throughout different communities and contribute to food assistance programs in San Diego. In her free time, Christina enjoys running, hiking, camping, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends.