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Faculty Research

Our research and scholarly activity allows faculty, students and residents opportunities to be at the forefront of medical breakthroughs. 

Simone Kanter, MD, Associate Professor

There is inconsistency in how Primary Care Providers at the San Diego VA are referring their newly pregnant patients to Maternity Care.  There may be missed opportunities for Primary Care Providers to review several critical issues during early pregnancy such as medication reconciliation, alcohol and drug use, and personal safety concerns.  Given the lag in time between the referral to Maternity Care and the first OB appointment at Naval Medical Center, Camp Pendleton, or a community OB provider if the patient is eligible, Primary Care Providers can and should play a role in caring for women in the first trimester appropriate to their scope of practice.  

There also exists an inconsistency in how San Diego VA Primary Care Providers provide basic primary care to their pregnant patients during pregnancy.  We have designed a survey as part of a Quality Improvement project that will be disseminated to all Primary Care Providers at the San Diego VA.  The survey asks questions about the maternity care referral process as well as provision of care during pregnancy. We will collect the surveys and analyze the information over the course of a few months. Based on the data, we will assess the need for further education of Primary Care Providers in providing appropriate care for pregnant women, both in the early and later stages of pregnancy.

Our goal is to improve the knowledge and skills among San Diego VA Primary Care Providers to become more comfortable and confident in providing care to the growing number of pregnant female veterans. 

Gerry Boss, MD - Professor of Clinical Medicine

Vice-chair of Research, Department of Medicine 

Dr. Boss's laboratory has two major research activities. The first is developing the vitamin B12 analog cobinamide as a new therapy for cyanide poisoning as well as radiation-induced cell damage. Cobinamide has a very high affinity for cyanide and free radicals, and acts as a scavenger of these toxic chemicals. Much of the detrimental effects of radiation are mediated via free radicals. As a vitamin B12 analog, cobinamide is relatively non-toxic, and we have had a pre-Investigators New Drug (IND) meeting with the Food and Drug Administration. The lab anticipates starting Phase I clinical trials in 2012.

The second major area of research is studying the regulation of purine nucleotide synthesis by amino acid availability and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway. Dr. Boss's research group has found that amino acids are potent regulators of purine nucleotide synthesis, and that regulation occurs through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway. The lab is in the process of determining the precise mechanism of action. As part of these studies, the lab has found that purine synthesis is regulated during the cell cycle. This work could lead to novel forms of cancer treatment, since purines are required for DNA and RNA synthesis and cellular metabolism.

Edward Chao, DO - Clinical Professor

Dr. Chao is the Principal Investigator of a clinical trial of a wearable, needle-free continuous glucose sensor, and its performance compared with glucometer readings. He is collaborating with Joseph Wang, DSc, of UCSD Nanoenginering, whose team developed this biosensor. Dr. Chao received funding from an ACTRI Pilot Project grant (NIH CTSA grant: University of California San Diego, NIH Grant UL1TR001442), and a Faculty Development Award from the UCSD Academy of Clinician Scholars. Dr. Chao is interested in harnessing innovative technology as another tool to enhance engagement, as well as improve outcomes and quality of life for individuals living with diabetes.

He worked with a team of medical education experts and physicians to develop multiple brief videos for the Primary Care Core Clerkship. Topics include clinic encounters with patients with diabetes, and the musculoskeletal (MSK) examination. A study of the impact of the MSK videos on both learning and assessment is underway.

Stacy Charat, MD - Clinical Professor

Dr. Charat's scholarly focus is in the area of medical education, including evaluation of curricula, developing OSCE exams, and correlating outcomes on standardized patient encounters with other markers of performance. 

Melinda Chen, MD - Assistant Clinical Professor 

Dr. Chen's research interests are two-fold: health care delivery system innovation and population health. Dr. Chen's current research focuses on understanding how primary care physicians and health care teams work together to coordinate care for their patients. Her prior research has focused on understanding the work that primary care physicians perform outside of office visits as well as primary care practice infrastructures. She has also conducted research into social determinants of population health, with an emphasis on underserved communities. Her areas of methodological expertise are in qualitative and survey-based research. 

Timothy Dresselhaus, MD, MPH - Clinical Professor 

Dr. Dresselhaus serves as a primary care physician and Chief, Primary Care Service at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.  He has served in regional and national leadership roles within the Veterans' Health Administration.  He has focused on student education, serving as the Director, Medicine 401 Clerkship.  His scholarly interests include quality measurement, time studies related to physician work, and medical home implementation in VHA (Patient-Aligned Care Teams).

Beatrice Golomb, MD - Professor in Residence 

Dr. Golomb's laboratory focuses on intertwined themes: 1. The role of free radicals ("oxidative stress"—i.e. the damage that antioxidants protect against), and cell energy impairment in health, illness, aging and disease. 2. Areas of interest encompass Gulf War illness and other chronic multi-symptom illnesses (like Chronic Fatigue syndrome); drugs and exposures that mediate harms from these mechanisms (such as statins, fluoroquinolones, pesticides, trans fats and radiation including non-ionizing radiation); and potentially favorable substances like vitamin D, omega-3s, coenzyme Q10, and chocolate. These mechanisms are also germane to autism, obesity and metabolic syndrome, and neurodegenerative conditions like Lou Gehrig's disease and Parkinson's disease, among other conditions.

Research methodology, including placebos, "effect modification", conflict of interest, and risk/benefit balance. Ensuring risks as well as benefits are considered for drugs and exposures, such as statin-cholesterol-lowering drugs and other preventive agents (studies are typically designed to optimize benefit assessment – and for reasons of human subjects protections and cost efficiency, may obviate detection of harm).

Eduardo Grunvald, MD - Clinical Professor

Dr. Grunvald's research interests focus on many aspects of obesity medicine, ranging from education to bariatric surgery. He serves on the Obesity Medicine Education Collaborative, a national multi-society initiative for developing obesity medicine competencies to guide curricula across US medical schools and training programs. One potential use of these competencies is to measure the efficacy of various educational efforts, ranging from communication skills to reducing bias to advanced therapeutic skills. Dr. Grunvald is a principal investigator and collaborator on several projects evaluating predictors and outcomes after bariatric surgery. He also has projects evaluating anti-obesity pharmacotherapy in real-world clinical settings and the effect of pharmacological weight loss on response to immunological therapy in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Deanna Hill, MD, - Associate Clinical Professor

Dr. Hill's scholarly focus is on medical education, with a specific emphasis on developing clinician educators.

Heather Hofflich, MD, - Clinical Professor

Dr. Hofflich's research interests include new therapies for the treatment of osteoporosis and she is currently PI of a phase II clinical trial at UCSD in the area of sarcopenia. 

Michal Hose, MD, - Clinical Professor

Dr. Hose's scholarly focus is on medical education research in the field of musculoskeletal care. Dr. Hose and Dr. Anna Quan of the VA created a YouTube channel with teaching videos on knee and shoulder physical exams titled: 

"Sdmskproject," located here: Sdmskproject YouTube Channel

Simerjot Jassal, MD, MAS, FACP - Clinical Professor

Dr. Jassal's research Interests include: The epidemiology of Chronic Kidney Disease and contributing to collaborative meta-analyses via engagement with the Chronic Kidney Disease Prognosis Consortium and Global Burden of Disease.  As Program Director of UCSD's Internal Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Jassal is highly committed to superior medical education teaching and research.

Jeffrey Jenks, MD, MPH - Assistant Clinical Professor

Dr. Jenks has a number of current research interests, including latent tuberculosis infection, subclinical tuberculosis infection, and rare fungal infection research.  He is the Principal Investigator on a number of studies including: optimizing latent tuberculosis infection screening rates in health care settings (IRB #181334), which is supported by an internal grant from the Department of Medicine at USCD, an ACTRI grant (NIH Grant UL1TR001442), and an award from the UCSD Academy of Clinician Scholars; a project investigating subclinical tuberculosis rates in San Diego County (IRB #190110), and a project investigating clinical characteristics, risk factors, and treatment outcomes of rare fungal infections at UC San Diego Health (IRB #181119).  Along with Dr. Martin Hoenigl from the Division of Infectious Diseases & Global Public Health at UCSD, Dr. Jenks is co-founder of the Clinical and Translational Fungal Research - Working Group (CTFR-WG).  Among other studies, we are investigating new diagnostic agents for the diagnosis of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis and serve as a study site for a randomized clinical trial investigating a new agent to treat invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (SCYNERGIA study).  

Ryan Moran, MD - Assistant Clinical Professor

Dr. Moran's research focus is on Risk Reduction and Education/policy work – with TREDS (Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety) – information for driving impairment from aging, medications, and illicit substance use.  Most work is regarding information dissemination and education/teaching.  Increasingly involved with aging as it relates to driving impairment and risk reduction options.  This includes work with the about-to-start Project AUTO (headed out of University of Colorado, Denver), and local PI Linda Hill, MD MPH.  Exercise/Activity and Lifestyle: work with the Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center (EPARC) on-campus at QI/CALIT2.   Various activities ongoing, Dr. Moran's role and interest is in risk reduction including aging well.  Specifically, he has an interest in falls-risk reduction, which culminated with the Mini-Grant for implementing a streamlined STEADI (CDC Fall Prevention) patient centered screen and information dissemination at La Jolla Internal Medicine.  Technically, this is an IRB-QI/EBP project, ongoing.  NIH's "All of Us" Research Program – involved in increasing enrollment, including new patient centered approaches, and streamlining clinic processes, in the hopes of creating added-value for participants/patients.  Specific interest in this stems from my interest in population health, quality improvement, and making 'big-data' translatable.

Dr. Moran's research focus is on Risk Reduction and Education/policy work – with TREDS (Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety) – information for driving impairment from aging, medications, and illicit substance use.  Most work is regarding information dissemination and education/teaching.  Increasingly involved with aging as it relates to driving impairment and risk reduction options.  This includes work with the about-to-start Project AUTO (headed out of University of Colorado, Denver), and local PI Linda Hill, MD MPH.  Exercise/Activity and Lifestyle: work with the Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center (EPARC) on-campus at QI/CALIT2.   Various activities ongoing, Dr. Moran's role and interest is in risk reduction including aging well.  Specifically, he has an interest in falls-risk reduction, which culminated with the Mini-Grant for implementing a streamlined STEADI (CDC Fall Prevention) patient centered screen and information dissemination at La Jolla Internal Medicine.  Technically, this is an IRB-QI/EBP project, ongoing.  NIH's "All of Us" Research Program – involved in increasing enrollment, including new patient centered approaches, and streamlining clinic processes, in the hopes of creating added-value for participants/patients.  Specific interest in this stems from my interest in population health, quality improvement, and making 'big-data' translatable.

Anna Quan, MD - Clinical Professor

Dr. Quan's research projects focus on creating content and improving delivery of musculoskeletal education to all levels of medical learning, from medical students through attendings.

Braj Pandey, MD - Clinical Professor

Dr. Pandy is collaborating with hematologist Dr Annette Von Drygalski from UCSD Hemophilia clinic on the topic of cardiovascular health in Hemophilia. Dr. Pandey is the Co-PI on the project. Hemophilia patients have higher Hypertension and cardiovascular disease burden compared to the general population. Currently the team is studying differences between Hemophilia patients ( from multiple hemophilia centers), the general population( from NHANES) and the VA clinic patients regarding Hepatitis C and hypertension. They have a manuscript in revision which is expected to be published soon.

Amy Sitapati, MD - Clinical Professor

Dr. Sitapati is the Chief Medical Information Officer of Population Health at UC San Diego Health with responsibilities for oversight of more than 90 active EMR based registries, SlicerDicer, and predictive analytics. She also has oversight of quality incentive programs including CMS related PRIME and QIP. Her research interests include UCSD NIH All of Us, California Vital Records, health disparities, and population health. She has been teaching Kelee Meditation in Medicine in the School of Medicine for more than 5 years. She is a practicing primary care internist and has appointments in the UCSD Division of Biomedical Informatics as well as Division of General Internal Medicine. Her engineering and medical degrees are from Case Western Reserve University. 

Jennie Wei, MD - Assistant Clinical Professor 

Dr. Wei's scholarly focus is in the area of Clinician Wellness.  In collaboration with Dr. Simone Kanter, they have started a Wellness Initiative that aims to combat burnout and promote engagement among physicians and nurse practitioners in Primary Care at the San Diego VA.  They hope to reduce burnout while supporting clinicians in attaining professional development and fulfillment. Dr. Wei is also a co-investigator on several studies led by Dr. Albert Leung that analyze the role of transcranial magnetic stimulation in alleviating Gulf War Illness related headaches and pain syndrome.

Melissa Wong, MD - Assistant Clinical Professor 

Dr. Wong's scholarly focus is on the Impact of patient generated health data via wearable technology on patient engagement and health outcomes.