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Lab Members

 ​Current Lab Members

Michael J. Wilkinson, MD FACC


Michael Wilkinson, MD, is a cardiologist who leads the advanced lipid treatment program at UC San Diego Health. This includes diagnosis and management of inherited forms of dyslipidemia (i.e. an abnormal amount of cholesterol or fats [lipids] in the blood), as well as primary and secondary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease through risk factor management and use of lipid-modifying therapies.

Dr. Wilkinson’s research interests include the development of treatments with lifestyle change and novel drug-therapies for patients who are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Wilkinson completed a cardiovascular disease fellowship at UC San Diego School of Medicine, where he served as chief fellow. He did his residency in internal medicine at The University of Chicago. He earned his medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Dr. Wilkinson is board certified in internal medicine and clinical lipidology.

He is a member of the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, National Lipid Association, American College of Physicians, and The Obesity Society.

Iwona Świątkiewicz, MD, PhD, FESC

Dr.  Świątkiewicz is a Professor of Medicine in Nicolaus Copernicus University, Collegium Medicum, Bydgoszcz, Poland. Her medical training and specialization include internal medicine and cardiology. She has been involved in research, teaching, and clinical activities, and participated in numerous professional events, teaching courses, workshops, and scientific meetings. She published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and several book chapters. Her research interests are focused on the diagnostic and prognostic value of echocardiography and biomarkers in cardiac diseases, efficacy and safety of transcatheter structural cardiac interventions, circadian clock disruption in cardiometabolic diseases, impact of pharmacologic intervention and lifestyle changes on cardiometabolic risk, and clinical and translational research in cardiovascular diseases. Her clinical areas of activities include non-invasive cardiology, echocardiography, prevention of heart disease, management of heart defects, coronary disease and heart failure, transcatheter structural cardiac interventions, as well as evidence-based tailored approach to care of individual patients.

​Jia Shen, MD 


Jia Shen, MD, is a board-certified cardiologist who specializes in the treatment and prevention of heart disease.

As an assistant professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine, Dr. Shen's research interests include cardiac rehabilitation, global burden of cardiovascular disease and risk factors, distribution of cardiovascular health services in low-resource settings, and biomarkers in cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Shen was named outstanding fellow during her fellowship training in cardiovascular disease at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, where she also completed her residency training in internal medicine. She earned her medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri. She also holds a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. She is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease.

In addition to English, Dr. Shen is fluent in Mandarin.

​Elizabeth Epstein, MD

Internal Medicine Resident and Research Team Member

Elizabeth Epstein, MD is an internal medicine resident at UC San Diego Health. Her research interests include prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cardiac rehabilitation, as well as evidence-based, integrative approaches to cardiovascular diseases. She earned her medical degree from UC San Diego School of Medicine. 

She is the author of A Beautiful Heart Cookbook, a research-based, heart-healthy cookbook that empowers patients to cook healthy food at home.


​Aryana Pazargadi

Clinical Research Coordinator

Aryana Pazargadi is a graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Biopsychology (Neuroscience). Her research background includes time spent with Drosophila species in wet lab and time spent in the clinic researching verbal cognition patterns in infants with Dr. Rose Scott. She now enjoys investigating the clinical implications of circadian biology in human research trials. In her free time, Aryana is a frequent flyer and globe-trotter. She has a love for different languages and cultures, and has traveled to 22 different countries.

​Ashley Rosander

Clinical Research Coordinator

Ashley Rosander graduated from UC San Diego with a B.S. in Human Biology in June 2019 and has been working in Dr. Taub's research group ever since! She was originally interested in Dr. Taub's research because of its emphasis on lifestyle interventions for preventative healthcare. 

Ashley previously worked in wet lab research concerning drug addiction at the San Diego Biomedical Research Institute, and has now moved on to clinical trials research at UC San Diego. As a student, she participated in youth health education, and now she volunteers at Rady Children's Hospital on the weekends. She is an aspiring pediatric cardiologist. She considers herself very lucky to get to work with such amazing patients and such an inspiring team of people!

Cameron Ormiston

Clinical Research Assistant, Volunteer

Cameron is a junior at UC San Diego pursuing a B.S. in Global Health with the intention of applying to medical school after graduating. He has an interest and passion for exploring creative solutions to health disparities and inequality, and was especially drawn to Dr. Taub's clinical research due to her focus on real-life solutions to improving cardiovascular health and metabolic processes. His favorite part about working in the Taub Lab is connecting and interacting directly with our research patients, learning about their stories. As a member of the lab, Cameron has received the Julia Brown Research Scholarship and will be published on cardiovascular biomarkers and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.

Outside of the lab and school, Cameron loves professional photography, documenting his travels and experiences, and exploring the fields of psychology. When he's not reading research papers for fun, he also loves to de-stress through exercising.

Neeja Patel

Summer Scholarship Recipient

Neeja is a rising second year medical student at UC San Diego School of Medicine. She graduated from UC San Diego in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Humanities. During undergrad, she worked in the Patel lab doing research on mice tissue to analyze cell membrane fluidity. She is excited to transition to clinical research about the prevalence of diabetic cardiomyopathy and to learn more about the field of preventative cardiology.

Before starting med school, Neeja taught 9th grade in an under served community and hopes to continue bringing education and patient awareness to the forefront of medicine. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and exploring the vibrant neighborhoods of San Diego.

Rajiv Vasudevan

Summer Scholarship Recipient

Rajiv is a current medical student at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he completed his undergraduate studies at UC San Diego (Revelle College) in 2018. He conducted research in clinical neuropsychology before transitioning to the cardiac biomarker lab of Dr. Alan Maisel, who worked closely with Dr. Taub prior to his retirement in 2018. Now a medical student, he enjoys exploring different avenues of research in the field of cardiology and is currently working on the Amgen FFR study pertaining to the management and outcomes of non-obstructive coronary artery disease.

In addition, Rajiv is interested in infectious diseases and nosocomial infection prevention research, and hopes to find a way to integrate infectious disease and cardiology in his future career. In his free time, Rajiv enjoys playing guitar, riding his bike, and reading books on religion and philosophy.

Irvin Xu

Summer Scholarship Recipient

Irvin Xu is a second year medical student at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. He graduated from UCLA in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology. During his time at UCLA, Irvin conducted research in toxicology involving liver microtissues before transitioning over to type 1 diabetes research under Dr. Jide Tian. He is excited to continue his research endeavors, now in the field of cardiology, and work with the rest of the team on the Amgen FFR study.

During his free time, Irvin enjoys playing soccer, cooking, and exploring the San Diego food scene.

Erika Padilla

Clinical Research Coordinator

Erika Padilla graduated from UC San Diego with a B.S. in Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience in 2020 and has been working in Dr. Taub's research group ever since! During her time at UCSD, she worked as a student research assistant for Parkinson’s and other movement disorders, where she was able to learn about neurological diseases that affect movement and cognition. Now as a clinical researcher for cardiovascular medicine, she is excited to explore a different avenue of medicine with an emphasis on behavioral intervention for cardiovascular disease prevention. She considers herself very fortunate to help people gain optimal cardio-metabolic health!

In her free time she enjoys hiking and rollerblading along the beach.

David Van

Clinical Research Coordinator

David Van graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neuroscience and a minor in Education Studies. During his time at UC San Diego, David conducted research on how perceptual scaling and signal detection analysis can be used to improve the effectiveness of eyewitness testimony and human memory with Dr. Thomas Albright at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He is excited to transition into clinical trials research and is interested in learning more about the effects of time restricted eating on patients with metabolic syndrome.

Prior to joining the Taub Research Group, David was a student teacher for a Spanish Immersion class where he taught different STEM subjects in Spanish to elementary school students. He is inspired to educate future generations about the field of medicine and clinical research. David's medical interests lie in surgery, and he aspires to be a cardiothoracic surgeon or orthopedic surgeon in the future. During his free time, David enjoys volunteering in the community, playing the piano, mentoring K-12 students, and playing beach volleyball.

Victoria Green

Clinical Research Coordinator

Victoria graduated from UCLA in 2021 with a B.S. in Cognitive Science and a minor in Global health, joining the Taub Research Group shortly after in the hopes of pursuing a career in health policy or research. During her undergrad, Victoria worked as a research assistant for a perceptual and computational processing lab, focusing primarily on cognitive underpinnings of mathematical learning. She was drawn to cardiology research to study its disproportionate burden on historically underrepresented groups and identify its intersection with the social determinants of health.

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Victoria enjoys relaxing and soaking up the sunshine in southern California. A vocal political advocate, she hopes to increase access to medical education and improve existing health infrastructure to better meet the needs of a rapidly diversifying and aging US population. In her free time, she enjoys reading historical fiction and watching social commentary videos and podcasts!