Research - Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA

Dr. Beth Karlan

The UCLA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is committed to basic and translational research in a quest to develop new treatments and cures for a wide array of women's health conditions. Our department has ongoing research in the areas of high risk pregnancies, postpartum depression, polycystic ovarian syndrome, elucidation of the genetic basis of congenital birth defects, cutting-edge work in advancing cures for gynecologic cancers and a robust clinical trials program.

Gynecologic Oncology

Ritu Salani, MD, MBA
Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology
Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Salani's research efforts are focused on novel therapeutics in cervical cancer. Currently, she is the international study chair of a Phase II study of atezolizumab or atezolizumab and tiragolumab in recurrent cervical cancer and the co-Principal Investigator on a trial incorporating immunotherapy with chemoradiation in the treatment of locally advanced cervical cancer. She is actively working on developing a trial of a novel vaccine in combination with immunotherapy in recurrent cervical cancer after progression on checkpoint inhibitors. Additionally, Dr. Salani has been involved in quality improvement projects including surgical outcomes and education, and cost effective practices.
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Dana M. Chase, MD
Associate Professor of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Chase's research interests include Quality of Life during cancer treatment as well as improving survivorship, symptom management, and supportive care.  She is also involved in therapeutic clinical trials in gynecologic cancers. Dr. Chase has authored projects and manuscripts dealing predominantly with the prevention and chemotherapy of gynecologic malignancies as well as QOL, health disparities, and symptom management.  Since beginning her training in gynecologic cancers, she has focused on patient-reported outcomes and toxicities with cancer treatment. These outcomes can be used to stratify risk for negative outcomes with cancer treatment. They can also be used to assess toxicity from a patient's perspective during cancer diagnosis and treatment. In these studies, she has been impressed by the strong correlations with patient-reported outcomes, such as in the realm of physical well-being, and treatment outcomes such as survival. Furthermore, in order to monitor a patient's response to treatment, from a patient's perspective, these surveys can help alter physician perceptive of treatment toxicity as well as symptoms associated with disease.   In addition, she examined the impact of race and socioeconomic status on clinical trial enrollment, precancerous screening, treatment allocation, and survival in gynecologic cancer patients.  Dr. Chase is also interested in the effect of aging on multiple aspects of gynecologic cancer care and am eagerly looking to improve the outcomes and tolerance of treatment in more seasoned women. Finally, she has collaborated on projects related to biomarkers and the microbiome in both endometrial and cervical cancer patients.  
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Beth Y. Karlan, MD
Professor and Vice Chair of Women's Health Research in  UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology, Director of Cancer Population Genetics at the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Karlan's research focuses on ovarian and other women's cancers as well as inherited cancer susceptibility.  Her career has been committed to identification and development of novel and cutting edge treatments for women with gynecologic malignancies.  She has authored over 375 research publications, is an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor, and is Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journals Gynecologic Oncology and Gynecologic Oncology Reports. In 2012, Dr. Karlan was appointed by the White House to serve on the National Cancer Advisory Board and in 2015 she was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Karlan is a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and in 2019 was recognized with the OncLive Giants of Cancer award.
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Sanaz Memarzadeh, MD, PhD
Professor of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Memarzadeh is a physician-scientist with a primary interest in gynecologic cancer. Clinically, she specializes in minimally invasive robotic surgery, ovarian cancer debulking surgery, and complex pelvic and abdominal surgeries. In addition to her clinical work, Dr.  Memarzadeh is a scientist performing leading edge research aimed at advancing therapies for women impacted by gynecologic cancers.  
Research Lab > 

Marta Epeldegui, PhD
Assistant Professor-In-Residence of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Epeldegui's primary research efforts focus on the role of immune dysfunction and cancer, as well as immunology and AIDS-non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She is funded by several research grants from the National Cancer Institute.

Sandra Orsulic, PhD
Professor-In-Residence of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology 
Dr. Orsulic received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her postdoctoral training included a fellowship at the Max-Planck-Institute for Immunobiologie and a fellowship at both the National Institute of Health and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Her innovative research work is in the area of cancer associated fibroblasts and molecular signatures of disease. Dr. Orsulic is funded by the National Institute of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Veterans Administration.
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Maternal Fetal Medicine

Yalda Afshar, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor In-Residence of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine
Dr. Afshar is a physician-scientist with clinical and research interests that intersect and include high-risk pregnancy, prenatal ultrasound, genetic testing, and congenital heart disease, either affecting the mother or fetus. Dr. Afshar is a recipient of a National Institute of Health Reproductive Scientist Development Award. Her research is focused on congenital heart disease and placentation, among other translational pregnancy related topics. 
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Christina S. Han, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine
Dr. Han is an active researcher, clinician and educator with a focus on advanced prenatal diagnosis, management of complex fetal anomalies, maternal comorbidities (especially diabetes and endocrine disorders in pregnancy), and preconception optimization of maternal health. Her current research in diabetes includes identification of populations at risk of gestational diabetes mellitus, (GDM), optimizing and standardizing management of GDM, novel technology in DM, and long-term prevention of type 2 diabetes.  Her work in prenatal diagnosis currently includes management of rare and complex diseases in pregnancy and optimizing education. 

Deborah Krakow, MD
Chair of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Professor of Human Genetics at UCLA
Dr. Deborah Krakow has spent the last 20 years studying the genetic and biochemical basis of osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a complex disorder of poor bone mineralization. Her research employs biochemical approaches and animal models to develop a deeper appreciation of the complicated biology that underlies OI and bone. Her research focused primarily on osteoporosis or metabolic bone disease as it affects women.  While her work includes the study of individuals who have any defects in skeletogenesis, Dr. Krakow is particularly committed to brittle bone disease (OI). She is currently part of The Brittle Bone Consortium, an NIH funded multi-institution consortium to study the longitudinal history in OI. The focus of the effort is to appreciate the longitudinal history of the disorder, particularly its negative impact on bone. Dr. Krakow is a PI for a subaward that is investigating reproductive outcomes in women with OI, and is also PI on a Program Project Award to study the role of endoplasmic reticulum stress in brittle bone disease. 

Neil S. Silverman, MD
Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship Program

Dr. Silverman's primary research interests include obstetric infectious diseases, recurrent pregnancy loss and thrombophilias. His current projects focus on 1) the COVID pandemic's potential impact on inequalities in rates of congenital syphilis in LA County, 2) the impact of and compliance with expanding the use of penicillin in the setting of patients' self-reported histories of allergy, and 3) evaluating the acceptance and success of an inpatient program to test and de-label patients with reported penicillin allergies. 
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Fertility and Reproductive Health

Daniel Dumesic, MD
Professor of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology 
Dr. Dumesic completed his medical degree at University of Wisconsin Medical School, his obstetrics & gynecology residency and his reproductive endocrinology fellowship at UCSF School of Medicine. His primary research interest is focused on reproductive and metabolic problems related to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and other related diseases.
Women's Reproductive Health Research Program >