UCLA Campus    |   UCLA Health    |   School of Medicine Translate:
UCLA Health It Begins With U


Research Staff

Ste'von Afemata:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Ste'von Afemata, Laboratory Manager/Technician

Ste'von transferred to the CARE Center in 2003 after working at UCLA Medical Plaza Lab and Pathology since 2000. She is responsible for all research laboratory functions for CARE including processing and storage of samples, histology, cryopreservation (PBMC's/Pellets), quality management and all other assays as defined in protocol-specific guidelines of clinical trials. She received her training at Southern California Regional Occupational Center, as Medical Assistant/Lab Tech in 1996. She also studied at Long Beach City College and the University of Phoenix. Ste'von loves to laugh and enjoys spending time with her husband, two boys and cats! 

Vanessa Cajahuaringa:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Vanessa Cajahuaringa, Study Coordinator

Vanessa began working at the CARE Center as an undergraduate in 2003, primarily translating patient consent forms from English to Spanish to help in the recruitment of monolingual patients.  She currently coordinates various clinical trials and supports the various principal investigators with their individual studies.  As a study coordinator, she keeps in touch with patients and prospective participants, and she is in charge of the day-to-day operations of her studies. Being from Peru, Vanessa brings the South American touch to this multicultural location. 

Maricela Gonzalez:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Maricela Gonzalez, AMC Project Coordinator

Maricela joined the CARE Center in 2001. She started as an assistant coordinator, transferring from within the CARE Center group. She is currently working as Project Coordinator for the AIDS Malignancy Consortium (AMC) clinical trials. She is responsible for the overall coordination of AMC studies including various chemotherapy and observational treatments. Maricela is also responsible for various administrative work within the network.

 Christine Jackson:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Christine Jackson, Medical Assistant

Christine began working for the CARE Center in October 2005 as one of the clinic medical assistants as well as phlebotomist.  She received her medical assistant certificate in 2000; she also received her phlebotomy license in 2005.  Christine's responsibilities in the CARE clinic are obtaining patients' vital signs, taking medical histories, assisting physicians during patient examinations, collecting/preparing lab specimens, drawing blood, performing electrocardiograms, and changing dressings. She also spends time answering phones, greeting patients, processing patient medical records, scheduling appointments, and coordinating with testing labs.

 Melinda Kuo:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Melinda Kuo, ACTG Data Manager

Melinda joined the CARE Center in 1999 after working with cancer research at the Department of Biomathematics. Her main duties are participant enrollment and data quality assurance for all AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) studies. In her free time, she likes to go to baseball games and tennis matches, and she also enjoys shopping and hanging out with friends.

 Mike Marcial:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Mike Marcial, Management Services Officer

Mike has worked in the CARE clinic since 1997, starting as a temporary employee, and he became a full time staff member in 1998. Mike's previous work experience was in the outpatient Emergency Room registration area at California Hospital and Olympia Medical Center.  On May 9th 2009, UCLA awarded Mike with the Outpatient Administrative Support Person of the Year.  Mike is responsible for greeting patients, making appointments, scheduling special ancillary appointments for patients, updating demographic information, assisting patients in obtaining outside medical records, collecting all cash payments and obtaining authorization on all HMO's.  He enjoys traveling, museums and painting and he laughs every day, because he has found that laughter is the fountain of youth.




Arezou Sadighi Akha, CTU Coordinator and Operations Manager

 Arezou joined the UCLA Care’s team in March 2014. She graduated from medical school in 1999, right before starting her fellowship in research in France.  She started her service at UCLA in 2008 and has worked in a variety of positions where she wore many hats: study coordination, clinical trials monitoring and auditing, and drug safety management. In her current position at CARE, she acts as the Clinical Trials Unit’s Operations Manager. She loves listening to music and study about different cultures. She is very strict at work, no joking at all!

 Maria Palmer:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Maria Palmer, PA, Study Coordinator

Prior to coming to the CARE Center in 1999, Maria worked with the HIV Hematology research group at USC School of Medicine.  As well, she spent 6 years in Northern New Mexico practicing family medicine at various primary care settings. She's an avid cyclist and has participated in the AIDS ride from San Francisco to LA and the first HIV Vaccine Ride in 2000, from Fairbanks to Anchorage, Alaska.

 Sonia Salas-James:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA Sonia Salas-James, Medical Assistant
Sonia joined the CARE Center in March 2008. She received her medical assistant certification in 2000. Her past work experience includes working at Central Medical Group, where she worked as an Authorization Coordinator and a Medical Assistant in the Pediatric, Internal Medicine and OB-GYN departments.  Her responsibilities at the CARE clinic include obtaining patients' vital signs, collecting and preparing laboratory specimens, assisting with patients' examinations, calling in prescriptions to pharmacies, and other patient care tasks.  In her time off, Sonia enjoys going to the beach or park, or any outdoor activities with her five kids.
 Ryan Kofron, UCLA CARE Center Los Angeles, CA

Ryan Kofron, Biomedical HIV Prevention Programs Project Director

 Ryan joined the CARE Center team in July 2013 and is heavily involved with the PATH-PrEP Demonstration Project. Prior to coming to UCLA, he worked at the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods at Case Western Reserve University on a variety of childhood obesity and hypertension studies. In his free time, Ryan enjoys listening to and creating electronic music, rugby, darts, going to the beach, watching PBS, traveling and reading almost anything by John Irving.


Administrative Staff 

 Aida Alvarez:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Aida Alvarez, Administrative Specialist

Aida has been with the CARE Center since 2004 after working for the Inglewood Unified District.  She is part of the research administration and financial teams, assisting with grant and pre-award and post-award submissions. She assists the MSO, physicians and Fund Manager with everything including accounting, human resources, invoice processing, staff reimbursements, and purchasing.  In her free time, Aida enjoys any outdoor or indoor activity with her family.

 Irma Franco-Gonzalez:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Irma Franco-Gonzalez, Regulatory Manager

Irma joined the CARE Center in 1998 as Dr. Judith Currier's assistant.  She currently oversees the regulatory aspect of the CARE Center's ongoing clinical trials and is the program coordinator for the CARE Center's annual HIV symposium. 

 Faith Landsman:  UCLA CARE Center Staff, Los Angeles, CA

Faith Landsman, Director, UCLA CFAR HIV Research Study Volunteer Project (HIV RSVP)

Faith joined the CARE Center team in 2006, and she has worked in HIV research and services since 1991. Before coming to the CARE Center, Faith was the administrator of the UCLA AIDS Institute Vaccine Initiative and prior to that was director of the Southern California HIV/AIDS Hotline. Currently, she is the director of the UCLA research volunteer pool for HIV related studies (HIV RSVP).


 Elena Bishop, Administrative Specialist

Elena joined the CARE Center in 2012 after moving from Oregon. She is Dr. Currier's assistant and helped organize the CARE Center AIDS Walk team for 2013.


Carlos Cuauhtémoc Aguas-Pinzón, Senior Community Health Program Representative/Outreach

Carlos joined the CARE Center team in the summer of 2014 and is excited to engage with the community in this role.  Born in Mexico City, his family migrated to Los Angeles when Carlos was seven years old.  For the past decade, Carlos has had a wide array of professional experience, from taking on landlord/tenant and government benefits cases at Inner City Law Center to pioneering bilingual/bi-cultural curriculum in Treatment Education and Risk & Harm Reduction for the gay/bisexual/transgendered inmate population at L.A. County Men’s Central Jail.  Carlos most recently worked at AIDS Project Los Angeles as a Patient Retention Navigator, re-engaging lost-to-care patients at various county clinics.  In his spare time, he enjoys live music (he is a Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 15-year veteran), game nights, camping, and finding treasures at thrift stores.