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Our Staff

* Bilingual Staff (English and Spanish) 

Clinical Staff

Bailey Hofmann, BS graduated from the University of Florida Gainesville with a BS in Behavioral-Cognitive Neuroscience. She previously worked as a research assistant for the UF Social-Cognitive and Affective Development lab with the Florida Institute on Aging where she worked one-on-one with clinical trial participants in administering cognitive and physical functioning tasks. Her field focus was with cognitive changes in the aging population which fueled her interest in Alzheimer’s and other dementias. She currently works as a study coordinator for the longitudinal study at the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (SMADRC) by administering clinical interviews and questionnaires as well as presenting clinical case summaries for research diagnosis. In the future, she plans to continue her education by pursuing a PhD. 

Jimi Johnson, EMT started his medical career while serving in the United States Air Force as a flight medic (primarily emergency medicine). After twelve years of service, he switched gears and went to Hollywood where for fifteen years he was a feature film editor. Relocating to San Diego, Jimi's love for the medical field and service to others grew and he decided to once again return to the medical field. He is currently working in Neurosciences at UCSD's Medical Research Facility in the HD/ADRC Dept. under Dr. Corey-Bloom.


*Lillian O. Pacheco, BS was born in Juarez, Chihuahua and raised in Mesilla, NM.  Lillian attended New Mexico State University and majored in nursing. She joined the US Navy, and was stationed in San Diego and then Honolulu, HI. Lilly began working at UCSD in 2001 as a lead technician in the Department of Anatomic Pathology. After 4 years she was recruited to work in the Department of Radiology as a Clinical Research Manager. Lilly has worked at the SMADRC since 2014 as a bilingual clinical research coordinator for the longitudinal study.  She is currently the lead coordinator and responsible for training and supervising other longitudinal study coordinators at the center.  

*Brandon Pulido, BA received a degree from UC, Los Angeles in 2015. After graduating, he worked at the Semel Neuroscience Institute at UCLA as a Bilingual Research Assessor conducting assessments designed to measure intelligence and impulsiveness in young children. Additionally, as his interests revolve around neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, he worked as a research assistant, and later an author, on a study focusing on Traumatic Brain Injuries. Brandon has worked at the SMADRC at UC San Diego since 2017 as a bilingual psychometrist and study coordinator.


Neuropsychology Staff

*Cynthia Avalos, BS is a UC San Diego graduate that began her professional path at the SMADRC as a student employee in June 2017.  Upon graduation, she was hired as a bilingual psychometrist for the longitudinal study and a coordinator for the Caregiver study.  She is bilingual in English and Spanish and has lived in South Bay San Diego all her life, making her a natural fit for her role representing the center in outreach, education, and recruitment programs in the community. 


*Cecilia Salcedo Borrego, BS graduated from UC San Diego. She grew up in Mexico and returned to the US at the age of nine, which inspired her interest in language acquisition and retention, leading to her experience in Dr. Gollan’s language production lab as an undergraduate. Cecilia is a bilingual psychometrist at the SMADRC and a study coordinator for the physician referred memory screening program (SMART).  She is a member of our bilingual outreach, engagement, and recruitment team. 


Chi Kim, BS received his degree from the University of California, San Diego in Cognitive Science. He provides training and oversight to the neuropsychology team as a psychometrist supervisor. He is the psychometry supervisor and providees all training and oversight for the neuropsychology staff.  He also administers neuropsychological testing for a wide array of studies at the ADRC, including intervention trials. Additionally, he provides technical and computer expertise for the ADRC and Trials Unit staff.


*Madel Penaloza, BS lived in Tijuana, Mexico majority of her life and crossed the border most days to receive her K-12 education in San Diego, CA. She received her Bachelor's degree from the University of California, San Diego. She volunteered as a bilingual research assistant during her time at UCSD in Dr. Gollan's language production lab, where she became interested in research. She is interested in Alzheimer's disease and autism as she has seen them first hand in her personal life and professionally. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and she is now a bilingual psychometrist with the SMADRC. 

*Jade Serrano, BS recently graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in Global Health. She began working at the SMADRC as a student worker and was hired upon graduation as a bilingual psychometrist and member of our outreach, education, and recruitment team, providing programs and services in the community.  As an aspiring physician, her passion for pursuing medicine is fueled by her desire to serve and advocate for marginalized Latino communities. 


Social Work Staff

*Ivonne Arias, MSW graduated from San Diego State University with a Master's Degree in Social Work.  She completed a social work internship program at UC San Diego, where the SMADRC was one of three dementia-specific programs providing a hands-on educational opportunity. Ivonne is a bilingual, bicultural social worker who became interested in the SMADRC because she is intrigued by neurodegenerative diseases. She is currently a coordinator for the Young Onset Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementia's Program (YoADRD) at the SMADRC, and a member of our bilingual outreach, engagement, and recruitment team. 

Tracey Truscott, MSW LCSW, graduated from San Diego State University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and Master’s Degrees in Education and Social Work. Her 20-year career has been focused on working in the Alzheimer’s community and with older adults in direct clinical practice as well as Hospice Administration. Tracey
comes to the ADRC team as a Clinical Social Worker. Her role includes facilitating support groups and talking to people about research opportunities at the ADRC. In her spare time she enjoys a private practice that provides clinical supervision and education to other social workers and marriage/family therapists to improve their practice.

Biostatistics Staff and Data Management Staff

Murray Andrews, BA. Murray recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a BA in Molecular and Cell Biology and a minor in Global Public Health. During his time at UC Berkeley, he worked as an imaging researcher in multi-lab collaborative efforts in the fields of neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience, utilizing functional MRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate cognitive function and psychological disorders. A San Diego native, Murray now works with the ADRC in the management and processing of ADRC imaging data, as well as working with other researchers at UCSD to investigate the interplay of Alzheimer's neuropathology and cognition.

Tim Gahagan, MS, Data Manager. He joined the ADRC in 2007 after 10 years of work at UCSD on the Parkinson’s Dementia Complex of Guam project. He received his BS in Biology and MS in Computer Science from California State University at Fullerton.  Tim maintains the Center's data which is housed at the San Diego Super Computer Center.  Tim serves as a liaison to scientific investigators who use ADRC data, and as liaison to the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center.



Administration Staff

*Carmen Contreras, CMA has worked at UC San Diego for 24 years in several departments, including Geriatrics and the Seniors Only CARE program. Most recently, she was hired to manage the daily operations of the front office of the SMADRC, scheduling and managing research appointments, triaging calls, and attending to the needs of visitors during participant appointments. She was born and raised in San Diego, California, where she grew up speaking Spanish and English; this enables her to naturally accommodate callers to the SMADRC who speak either language.


Jackie de Villiers Flanagan, MA, was born in Johannesburg South Africa however, moved to the United States when she was only two. First living in New Jersey then Connecticut and finally ending up in San Diego at the age of eight. She graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Communication. Jackie’s work experience began as a nanny, then as a certified nurse’s assistant at Scripps Mercy ICU and finally as a research assistant to Dr. Wayne Beach at SDSU. After receiving her MA, she began working as a study coordinator at the ADCS at UCSD. Recently, Jackie joined our Shiley-Marcos UCSD ADRC team as a Regulatory Affairs Coordinator.

Christina Gigliotti, PhD, received a BS in Human Development (2000), a BS in Horticulture (2001), and her MS/PhD in Human Development (2006) from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she also earned a certificate in Gerontology. Her research focus was on non-pharmacological interventions that enhance well-being for people with dementia, including Horticulture Therapy. She is the Manager of Clinical Operations at the ADRC responsible for developing standardized procedures to enhance research quality and compliance.  She is greatly involved with the SMADRC outreach, education, and recruitment initiatives, including memory screening events, quality of life intervention programs, education and outreach events and community partnerships.  As the referral coordinator between the ADRC and affiliated researchers, she helps to synergize data collection and sharing efforts between protocols.  She is also responsible for oversight of the SMADRC volunteer program and the staff education program.

Emily Little, MPH, completed my Bachelor of Arts with a major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mills College in Oakland, California and her Master of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. During her tenure at Johns Hopkins, she contributed to the Evidence-based Practice Center’s systematic review and analysis of research to inform medical best practice and policy; the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research internal evaluation team; the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness opening; the Food and Drug Administration Partnership in Applied Comparative Effectiveness Science management; the United States Cochrane Collaboration Consumers United for Evidence-based Medicine coordination; the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research membership; and patient reported outcomes research funding by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Her goal is to be helpful in sustaining, enriching, and expanding what the research center has to offer to the community and to preserve the success that the Shiley-Marcos ADRC has achieved over the last 33 years.

Trials Unit Staff

Nadine Heyworth, Ph.D., is the Clinical Trials Operations Manager at the ADRC. She received her Ph.D. in Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University and completed post-doctoral fellowships at the Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience at the Boston VA Hospital, and in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD. Her research focused on age-related cognitive function and the underlying neuronal processes involved in learning and memory in older adults, patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and patients with medial temporal lobe damage. At the ADRC, she is the liaison between the community, researchers, and sponsors interested in clinical research studies.

Sandra Jerkins, BS graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor of Science in psychology.  She is currently a rater and recruiter for the clinical trials unit working on innovative trial studies to find an effective treatment, prevention, and cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  She has several years of experience working as a psychometrist/clinical trial rater and her interests have always revolved around neurodegenerative diseases (including Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease).  She is excited to start working this fall with the Down Syndrome population in aim to assess changes in cognition, behavior, function, and health in adults with AD-DS.

Barbara Johnson, MS is a Lead Clinical Trials Coordinator at the Shiley-Marcos ADRC (SMADRC) in the Clinical Trials Unit.  She began her study of memory and brain function at UCLA where she obtained her BS in Psychobiology.  Barbara then worked as a research assistant at UCR studying cerebral lateralization of language in the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab.  She first worked at the UCSD ADRC when she was in graduate school.  During this time she studied normal aging at the UCSD VA hospital and worked on a variety of memory and Alzheimer’s Disease research projects at the ADRC.  Her Master’s thesis examined the relationship between awareness of memory impairment and frontal lobe function in Alzheimer’s Disease.  After completing her MA, Barbara worked as a psychometrist at UCI on the 90+ research study; her primary role was obtaining data from older individuals to help determine what lifestyle factors may contribute to longevity.  She eventually returned to UCSD to work in the Department of Psychiatry as a coordinator in Schizophrenia research.  This research investigated the effectiveness of cognitive behavior social skills training in both individual and group therapy sessions to help those with Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses improve their functional abilities to lead better and more productive lives.  After several years in the Department of Psychiatry, Barbara is happy to return to the Department of Neuroscience, to again work at the SMADRC. As a Lead Clinical Trials Coordinator, Barbara is back helping to investigate various experimental drugs in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease.

Nobuko Kemmotsu, PhD completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology in 2010 from the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at San Diego State University and University of California San Diego. Her focus during the doctoral training was neuropsychological assessment of adults and ethnic minorities. After she completed a 1-year psychology internship at Shands Hospital at University of Florida, she returned to San Diego to continue research and neuropsychological assessment. Nobuko is a licensed psychologist in the state of California. At ADRC, Nobuko serves in the clinical trials team as one of the main cognitive raters for various clinical trials.

Nana Kori, MPH, graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s Degree in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science. She, then completed a Master’s Degree in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology at San Diego State University. She is currently a Lead Clinical Research Coordinator at the ADRC working on innovative clinical trial studies to find effective treatment, prevention, and cure for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Nana has always been interested in the complexities of human brain and how diseases and injuries to the brain can affect human cognition and behavior. Her focus shifted primarily to Alzheimer’s disease when her own grandfather was diagnosed and she watched his decline as well as the family’s suffering. She hopes that perseverance in scientific research will lead to a positive outcome for society and allow individuals to live healthy and happy lives. 

Lorraine Martinez, BS was born and raised in Riverside, California by her grandparents. In 2015, she graduated high school and became the first person in her family to attend a four year university at UC San Diego. During her time at UCSD, she worked a part-time job, was a full time student, and was involved in community service orgs. For some time, she was an Instructional Apprentice for a neurobiology course where she developed a yearning to become involved in research. Soon after, she became heavily involved in research labs regarding anything neuro, as she had a strong passion to learn more about brain function and dysfunction. There, she assisted with coding videos of triad interactions. Then in 2018, she started volunteering at the Cognitive and Brain Aging Lab under the PI Katherine Bangen and the ADRC. Under Dr. Bangen's supervision, she had the opportunity to score NP tests and observe MRIs. At the ADRC, she assisted specifically with the PPMI study. In June 2019, she received a B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience from UCSD. Post-graduation, she decided to continue working at the ADRC as a Research Project Associate. In her current role, she supports the clinical trials unit with administrative tasks and lab processing. Eventually, she plans to pursue graduate or medical school. 

Mollie Paster, BA graduated from UC San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a minor in theatre. Prior to working at the ADRC, she volunteered at the UCSF Autism and Neurodevelopment Clinic, where she trained to administer neuropsychological tests on a longitudinal study of the efficacy of Applied Behavioral Analysis. She also performed clinical interviews and diagnostic assessments at the Autism Center of Northern California. She contributed to a research project studying stress and relationships in caregivers of children with autism. During her undergraduate career at UCSD, she worked in a cognitive neuroscience lab, where she studied prefrontal stopping mechanisms and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Mollie is currently working as a psychometrist and study coordinator at the ADRC and plans to attend graduate school in the future for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Shawnees Peacock, BS joined the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (SMADRC) as a Project Assistant in December 2017. She attended the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where she studied Physiology, Neuroscience and Sociology. Prior to working at ADRC, she simultaneously interned at the Center for Multimodal Imaging and Genetics lab and the Department of Radiology at UCSD to assist with longitudinal research projects focused on both healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease. As a Research Assistant at the Center for Multimodal Imaging and Genetics lab, she collected data using a novel MRI imaging technique designed to be a more sensitive diagnostic tool for those showing early signs of mild cognitive impairment and/or Alzheimer’s disease. As an outgrowth of her role in this study, she had the opportunity to participate in the Faculty Mentor Program at UCSD to conduct an independent research project that looked at the effects of alcohol consumption on brain microstructure and cognition in older adults. Shawnees currently works in the trials unit at the SMADRC where she coordinates for both interventional and non-interventional studies related to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Daniel Szpak, RN, joined the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) as a Clinical Research Nurse with over 15 years of experience managing clinical trials and research staff in oncology, psychology, and HIV at UC San Diego. He earned a B.A. in Journalism from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and worked as a Human Resources Manager prior to earning his A.D.N. with honors from Los Angeles County/USC School of Nursing in 2001. Fulfilling his long term career goal of offering hope to individuals and their families at the ADRC, Daniel is honored to be part of such a dedicated and compassionate team in search of new ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Trainees


Denis Smirnov is currently a graduate student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at UCSD, working with Dr. James Brewer, Dr. David Salmon, and other SMADRC faculty. He is investigating the ways neuroimaging techniques and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers can be used to differentiate causes of cognitive impairment and track outcomes of clinical trials.  As part of the Medical Scientist Training Program at UCSD, he has already completed the first two years of medical school, and after the completion of his PhD he will return to complete his MD as well. With this combined clinical and research training, Denis hopes to help bridge the gap between the lab and the doctor’s office and bring the latest scientific breakthroughs to the treatment of disease.