Neil S. Wenger, MD, MPH
Medical Director

Neil S. Wenger is Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research at the University of California, Los Angeles and a practicing general internist with an interest in patients with complex illness. He also directs the UCLA Health System Ethics Center and leads the Advance Care Planning and Services initiative. At RAND, he is a senior scientist and has directed the Assessing Care of Vulnerable Elders (ACOVE) project. Dr. Wenger's current efforts focus on building health system-level advance care planning structures and on measuring and improving the quality of care for vulnerable older persons. Dr. Wenger's educational efforts focus on training physician fellows in health services and primary care research, training resident physicians in primary care general internal medicine, and teaching clinical ethics. He directs the HRSA-funded National Research Service Award Primary Care Research Fellowship in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCLA. Wenger received his MD from the UCLA School of Medicine and his MPH from the UCLA School of Public Health. More >


Anne M. Walling, MD, PhD
Medical Director

Dr. Walling is a palliative care physician and PhD-trained health services researcher with a research focus on palliative care quality measurement, advance care planning, and interventions to improve the quality of care for patients with serious illness. She has a specific interest in palliative care and end stage liver disease. 
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Faculty and Providers


Codie Lieto, LCSW
Social Worker

Codie Lieto is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in advance care planning and palliative care. Her current role is the Advance Care Planning Social Worker for patients with heart failure at UCLA. In this new role, she guides patients and families in a goals of care discussion that focuses on future health states, adverse outcomes, and defining their acceptable quality of life. She previously worked in the medical intensive care unit and general medicine service providing psychosocial and bereavement support to adult patients and their families. She has been a Clinical Social Worker at UCLA since 2009 and received her license in 2014. Codie participated in the development of the UCLA Advance Directive as well as the UCLA Advance Care Planning Model for heart failure patients in 2015. She is a published author and has presented her work to both local and national audiences.


Sarah F. D'Ambruoso, RN, NP
Palliative NP

Sarah D'Ambruoso's clinical and research interests are integration of palliative care into routine oncologic care, early advance care planning/goals discussions, teamwork/team science, including development of shared mental models across multidisciplinary teams, rational use of opioids in palliative oncology. More


shirley otis

Shirley Otis-Green, MSW, MA, ACSW, LCSW, OSW-C, FNAP, FAOSW

Shirley is the founder and consultant of the Collaborative Caring. Shirley’s career is dedicated to enhancing excellence in the delivery of contextualized care to more equitably address the symptoms and stress of serious illness. Her education, research and consultation efforts focus on palliative care, interprofessional leadership and creating meaningful organizational change. As Principal Investigator on studies with over $3.5 million in external funding, her work has been recognized with numerous awards and disseminated through more than 100 publications and 500 professional presentations. She is a National Association of Social Workers Pioneer, California Health Care Foundation Leadership Fellow and a Distinguished Social Work Practitioner in the National Academies of Practice. Shirley was among the first to receive a Master of Arts in Health Research - Palliative Care degree from Lancaster University in Great Britain, and is co-editor of the The Oxford Textbook of Palliative Social Work (Second Edition).

hussai nuristani

Hussai Nuristani, MPH
Project Manager

Hussai Nuristani Is the project manager who oversees the Advance Care Planning Program portfolio. She previously worked in the Department of Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope for 4+ years where she strategized and managed the development, coordination, and implementation of various research activities and projects associated with the submission and implementation of research grants. She primarily led the operations for the Cancer and Aging Research Group (CARG) and the development and implementation of the NIH/NIA R21/R33 Geriatric Oncology Research Infrastructure to Improve Clinical Care grant in supporting high-impact research aimed at improving the care of older adults with cancer.