Faculty/Staff

Gus

Gus is a Certified Therapy Dog and unofficial CBAM mascot. He comes from a long line of therapy dogs. He received his certification in 2010. Gus works occasionally at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic, sitting in on patient therapy sessions with one of our psychologists in order to help improve the mental, emotional and physical well-being of people in need.

Jennifer Baughman, MPA

Ms. Baughman is the Administrative Director of CBAM, providing oversight of operations for all Center activities. She coordinates strategic planning efforts to ensure that Center goals and objectives are met and directly manages assigned projects. She provides financial oversight and oversees reporting requirements for contracts and grants and other funding totaling more than $4 million annually. She is responsible for personnel management and facilities oversight. Ms. Baughman earned a Masters of Public Administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management from California State University, Northridge and has worked in the nonprofit field since 1995.

Christopher Blades

Mr. Blades is the Community Education Program Manager working at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic. He serves as Outreach Coordinator for our HIV Prevention Trials Network projects, conducts HIV risk reduction counseling and provides research support across multiple clinical trials. Mr. Blades previous experience includes working with substance users and populations at risk for HIV transmission in various settings. He received a Bachelor’s degree in 2008 from CSU Dominguez Hills and holds certificates in Phlebotomy and HIV Pre/Post Test Counseling.

Marisa Briones, PhD

Dr. Briones is our Clinical Research Director, overseeing clinical trials for methamphetamine dependence and for HIV prevention. She is responsible for development and implementation of assigned research projects and supervises staff carrying out day to day research efforts. She manages regulatory, compliance, and quality assurance. She serves as Co-Investigator on key studies and contributes to research design, data analysis and manuscript development. Prior to joining CBAM in 2013, Dr. Briones held positions with the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute and with AIDS Research Alliance. She obtained her PhD in Molecular and Medical Pharmacology from UCLA in 2010.

D. Page Briscol, RN

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Ms. Briscol is a Research Nurse Coordinator at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic. She is responsible for day-to-day operations of an HIV prevention clinical trial. She ensures that study activities are carried out according to the protocol and Standard Operating Procedures. She provides quality assurance of study data, prepares regular progress reports. She also meets with research participants and conducts medical procedures and administers study measures. Page earned her RN from Chamberlain College of Nursing and served as Nurse Manager/Pharmacy Lead for a private clinical research organization before joining CBAM.

Ronald Brooks, PhD

Dr. Brooks is an Assistant Professor and long-time member of CBAM. He is Principal Investigator of a HRSA-funded project of special significance, leading a multi-site evaluation and technical assistance project to improve patient engagement, retention and care in ten HIV care organizations across the country. He also leads the LA PrEP Stories project, recording the experiences of Black and Latino MSM to inform future PrEP implementation efforts in this community. Dr. Brooks earned his PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA and completed his postdoctoral training here in the School of Public Health.

Kyrsten Cardenas

Mrs. Cardenas is a member of the CBAM administrative team working at the UCLA Family Health Center. She manages patient flow and oversees scheduling and billing for CBAM Clinicians. She also supports CBAM research activities at the site. Prior to joining UCLA, she managed the office of a private medical practice. Kyrsten received her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from UC Santa Barbara in 2010.

Ramon Cervates-Tadeo

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Mr. Cervantes is a third year student at UCLA, working alongside Dr. Brooks and Mr. Nieto to provide assistance with Dr. Brooks’ evaluation and capacity-building projects.

Joy Chudzynski, PsyD

Dr. Chudzynski is a Clinical Psychologist for the CBAM behavioral medicine program at the UCLA Family Health Center. Dr. Chudzynski earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, where she conducted research examining the role of alternative reinforcement in substance abuse treatment. After completing her internship at the Loma Linda VA Medical Center, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, where she specialized in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

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Dustin DeYoung, MD

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Dr. DeYoung serves CBAM as a part-time physician working on clinical trials that seek to treat methamphetamine dependence and providing expertise and support on psychiatric matters at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic. His experience includes working with underserved populations in a community addiction clinic. He also spent a year as a Research Associate with CBAM prior to completing his medical degree. Dr. DeYoung received his MD in 2008 from the University of Michigan and went on to complete joint residency in Family Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of Iowa. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship with CBAM.

J. Marcos Garcilazo Figueroa

Mr. Garcilazo Figueroa is an Administrative Assistant. He helps manage Dr. Shoptaw’s schedule, helps with patient scheduling, and supports general CBAM operations. Marcos graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Community and Regional Development with a focus on social services and health policies. Before joining the CBAM team, Marcos worked as a community HIV educator, presenting in both English and Spanish.

Timothy McCajor Hall, MD, PhD

Dr. Hall is a Clinical Instructor and assists CBAM with its research and treatment services. He is a licensed psychiatrist with a PhD in psychological anthropology. His current research efforts explore how the aspects of sexual identity mediate risk behavior or accessibility to HIV prevention interventions. He also provides clinical care to patients at multiple UCLA outpatient clinics. Dr. Hall obtained his PhD in psychological anthropology and his MD from UC San Diego and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with CBAM.

Joy Hao, MD

Dr. Hao is a part time physician who provides care to patients in CBAM’s addiction medicine programs and research studies conducted at the UCLA Family Health Center. She completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University and her doctoral degrees at New York University.

Keith Heinzerling, MD

Dr. Heinzerling is an Associate Professor in the UCLA Department of Family Medicine and lead physician for CBAM’s primary care-based Addiction Medicine practice at the UCLA Family Health Center – the first of its kind in Los Angeles. His research and clinical focus is on the discovery, development, and dissemination of anti-addiction medications. Dr. Heinzerling is a graduate of the Stanford University School of Medicine and the NYU/Bellevue Internal Medicine/Primary Care program, where he was a Chief Resident in Medicine.

Uyen Kao, MPH


Ms. Kao is Executive Director of the CHIPTS grant (Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services). She leads special research projects for CBAM and conducts consultations, trainings, and capacity building efforts to scientists, health departments, community planning groups, and community based organizations in the areas of program design, implementation, and evaluation. She has spent her career working in the HIV prevention field in both research and community-based settings. She completed her BS in Biology and her Master in Public Health from UCLA.

Sandy MacNicoll, MBA, CCRA

Ms. MacNicoll is Project Director for clinical trials for addiction conducted at the UCLA Family Health Center. She is responsible for development and implementation of assigned research projects and supervises staff carrying out day to day research efforts. She manages regulatory, compliance, and quality assurance. Prior to joining CBAM, she served as Project Director and Director of Operations for the outpatient clinical research center at the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse programs.

Melissa Medich, PhD, MPH

Dr. Medich is Project Director for the Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the SPNS social media initiative. In that role, she collaborates in the design, development and execution of the project. She monitors timelines and deliverables, coordinates meeting logistics, and provides direct technical assistance to assigned study sites. Melissa earned her Master’s degree in Public Health from UCLA and her PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

Omar Nieto

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Mr. Nieto is a Staff Research Associate with CBAM. He directs projects targeting populations at high risk for HIV. He carries out recruitment activities, conducts qualitative interviews, and provides general project coordination for assigned studies. Omar received his Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from UCLA with a minor in LGBT studies.

Chukwemeka Okafor, PhD

Dr. Okafor is a postdoctoral fellow at CBAM. He received his PhD in Epidemiology and his dissertation focused on the epidemiology of marijuana use, including clinical and behavioral outcomes of marijuana use among persons at-risk and living with HIV. He has also conducted research on understanding barriers to uptake of biomedical approaches for preventing for HIV infection. Recently his work has focused on the development and implementation of behavioral interventions for substance use among substance users at-risk for HIV infection.

Susan Reed, RN

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Ms. Reed is a Research Nurse Coordinator at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic. She is responsible for day-to-day operations of an HIV prevention clinical trial. She ensures that study activities are carried out according to the protocol and Standard Operating Procedures. She provides quality assurance of study data, prepares regular progress reports. She also meets with research participants and conducts medical procedures and administers study measures. Susan has worked at various research institutions and hospitals in capacities that fulfilled both her passion for nursing as well as for research. She received her RN from the Brockton Hospital School of Nursing.

Mariel Romero, MPH

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Ms. Romero is a Staff Research Associate at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic. She schedules participants, monitors recruitment and retention, administers study measures, and enters data. She is responsible for tracking of study goals and for regular reporting. Mariel holds a Master’s degree in Anthropology, as well as a Masters of Public Health, both received from the University of North Texas.

Steven Shoptaw, PhD

Dr. Shoptaw is Executive Director of CBAM. He is a licensed psychologist and a Professor in both the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. For more than 25 years, Dr. Shoptaw has conducted a series of clinical studies in community clinic settings, primarily on topics that involve developing and testing medical and behavioral interventions to treat substance abuse and prevent the spread of HIV. He works with a broad spectrum of partners from university, government and community settings. In addition, he maintains a regular caseload of patients and provides training and mentorship to students and postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Shoptaw’s CV boasts more than 40 research grants and nearly 200 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters.

Gacia Tachejian, MSW

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Ms. Tachejian is a Project Coordinator working at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic. She manages day-to-day operations of clinical trials testing medications for the treatment of drug dependence. Prior to joining CBAM, she worked as a Research Assistant with our colleagues at the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs. Gacia earned her Masters degree in Social Work with a concentration in Social Enterprise Administration from Columbia University.

Schuyler Thomas

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Ms. Thomas is a Staff Research Associate at Vine Street Clinic. She conducts outreach in areas where potential study participants are known to congregate, conducts participant screening and intake procedures, and presents to community organizations. She also administers study measures to research participants, enters data, and assists with scheduling and other research activities. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology/Pre-Med from California State University, Northridge.

Jonathan Veloz

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Mr. Veloz is a Lab/Research Assistant working at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic. He performs phlebotomy procedures, processes biological samples and assists with all other activities in the clinic’s research laboratory. Jonathan earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Health Care Administration and Management from Colorado State University.

Vertucci

Michelle Vertucci, NP, PA-C

Ms. Vertucci is a Physician Assistant at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic. She conducts clinical procedures including consenting participants into our clinical trials, conducting history and physicals for new patients, maintaining medication accountability records, and planning for new studies. Ms. Vertucci also supervises clinic staff, conducts quality control/quality assurance and provides guidance and direction on research operations. Ms. Vertucci has worked in a variety of healthcare settings, including Medical Groups and hospitals. Additionally, she has extensive clinical research experience, especially pertaining to HIV/AIDS, and has been a sub-investigator for over 60 clinical trials. She received her Physician Assistant diploma from the University of Southern California.

Demetria Villanueva

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Ms. Villanueva is the Laboratory Coordinator for the UCLA Vine Street Clinic overseeing the collection, processing and storage of biological samples. She is responsible for monitoring incoming and outgoing data, maintaining lab credentials, and consulting across projects in the development of workflow processes and protocols. She is also responsible for general management of clinic facilities, managing day to day operations across multiple clinical services and research protocols. She holds state and national certifications as a phlebotomy technician. She joined UCLA in 2007 with 11+ years of clinical laboratory experience in an acute care facility.

Sean Young, PhD

Dr. Young is an Assistant Professor in Residence in the UCLA Department of Family Medicine. His research focuses on the design and evaluation of social media and mobile technology interventions to promote community health. He was the PI of the first NIH-funded study seeking to determine whether online social networking technologies (Facebook) can be used to increase HIV prevention and testing in African American and Latino populations. He received his PhD in Psychology and MS in Health Services Research from Stanford University where he focused on behavioral and health decision making using technologies.

82 thoughts on “Faculty/Staff

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