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Diversity in the Residency Program

Welcome!  The Internal Medicine Residency Program at UC San Diego is committed to training and supporting physicians from all backgrounds. Please join us at an upcoming event!

Mission Statement: To promote the increased recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse medical professionals including internal medicine interns, residents and faculty from underrepresented minority groups within the Department of Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Director of Diversity in Medicine


June 2020

  • UCSD Alumni Dr. Rodney Hood will be part of the panel for a free webinar titled "Covid-19: An Uninvited Guest in Our Communities" 6/20/2020 from 9am to 10:30am. Join at this link 

March 2020

  • Diversity in Medicine lecture, "Race, Violence, and Medicine: Your Moment of Impact" by UC San Diego Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with UChicago trauma surgeon Dr. Brian Williams.

  • ACGME Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr. William McDade - breakfast and lecture on diversity in graduate medical education

February 2020

  • 18th annual UCSD Black History Month scholarship brunch

November 2019

  • 2019 SNMA Regional Medical Education Conference (RMEC) in Tucson, Arizona

  • ACP Medicine in Motion: Advancing Medicine through Equity with Dr. Darilyn Moyer (CEO, American College of Physicians)

October 2019

  • Diversity Mixer co-hosted with Radiology, Family Medicine, OB-GYN, Pediatrics, and medical school organizations.

  • HEAD & Advancing Women in Medicine dinner with grand rounds speaker, UCSF cardiologist Dr. Michelle Albert

August 2019

  • Inaugural Health Equity, Advocacy, and Diversity (HEAD) interest group meeting

April 2019

  • SNMA National Conference in Philadelphia

March 2019

  • Junior Doc 4 a Day

  • Dinner and Discussion with Dr Clyde Yancy

November 2018

  • Physician rally (including our very own primary care physician, Dr. Julie Sierra) for Medicare for All and Immigrant Health Care
  • SNMA 2018 Region 1 Medical Education Conference, Los Angeles, CA

 SNMA 2018


  • SNMA Kick Off Meeting at lunch


  • UC San Diego School of Medicine Second Look Mixer

March - April

  • The Student National Medical Association's 2018 Annual Medical Education Conference in San Francisco
  • LMSA Conference - West Regional conference at UCLA
  • UCSD Diversity in Medicine Mixer at the UCSD Faculty Club
  • Medical Education for Diverse Students (MEDS) Conference featuring a panel of UCSD Internal Medicine Interns/Residents

PAST EVENTS 2017-2018


  • Diversity reception at the home of Dr. Rodney Hood's (former president of National Medical Association & current president of Multicultural Health Foundation) to build community among underrepresented in medicine (URiM) undergraduate students, medical students, residents and faculty, as well as those interested in URiM efforts.


  • "What Fueled me to be First?" First-Gen Forum and Mixer for UC San Diego's First-Generation Faculty, Staff & Students 
  • "How Immigration Policy Affects Health and Human Rights" lecture
  • SNMA 2017 Region 1 Medical Education Conference in Seattle
    SNMA 2017


    • Advancing Diversity in Medicine - Dinner & Discussion with Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Vice Dean for Population Health and Health Equity in the UCSF School of Medicine
    • UCSD Medicine Diversity Mixer for medical students (SNMA, LMSA, LGBTQ), medicine residents, fellows and faculty
    • Advancing Diversity in Medicine - Dinner & Discussion with Dr. Neil Powe, Vice-Chair of Medicine at UCSF, and Chief of Medical Services at San Francisco General Hospital


    • Diversity in Medicine Lecture Series, “Disparities in Coronary Heart Disease and Cardiac Rehabilitation Amongst Racial and Ethnic Groups”, Dr. Luis Castellanos

    On-going Events:

    • Bi-monthly meetings with UCSD Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Council
    • Participation in regional & national conferences such as LMSA and SNMA
    • Collaboration with educators and URiM students from Imperial Valley


    Diversity Residents at Dinner

    Meet Our Faculty

    Francis Gabbai, MDDr. Francis Gabbai
    Vice Chair, Department of Medicine
    Chief, Medicine Service
    VA San Diego
    Professor, Division of Nephrology

    I was raised in Mexico City where I went to Medical School, completed my residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Nephrology.  My interests in Nephrology, specifically hypertension and various models of kidney injury came about during the completion of the mandatory community service of my last year in medical school.  At the end of my Nephrology fellowship, my interests in research lead me to complete a Master's Degree and opened for me the opportunity to complete a year at UCSD as a Fogarty International Fellow.  After going back and working for a period of two year as a junior faculty in Mexico City, I had the opportunity to return to UCSD and have remained here for the last 30+years.  As a faculty member moving up through the ranks I have had the opportunity to continue to practice Medicine and Nephrology while dedicating a large amount of the time to basic and clinical research.  Having trained in Mexico and being fluent in Spanish, I have very much enjoyed understanding and treating patients with a Hispanic background as well as all other patients with various diseases of the kidney.    

    Alexander Bullen, MD

    Dr. Francis Gabbai

    Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
    Division of Nephrology

    I was born and raised and completed my medical school training in Panama. During my rotation in public health I became deeply fascinated with the ability of research to promote positive health changes. During my internal medicine residency training in the US, I became interested in the role that hemodynamics played in kidney function. To further my clinical and research training in nephrology, I joined the fellowship at UC San Diego under the mentorship of Joachim Ix. I was destined to train in clinical research but opted to spend a year in an animal physiology laboratory to obtain skills in performing surgeries of animal models of acute kidney injury. In the clinical realm, I have completed and published studies in hemodialysis patients and I'm currently studying the role abnormal tubular function plays in future acute kidney injury. 

    I also enrolled in a Masters in Clinical Research to learn how to properly design and conduct clinical research studies and analyze clinical data using appropriate statistical methods. I was awarded a Merit Scholarship due to my academic performance. 

    Medical school: University of Panama
    Internal Medicine Residency: University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio-RAHC
    Fellowship (Nephrology):UC San Diego
    Masters in Clinical Research:UC San Diego
    Current position:Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine – Division of Nephrology

    Joseph Avalos, MDDr. Joeeph Avalos
    Assistant Clinical Professor
    Division of Hospital Medicine

    I was born and raised in New Mexico, in a small town called Las Cruces. I completed undergrad at New Mexico State University with a BS in Biology and a BA in Philosophy. I went on to attend medical school in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. My interest in Allergy/Immunology and my desire to expand my cultural experience took me to New Orleans, LA, where I completed my internal medicine residency at Tulane University. There I fell in love with education and academics as well as hospital medicine. After my training, I remained in New Orleans at a community residency program as an academic hospitalist. I seized the opportunity to come to UCSD in 2016 with my wife, who is also a physician and a native San Diegan. I plan to continue working as an academic hospitalist and advancing toward professorship excelling in patient care and medical education. 

    Commitment to diversity is one of the aspects of UCSD that I admire most. I am proud to be part of the Hispanic Center of Excellence (HCOE) Junior Faculty Mentorship program, aimed to identify and promote underrepresented medical staff. Under this program, I have been recognized and supported as a minority in medicine. Through HCOE I will also mentor and support the development of our diverse junior faculty as well as medical students and undergraduate students with career aspirations in medicine. Promoting diversity also includes identifying patient socioeconomic, educational, and language limitations to healthcare literacy and effectively adapting communication to ensure understanding of their complex disease state and treatment options. I am honored to be acknowledged by UCSD. 


    Julie Sierra, MD

    Assistant Professor of Medicine

    I was in the Peace Corps in Ecuador 1993-95 as an agriculture volunteer, where I lived in a small village in the Andes mountains for 2 years. I have worked with medical teams in Mexico, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and have studied the Cuban healthcare system extensively, spending several months working with physicians there.  I am a mentor for U.S. students at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana.  I was previously the Clinic Medical Director at the main clinic for San Ysidro Health, and FQHC that serves primarily Latino patients. I also do a lot of volunteer work with refugees and immigrants here in San Diego. I am a strong supporter of single payer health insurance, and an active member of Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP).

    Tony Lopez, MD
    Professor of Medicine

    Dr. Tony Lopez

    Both my paternal and maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States as young children with their families to flee from the Mexican Revolution and ultimately settled in the barrios of northern San Diego County.  Two generations later, I was born at Camp Pendleton, while my dad, a master sergeant in the Army, was fighting for our country in the Korean War during which he survived a near fatal gunshot wound to the chest.

    I attended college at the University of California, Irvine, with a B.A. in chemistry and B.S. in biology.  I completed my medical school training at UCLA and I did my internship and residency training at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Following this, I was selected for the Kennamer Fellowship Program in General Internal Medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine and became Harbor's first general internal medicine fellow. Ultimately, I double boarded in Internal Medicine and Family Practice with special qualifications in Geriatrics and became Assistant Head of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Scripps Clinic before being recruited to UCSD as a clinician-educator.

    I am currently a Clinical Professor of Medicine in the UCSD Division of General Internal Medicine where I have a very busy and diverse outpatient general internal medicine practice. I am also actively engaged in the teaching and mentoring of medical students, internal medicine residents, and new faculty. My current interests include all aspects of medical education including problem based learning and clinical reasoning.

    I am so thankful for the many opportunities that UCSD has afforded me including working with the homeless and Latino populations in community-based clinics such as Logan Heights and St. Vincent de Paul and many years of service on medical school admissions including the interviewing of applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    When siting alone in one of the MTF classrooms waiting for my medical students to arrive, I often reflect back to my roots in northern Mexico and the long journey that brought me here. I feel so overwhelmingly grateful, proud, and privileged for the core attributes of perseverance, humbleness, humility, mutual respect, hard work ethic, teamwork, and of course Familia that my parents and cultural heritage have deeply engrained within me. 

    Meet Our Residents

    Maggie Kozman, MDDr. Maggie Kozman
    Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, Class of 2020

    • I was born in the US on the East Coast to Egyptian immigrants and raised in Southern California.
    • I attended college at UCLA, where I was involved in groups geared toward assisting low-income residents of the surrounding communities and in Tijuana get access to health care/meal delivery services/tutoring, enroll in health insurance programs, and receive mentorship in pursuing higher education.
    • I attended UCSF School of Medicine, where I was part of the Underrepresented in Medicine mentorship/networking program, represented SNMA on the Admissions Advisory Committee, mentored at-risk high schoolers interested in the health professions, participated in global health research and healthcare delivery abroad, and created an elective course about the importance and impact of faith and religious/spiritual diversity on interprofessional and patient-provider interactions.
    • I wanted to be at UCSD in part because of the diverse patient population, which challenges me daily to further develop cultural competence, broaden my perspectives on health, engage patients' faith practices as I address their health issues, and improve my Spanish and Arabic language skills.

    Dirk (DJ) Gaines, MDDr. Maggie Kozman
    Internal Medicine, Class of 2020

    • I was born abroad in Germany and  was raised mostly in Spokane, WA. I went to undergrad and medical school at the University of Washington (Go Huskies!). 
    • During medical school, I was involved in several organizations including diversity workforce, whose goal was to strengthen diversity within our student population as well as advocating for underrepresented minorities, and SNMA
    • To me, diversity means embracing all aspects of the human condition in order to better understand ourselves and others around us. I believe it is integral to providing excellent care to a vast array of patients
    • When I interviewed at UCSD, I knew this was the place I wanted to be. This institution provides a unique opportunity to deal with a wide range of patient populations, both domestic and abroad, that greatly expands my academic and communication skills.

    Susan Seav, MDDr. Maggie Kozman
    Internal Medicine, Class of 2021

    • I was born in Los Angeles, CA. My parents fled Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge genocide, lived in Thai refugee camps for a few years, and arrived in America shortly before I was born. My father died when I was two, leaving my illiterate mom to raise six kids on her own.
    • I was fortunate enough to receive a full scholarship to Harvard University, where I studied Molecular and Cellular Biology. After Harvard, I worked as a Public Health Fellow for the CDC in Houston, where I also helped create a non-profit aimed at assisting the largely Hispanic community gain citizenship.
    • After the CDC, I came to UCSD School of Medicine, where I worked with the Student-Run Free Clinic and mentored at-risk high school students. I chose to stay at UCSD for residency because it was more than just a space to learn medicine. It was a place I could call home. After coming here for medical school, I knew firsthand that this program truly valued and prioritized medical education and patient care. Across our three academic hospitals, I see all types of patients every day, and I am constantly motivated to tailor the way I practice medicine so that I can honor each of their unique beliefs, customs, and values.
    • To me, diversity means recognizing and appreciating that there are people who come from all walks of life who should have an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams. In medicine, diversity and representation are essential for reaching marginalized populations - people like my mom and my siblings - and building trust within communities. 

    Armando Martinez, MDDr. Maggie Kozman
    Internal Medicine, Class of 2021

    • I was born in Riverside, CA and grew up all over California from Sacramento to San Diego, mostly in Fresno.
    • I went to USC for college, where I helped re-establish Chicanos for Health Education, an organization focused on promoting health education for the underserved within the local community, and providing mentorship for pre-med students that are underrepresented in medicine.
    • I went to UCSD School of Medicine, where I volunteered at the UCSD student-run free clinic throughout my 4 years, participated on the LMSA Western regional board for 3 years, and worked on recruitment of students under-represented in medicine. 
    • To me, diversity is a valuable element for any community to have. It provides a wider scope of understanding and improves our ability to effectively help one another. 
    • I wanted to be a resident at UCSD because of the diverse population and pathophysiology in San Diego County, and my experiences with the residents during my time as a medical student, especially their spirited camaraderie.

    Neysi Anderson, MDDr. Maggie Kozman
    Internal Medicine, Class of 2022

    • I was born in Nicaragua where I completed 5 years of medical school and was on my internship prior to migrating to the USA.
    • Once in the US, I was fortunate to attend undergraduate at University of Utah, where I completed a degree in Biology with emphasis in Molecular Biology. I also completed Medical School at this institution.
    • While at the University of Utah, I became interested in how migrants accessed the complex medical healthcare system, given that I felt lost navigating it myself. So, I sought opportunities to work with the medically underserved. I became an ESL teacher for Bhutan and Burma refugees. I volunteered as a Certified Spanish interpreter at a local hospital to help bridge the language and cultural gap between patients and health care professionals, and during the 4 years of medical school I worked at Community-Building-Community clinic in Midvale UT, providing compassionate care to low-income Latino families. In addition, as a 3rd and 4th year medical student, I participated and organized two different Global Health missions to help establish a partnership with local hospitals in Nicaragua.
    • I chose UCSD for the vast diversity of population and even greater opportunities to advocate, serve and create a positive impact within my community and the larger society which we all live.

    IM Residents' Blog
    IM Residents' Diversity Blog Posts
    Medicine Fellowships at UC San Diego


    Dr Luis Castellanos Appointed Director of PRIME-HEq (March 2019)

    Congratulations to Dr. Luis Castellanos, MD, MPH (UCSD IM residency alum, class of 2006) who has been appointed as Director of the Program in Medical Education-Health Equity (PRIME-HEq) Program here in the UCSD School of Medicine.

    The PRIME-HEq program is one of six UC system-wide health science PRIME programs, and is a 5-year dual degree program here in the School of Medicine that affords our medical students integrated access to degrees such as a Masters in Public Health, Masters in Healthcare Leadership, Masters in Clinical Research, and Masters in Business Administration. The program's mission is to develop physician leaders to care for and advocate on behalf of communities at risk for health disparities, and it has an emphasis on multicultural, multidisciplinary approaches to patient care, research, and health care advocacy.


    Dr. Castellanos currently holds appointment as the Director of Diversity in Medicine and Faculty Outreach for the UCSD Department of Medicine and their commitment to promoting the recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse medical professionals, including internal medicine residents and faculty, from underrepresented in medicine minority (URiM) groups. His new position will allow for even greater vertical alignment along the continuum of  undergraduate and graduate medical education to advance our missions of promoting diversity and health equity!

    UC San Diego Internal Medicine Residency Program Diversity Efforts Featured in American Heart Association News

    The residency program's Director of Diversity in Medicine Dr. Luis Castellanos has been featured in an article written by the American Heart Association highlighting our efforts to recruit diverse physicians into the program.  You can read the article here