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NAFLD Research Team

Investigators

     

Veeral Ajmera, MD

Dr. Veeral Ajmera is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Medical Director of Liver Transplantation at the University of California, San Diego. He is a board-certified transplant hepatologist and cares for patients with acute and chronic liver disease. Dr. Ajmera completed Internal Medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University and Gastroenterology and Transplant Hepatology fellowships at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). At UCSF he also completed a Master’s Degree Program in Clinical Research. Dr. Ajmera is a current member of the UCSD NAFLD Research Unit where he collaborates with a multidisciplinary team of experts on research in non-invasive biomarkers, genetics and patient factors associated with disease severity and prognosis. He is a recipient of an American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) Clinical and Translational Research Award and an NIDDK K23 Career Development Award for his work on the non-invasive assessment of patients with NAFLD. He is a co-investigator for adult hepatology for the NIDDK-sponsored NASH Clinical Research Network and Liver Cirrhosis Network.


Monica Tincopa, MD, MSc

Dr. Monica Tincopa is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of California, San Diego. She is board certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology, transplant hepatology and obesity medicine. Dr. Tincopa obtained her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins and Gastroenterology and Transplant Hepatology fellowships at the University of Michigan (UM). While at UM, Dr. Tincopa also obtained a Master's degree in Health and Healthcare Research. Dr. Tincopa cares for patients with both acute and chronic liver disease and evaluates and cares for patients in need of liver transplantation. Dr. Tincopa is a current member of the UCSD NAFLD Research Unit where she collaborates with experts on clinical risk prediction modeling and non-invasive testing for chronic liver disease as well as lifestyle interventions and optimization of metabolic conditions in liver disease. She is a recipient of an American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) Clinical and Translational Research Award and a grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Dr. Tincopa is a co-investigator for adult hepatology for the NIDDK-sponsored NASH Clinical Research Network. 






Shravan Dave, MD

Dr. Shravan Dave is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of California, San Diego. He is a board-certified transplant hepatologist and gastroenterologist who specializes in general and transplant hepatology, treating chronic liver diseases such as viral hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NALFD), alcohol-related liver disease (ALD), autoimmune liver diseases, cirrhosis and liver cancer. He is also involved in the NALFD Research Center as a collaborator on various projects. Dr. Dave completed Internal medicine residency at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), followed by a gastroenterology and transplant Hepatology fellowship right here at UC San Diego . 

Visiting Scholars


Daniel Huang, MBBS

Dr. Daniel Q. Huang is an Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore and a transplant hepatologist at the National University Hospital, Singapore. Presently, he is a visiting scholar at the NAFLD Research Center at UC San Diego. Dr. Huang's research interest is in the early detection and prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma in the setting of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and viral hepatitis. Dr. Huang is working on non-invasive strategies to risk stratify and detect chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma by leveraging advanced imaging-, RNA-, and microbiome-based approaches.



Maral Amangurbanova, MD

Dr. Maral Amangurbanova received her medical degree at Yildirim Beyazit University in Turkey. Prior to joining the NAFLD Research Center team, she trained as a pulmonologist at Erciyes University and completed a research fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Amangurbanova’s research focuses on the development of non-invasive methods for monitoring disease progression and evaluating therapeutic interventions in NAFLD and advanced fibrosis. She is also interested in studying the epidemiology of liver diseases in patients with diabetes.



Sung Won Lee, MD, PhD

Dr. Sung Won Lee is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea. His major research interests so far include viral hepatitis, anti-fibrotic treatment, and liver cancer. Dr. Lee joined Dr. Loomba and the NAFLD Research Center team in July 2022 to focus on research related to NAFLD. Dr. Lee is currently the associate editor of Clinical and Molecular Hepatology and an editorial board member of Hepatoma Research. Dr. Lee has actively played various roles in the Asian-Pacific and the Korean hepatology society as the vice secretary general in the Korean Liver Cancer Association from 2020 to 2022, vice secretary general in the organizing committee of the APASL 2022, and vice secretary general in the Asia-Pacific Primary Liver Cancer Expert annual meeting 2023.

Fellows


Nabil Noureddin, MD



Nurse Practitioners

Lisa Richards, NP

Lisa Richards is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner specializing in Hepatology. She has greater than 20 years of Hepatology (Liver) experience with her specialty focusing on Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). She was awarded the Associate-Fellow designation in 2020 by the American Association For The Study Of Liver Disease which acknowledges a distinguished group of advanced practice providers for the highest caliber of excellence and leadership. Her expertise in liver disease brings a strong foundation to the NAFLD Research Center where she serves as Assistant Director of Clinical Research Operations. She is a co-investigator on physician-initiated and pharmaceutical treatment studies. She and Dr. Loomba have worked together since 2009 and share the same core values of providing exceptional care to our patients.

Clinical Research Supervisors


Egbert Madamba, MD

Egbert has a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry and a Medical Doctorate degree.  He joined the NAFLD Research Center in 2018.  He is interested in understanding the etiology and progression of NASH.  Outside of the research setting, Egbert enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Research and Lab Assistants


Harris Siddiqi, B.S.

Harris received his B.S. in Human Biology from UC San Diego and joined the NAFLD Research Center team in 2022. He is interested in the physiological and genetic mechanisms of disease as well as incorporating precision medicine in disease intervention. Harris plans to pursue a career as a physician. Outside of the lab, Harris enjoys traveling and playing competitive sports such as tennis and basketball.



June Hasty

June attended UCSB for her bachelor's in English Literature. She developed an interest in lab work outside of her studies in humanities when she was in high school and still aims to broaden her horizons. She joined the NAFLD Research Center team in March 2022. At home, she is a professional illustrator with other creative hobbies, like playing the saxophone.



Kaleb Tesfai, B.S. Candidate

Kaleb is pursuing a B.S. in Public Health with Concentration in Medicine Sciences from UC San Diego. He joined the NAFLD Research Center team in 2020. Kaleb is passionate about the public health implications, in addition to genetic susceptibility to disease, on clinical practice, and aspires to have a career in medicine as a physician. Outside of the lab, Kaleb enjoys free writing and playing basketball.

Clinical Research Coordinators


Alejandra Santillana Encinas, MD

Alejandra is a medical graduate from Mexico. She joined the NAFLD Research Center team in March 2021. She has always had an interest in preventive medicine and primary care; she believes having healthy habits is key to preventing future medical problems and complications, including fatty liver disease. She enjoys spending time with her husband and her dog, reading and listening to self-help podcasts.



Christie Hernandez

Christie Hernandez has more than 10 years’ experience in clinical research. She completed a patient care technician program and has since been assisting patients in clinical trials with Type 2 diabetes, Migraines, Osteoarthritis, and NAFLD. She has been involved in clinical research since 2010, and joined the NAFLD Research Center team in 2020. Her involvement in clinical research has expanded her knowledge about diseases and how they progress which keeps her motivated in patient care and the advancement of science. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching movies and trying new things.



Diana Cortez-Moreno, B.S.

Diana received her B.S. in Public Health from UC San Diego. She joined the NAFLD Research Center team in 2021. Diana’s main area of work is coordinating pharmaceutical trials for NASH and cirrhosis. She is excited about learning about how these investigational treatments affect and prevent the progression of liver disease. Outside of the lab, Diana enjoys hiking, learning to surf, watching movies and exploring new bars and restaurants in San Diego with her friends.



Erick Sandoval, B.S.

Erick received his B.S. in Clinical Psychology from UC San Diego in 2021. He joined the NAFLD Research Center team in 2021. Erick is interested in understanding genetic predispositions to mental illnesses that will hopefully be used to alter future cognitive therapy. Outside of the lab, Erick enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, and watching sports, specifically hockey.



Vanessa Cervantes, B.S.

Vanessa received her B.S. in Cognitive Science with a neuroscience specialization from UC San Diego in 2020. She joined the NAFLD Research team in November 2021. She is passionate about providing patients with the best experience and hopes to continue this care as she pursues a career as Nurse Practitioner. Outside of the lab, she enjoys baking desserts and long walks with her dog.



Wathnita Sarik

In 2012, Wathnita Sarik’s interest in biology and patient care led her to obtaining a position as a Phlebotomist for the NAFLD Research Center Team. Subsequently, in 2020, Wathnita graduated from Ventura College with an AA in Sociology and got certified as a CNA for the elderly. In 2022, she rejoined the NAFLD team as a Research Coordinator. Wathnita’s current goal is to contribute to the efforts of understanding the origins of liver disease and the development of preventative measures. At her leisure, Wathnita can always be caught dancing, exploring new places, or laughing with her family.

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Scarlett J Lopez






Christian Butcher, B.S.

Christian received her B.S. in Public Health from Southern New Hampshire University in 2019. She joined the NAFLD Research Center team in 2021. Christian is broadly interested in epidemiology and environmental health science. Outside of the research facility, Christian enjoys hiking, traveling, and watching new films.

Research Data Analysts


Jaclyn Bergstrom








Richele Bettencourt

Regulatory and Finance Team


Seema Singh, PhD

Seema has her PhD in Biotechnology and recently joined Dr. Loomba's team in 2017. Seema ensures that research is conducted in accordance with study protocols, as well as federal, state, institutional and regulatory guidelines. As a coordinator, Seema's priority is to provide exceptional care to her study subjects.




Melanie Usher, B.S.

Melanie received her B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. She joined the NAFLD Research Center team in 2021. Melanie supports the NAFLD Research Center with regard to contract/budget review and implementing/maintaining systems for billing and collecting on all invoiceables for industry-sponsored clinical trials as well as investigator-initiated projects. Outside of the lab, Melanie enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and hanging out at the beach.

Scientific Writers

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Susy Kim, PhD

Susy joined the NAFLD Research Center in 2018 and supports its efforts by developing and writing research proposals for federal agencies, industry sponsors, and philanthropic foundations. She holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience and a B.S. in chemistry.