Chair's Message Archive - 2023

March 2023 - Staff Recognition & Community Service

This month, I would like to spotlight our monthly Staff Recognition Program. We thank these amazing individuals for their hard work, for their dedication to our patients, our clinicians, our students/trainees, our faculty and to their team, for the outstanding quality of their work and for their consistently helpful and positive outlook.

We are fortunate to have so many dedicated staff members and such wonderful teams, all focused on our vision, which is, “We are committed to healing humankind, one patient at a time, by delivering outstanding clinical laboratory services, advancing research, educating the next generation, doing what’s right, making things better and being kind.”

Below, I’m delighted to spotlight a few of the many ways members of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine are giving back to our communities and I’m happy to recognize our employees of the month for the past year.

2022 DGSOM Employees of the Month

DGSOM EOTM Pathology
















2022 AP Employees of the Month

AP EOTM Pathology 2
















2022 LM Employees of the Month

LM EOTM Pathology

















In early 2022, Ronald Reagan Point of Care team, led by Lavita Boyd, and QA Sr. Specialists Lilian Baldwin and Khanh Andrews, sprang into action on the first day back from the holidays and set up COVID antigen testing in the 100 Medical Plaza building by January 4th. Nurses from Hospital Quality were trained to perform testing, and job aids and supplies were provided by RR Lab team. Over 600 staff were screened by the time testing wrapped up a month later.


  • On March 4-6, The Care Harbor Free Health Clinic hosted their annual health fair that provides free medical, dental and vision care to thousands of uninsured and underinsured people in our communities. For those who live without access to the care they need, this is a destination for help and hope. I am proud to share our department played a key role in the success of this event, as we have since 2011.
  • Under the direction of Lavita Boyd, our team analyzed results for tests orders, including Wet mounts, Hemoglobin, Urine pregnancy, and Urine Dipstick. I would like to spotlight all our department volunteers: Lavita Boyd, Vladimyria C. Aquino, Candie Bautista, Ofelia Cartagena, Claire Ladan, Anna Marie Ramos, JooHee Sohn, Sonia Valadez, Emylee Villasin, and Charlene Yu.
  • This event is an important way that we give back to our community and I am so grateful to our volunteers for their time and dedication to ensure the lab testing proceeded smoothly.
  • Please see our event flyer for additional information and pictures of our team in action! To view the video from the UCLA Newsroom, please visit here.
Care Harbor 2 Pathology








Care Harbor 1 Pathology










For the 13th consecutive year, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine fielded a team for the American Heart & Stroke Association's Heart Walk, which took place on Saturday, October 22, 2022 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Led by Nathan Okawa, our team placed third out of 51 UCLA teams, surpassing our fundraising goal and raising $6260. UCLA Health also surpassed their goal and raised over $80,000, the most of all participating hospitals.

Heart Walk 3 Pathology







  • International WeLoveU Foundation Blood Drive with UCLA Blood & Platelet Center (BPC) In 2022, the BPC, WSS, WeLoveU Foundation, the Dodgers, and two blood donor centers partnered for a community blood drive at the Dodger Stadium. With a combined total of 583 donors, an unprecedented 469 Whole Blood units were collected. This number is even more impressive given the nationwide blood inventory shortage being experienced at the time. Such massive collection not only fulfilled our hospital patient transfusion needs, it enabled us to share blood products to other UC Medical Centers and neighboring hospitals.
  • Resumed high school blood drives on-site while adhering to COVID guidelines.
  • Resumed the Turner Internship Program during Summer 2022.
  • BPC was selected as a capstone project by the Anderson School of Management, Applied Management Research Program. The AMR team will provide strategic feedback for the BPC in an effort to maximize our operations and develop a model for other hospital-based donor centers.


  • Continue C. auris testing, providing support to long term care facilities and the community.
  • Surpassed over 660,000 COVID PCR tests performed since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Several UCLA staff who work in Brentwood are board members of SCASM (Southern California Branch of the American Society for Microbiology), see below.
    Brentwood Document










February 2023 - Hub of the Hospital



In July 2022, we welcomed Monique Trinh as Quality Program Project Manager. Monique is an extremely engaged team member with strong analytic, project management and people skills. She is also currently enrolled at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, where she is pursuing her Master of Healthcare Administration (expected to graduate June 2023). Since joining us, Monique has been instrumental in advancing QI project management throughout the department.

Monique Trinh







I am so delighted by the great strides we have taken in our quality activities over the past two years! I would like to thank and recognize our leaders who have worked tirelessly on expanding our activities and on improving the quality of our quality program:

Hickey, Michelle






Dr. Michelle Hickey, Director, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Quality Improvement Program & Chair of the Quality Leadership Committee

Yuna Kang, MD, Program Director







Dr. Yuna Kang, Chair of the Quality Culture/Education/Resident Projects Committee

Alyssa Ziman






Dr. Alyssa Ziman, Co-Chair of the Quality Utilization and Improvement Committee

Alex Martin







Alexander Martin, PA(ASCP), MHA, Co-Chair of the Quality Utilization and Improvement Committee


Please join us for the 2023 Quality Improvement Day and Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Keynote Lecture on Quality Improvement, which will be hosted virtually via Zoom from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 2/10/2023. Our keynote speaker is Kate Hilton from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Quality Improvement Day will also feature DGSOM faculty, DGSOM trainees, and other clinicians. Detailed information about the agenda and speakers can be found on the website we created for the program. If you can join, please register here.

Quality Improvement Day








This year, we had a goal to broaden our QI footprint and partner with other Health System QI teams to improve diagnostics, operations and patient safety. Therefore, we added a new committee to our QI Program structure - the Quality Leadership Committee (QLC). The QLC was established to identify cross-departmental projects in alignment with UCLA Health, FPG, and DGSOM quality goals. In essence, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine is the hub of the hospital as samples from almost every patient seen in the hospital pass through the laboratory.

Since the specimens received are from patients from every clinical department, we think it’s important to partner with other clinical departments in quality improvement efforts. Thus, our strategic pillars at large are to:

  • Increase partnerships with key stakeholders systemwide.
  • Transcend silos and foster interdisciplinary collaboration through continuous quality improvement.
  • Strengthen internal operations with refinement & alignment.
  • Optimize efficiencies (patient safety, operations and workflow improvements, or increase cost-savings).
Hub of the Hospital








We have identified four projects to support this fiscal year:

1. Develop test order pathways for the first diagnosis of multiple sclerosis

This project is led by Dr. Michelle Hickey (Immunogenetics) and Dr. Melle Reider-Demer (Neurology). The project team consists of Dr. Michelle Hickey (Immunogenetics), Dr. Melle Reider-Demer (Neurology), and Dr. Kevin Patel (Neurology). Together, they are working to develop standard test order pathways for the first diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. The project endeavors to enhance patient safety and quality, improve access to care, and ensure financial sustainability. The Department is providing project management and data analysis support to achieve the following goals:

  • (a) Retrospective review of test/scan utilization in first diagnosis of MS to create test ordering pathway.
  • (b) Work with key stakeholders to refine test ordering pathway and create an educational process for training faculty/staff/trainees.
  • (c) Evaluate impact.

2. Improving discrete reporting of clinical/diagnostic data for transplant patients

This project is led by Dr. Michelle Hickey (Immunogenetics). The project team consists of Dr. Michelle Hickey (Immunogenetics), Dr. John Zuckerman (AP), Dr. Jitin Makker (AP), and Dr. Erik Lum (Nephrology). Together, they are developing a dashboard to efficiently synthesize and analyze quality assessment information. The project endeavors to enhance patient safety and quality. The Department is providing project management and informatics support to achieve the following goals:

  • (a) Improve clinical ordering of appropriate serum testing at the time of renal biopsy (to comply with current national guidelines).
  • (b) Create a Tableau dashboard of data for patient management and QA needs.

3. Increase blood culture fill volumes

This project is led by Dr. Omai Garner (LM) and Allison Nomura (LM). The project team consists of Jennifer Zhang and Jonathan Aquino. Together, they are working to develop methodologies to increase blood fill volumes, increasing the accuracy of sepsis diagnosis. The project endeavors to enhance patient safety and quality, improve access to care, and ensure financial sustainability. The Department is championing the project with leadership, providing financial support for additional staffing for additional data collection, project management, and informatics support to achieve the following goals:

  • (a) Improve data collection to improve data from our middleware.
  • (b) Interventions – a. physically mark blood collection bottles with “fill line”; b. targeted education to providers who are consistently collecting low blood volumes.
  • (c) Education – general education and onboarding education.
  • (d) Consistent, constant feedback to providers regarding the blood volumes they are collecting.

4. Reference lab optimizations 

This project is led by William Werre (LM), Alex Martin (AP), Marivic Visico, Dr. Josh Deignan (AP), and Dr. Alyssa Ziman (LM). The project team consists of the Lab Stewardship Task Force, Lab Support Services Management Team, and Dr. Eric Cheng (CMIO). Together, they are working to streamline the development of built tests to enhance ordering practices for reference laboratories. The project endeavors to enhance patient safety and quality and ensure financial sustainability. The Department is providing project management and informatics support to achieve the following goals:

  • (a) Will create specific new test builds for ~150 tests, to create additional discrete data fields and to limit provider choices to approved non-UCLA reference labs. 
  • (b) Create a Tableau dashboard to be able to monitor outside lab usage. 
  • (c) Monitor data to determine if any testing should be brought in house, consolidated, or investigated further for appropriateness. 
  • (d) Monitor impact of interventions (utilization of test builds versus Misc. Ref Lab orderable, TAT, troubleshooting/result management by send out staff, etc). 


Enhancements have been made to the submission processes for QLC and Q-CEP, as outlined above. From now on, submissions can be submitted via the links below:

Quality Program Submissions











January 2023 - Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Service Updates


The Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Service has been actively working on expansion of our current clinical cancer genomic offerings to support integrated clinical cancer care for the UCLA Health System, and to identify, support and advance UCLA translational research into clinical use and technology transfer.


In the last 2-3 years, the Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Service has significantly expanded the team and recruited 11 new employees:

  • Liying Zhang, MD, PhD, Director, Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Service
  • Cyriac Kandoth, PhD, Director, Clinical Bioinformatics, Molecular Diagnostics
  • Fumin Lin, PhD, Associate Director, Clinical Cytogenetics Laboratory and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories (MDL)
  • Hua (Helen) Jin, PhD, Manager, Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories (MDL)
  • Layal Abi Farraj, PhD, Clinical Variant Scientist
  • Xiavan Roopnarinesingh, PhD, Software Engineer
  • Mahnoosh Rahimi, MS, Clinical Variant Scientist
  • Ian Atol, MS, Software Engineer
  • Beau Gray, CLS
  • Yuqing Zoe Zhang, PhD, CLS
  • Hailey Choi, PhD, CLS


  • Thien Huynh, Sr. Specialist, R&D
  • Sze Man (Annabella) Leung, Sr. Specialist, Specimen Accession and Processing

The team launched two new solid tumor assays which utilize next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology to provide comprehensive tumor profiling for detection of substitutions (SNVs), insertion and deletion alterations (indels) and copy number variants (CNVs) and structural variants (SVs, gene fusions), as well as genomic signatures including microsatellite instability (MSI) and tumor mutational burden (TMB). These assays identity genetic alterations for cancer diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic purposes. These assays were launched in early December 2022:

  • Pan-cancer Solid Tumor NGS panel (1080 genes)
  • Solid Tumor Fusion Panel (145 genes)

Starting from back (left-to-right):

Back - Jian (Jamie) Zhou, MS (CLS); Josh Deignan, PhD (Associate Director); Xiavan Roopnarinesingh, PhD (Bioinformatics Engineer); Layal Abi Farraj, PhD (Variant Scientist);

Cyriac Kandoth, PhD (Bioinformatics Director); Ian Atol, MS (Bioinformatics Engineer); Alden Huang, PhD (Fellow); Thien Huynh (Sr. CLS Specialist);

Svetlana (Lana) Rapoport (ISS Application Analyst, Beaker); Mahnoosh Rahimi, MS (Variant Scientist); Sze Man (Annabella) Leung (Sr. CLS Specialist); Fumin Lin, PhD (Associate Director);

Front - Sung-Hae (Sue) Kang, PhD (Associate Director); Leila Youssefian, PhD (Fellow); Liying (Lily) Zhang, MD, PhD (Director); Hua (Helen) Jin, PhD (Manager); Yan Li (Sr. CLS Specialist)