Team Members (A-L)

Grace M. Aldrovandi, MD, CM

Professor and Chief
Department of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Aldrovandi received her undergraduate and her medical degree from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She completed an internship and residency at McGill, as well as a research fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a board-certified pediatric infectious diseases specialist with over 20 years experience in caring for both general pediatric infectious diseases as well as HIV infected children and their families. Dr. Aldrovandi’s research interests include pediatric HIV, the effects of breast milk on child health and infections in immunocompromised children. She has published more than 200 peer review publications in such journals as Nature, Journal of Virology, and the New England Journal of Medicine and multiple book chapters. She has been a member of many National Institutes of Health study sections and lectured throughout the world. 

Dr. Aldrovandi has had continuous NIH funding for over 20 years, and in recognition of her significant contributions was honored with the prestigious Elizabeth Glaser Scientist Award. She and her collaborators were the first to describe increased morbidity and mortality among HIV-exposed uninfected infants, an essential discovery with potential implications for improving health outcomes in this vulnerable population. Dr. Aldrovandi's laboratory is at the forefront of investigating microbial communities' role in various compartments, ranging from mucosal (breast, vagina, rectum, oral) to non-mucosal (skin) regions. Their pioneering work demonstrated the presence of perturbations in the microbiome of infants born to HIV-infected women, despite the infants not being infected with HIV. Employing sophisticated bioinformatics approaches, they have skillfully modeled microbial maturation and strain transfer from breast milk to infant stool, unveiling new insights into this crucial area of research.

Having played prominent leadership roles in several NIH-funded clinical trials Networks, Dr. Aldrovandi has a deep understanding of the collaborative efforts essential for transformative research in the field. This unique perspective allows her to identify opportunities for innovative and impactful investigations.

Dr. Aldrovandi is deeply committed to nurturing the next generation of scientists and has actively engaged in mentoring activities to encourage underrepresented Latino and African-American high school students to pursue careers in STEM fields. Her mentoring efforts have garnered attention and recognition, with a feature on Despierta America, highlighting the impact of their work in inspiring and guiding young minds towards scientific excellence. Moreover, Dr. Aldrovandi has had the privilege of mentoring numerous talented individuals, guiding them through their academic and research journeys. Her mentorship has been instrumental in helping these individuals secure prestigious awards and grants, including T32, K08, K23, K99, R01, and a Doris Duke Award. ACTG IMPAACT Laboratory Center

Daniel T. Blumfield, PhD

Professor, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology; UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability
Co-Director, UCLA Evolutionary Medicine Program
UCLA College of Life Sciences
President, Board of Trustees, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory

Dr. Blumstein received his undergraduate degrees in environmental, population, and organismic biology (magna cum laude), and in environmental conservation (cum laude) at The University of Colorado, Boulder. He received his MS and PhD in animal behavior at the University of California Davis, and was a DAAD post-doctoral fellow at the University of Marburg (Germany), an NIH-NRSA at the University of Kansas, and an Australian Postdoctoral Fellow at Macquarie University (Australia). He has studied animal behavior and conservation biology in Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, French Polynesia, Germany, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. He was a Fulbright Fellow (to Pakistan) and is an elected Fellow of the Society of Biology and the Animal Behavior Society. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the UCLA Faculty Gold Shield Award for extraordinary accomplishment in undergraduate teaching and research, and the Animal Behavior Society’s Quest Award for seminal contributions to the study of behavior. He is the author of eight books and over 500 scholarly publications. He was an editor of the journal Animal Behaviour, and is currently an associate editor of the Quarterly Review of Biology, and is (or was) on the editorial boards of Behavioral Ecology, Biology Letters, Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, and Ethology. He is the founding editor in chief of Frontiers in Conservation Science. A major thrust of his research works to integrate different fields and apply ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral principles to applied questions. He spends his summers studying marmot behavior and ecology at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Gothic, Colorado. Between 2009 and 2016 he was the chiar of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA. Blumstein Lab

Siobhan A. Braybrook, PhD

Associate Professor
Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology
UCLA College of Life Sciences

Dr. Braybrook received her BSc Honors in plant biology from the University of Guelph, Canada, in 2003.  During undergrad she worked with Annette Nassuth on cold-tolerance in grapes and with Derek Bewley on seed germination mechanics in tomatoes. She then moved to UC Davis, with conditional acceptance, to work with John Harada on somatic embryo development. Her plant mechanics work began during her NSF-funded postdoc in the lab of Cris Kuhlemeier (Bern, CH) where she collaborated with Alexis Peaucelle (INRA, France) to develop AFM-based methods measuring cell wall mechanics in apical meristems. In 2013, Dr. Braybrook started The Plant Mechanics Group at The Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge. In 2017 the lab moved to UCLA to the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. She is a member of the California Nanosystems Institute, the Molecular Biology Institute, the Center for the Study of Women, and the DOE Institute of Genomics and Proteomics. She also serves on the Life Sciences Diversity Advisory Committee and the MBI’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and is a contributor to Plantae’s Changing Climates & Culture resource. Morphomech Lab @ UCLA

Bridget L. Callaghan, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Division of Life Sciences, UCLA College of Letters and Sciences

Dr. Callaghan leads a laboratory studying interactions between mental and physical health across development, and the impact that early caregiving relationships (particularly adverse caregiving) have on those interactions. Dr. Callaghan's lab is investigating the gastrointestinal and oral microbiome as pathways via which stressful early experiences may get 'under the skin' to influence physical and mental health. They are also examining the microbiome as a mediator of intergenerational and transgenerational effects of adversity on youth health outcomes. Dr. Callaghan's research has been generously funded through the National Institutes of Mental Health, Brain Behavior Research Foundation, and National Health and Medical Research Council. She has received several honors including the Federation of the Association of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Early Career Impact Award, and the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Kucharski Young Investigator Award, and was named as a 'rising star' by the Association for Psychological Science. She received her BA and PhD in psychology and her masters in clinical psychology from the University of New South Wales in Australia. She has worked clinically in the field of developmental psychology, and completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University. Dr. Callaghan is also a faculty-in-residence at UCLA where she lives in the Residential Halls with UCLA undergraduates, building community through programming and mentorship. Brain and Body Lab

Lin Chang, MD

Vice Chief, Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
Program Director, UCLA GI Fellowship Program
Co-Director, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Director, Clinical Studies and Database Core, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Professor of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Chang earned her medical degree from the UCLA School of Medicine and completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She completed her gastroenterology fellowship training at the UCLA affiliated training program in gastroenterology. Dr. Chang’s clinical expertise is in disorders of gut-brain interactions which include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic constipation and functional dyspepsia. Her research is focused on the pathophysiology of IBS related to stress, sex differences, genetic and epigenetic factors, neuroendocrine alterations, and gut microbiome and the treatment of IBS. She is the vice-chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases at UCLA, co-director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, director of the Clinical Studies and Database Core of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, and program director of the UCLA Gastroenterology Fellowship Program. Dr. Chang is a recipient of the Janssen Award in Gastroenterology for Basic or Clinical Research, AGA Distinguished Clinician Award, and AGA Distinguished Educator Award. She has authored more than 160 original research articles, 70 review articles and 29 book chapters on her specialty interests and is a frequent speaker at national and international meetings. Active in professional organizations, she is a member of the Rome Foundation Board of Directors and previously served as clinical research councilor of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Governing Board and president of the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS). She also serves as associate editor of the journal, Gastroenterology. She is a fellow of the AGA and American College of Gastroenterology (ACG). Chang Lab

Vivian Y. Chang, MD

Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Hematology Oncology
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Chang is a pediatric hematologist-oncologist and co-director of the Pediatric Cancer Predisposition program at UCLA. Her clinical expertise is taking care of families who have or are suspected to have underlying genetic conditions that increase risk of cancer. Her broad research interests are in precision health and using genetics and genomics to advance understanding of cancer susceptibility. Her lab is currently studying hematopoietic stem cell regeneration and leukemogenesis in Bloom Syndrome, a DNA repair disorder, that is characterized by short stature, mild immune deficiency, and early-onset cancer. We have found microbiome differences in a mouse model of Bloom Syndrome compared to wildtype mice and are investigating how this may be affecting hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and regeneration. The Chang Lab

Irene A. Chen, MD, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UCLA

Dr. Chen received a BA in chemistry and an MD-PhD in biophysics from Harvard and was a Bauer Fellow in systems biology at Harvard. She has received the Searle Scholar award, NIH New Innovator award, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award, and the David White award for outstanding contribution in astrobiology. She has been a Simons Investigator for the Collaboration on the Origin of Life since 2013. Her laboratory studies life-like biochemical systems to understand their fundamental properties and address emerging challenges in biotechnology and infectious disease. Their focus is biomolecular design and evolution in two nanoscale systems: simple synthetic cells and bacteriophages (phages). The Chen Laboratory

Christopher S. Colwell, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Colwell is a neuroscientist who has served on the UCLA School of Medicine faculty since he joined the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in 1997. He became an associate professor in 2002, and has been a professor since 2008. Dr. Colwell earned his BS in neuroscience from Vanderbilt University in 1985. During this time, he started his research in circadian rhythms under the mentorship of Dr. T. Page. Dr. Colwell earned his PhD in biology at the University of Virginia in 1991. His thesis work explored the neural mechanisms by which light regulates circadian rhythms. Dr. Colwell continued this line of research during a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia with Dr. G. Block. A second postdoctoral fellowship was carried out on the topics of motor control and excitotoxicity in the laboratory of Dr. M. Levine at UCLA. Dr. Colwell learned how to utilize imaging techniques to measure calcium levels inside neurons while a visiting scientist in the laboratory of Dr. Konnerth at the University of Saarland, Germany. Since Dr. Colwell's faculty appointment at UCLA, his laboratory's research has focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms in mammals. Dysfunction in the timing these daily cycles is a key symptom in a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Better understanding the basic biology of this timing system should result in new therapies to improve the quality of life of these patients and the people who care for them. Dr. Colwell Profile

Jie Deng, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor in Residence
Department of Radiation Oncology
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA 

Dr. Deng is a physician-scientist who specializes in the study of tumor immunology in the context of cancer progression, radiation therapy and immunotherapy. One key component in optimizing cancer therapies for patients includes improving treatment-related toxicity profiles to maximize the therapeutic index of cancer therapy. One active area of her research focus includes studying the oral and gut microbiome in patients undergoing cancer therapy to better understand how the microbiome and immune system shape the response to cancer therapy and its associated side effects.

Tien S. Dong, MD, PhD

Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center Biorepository Core and Human Probiotic Core
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Dong graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a BS in biological sciences. He subsequently received his MD from the University of Chicago. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago, where he stayed on as faculty for an additional year as a liver hospitalist. While at the University of Chicago, he trained in the laboratory of Dr. Eugene Chang where he investigated the role of the gut microbiome on microRNAs and colon cancer. He then joined UCLA as a gastroenterology fellow in 2016 and continued his research training at UCLA through the Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program under the mentorship of Dr. Joseph Pisegna and Dr. Jonathan P. Jacobs. He finished his PhD in molecular, cellular, and integrative physiology in 2020. Dr. Dong is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology.

Dr. Dong's research interest involves machine learning and how the intestinal microbiome influences the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome, chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. He is currently the director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center Repository Core. His clinical interests include cirrhosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, alcoholic liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis, and other chronic liver diseases. Dong Lab

Jennifer A. Fulcher, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Infectious Diseases Section, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Dr. Fulcher completed her MD-PhD degrees through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at UCLA, then completed additional postdoctoral research training in mucosal immunology. Clinically, she is a practicing infectious diseases physician, including providing longitudinal HIV primary care at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her research interests include a focus on the effects of HIV and substance use on the gut and oral microbiome. Her group has recently showed that certain drug use, specifically methamphetamines, can exacerbate inflammatory microbiome changes in persons living with HIV. She has also published studies showing that methamphetamine use induces inflammatory cytokine production in the rectal mucosa, which may alter susceptibility to HIV. Current projects include understanding the mechanisms of methamphetamine-associated dysbiosis in both the oral cavity and gut, and delineating the mucosal immune consequences of this. In addition to NIH K08 funding, she has received a Doris Duke Clinical Scientist Development Award and California HIV Research Program award to support her work.

Nandita Garud PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
UCLA College of Life Sciences

Dr. Garud's research focuses on quantifying evolutionary dynamics in natural populations, with an emphasis on the human gut microbiome. Recently, she and her colleagues found that evolution can proceed in healthy human guts and that the broader ecological diversity can impact population genetic processes occurring within a species. Dr. Garud’s interdisciplinary training includes population genetics, statistics, and analysis of population genomic data, including metagenomic data. Her lab synthesizes these fields to develop and apply new computational methods to make population genetic inferences about the mechanisms of evolution, within and across host microbiomes. Dr. Garud received her BS in biology and biometry & statistics from Cornell University in 2008, MS in statistics from Stanford University in 2012, and PhD in genetics from Stanford University in 2015. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Gladstone Institutes at UC San Francisco and started her assistant professorship at UCLA in 2019. Dr. Garud is a Paul Allen Distinguished Investigator and a recipient of an NSF CAREER and UC Hellman fellowship. Garud Lab

Erica Grodin, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Grodin is a member of the Cousins Center on Psychoneuroimmunology and the Brain Research Institute. She is a clinical translational neuroscientist with a PhD in neuroscience and specialized graduate training in the neurobiology of alcohol use disorder (AUD). Dr. Grodin has several lines of research which seek to better understand the causes and correlates of AUD to ultimately identify promising interventions. One area of research seeks to characterize the gut microbiome brain axis in alcohol use disorder, with the goal of creating personalized psychobiotic treatments. Dr. Grodin’s research has been generously funded through the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the UCLA Friends of Semel Research Scholars Program. She has received several honors including being selected for the NIDA-NIAAA Frontiers in Addiction Research Early Career Investigator Showcase, the Research Society on Alcoholism Junior Investigator Merit Award, and has received travel awards from the American College on Neuropsychopharmacology, American Psychological Association, Winter Conference on Brain Research, and the Society for Biological Psychiatry. Dr. Grodin received her BA in psychology from American University and her PhD in neuroscience from Brown University.  

Arpana Gupta, PhD

Co-Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Director, Neuroimaging Core, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Ingestive Behavior and Obesity Program
Associate Professor
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Gupta completed a PhD degree in psychology, followed by an APA accredited clinical internship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical Center. Her programmatic line of research focuses on the interactions between environmental and biological factors in shaping neurobiological phenotypes associated with stress-based diseases such as obesity. Broadly defined, her research aims to integrate two systems (the brain and the gut) in order to better understand the underlying mechanisms associated with obesity and altered ingestive behaviors. The application of a “systems biology” approach to her research allows her to test the interactions between multiple factors, both inside and outside the body (e.g., sex, race, brain, microbiome, inflammation, environment), in order to better understand the complex pathophysiology of obesity. This is relevant to obesity, as it is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, and disproportionately affects ethnic minorities and women. These alarming projections have led to NIH and Healthy People 2020 priority initiatives directed at reducing ethnic and sex disparities. Her goal is to develop a comprehensive model that provides a powerful and sensitive biomarker that will increase biological readouts of obesity and altered ingestive behaviors, thus bringing to the forefront those individuals who are at increased risk as a result of disadvantaged backgrounds.

In order to pursue this line of research she recently received a R01 grant from NIMHD (NIH) on the “Social Isolation and Discrimination as Stressors Influencing Brain-Gut Microbiome Alterations among Filipino and Mexican American.” She has also received several industry funded grants as PI and till date she has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles. These grants have allowed her to focus on the following main themes of research: 1) Investigate how novel pathways related to the brain-gut-microbiome (BGM) system may explain modulation of signals from the gut-microbiome on the brain via systemic immune activation; 2) Explain how risk factors associated with socio-cultural and environmental stressors “get under the skin” and are embedded in biology; 3) Identify subgroup differences (e.g., race and sex) related to obesity; 4) Model longitudinal patterns and changes across the lifespan as they relate to obesity in order to help predict risk factors leading up to the development of obesity while being able to identify prognostic markers and 5) Determine changes associated with various interventions (e.g., brain-targeted such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or gut-based such as specific diets) directed at altered ingestive behaviors and obesity. Gupta Lab

Yvonne L. Hernandez-Kapila, DDS, PhD

Diplomate ABP; ELAM Fellow
Felix and Mildred Yip Endowed Chair in Dentistry
Professor and Associate Dean for Research
Biosystems and Function, Periodontics
UCLA School of Dentistry

Dr. Hernandez-Kapila received her BA from Stanford University, and her DDS, periodontology residency training, PhD in oral biology, and postdoctoral fellowship from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The Hernandez-Kapila Lab focuses on basic, translational, and clinical studies focused on oral and systemic disease connections with a focus on the oral-gut-brain axis, host-microbe/ECM interactions, and the oral microbiome/virome.

Dr. Hernandez-Kapila is the Felix and Mildred Yip Endowed Chair in Dentistry and a professor and associate dean for research at UCLA School of Dentistry. Previously, she served as the founding director of Global Initiatives at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, where she worked with large subject cohorts in a global setting. She then served as chair of Periodontology and the Earl Robinson Endowed Distinguished Professor at UCSF School of Dentistry. As a clinician–scientist with >30 years of clinical, research, teaching/mentoring, and administrative experience, Dr. Hernandez-Kapila has made several important discoveries relating to the microbiome/virome of the oral cavity and its importance in the oral–gut–brain axis; linking oral and systemic diseases. Her work has also identified host–microbe interactions and cellular and molecular mechanisms governing oral cancer carcinogenesis and the pathogenesis of periodontal disease. Dr. Hernandez-Kapila is a highly experienced investigator and administrator who has been continuously funded by NIH for >30 years and published >150 peer-reviewed publications in high-impact journals. She has long-term service as a council member and grant reviewer for the NIH/NCI/NIDCR, served on editorial boards for high-impact journals/textbooks, and received national mentoring awards. In recognition of her seminal contributions to science and mentoring, Dr. Hernandez-Kapila received the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) Distinguished Scientist Award in 2019, the UCSF Alumni Discovery Award in 2021, the Annual Research Lecture for the UCSF School of Dentistry Research and Clinical Excellence Day in 2019, and the American Association for Dental Research (ASDR) Irwin D. Mandel Distinguished Mentoring Award in 2019. Further, given, Dr. Hernandez-Kapila’s background as a first-generation college student from a historically marginalized community (Mexican/farm worker and low SES background), she understands diversity, equity, and inclusion issues at their core, and has served on multiple task-forces and programs to enhance diversity in science at all levels, including education/training and subject recruitment.

Andrea L. Hevener, PhD

Professor of Medicine
Sidney Roberts and Clara Szego Roberts Chair in Molecular Endocrinology
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center

Dr. Hevener’s laboratory studies the transcriptional regulation of metabolism and insulin action with a specific focus on the biological actions of hormone responsive nuclear receptors in metabolic tissues. Dr. Hevener is the associate director for research of the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center and the director of the NIH-sponsored UCSD-UCLA Diabetes Research Center Metabolic and Molecular Physiology Core. Dr. Hevener’s laboratory is supported UCLA Department of Medicine, the STOP CANCER Foundation I.C.O.N. Award, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the UCLA CTSI, and the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Executive Advisory Board. In addition to ongoing National Institutes of Health R01 funding, Dr. Hevener is currently the principal investigator of Project 3 of an NIH U54 Specialized Center of Research Excellence (SCORE) studying sex differences and women’s health related to metabolism and the lead investigator of an NIH Director’s Common Fund award to study the molecular transducers of physical activity as part of the MoTrPAC consortium. The overarching goal of the Hevener laboratory is to identify therapeutic opportunities to improve the metabolic health of women and reduce chronic disease risk and burden.

Kent Hill, PhD

Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Elected Fellow, American Academcy of Microbiology

Dr. Hill studies cell biology, pathogenesis, and transmission of African trypanosomes, parasitic protozoa that afflict humans and other mammals. He is particularly focused on cilium biology and trypanosome motility and signaling mechanisms that contribute to parasite viability, cell-cell communication, pathogenesis, and transmission through the parasite’s insect vector. He has published numerous articles on these topics in influential journals, including Nature, PNAS, Journal of Cell Biology, Nature Genetics, Nature Communications, PLoS Pathogens, eLife, Eukaryotic Cell, Cellular Microbiology, Trends in Microbiology, Annual Review of Microbiology, Nature Reviews Microbiology, and Cell Discovery. His group employs a multidisciplinary approach, combining cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular genetics, structural biology (CryoEM), bioinformatics, proteomics, systems biology, tsetse fly transmission, and rodent infection models to understand parasite biology and host-pathogen interactions. Dr. Hill is internationally recognized as a world leader in the study of trypanosome motility, signaling, and cilium biology broadly. His group has pioneered efforts to understand flagellum structure and function in trypanosomes and established that beyond its role in motility, the flagellum provides a signaling platform crucial for parasite transmission and pathogenesis. Dr. Hill’s group discovered social motility in trypanosomes, which has stimulated renewed interest and progress in understanding trypanosome signal transduction systems used for transmission and infection. Dr. Hill received his BS in chemistry and biology from NOrthern Illinois University and his PhD from UCLA. Dr. Hill Profile

Elaine Y. Hsiao, PhD

Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
De Logi Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology
Division of Life Sciences, UCLA College of Letters & Sciences
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Medicine
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Hsiao leads a laboratory studying fundamental interactions between the microbiome, brain, and behavior, and their applications to neurological disorders. Inspired by the interplay between the microbiota and nervous system, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment, and examining the microbiome as an interface between gene-environment interactions in neurological diseases. Research from the Hsiao Lab has provided foundational evidence for microbiota-based interventions to treat gastrointestinal and behavioral symptoms of autism, regulate intestinal motility by controlling serotonin biosynthesis, promote the anti-seizure effects of the ketogenic diet, and alleviate hyperlipidemia in metabolic disease. Their work in these areas form the bases of programs in four biotechnology companies and have led to several honors, including the Blavatnik National Award in Life Sciences, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and New York Academy of Sciences Innovators in Science Award, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Ben Barres Career Award, Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Neuroscience, Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship in Neuroscience, Kavli Fellowship of the National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare, and National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer Award. Dr. Hsiao received her PhD in neurobiology from Caltech, and her BS in microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics from UCLA. The Hsiao Lab at UCLA

Yu Huang, PhD

Traugott and Dorothea Frederking Endowed Chair in Engineering
Professor & Chair, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Huang received her BS in chemistry from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), and her PhD in physical chemistry and MA in chemistry from Harvard University. Before Dr. Huang embarked on her independent career at UCLA, she was awarded the prestigious Lawrence Fellowship and held a joint postdoctoral position with Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research focuses on mechanistic understanding of nanoscale phenomena and on exploiting the unique properties of nanoscale materials for various applications. Professor Huang’s achievements have gained her international and national recognition, including the Materials Research Society (MRS) Fellow, the Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), Eni Award in Energy Transition, International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE) Prize for Experimental Electrochemistry, the International Precious Metal Institute (IPMI) Carol Tyler Award, the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE), the National Institute of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award, the World’s Top 100 Young Innovators award, the Sloan Fellowship, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Young Chemist Award, and the Nano 50 Award. She is also recognized as the Highly Cited Researcher in material science by Web of Science. Huang Research Group

Jonathan P. Jacobs, MD, PhD

Co-Director, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Assistant Professor-in-Residence
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Jacobs graduated magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard University with an AB in biochemistry. He subsequently received his MD from Harvard Medical School, graduating magna cum laude in a special field. During college and medical school, he trained in the laboratory of Diane Mathis and Christophe Benoist where he investigated the immunologic mechanisms of an autoantibody-mediated model of arthritis. This research was supported by a fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Stanford University then joined UCLA as a gastroenterology fellow in 2010. He pursued additional scientific training at UCLA through the Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program under the mentorship of Jonathan Braun. He was awarded a PhD in cellular and molecular pathology in 2015 for his research on the intestinal microbiome and afterwards joined the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases faculty. He established the UCLA Microbiome Core in 2016 - which provides a comprehensive suite of microbiome-related services to support microbiome research by the UCLA scientific community - and is now co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center.

Dr. Jacobs’ research explores the role of intestinal microbes in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other gastrointestinal disorders. This involves a translational approach that includes detailed characterization of patients’ microbiome by 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing, metagenomics, and metabolomics as well as modeling of the effect of disease-associated human microbial communities in humanized gnotobiotic mice (i.e. germ-free mice colonized with human microbiota). He has published nearly 100 original research articles and reviews in scientific journals including Microbiome, Gastroenterology, Cell Host & Microbe, Genome Medicine, Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Gut Microbes, Scientific Reports, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. His ongoing projects employ animal models and multi’omics analysis of patient cohorts to define the role of IBD-associated genes in shaping the intestinal microbiome and to identify microbes and microbial products that promote IBD, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and other diseases. Jacobs Lab

Swapna Joshi, PhD

Co-Director, Integrative Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core, Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Joshi co-leads research projects on developing epigenetic biomarkers for GI diseases. She has published in peer-reviewed journals including Nature and Gastroenterology and serves as a review editor on several journals and guest editor for Frontiers in Physiology. Dr. Joshi is the recipient of several awards including the American Journal of Gastroenterology (AGA) young investigator award in 2018 and 2019. G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience

Lisa Kilpatrick, PhD

Associate Researcher
G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Kilpatrick graduated from UCLA with a BS with honors in cognitive science and a BS in mathematics. Subsequently, she earned a MA in experimental psychology from Radford University and a PhD in biological sciences from University of California Irvine (UCI). At UCI, she trained with Dr. Larry Cahill, investigating sex differences in the role of the amygdala in emotional memory. Dr. Kilpatrick returned to UCLA to train with Drs. Bruce Naliboff and Emeran A. Mayer as a postdoctoral fellow, who continued to foster her interest in sex differences in the neurobiological correlates of emotional processes, including pain, stress, and resilience, in the context of irritable bowel syndrome and other pain conditions. 

Her work has focused on the brain-related aspects of the connection between the brain and body that positively or negatively impact health in multiple research areas with a brain-body aspect, including disrupted brain-gut communication in obesity, brain signatures related to self‐body perception before and after cross-sex hormone therapy in transgender individuals, facial dysmorphia-brain morphological relationships in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder due to prenatal alcohol exposure, and the impact of mind-body interventions on brain functional organization in late-life depression. Further, she has sought to understand the influence of sex on brain-body dysregulation, as an important step towards tailoring effective and beneficial therapies to the individual. G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience

Hon Wai "Michael" Koon, PhD

Adjunct Professor
UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Prof. Koon received a master’s degree in pharmacology and a PhD in molecular biology at the University of Hong Kong. He then completed his postdoctoral training in gastroenterology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Prof. Koon focuses on basic, clinical, and translational research on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), C. difficile infection, and metabolic diseases. Over the last decade, Prof. Koon discovered antimicrobial peptides cathelicidin and elafin as serum biomarkers for indicating the presence of intestinal strictures in Crohn’s disease (CD) patients and predicting the future clinical activity in IBD patients. He also developed a convenient machine-learning algorithm to indicate intestinal strictures in CD patients accurately. Some of his inventions were patented and licensed to a diagnostic company for commercial development.

Prof. Koon has published in Gastroenterology, Scientific Reports, Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and the Journal of Infectious Diseases. His projects have been funded by CCF, NIH, industrial funds, and philanthropic donors. His research team consists of a postdoctoral researcher and several undergraduate research students. Prof. Koon’s team has advanced research platforms such as a robotic liquid handling system, automated imaging system, flow cytometer, human 3D organoid and ex-vivo cultures, high-throughput screening, and immunological and microbiologically humanized animals. Prof. Koon’s research provides an integrated view of interactions between different systems. He welcomes research collaborations for discovering solutions for gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases. Koon Lab

Jennifer S. Labus, PhD

Director, Integrative Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core, G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience & Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Adjunct Professor of Medicine
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Dr. Labus is a research scientist and an applied statistician with expertise in biostatistics, bioinformatics, treatment-outcome research, pain neuroscience, multimodal brain imaging, microbiome, metabolomics, and multi-omics integrative analysis. Using state-or-the-art computational, biostatistical, and bioinformatics, she performs large-scale integrative analyses to assesses the complex interactions between various levels of biological data (e.g., microbiome, metabolomics, immune markers, multimodal brain imaging data) with clinical phenotypes. The overall goal of her systems-based biological approach is to elucidate the underlying physiological mechanisms of health and disease, provide new targets for treatment, improve existing treatments and advance precision-based medicine. She is currently applying this state-of-the-art approach to study chronic pain, obesity, autism, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Labus has made seminal contributions to mapping neural networks underlying visceral pain and elucidating brain-gut-microbiome axis in humans. As a result, she was the recipient of the 2011 Master’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic or Clinical Digestive Sciences, American Gastroenterology Association. Dr. Labus has been the recipient of a K08 Career Development award, Effective connectivity of central response in irritable bowel disorder, from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). She has served as the primary investigator on two grants funded by the National Institute of Childhood Health and Human Development (NICHD): R01HD076756 Profiling vulvodynia subtypes based on neurobiological and behavioral endophenotypes and R21HD086737 Deriving novel biomarkers of localized provoked vulvodynia through metabolomics: A biological system-based approach. Dr. Labus is a co-investigator on several NIH and industry funded grants, international research collaborations, and is actively involved in mentoring undergraduate, graduate and medical students and postdoctoral fellows. G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience

Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD

Professor and Chief 
Division of Behavioral Medicine
Vice Chair of Research
Department of Medicine 
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo

Dr. Lackner received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University before completing his residency at the University of Texas Medical School (Houston). After completing a post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral medicine/pain at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, he joined the faculty of the University of Buffalo School of Medicine. There, he Is professor and chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Medicine. His main areas of scholarship involve developing and testing brief, low intensity behavioral self-management treatments for centralized pain disorders, identifying the biobehavioral mechanisms that underlie benefits, and identifying for whom they are most effective. The treatment his team has developed is regarded as one of the most effective treatments in its class and one of the few that provide multisymptomatic relief across the full spectrum of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients for whom there is no satisfactory medical option. His work has informed practice guidelines in US, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Sweden Canada and UK as part of its rigorous NICE recommendations. Informed by longstanding collaborations with UCLA collaborators, the depth, novelty, and breadth of this work has helped transform our understanding of IBS from an intractable “psychosomatic/psychiatric” condition to a complex centrally-mediated pain disorder with precise cognitive-affective vulnerabilities amenable to behavioral change. The impact of Dr. Lackner’s work, published in top tier medical and behavioral science journals, has earned him fellowships with the American Gastroenterological Association, Society of Behavioral Medicine, Association for Psychological Science, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and the Division of Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association. His current collaborations with UCLA focus on establishing the efficacy profile and active ingredients for brief, low intensity behavioral treatments for patients with treatment-resistant pelvic pain. Dr. Lackner Profile

Helen Lavretsky, MD, MS

Professor of Psychiatry In-Residence, Department of Psychiatry
Director, Late-life Mood, Stress, and Wellness Research Program
Director, Integrative Psychiatry 
Director, Post-COVID Clinic
Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Lavretsky is a geriatric integrative psychiatrist with federally funded research program in integrative mental health using breathing-based mind-body interventions (yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong). She is a recipient of the Career Development awards from the NIMH/NIH and the NCCIH/NIH, and other prestigious research awards. Her current research studies include investigations of novel therapeutic options for caregiver stress, mood, and cognitive disorders in older adults, and Long-COVID. She is the Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, and the Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and the recipient of the Distinguished Investigator awards for research from the American College of Psychiatrists and the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. She is the director of Research for the UCLA Integrative Medicine Collaborative and the Integrative Psychiatry Program. Dr. Lavretsky is the president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. She serves on the Advisory Research Council to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Late-Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program

Berkeley Limketkai, MD, PhD

Director of Clinical Research, UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Limketkai received his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati, where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. He subsequently completed his internal medicine residency, gastroenterology fellowship, and PhD education at Johns Hopkins University. His doctoral dissertation explored the role of vitamin D in IBD pathogenesis and severity. Given his clinical and research interests in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and nutrition, Dr. Limketkai pursued advanced training as the Theodore M. Bayless Fellow in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at Johns Hopkins University and clinical nutrition training through the Nestlé Nutrition Institute.
Prior to joining UCLA, Dr. Limketkai served on the clinical faculty at Stanford University and as lead IBD physician at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. He also spearheaded the Gastrointestinal Nutrition Program and initiated the Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) Program at Stanford. 
As director of IBD clinical research, Dr. Limketkai is keenly interested in studying the relationship between [mal]nutrition and IBD, developing evidence-based frameworks for precision nutrition, and analyzing large data of clinical outcomes and health services utilization. Dr. Limketkai has also been actively involved in the technology and innovation space, previously working as a developer at an Internet startup, contributing to several drug and device development projects, and completing a biodesign fellowship at UCLA. Ongoing endeavors include applying technology (e.g., digital health, artificial intelligence) for nutrition and gastroenterology. Limketkai Lab

Cathy Liu

G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Cathy serves as the data manager for all clinical research data generated at the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience. She is also part of the center’s Neuroimaging Core’s database team and manages the PAIN Repository database. G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience

Aldons J. “Jake” Lusis, PhD

Professor, Microbiology, Human Genetics and Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Lusis’ lab studies naturally occurring genetic variations in mice and in humans to help understand interactions underlying complex cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. A major focus of the lab has been integrate clinical traits with “intermediate" phenotypes obtained using high throughput technologies such as RNA sequencing, metabolomics, or proteomics, an approach known as "systems genetics" (Seldin et al. 2019 Nature Metab. 1:1038-1050). To facilitate this approach, they have developed a reference resource termed the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel (HMDP) that can be used to carry out whole-genome association mapping and analyze complex genetic interactions (Norheim et al. 2019 Cell Metab. 29; 1-18). Current research projects include atherosclerosis, heart failure, fatty liver disease and obesity. Lusis Lab