Chair, Sarah Dry, MD

Chair, Sarah Dry, MD

April 2023 - EDI Related Research

In addition to our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee, our department also supports EDI within our research activities. I would like to spotlight our ongoing efforts to forward EDI in the research arenas.


Dr. Neda Moatamed, Dr. Sarah Zhang, Dr. Erika Rodriguez, et al

Title: Clinical history of female-to-male transgender patients is needed to avoid misinterpretation of cervical Papanicolaou tests.

Cervical cancer screening is as important in female-to-male transgender (FTMT) individuals as it is in cisgender female patients. This study has examined the impact of clinical information regarding gender identity and testosterone therapy on the cytological interpretations. The findings indicate that clinical information regarding whether a subject is a FTM and/or is receiving testosterone therapy is crucial to avoiding Pap test overcalls.

This retrospective study was performed By Neda A. Moatamed, Adriana Del Barco, Stephanie Yang ,Yong Ying, Sarah Zhang, and Erika Rodriguez . After publishing the article, Dr. Sarah Zhang and Mary Levin have continued and worked closely with Beaker team on the quality improvement of the project. They introduced a system of automated flagging of the cervical Pap test of the cases who are identified as male at the time of accessioning by notification  at the time of signing out.  This feature can reduce the number of atypical Pap tests.

Dr. Erika Rodriguez, Dr. Precious Fortes, Dr. Neda Moatamed, Dr. Jitin Makker

Assessing Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Cervical Cancer: Prevalence of Co-Infection by Multiple HPV Genotypes and Cytologic Diagnoses (data collection phase).

Objectives: We aim to retrieve and analyze HPV results focusing on HPV co-infections and cytology and biopsy reports to evaluate racial and sociodemographic differences in HPV vaccination status and compare the risk of cervical lesions on those patients.

Specific Aims:

  1. Compare HPV testing, HPV co-infections and cytology results between different racial/ethnic groups and evaluate for disparities that may exist 
  2. Determine the incidence of HPV co-infection in our UCLA population
  3. Evaluate the association between HPV co-infection and follow up for screening
  4. Determine if patients with HPV co-infection are at a higher risk of cervical lesions


Dr. Omai Garner

  • Multi-institutional project to develop Point of Care Cardiac and Diabetes tests for underserved populations in the US. This project is developing new point of care platforms based on cell phones and implantable monitoring devices.
  • A Global Health project with colleagues in the Gambia and Kenya to extend clinical microbiology testing capability. The project also includes colleagues at UCLA from infection prevention to bring best practices in clinical testing and infection prevention to low/middle income countries.


Dr. Elaine F. Reed

  • They are collaborating with CEAL leaders Keith Norris and Arlene Brown entitled “Share, Trust, Organize, Partner: The COVID-19 California Alliance (STOP COVID-19 CA) Phase 3"
    • Subtitle: LA-SPARTA Synergy Operation COVID-19 (LASSO COVID-19)
    • Purpose: To advance mutual goals and synergistic opportunities for CEAL / STOP COVID-19 and LA-SPARTA with a focus on at-risk and underserved south LA populations disproportionately impacted by this pandemic.  A translational purpose of this initiative is to enhance personal and public health education to promote improved outcomes in underserved persons at highest risks of exposure and greatest vaccine hesitancy.
  • In collaboration with Michael Yeaman at the Lundquist Institute, Harbor-UCLA they identified differences in male vs female outcomes in our experimental model of MRSA bacteremia.  Our submitted U19 grant application focuses in part on defining host sex contexts that drive immune protection against exploitation by MRSA. 
  • Their funded research in ischemia reperfusion injury, immune signatures of CMV and COVID-19 infection explore the impact of age, race, sex as predictors of outcome.
  • Elaine F. Reed, in collaboration with the Women in Transplantation, has published a manuscript with Frontiers Immunology.
    • Mannon RB, Reed EF, Melk A, Vinson A, Wong G, Ahn C, Davidson B, Foster B, West LJ, Tait K, Chong AS. A multi-faceted approach to sex and gender equity in solid organ transplantation: The Women in Transplantation Initiative of The Transplantation Society. Front Immunol. PMID: 36263043; PMCID: PMC9575514.

Dr. Nicole Valenzuela

  • In R&D, they have two projects that are related to health equity:
    • Assess utility of extended panels for detecting novel HLA antibodies and eplet reactivity in non-European patients and detecting donor specificity to non-European donor alleles.
    • Evaluate different methods of HLA eplet molecular mismatch calculation in diverse patient populations, with an emphasis on inclusion of non-European patient-donor pairs for the accuracy of imputation.

Dr. Carrie Butler

  • Dr. Butler is part of the HLA Dictionary Update subcommittee of ASHI and has an abstract for an oral presentation accepted at the 2022 ASHI Annual Meeting and the publication is currently in preparation. The HLA Dictionary 2022 dataset will aid in improved registry search algorithms and risk assessment of more diverse populations. The abstract title and authors are listed below:
    • HLA Dictionary 2022 - Updated Serologic Prediction Models Based on Paired DNA-Serology Assignments from NMDP Registry Typing Data. Biagini1, 2, L. Gragert1, 2, , M. Maiers3, M. Milsten3, J. Kempenich3, E. Beduhn3, S. Marsh4, J. Robinson4, M. Askar5, 6, J. Houp7, M. Coppage8, C. Butler9, 10, A.F. Locke9, R. Liwski11, M. Gautreaux12, 13

Dr. Rebecca Sosa

  • Dr. Sosa is currently serving as moderator for this year’s EDI Book/Journal Club, with the goal of highlighting the importance of diversity in science. The Club recently met to watch and discuss the film Picture A Scientist together on February 3rd, 2023, as well as distributed licenses for virtual viewing. The in-person viewing was prefaced with a powerful presentation on the current state of women in science by keynote speaker, Dr. Elaine Reed. Following the viewing the audience was split into breakout sessions with topic-specific focus groups and a broader audience-wide discussion. Participants provided excellent feedback on how the department can better provide opportunities for growth regarding diversity in science.


Dr. Bogdan Pasaniuc

New Biomedical Data Science Training Program Focuses on Precision Health Equity

UCLA’s Institute for Precision Health and the Department of Computational Medicine have launched a new training program for predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees to foster a diverse, interdisciplinary environment to learn to invent and develop computational approaches and tools to deliver on the promise of precision health for everyone.

Led by Drs. Bogdan Pasaniuc and Alex Bui, the program includes faculty that cover a broad spectrum of biomedical informatics and data science research and represent 14 primary home departments from the Schools of Medicine, Engineering & Applied Sciences and Public Health; and the College of Letters & Science. Full article here.

UCLA Health Receives $4.8M NIH Grant to Improve Genetic Estimates of Disease Risk in Diverse Populations

UCLA Health will receive a $4.8 million grant from The National Institutes of Health to develop methods that will improve genetic risk estimates – polygenic risk scores – for specific diseases in people from diverse populations and mixed ancestries.

The NIH funding comes from grants provided by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to establish a multi-center research consortium that will pool genomic information from existing and new datasets. The researchers will then develop and evaluate methods for calculating polygenic risk scores (PRS) with an emphasis on studying people from different ancestries. Each research center may include several collaborating institutions. Full article here.

UCLA Health Researchers Analyze LA’s ‘Stunningly Diverse’ Genetic Ancestry to Bring Ethnic Equity to Precision Medicine

Analyzing genetic ancestry data from a large genomic repository – the UCLA ATLAS Precision Health Biobank – researchers have found a highly diverse patient population that’s consistent with the global diversity of Los Angeles – one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world and an ideal location to pursue personalized, precision medicine for underrepresented populations. Full article here.

Session of the Pacific Symposium of Bioinformatics

This session of the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing aims to highlight new analyses, methods, algorithms or datasets that can be applied across the continuum from research to translation to overcome disparities in precision medicine. More here.  

Other Publications:

Sarah M. Dry, MD
Professor & Chair, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine