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Research in General Internal Medicine

Gerry Boss, MD - Distinguished Professor of Medicine

I have combined primary care internal medicine with basic laboratory research throughout my career.  Although to many physicians this may seem a strange combination, the two areas of work complement each other well.  Laboratory work is characterized by delayed gratification, sometimes delayed to the point of wanting to give up, whereas primary care can provide an immediate sense of fulfillment, even though of course many frustrations can arise in delivering high-quality care.  Moreover, basic science research should not be the purview of only subspecialists; there is no reason why primary care physicians should not be able to pursue basic laboratory work. It should also be noted that basic science transcends medical specialties and one does not have to be a cardiologist or nephrologist to study signal transduction pathways in cardiomyocytes or renal tubular epithelial cells.    

I have worked in different areas from the regulation of carbon flow through the folate pathway to Ras/MAP kinase signaling.  I currently have two major research activities. The first is developing the vitamin B12 analog cobinamide as a new therapy for poisoning by multiple toxic chemicals as well as radiation-induced cell damage. Cobinamide has a very high affinity for cyanide and free radicals, and acts as a scavenger of these toxic chemicals. Much of the detrimental effects of radiation are mediated via free radicals. As a vitamin B12 analog, cobinamide is relatively non-toxic, and we have had several pre-Investigators New Drug (IND) meetings with the Food and Drug Administration.  We hope to be in clinical trials sometime in 2023. 

The second major area of research is studying the regulation of purine nucleotide synthesis by amino acid availability and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway. We have found that amino acids are potent regulators of purine nucleotide synthesis and that Akt phosphorylates transketolase, a key enzyme in the non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway that supplies ribose sugars for purine synthesis. As part of these studies, the lab has found that purine synthesis is regulated during the cell cycle. This work could lead to novel forms of cancer treatment since purines are required for DNA and RNA synthesis and cellular metabolism. 

In my laboratory, there are currently two Project Scientists, two post-doctoral fellows, one graduate student, and two research technicians. In addition, I collaborate closely with another physician-scientist faculty member. 

Edward Chao, DO - Clinical Professor

Dr. Chao is interested in applying design thinking to help patients living with diabetes enhance engagement, and thus improve clinical outcomes and quality of life. He leads a study in collaboration with the UCSD Diabetes Design Initiative to refine the onboarding process for those new to using continuous glucose monitors (CGM).

He also serves as the Principal Investigator of clinical trials of new, wearable glucose sensors developed by UCSD Nanoengineer Joseph Wang, DSc and his team. Dr. Chao received funding from an ACTRI Pilot Project grant (NIH CTSA grant: University of California San Diego, NIH Grant UL1TR001442), and two Faculty Development Awards from the UCSD Academy of Clinician Scholars. 

Stacy Charat, MD - Associate Clinical Professor

Dr. Charat's scholarly interests are in the areas of medical education and in the treatment of chronic pain, opioid use disorder (OUD), and complex persistent opioids dependence within the primary care setting.  

In the area of medical education, she has leadership roles in local, regional, and national committees focused on the assessment of clinical skills, particularly through Observed Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs.) She is serving as the Chair of the California Consortium for the Assessment of Clinical Competence where she assisted with the implementation of new standard setting protocols for the state-wide OSCE exam. She has also examined clinical assessment in graduate medical education, primary care education curricular development, and resident panel transitions in the continuity clinic setting.  

In the area of opioid safety and pain control, she was a co-principle investigator on a grant from the California Association of Family Physicians to promote increased access to care for patients with OUD and increase education for resident learners. She is currently a VA Primary Care Pain Champion, leads the VA San Diego OUD Task Force, and is participating in a regional quality improvement project to improve metrics related to prescribing medications to treat OUD. She is also co-managing a grant from the Veteran's Health Administration Addiction Scholars Program to provide integrated pain management and harm reduction for patients with complex chronic pain, OUD, and complex persistent opioid dependence.  

Melinda Chen, MD - Assistant Clinical Professor 

Dr. Chen's research interests are two-fold: health care delivery system innovation and population health. Dr. Chen's current research focuses on understanding how primary care physicians and health care teams work together to coordinate care for their patients. Her prior research has focused on understanding the work that primary care physicians perform outside of office visits as well as primary care practice infrastructures. She has also conducted research into social determinants of population health, with an emphasis on underserved communities. Her areas of methodological expertise are in qualitative and survey-based research.   

Timothy Dresselhaus, MD, MPH - Clinical Professor 

Dr. Dresselhaus serves as a primary care physician and Chief, Primary Care Service at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.  He has served in regional and national leadership roles within the Veterans' Health Administration.  He has focused on student education, serving as the Director, Medicine 401 Clerkship.  His scholarly interests include quality measurement, time studies related to physician work, and medical home implementation in VHA (Patient-Aligned Care Teams). 

Beatrice Golomb, MD - Professor in Residence 

Dr. Golomb's laboratory focuses on intertwined themes: 1. The role of free radicals ("oxidative stress"—i.e. the damage that antioxidants protect against), and cell energy impairment in health, illness, aging, and disease. 2. Areas of interest encompass Gulf War illness and other chronic multi-symptom illnesses (like Chronic Fatigue syndrome); drugs and exposures that mediate harms from these mechanisms (such as statins, fluoroquinolones, pesticides, trans fats, and radiation including non-ionizing radiation); and potentially favorable substances like vitamin D, omega-3s, coenzyme Q10, and chocolate. These mechanisms are also germane to autism, obesity and metabolic syndrome, and neurodegenerative conditions like Lou Gehrig's disease and Parkinson's disease, among other conditions. 

A  further focus is on research methodology including placebos, “effect modification,” conflict of interest and risk/benefit balance.  It is vital to ensure that risks, as well as benefits, are considered for drugs and exposures, particularly for preventive interventions (Studies are typically designed to optimize benefit detection – and for reasons of human subjects protections and cost efficiency, may relatively obviate detection of harm.).  Dr. Golomb was the first to propose and defend in the peer-reviewed literature the now leading hypothesis for so-called “Havana Syndrome,” that it is due to pulsed radiofrequency radiation 

Eduardo Grunvald, MD - Clinical Professor

Dr. Grunvald's research interests focus on many aspects of obesity medicine, ranging from education to bariatric surgery. He has served on the Obesity Medicine Education Collaborative, a national multi-society initiative for developing obesity medicine competencies to guide curricula across US medical schools and training programs. Dr. Grunvald is a principal investigator and collaborator on several projects evaluating predictors and outcomes after bariatric surgery. He also has projects evaluating anti-obesity pharmacotherapy in real-world clinical settings, reducing anti-obesity bias in medical students and residents, and improvement in comorbidities after bariatric surgery. He has partnered with the industry for developing a point-of-care device for the diagnosis of fatty liver disease in clinical settings. Dr. Grunvald is the principal investigator for industry sponsored development of anti-obesity drugs. He is also involved in developing clinical practice guidelines for the use of anti-obesity medications. 

Deanna Hill, MD - Associate Clinical Professor

Dr. Hill's scholarly focus is on medical education, with a specific emphasis on developing clinician educators. 

Heather Hofflich, MD - Clinical Professor

Dr. Hofflich has established herself as a leader in Osteoporosis in the San Diego community and also has received national recognition.  Locally, she was asked to give lectures throughout UCSD and in the San Diego community on the topic of Osteoporosis and her lectures on Osteoporosis for the Stein Institute have been widely disseminated on UCSD-TV via YouTube.com. Dr. Hofflich is listed on two national websites as a leading expert in the field of Osteoporosis. 

Michal Hose

Dr. Hose's scholarly focus is on medical education research in the field of musculoskeletal care. Dr. Hose and Dr. Anna Quan of the VA created a YouTube channel with teaching videos on knee and shoulder physical exams titled: "Sdmskproject,".

Dr. Hose is currently working with Dr. Monica Guma from the Department of Rheumatology on several studies. These studies will establish the effectiveness of knee OA rehabilitation of a novel and practical anti-inflammatory diet intervention and set the stage for establishing the scientific basis and biomarkers for most effectively using the diet to improve functional and structural outcomes in OA. 

Simerjot Jassal, MD, MAS, FACP - Clinical Professor

Dr. Jassal's research interests include chronic kidney disease; she contributes to collaborative research via engagement with the Chronic Kidney Disease Prognosis Consortium and Global Burden of Disease and the VA-based CKD Cascade of Care (C3) Initiative. As Program Director of UCSD's Internal Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Jassal is highly committed to providing residents with a superior training environment through diverse clinical, educational, and research opportunities. 

Simone Kanter, MD - Associate Professor

Simone Kanter, MD is a primary care physician at VA San Diego and Clinical Professor at UC San Diego. Dr. Kanter’s scholarly interests include improving the care of women veterans as well as promoting healthcare staff engagement and professional fulfillment. Through Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovators Network Spread investments, Dr. Kanter and her colleague Dr. Jennie Wei have guided the implementation of Listen Sort Empower, a model to improve practice efficiency and promote teamwork across Primary Care, Mental Health, Radiology, and Nursing work units at San Diego VA, as well as across several VA sites as part of the VHA national Chief Well-being Officer pilot. Dr. Kanter is participating in a large-scale research collaborative to evaluate Listen Sort Empower scale with Dr. Elizabeth Yano, Dr. Susan Stockdale, and their teams at VA Health Services Research & Development Service (HSR&D). 

Ryan Moran, MD - Assistant Clinical Professor

Dr. Moran's research focus is on Risk Reduction and Education/policy work – with TREDS (Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety) – information for driving impairment from aging, medications, and illicit substance use. Most work is regarding information dissemination and education/teaching, but additional work in driving safety in older adults including working as part of the AAA LongROADS project, a prospective cohort (UCSD PI Linda Hill), and Project AUTO (headed out of University of Colorado, Denver, UCSD site PI Linda Hill). Exercise/Activity and Lifestyle: Medical Director for the Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center (EPARC) on-campus at QI/CALIT2. Co-I for ongoing cohort for adults across the age-spectrum (UCSD PI Anthony Molina) investigating a multitude of factors related to aging. Additional interest is in risk reduction including aging well., related to physical activity/resilience including fall-risk reduction. Work here has focused on enabling patient-centered discussion for fall-risk reduction, an EBD/QI initiative collimating with poster/abstract at SGIM national and manuscript pending (internal GIM funding through the Mini-Grant program and ACTRI Academy of Clinical Scholars). As an expanded focus of this project, additionally, he has started a shared medical appointment (SMA) model approach to developing a novel clinic focused on appropriate screening/counseling for risk with community-based referrals when appropriate, as well as the opportunity to enroll in a digital platform Strong Foundations (through EPARC), a 12-week curricular approach to reduce falls. Finally, he works as a co-I of NIH's "All of Us" Research Program – involved in increasing enrollment, including new patient-centered approaches, and streamlining clinic processes, in the hopes of creating added value for participants/patients. Specific interest in this stems from my interest in population health, quality improvement, and making 'big-data' translatable. 

Anna Quan, MD - Clinical Professor

Dr. Quan's research projects focus on creating content and improving delivery of primary care musculoskeletal curriculum to at all levels from preclinical to clinical med students, residents, and attendings at a national level, ie ACP. 

Megha Shankar, MD – Assistant Clinical Professor

Megha Shankar, MD is an internal medicine physician with special training in primary care, women's health, health services research, and health equity/social justice. Her clinical, research, and teaching interests focus on women's health and social justice. She is interested in mixed methods with a focus on qualitative research and has experience with community based participatory research, implementation science, and medical education scholarship. She has led projects around HPV vaccination in East African families, female genital mutilation in refugees, anti-racism in medical education, cultural humility in reproductive counseling, and transitioning to primary care after pregnancy. She aspires to continue to promote women's health and social justice through her academic work and clinical practice. 

Amy Sitapati, MD - Interim Division Chief, Clinical Professor

Dr. Sitapati is the Chief Medical Information Officer of Population Health at UC San Diego Health with responsibilities for oversight of more than 150 active EMR based registries, self-service analytics, and predictive analytics. She also has oversight of quality incentive programs including CMS related QIP, AMP, and MSSP ACO. Her research interests include UCSD NIH All of Us, California Integrated Vital Records System, health disparities, digital health and population health. She has interests in integrative care and has been teaching Kelee Meditation in Medicine in the School of Medicine for more than seven years. She is a practicing primary care internist with expertise in HIV care and LGBTQ+ care. She shares dual appointments in the UCSD Division of Biomedical Informatics as well as Division of General Internal Medicine. Her biomedical engineering and medical degrees are from Case Western Reserve University. She has also completed additional training in business administration, clinical research, and lean. 

Jennie Wei, MD - Assistant Clinical Professor 

Dr. Wei's scholarly focus is in the area of Clinician Well-Being and how to return joy to the practice of medicine. In collaboration with Dr. Simone Kanter, they have started a Wellness Initiative within the San Diego VA Primary Care Department in 2018 to support a culture of well-being and fulfillment among healthcare professional staff. Dr. Wei serves as co-director of Primary Care Clinician Well-being at SDVA, is a consultant on the national CWO Pilot curriculum development committee, and helps to implement the Listen Sort Empower model which received a VHA Innovation Spread investment. She co-leads the Organizational Design work stream of the VHA national burnout task force REBOOT (Reduce Employee Burnout and Optimize Organizational Thriving) to identify systems solutions to support professional well-being. 

Melissa Wong, MD - Assistant Clinical Professor  

Dr. Wong's scholarly focus is on the Impact of patient generated health data via wearable technology on patient engagement and health outcomes.