The Annual Symposium of the UCLA Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) Program celebrates the innovative research led by trainees, their mentors, and alumni. Since 1993, The STAR Program has successfully guided over 235 physician-scientists towards successful research careers in medical and biomedical science. In 2023, we celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the Program’s founding, its accomplishments, and the innovative research led by trainees, with support from their mentors, and STAR alumni at the at the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

We invite you to explore the highlights from this inspirational evening of research which thrives in a creative and supportive research environment at UCLA.

Message from Michael V. Drake, MD, President, University of California

2023 STAR Symposium Poster Winners

A panel composed of 10 faculty members served on the judging committee for the 2023 STAR Poster Awards.


Current Trainees

headshot of Michael Oh in white coat

Michael Oh, MD
Immunologic response to a CCL21-gene modified dendritic cell vaccine in advanced non-small cell lung cancer


headshot of Maria Velez in black blouse

Maria Velez, MD
Consent document translation expense hinders inclusive clinical trial enrollment


headshot of Amy Sun

Amy Sun, MD, PhD
Chimeric orthogonal IL-9 receptor signaling promotes stemness and polyfunctionality?for adoptive T cell therapy of cancer in human in vitro model

headshot of Po Wei Kang in black suit

Po Wei Kang, MD, PhD
Arrhythmia-associated Calmodulin Variants Interact with KCNQ1 to Confer Aberrant Membrane Trafficking and Function


headshot of Kara Chew in white coat

Kara Chew, MD, PhD
Including Env in an HIV Therapeutic Vaccine Blunts Gag/Pol-specific T Cell Responses

headshot of Melissa Lechner in white coat

Melissa Lechner, MD, PhD
Clonally-Expanded, Thyrotoxic Effector CD8+ T cells Driven by IL-21 Contribute to Checkpoint Inhibitor Thyroiditis

headshot of Ching Zhu in white coat

Ching Zhu, MD, PhD
High-Resolution Structure-Function Mapping of Intact Hearts Reveals Altered Sympathetic Control of Infarct Border Zones

Meet the 2023 STAR Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

Three STAR alumni were honored that evening with STAR Alumni Awards for their achievements in research and mentorship of the next generation of physician-scientist leaders.

Honoring STAR Mentors

For three decades, the STAR program has trained leading physician-scientists, fostering new synergies and cross-disciplinary scientific discoveries. The STAR Alumni Award recognizes excellence in academic accomplishments and professional achievements lead by the program’s alumni.


Alan M. Fogelman, MD Mentorship Award

headshot of Bevra Hahn in green coat

Trailblazer Award

headshot of Linda deer in olive blazer

Visionary Leadership Award

cover of the STAR symposium booklet


View the 2023 STAR Program Symposium Program