Ashkan F. Ara, MD, MPH
Second year STAR fellow – combined Rheumatology Fellowship and Health Policy and Management PhD
Combined undergrad/MD – Iran University of Medical Sciences (IUMS) (2001-2009)
Post-doctoral Fellowship in Evidence-based Medicine – IUMS (2010-2011)
MPH in Epidemiology – University of California (UC) Irvine (2013-2014)
Post-doctoral Fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology – UC Irvine (2014-2016)
Internal Medicine Residency – UC Irvine (2016 – 2019)
Career Goals: Academic Medicine – clinically interested in neuro-rheumatology; research interests include A) Improving the diagnosis and management of neuro-psychiatric lupus, and B) pharmaco-economics
Why UCLA: Because it offers the optimal combination of everything: The largest rheumatology program in the country – all of whom are super-cool people – at the best medical center in the West; Excellent case mix at four different sites (Ronald Reagan = mystery cases, Santa Monica = more "normal" patients, Harbor = "country type" lately presented untreated complicated cases, and VA = injections & other cool stuff); Numerous stellar attendings with expertise in almost every sub-field of rheumatology; Great research opportunities; Proximity to the UCLA main campus (which is super cool); Unbeatable weather and city vibe; Proximity to "Tehrangeles" (disclaimer: I'm Persian and have the right to drool for decent Kabob); and most importantly: the STAR program – the best opportunity to combine the last stage of my clinical training with research skills right before taking the role of a research attending.
Hobbies: Tennis, Triathlon, Cross-fit, wasting time on Twitter, and most importantly: traveling to New Mexico to spend time with my amazing wife – who is doing her residency at UNM – and our two poofy dogs.
Heather Bukiri, MD
Second year fellow
Undergraduate- University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana
MD –Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, Chicago Illinois
Internal Medicine Residency – Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington
About Me: I've held a long-standing interest in rheumatology, dating back to my first year of medical school when I completed a clinical preceptorship in the field through the American College of Rheumatology. I am very passionate about the whole spectrum of rheumatic diseases – from orphan conditions to more common forms of inflammatory arthritis – as well as patient care and advocacy. I have interest in medical education and aim to work as a clinician educator in the future. I am currently doing research investigating the microbiome in systemic sclerosis.
Why UCLA: To me it was very important to choose a fellowship program that would build my skills as a rheumatologist to diagnose and manage patients with complex rheumatic disease. As so many of the disorders we encounter are rare, I felt it was vital to choose a program that would afford me exposure to diverse, challenging patient cases as well as access to faculty who serve as leaders in their field so that I can best care for my patients in the future.
Clinical/Research Interest: As an aspiring clinician educator, I also chose UCLA for the opportunities it presents to teach medical students and residents, and for the opportunities available to explore research.
Hobbies: Drawing and painting, running, reading, thrifting, being creative with family and friends, music, film, and spending time with my cats.
Karla Criner, MD
Second year fellow
BS - Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
MD – Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Internal Medicine Residency – Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
UCLA provides strong clinical training with the opportunity to care for patients with diverse rheumatic diseases at different clinic and hospital systems across Los Angeles. The faculty are exceptional clinicians, educators, and researchers. The musculoskeletal ultrasound course is well taught by our faculty and there are several opportunities to apply musculoskeletal ultrasound in both inpatient and outpatient settings. There are a variety of different electives to choose from to customize your learning to your career interests. The faculty, fellows, and clinical staff are supportive and enjoyable to work with.
Yoga, meditation, hiking, art, live music, spending time with friends and family, and exploring beautiful California.
David Chetrit, MD
First Year Fellow
MBBChB - University College Dublin School of Medicine
Internal Medicine Residency - Pennsylvania Hospital of UPENN
About Me: David grew up in Montreal, Canada, where he developed an interest in hockey, maple syrup, and socialized healthcare. He graduated from McGill University with a degree in physiology. His medical studies have spanned three countries, ultimately landing him in Philadelphia where he completed his internal medicine residency at the nation's first hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital.
Why UCLA: He chose to pursue the next step of his training at UCLA, as much for the beaches as for the cutting edge medicine.
Clinical/Research Interest: His clinical interests include autoinflammatory syndromes and medical education, as he hopes to contribute to program and curriculum development.
Hobbies: David is reputed for his restaurant recommendations and his passion for making music.
Ernest Maningding, MD
Second year fellow
Undergraduate: University of California, Davis
Medical School: University of California, San Francisco
MPH in Epidemiology: University of California, Berkeley
IM Residency: Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
Clinical/Research Interests: I think most rheumatic diseases are super cool [especially SLE (wrote a paper on epidemiology on lupus), myositis and vasculitis (wrote a review on vasculitis mimics)]. I'm hoping to get ultrasound certified through the RhMSUS program and do the resident clinical informaticist program offered at UCLA.
Why UCLA: Having spent all my life in Northern California, I knew I wanted to venture out of the immediate area for fellowship. Of course, I didn't want to move too far because no place beats the weather, diversity, food selection, and outdoor opportunities of California! On paper, UCLA rheumatology stood out amongst the rest because it checked all the boxes: complete clinical experience (Tertiary, community, county, VA), fellows-run continuity clinic, comprehensive specialty clinics, and endless research and ultrasound opportunities. Having finished my first year of fellowship here, I can truly say I made the right choice. I've worked with most of the core academic faculty now, all of whom can easily serve as career/life mentors and care deeply for our education. Our inpatient months (approx 12) are split evenly amongst the teaching sites, allowing us exposure to the full breadth of acute rheumatologic issues across very different practice sites.
Our elective time (approx 8 months) allows us to explore our own unique interests, including becoming ultrasound certified (5 RhMSUS-certified ultrasonographers covering 3 out of 4 sites; one of the few programs with a dedicated ultrasound curriculum), research (STAR program, UCLA graduate research classes), or just honing clinical skills, including outside of rheumatology (e.g. radiology, rheum-derm, CTD-ILD, orthopedics, neuromuscular, etc).
Hobbies: In my spare time, I enjoy playing basketball and navigating rock climbing routes at UCLA's John Wooden Center, exploring the many scenic cycling routes around L.A., and taking recreational classes through UCLA, most recently tennis and small boat sailing.
Courtney O'Brien, MD
First Year fellow
DO - Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine
Internal Medicine residency - Rush University medical Center
About Me: I'm originally from Chicago, but I have lived all over the country. I attended Penn State for college, moved to South Florida for medical school, and then came back to Chicago for residency. Now, I am trying out the West Coast for a change! UCLA has always been my dream institution based on its global prestige and ideal location in beautiful, sunny LA. In fact, I have a picture of me with a UCLA sweater while hiking in Montana when I was 17 years old.
Why UCLA: I chose UCLA for multiple reasons. UCLA Rheumatology is one of the biggest programs in the country in terms of number of faculty and fellows, which provides a wide breadth of learning opportunities. Rheumatology is a specialty based heavily on refining one's clinical skills, and I am excited to be able to learn from various providers' styles of clinical-decision making. I have a long history of involvement with global health with a focus on targeting healthcare disparities among the Hispanic community. LA encompasses a sizable Hispanic population, especially at the Harbor site. This advantage will allow me to understand the specific barriers to obtaining high quality care and satisfaction with care in this population group.
Clinical/Research Interest: At this point, I have a subspecialty interest in vasculitis because of its high-level complexity. My goal is to pursue a career in academic rheumatology with a focus on research in social determinants of health.
Hobbies: I am an outdoor enthusiast, so California is the place to be. I love hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, swimming in the ocean, and walking on the beach. California offers all those different landscapes in the same location.
Amir Razmjou, MD
First Year Fellow
Undergraduate: UC Irvine
Medical School: Medical College of Wisconsin
Residency: UCLA Medical Center
About Me: I was born a raised in Southern California (with a brief stint living in Tehran during elementary school), before moving to Wisconsin for medical school, and finally returning to California for residency and fellowship at UCLA.
Why UCLA: The breadth of clinical exposure at our 4 training sites, incredible research opportunities of the STAR program, friendly and laid-back colleagues, and perks of living in Los Angeles were the main factors which made me decide to stay at UCLA for fellowship. It's a great place to work and learn, with room for physicians of all interests in terms of career opportunities (clinicians, scientists, medical education).
Clinical/Research Interests: I am pursuing clinical/translational research through the STAR program, with an interest in RA pathogenesis/extra-articular manifestations, and ANCA-associated vasculitis. Additionally, I am interested in medical education, and how to increase house-staff training and exposure to rheumatology.
Hobbies: Music (indie rock, Grateful Dead), exploring the various foods of Los Angeles (there are a lot), live shows in small venues, travelling, museums, and going to the local breweries and coffee shops.
Richard Seto, MD
First year fellow
MD - Rush Medical College
Internal Medicine Residency – LAC+USC
About Me: Originally from San Francisco Bay Area, I started my professional life as a medical device engineer. A few years into my career, I realized that I had a strong desire to directly treat patients, and went to medical school.
Why UCLA: Strong clinical training that comes from both the respected attendings in the program as well as the variety of clinical sites, which allows exposure to patients from every background. Another reason I chose UCLA was because of past projects with the UCLA Department of Engineering. This relationship showed me there are opportunities for true interdisciplinary projects, even with departments that are not traditionally associated with Rheumatology.
Hobbies: Family is my main hobby! I also enjoy hiking, food, and photography.
Linh Truong, MD
Second year fellow
MD, MS –University of California, San Diego
Internal Medicine Residency – University of California, Irvine
Career Goals: Clinician Educator. Clinically interested in connective tissue disease related interstitial lung disease.
Why UCLA: UCLA offers subspecialty clinics in the field of lupus, vasculitis, gout, dermatomyositis, and scleroderma. This provides trainees with the opportunity to work alongside experts in these fields and provide outstanding care to complex patients with challenging rheumatologic disorders.
Hobbies: Hot yoga, long distance running, cycling, traveling, engaging in delicious culinary cuisine, and botany.
Gloria Yiu, MD, PhD
Third year fellow
STAR Track – Basic Science
BA - Pomona College
MD, PhD - Stanford Medical School
Internship & Residency, Yale Internal Medicine – ABIM Physician Scientist Track
Research Interests: T-cell development and therapies in autoimmune disease.
Why UCLA: UCLA provides rigorous clinical training paired with the singularly unique STAR program – dedicated to advancing the careers of young independent investigators.
Hobbies: cooking and baking for friends and family, jamming (vocals, piano, guitar), drought-resistant gardening, circuit-training, trainee advocacy, spending time with my spouse and goldendoodle – Elio.