"Structural Vulnerabilities in Health: Medical and Public Health Solutions"

Dear Symposium Participants,

We hope that you can join us for the 24th Annual UCLA Health Care Symposium. For over two decades, UCLA medical students have organized this conference, highlighting crucial yet diverse topics of great importance in modern health care. This year, UCLA medical students are joined by nursing and public health students to continue this tradition of bringing together faculty, students, and community members to discuss Structural Vulnerabilities in Health: Medical and Public Health Solutions.

Social inequality greatly impacts the U.S. healthcare system, preventing individuals from accessing and receiving top quality care. Vulnerable populations, such as ethnic and sexual minorities, are at a higher risk for encountering challenges when dealing with the healthcare system. As a result, healthcare professionals must collaborate together in order to ensure equal access to high quality care for all individuals. We hope to increase awareness about social inequality as a public health issue with the hope of inspiring action by students, faculty, and the broader community.

We are excited to have speakers present different perspectives on social inequality ranging from public policy and research to community-based efforts in various vulnerable populations. Please enjoy the day’s events and join the interactive dialogue. We hope that the Health Care Symposium will provide a greater understanding of structural vulnerabilities in the U.S. healthcare system and will inspire you to involve yourself and others in the fight to reduce health disparities.



The Student Directors of the 2020 Healthcare Symposium

See our Facebook page for more info!

(Bios are for archival purposes)

Rishi Manchanda, M.D., MPH - Opening Speaker

Dr. Rishi Manchanda is President & CEO of HealthBegins, a mission-driven consulting and technology firm that helps healthcare and community partners improve care and the social factors that make people sick in the first place. Client-partners include the American Hospital Association, the CMS Accountable Health Communities model, and health plans and health systems across the country. Dr. Manchanda serves on the board of the Beyond Flexner Alliance, on the California Future Health Workforce Commission, and was a member of the HHS Health Care Payment Learning & Action Network’s Primary Care Payment Model Work Group. 

Dr. Manchanda’s career is marked by a commitment to improving care and social determinants of health for vulnerable populations. He served as director of social medicine for a network of community health centers in south central Los Angeles, was the lead physician for homeless Veterans at the Greater Los Angeles VA, and was the first chief medical officer for a self-insured employer with a large rural immigrant workforce. In his 2013 TEDbook, The Upstream Doctors, he introduced a new model of healthcare workers - the Upstreamists - who improve care and equity by addressing patients' social needs, like food, financial and housing insecurity. The book has become recommended reading in medical schools and universities across the world.









Philippe Bourgois, PhD - Keynote Speaker

Philippe Bourgois is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Social Medicine and Humanities (Semel Institute/Department of Psychiatry) at UCLA. A proponent of a public anthropology, he brings rigorous qualitative methods and critical social science theory to bear on urgent social, public health, clinical problems. He has conducted participant-observation fieldwork in the US inner-city and Central America for over two decades focusing on social inequality, poverty, violence, incarceration, urban segregation, refugee/labor migration trauma, homelessness, substance use disorder, the global narcotics industry, psychosis and HIV. He has published over a dozen books, edited volumes, special issues of journals and well over 150 journal articles. His two best-known books are In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio (Cambridge, 1995) and Righteous Dopefiend (co-authored with Jeff Schonberg, University of California, 2009). Other volumes include, Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation (Johns Hopkins, 1989), Violence in War and Peace (Co-edited with Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Blackwell 2004), and Violence at the Urban Margins (Co-edited with Javier Auyero and Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Oxford 2015). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2018. His publications can be downloaded at: http://www.philippebourgois.net


Anish Mahajan, MD, MS, MPH - Panelist

Anish Mahajan is Chief Medical Officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a 425-bed County-run academic teaching hospital and level 1 trauma and ambulatory care center. As CMO, he directly supervises the chairs of all 12 clinical departments and oversees the management, quality, and delivery of all medical services. Anish also serves as an Associate Dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine and is responsible for the graduate medical education and academic affairs of more than 500 resident and fellow trainees and nearly 300 full-time faculty physicians at Harbor-UCLA. From 2012 through 2016, he was Director of System Planning, Improvement, & Data Analytics for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS), where he helped lead organizational transformation under the Affordable Care Act. Since 2014, Anish has also served as Chair of the Board of the Los Angeles Network for Enhanced Services (LANES) www.lanesla.org, a 501(c)(3) Health Information Exchange. From 2009 to 2010, he was appointed by President Obama to serve as a White House Fellow in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where he was a special advisor to OMB Director Peter Orszag during the lead-up to and passage of the Affordable Care Act. At OMB, he worked on health reform, rule development for the HITECH Act, and other health policy strategy and regulation. Anish received a B.A. in Public Policy and M.D. from Brown University. He also completed a M.P.H. in International Health from Harvard School of Public Health and M.S. in Health Services from UCLA.


Roshan Bastani, PhD - Panelist

Dr. Bastani, a social/health psychologist, has been conducting health disparities intervention research for over three decades, with a focus on implementing rigorous yet pragmatic intervention trials to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities. She has led a large number of studies among low income, ethnic minority, and immigrant populations in both clinical and community settings. Her research is conceptually grounded and includes strong and equitable community partnerships. Dr. Bastani’s methodological expertise includes survey research; quantitative methods; research design; comparative effectiveness trials; implementation research and program evaluation. She has had continuous research funding from the NIH since 1988. For over 15 years, she led an NIH post-doctoral program on transdisciplinary cancer training and cancer disparities research.

Dr. Bastani’s research includes studies on breast, cervix, colorectal and prostate cancer screening and diagnostic follow-up; hepatitis B screening; tobacco control; melanoma prevention; obesity control; liver disease; and HPV vaccine uptake. This work includes examination of the drivers of disparities, implementation of pragmatic intervention trials to mitigate observed disparities, methodological studies, as well as studies to advance theory in the field. Examples of her current research include two system-focused implementation trials to increase HPV vaccine uptake among low income, ethnic minority adolescents in safety-net clinical settings (NCI R01; PCORI pragmatic trial); a cluster-randomized obesity prevention intervention trial set in preschools located in underserved neighborhoods (NICHD R01); an implementation trial of a multilevel, system intervention to improve CRC screening in a large FQHC (TRDRP); and an observational study to identify gaps in clinical care processes contributing to low rates of diagnostic follow-up of abnormal findings on Fecal Immunochemical Testing (R03).












Karen A. Grimley, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE - Panelist

Karen A. Grimley, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE is the Chief Nurse Executive for UCLA Health.  She is a senior leader at UCLA Health and the School of Nursing and is responsible for nursing practice and care delivery across UCLA Health’s four hospitals and ambulatory care network.  With UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center and Orthopedic Hospital and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital designated as Magnet® hospitals, she works with nursing leadership to maintain the highest level of nursing excellence as a standard throughout UCLA Health. 

She began her career after earning a Bachelor of Science in nursing, from Saint Anselm College School of Nursing.  She followed that with a Master of Business Administration from Anna Maria College.  Because of her passion for the quality of care shared by nurse and patient in the acute care setting, Karen completed her PhD at the Florida Atlantic University, Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Boca Raton, Florida. Additionally, Karen serves as assistant dean for the UCLA School of Nursing.  She is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, a member of Sigma Theta Tau, International, the American Nurses Association, the California Association of Nurse Leaders, and the American Organization of Nurse Executives. When she is not modeling nurse leadership or mentoring others, Karen enjoys culinary interests, spending time with her multi-generational family and the beauty of Florida and Southern California beaches.












Benissa E. Salem, PhD, RN, MSN, PHN, CNL - Panelist

Dr. Benissa Salem is an Assistant Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Nursing and has had a commitment, passion and drive to reduce health disparities among homeless populations.  As an early stage investigator and nurse researcher, she has developed and published a theoretical framework which guided an understanding of correlates of frailty among Los Angeles-based, middle-aged and older homeless adults.  She has utilized qualitative methods to understand the experience of prefrail and frail, middle-aged and older homeless women (MAO-HW), and perspectives of homeless service providers working with homeless women to design culturally-sensitive interventions among this under-resourced population using community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods.  She has also pilot tested a two-arm, randomized controlled trial (RCT) which compared the effectiveness of a Frailty Intervention versus a Health Promotion program among prefrail and frail, MAO-HW.  Most recently, she formed a community advisory board, inclusive of community and academic stakeholders, and obtained preliminary feasibility and acceptability of a trauma-informed, health promotion program for prefrail or frail, MAO-HW.  She has also served as a Co-Investigator (Co-I) on several NIH-funded, CBPR-informed, RCT studies delivered by a nurse/community health worker dyad to 1) reduce drug use and recidivism among formerly incarcerated, homeless women exiting California jails and prisons and 2) improve medication adherence for homeless populations with latent tuberculosis infection.  She previously completed a National Institute of Nursing Research T32 health disparities pre-and-post doctoral fellowship and is a recipient of several awards (e.g., UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship award, UCLA School of Nursing Dissertation award, and UCLA Emerging Leader Award).  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies from the University of Southern California, Master of Science in Nursing from UCLA and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science from UCLA. 









Chandra Ford, PhD, MPH, MLIS - Panelist

Dr. Ford is Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & HealthPrior to joining UCLA, she completed postdoctoral training in Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, where she was a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Kellogg Health Scholar. Overall, Dr. Ford’s research: (1) examines relationships between racism-related factors and disparities in the HIV care continuum; and, (2) advances the conceptual and methodological tools for studying racism’s relationship to health disparities.

She serves the profession widely. In 2016, she was named to the National Academy of Medicine Committee on Community-based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and appointed co-chair of the Committee on Science of the American Public Health Association’s newly formed Anti-Racism Collaborative. Previously, she served as President of the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues. Currently, she is a member of the Minority Affairs Committee of the American College of Epidemiology and Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.


(Bios are for archival purposes)

Speakers Team 

Stephanie Pintas, MS1, Co-Director

Stephanie Pintas is a first-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Raised in a suburb of Chicago, she moved to Atlanta for her undergraduate studies at Emory where she pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Human Health and Nutrition Science. At Emory, her desire to merge preventive and public health services through a patient-centered model took root. Stephanie led healthy cooking demonstrations for her fellow peers and disadvantaged populations within the community. She also researched the effects of botanical extracts on a fungus implicated in inflammatory skin conditions and was a teacher’s assistant for organic chemistry. Here at UCLA, Stephanie is interested in addressing chronic diseases and the social determinants of health among the underserved by fighting food deserts and improving education on lifestyle changes, as well as incorporating Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities. In the future, she plans to tackle these issues in the community as a primary care provider with a focus on integrative and holistic care. 



Eshane Wang, MPH2, Co-Director

Eshane Wang is a second year master’s student at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in the Health Policy and Management Department. Raised in the suburbs of Maryland just half an hour outside of Washington D.C., she attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where she pursued her B.S. in Behavioral and Community Health. It was there where she discovered her passion for fighting mental health stigma and providing access to healthcare for those in need. After graduating, Eshane went on to work at a quality improvement non-profit organization in DC, which piqued her interest in healthcare management and encouraged her to pursue graduate studies at UCLA. Currently, she is a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Center of Health Policy Research and a research volunteer under the UCLA Department of Pediatrics. In her free time, Eshane enjoys exploring, hiking, and playing volleyball. 




Armen Akopyan, BSN3, Co-Director

Armen Akopyan is a second year transfer student at UCLA School of Nursing, BSN 2021. Born in Moscow, Russia, Armen was as a professional dancer, successfully representing the Russian Federation on European and World Championships during his career. Upon arriving in the United States in 2012, Armen decided on a career transition. He completed his prerequisites at Los Angeles Community College and last year was admitted to UCLA School of Nursing. His passion is children's education and community outreach. Armen volunteers at St. Joseph Center helping the homeless population and volunteers at Reading to Kids. He is the president of Men in Nursing at UCLA, a chapter of AAMN (American Assembly for Men in Nursing), working to bring more awareness about men in the nursing profession. In the future Armen would like to be involved with organizations bringing medical care and health education to communities in need.




Michelle Garcia Gutierrez, MECN1, Co-Director

Michelle García Gutiérrez is a first-year master’s student at the UCLA School of Nursing. She received her B.A. in Government and Political Science from Wesleyan University in 2010. Michelle originally intended on becoming a constitutional lawyer and worked as a labor and community organizer in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and her hometown of Los Angeles. In 2014, her trajectory changed when her father was in a near-fatal car accident. Managing his care supported Michelle in developing a passion and aptitude for nursing. She is currently the Nursing Representative for the Health Equity Hub, an interdisciplinary collective within the schools of allied health at UCLA. Michelle plans to maintain a professional focus on equity with the long-term goal of melding clinical practice with research on the impact of colonization and displacement on latinx communities.


Publicity Team

Stephanie Busby, MECN2, Co-Director

Stephanie Busby is a second-year master’s student at UCLA’s School of Nursing. Born in Los Angeles to a Filipina mother and Irish/French father, Stephanie obtained her B.A. in Italian Studies from UC Berkeley in 2013 and then worked as a professional nanny for several years. When she realized she could combine her affinity for science and hands-on work, she decided that nursing was her true calling. While helping her father navigate through his own health complications at LAC+USC, she became inspired by the work ethic of the interdisciplinary team members and the resiliency of the patients at the county facility. She serves as the current president of Broad Spectrum, the first LGBTQIA+ student organization at the School of Nursing. She is currently completing her immersion quarter at CHLA’s Heart Institute and aspires to work as an acute care nurse practitioner in underserved communities in the future.


Deborah Nourmand, MECN1, Co-Director

Deborah Nourmand is a first year master’s student at UCLA’s School of Nursing. Born in Miami, Florida and raised in Los Angeles, California, she is half Filipina and half Persian. Being a true Angelino, she obtained her Bachelor’s in Psychology at California State University, Northridge in 2017 and always dreamed of furthering her education at UCLA’s well-known nursing program. She plans to use her love towards children in the field of Pediatrics and possibly further her education as a Nurse Practitioner. In her free time she is a free-lanced makeup artist in the LA area and hopes to one day integrate both her passions, cosmetics and healthcare, into one later in her professional career.


Amy Phung, BSN2, Co-Director

Amy Phung is a first generation student completing her first year as an undergraduate at UCLA’s School of Nursing. Born to Chinese immigrant parents, she was raised in the heart of Los Angeles. Through her experiences tutoring low income students within her community at her local non-profit (Lincoln Heights Tutorial Program) and volunteering with  her teen community service group (Youth United for Community Action), she realized she wanted to pursue a field where she could work hands on to make a direct impact on others. After completing a summer internship in the Pediatric Oncology Department at Kaiser Permanente, she knew for certain that she wanted to pursue the nursing field. 


Logistics Team 

Levina Lin, MS2, Co-Director & Student Administrative Director

Levina Lin is a second-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Levina moved to Los Angeles to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, Immunology, & Molecular Genetics at UCLA. During her undergraduate career, she explored her passion for health education and disease prevention through her involvement in hepatitis awareness and outreach efforts in vulnerable communities. She also engaged in research on cancer immunotherapy and served as a tutor for underrepresented students. In medical school, Levina has been involved in pediatric hepatology research and work on API health disparities. In her free time, Levina enjoys music, kayaking, and a good cup of milk tea.




Melodyanne Cheng, MS1, Co-Director

Melodyanne Cheng is a first year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She spent her childhood years moving across California before her family settled in San Diego, where she gained a lifelong passion for addressing inequities in health that disproportionately affect immigrant, low-income communities. After graduating from Stanford University with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Chicanx/Latinx Health, she continued conducting community-based research at local community clinics and working to address social needs in the emergency department while pursuing a M.S.in Comparative Medicine. Here at UCLA, Melodyanne enjoys learning to the clinical knowledge and skills necessary to become a future physician advocate who improves access to equitable healthcare in the Californian communities closest to her heart.


Minh Truong, MECN2, Co-Director

Minh Truong is a second-year master’s student at UCLA’s School of Nursing. He moved to the United States during high school to pursue his American dream. As an immigrant and a first-generation college student, he was passionate about making a difference in his community which led him to be involved in various community health organizations during his undergraduate career. After obtaining a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA, he worked for First-Generation Experience at UCLA as a special program assistant where he coordinated 14 different educational programs that cater to incoming students from underserved communities. He also worked for an international company as a cultural exchange mentor before his master’s year. Eventually, his passion for science and art brought him to the profession of nursing. Currently, he serves as the vice president of Broad Spectrum, the first LGBTQIA+ student organization at the School of Nursing. He aspires to become a nurse practitioner and work with hepatitis patients from underserved communities in the future.

Finance Team 

Katie Chen, AGACNP1, Co-Director

Katie Chen is a first-year AGACNP student at UCLA School of Nursing. Raised in Huntington Beach, California, she obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing at California State University, Long Beach. Her desire to further her education brought her to UCLA. Katie is passionate about providing holistic care to the medically underserved and contribute her professional expertise to improve health outcomes. She is pursuing graduate studies to become an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, building on her experience as a registered nurse on the oncology unit/ intensive care unit. She is highly engaged in Cancer Research and hopes one day she can integrate her professional expertise with the best evidence to target treatment modalities that are beneficial to cancer prevention and treatment, as well as contribute to the current revolution in oncology care.




Rintu Saju, MS1, Co-Director

Rintu Saju is a first-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Rintu was born and raised in India and moved to the United States at the age of 10. Most of his childhood experiences inspired him to pursue a career in medicine. Rintu received his B.S. in Exercise Sciences from the University of California, Irvine where he also did a minor in Public Health. Throughout his undergraduate experience, Rintu explored his passions for addressing health inequities within underserved communities in L.A. and O.C. He’s conducted community-partnered participatory research exploring the needs of the Watts community and have assessed the effectiveness of neighborhood park level interventions in Garden Grove. His experiences make him passionate about pursuing a career in primary care aiming to be an advocate for underserved communities, both locally and nationally. Aside from his professional aspirations, Rintu enjoys playing volleyball, spending time with his family and friends, and considers himself a boba enthusiast. 


Cameron Brandt, Latin American Studies & Community Health Year 2, Co-Director

Cameron Brandt is a third-year Articulated Degree Masters student in Community Health Sciences and Latin American Studies. Though raised in a suburb of Chicago, Cameron moved to Los Angeles to complete her Bachelor's degree at Occidental College where she majored in Spanish Studies with a focus on pre-medicine and public health. While originally interested in pursuing a career in medicine, Cameron discovered her passion for community health during a study abroad program with the Students for International Training (SIT) program in Arica, Chile. As a graduate student, Cameron has worked six quarters as a Teaching Assistant and loves working with undergraduate students, especially in courses related to public health such as Global Health 100 and Migration and Health. Cameron’s research interests focus on structural barriers to sexual and reproductive health, especially as it relates to immigration and gender-based violence. Ultimately, Cameron hopes to unite her passion for teaching and community health to document and address structural forces that function to prevent all people from achieving reproductive justice. 



John Mazziotta

John Mazziotta, MD, PhD

Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences
CEO, UCLA Health

Clarence H. Braddock III

Clarence H. Braddock III, MD, MPH

Vice Dean for Education, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Chief Medical Education Officer, UCLA Health System

Patrick Dowling, MD, MPH

Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine

Linda Sarna, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dean for UCLA School of Nursing,
Professor and Lulu Wolf-Hassenplug Endowed Chair in Nursing

Sural Shah, MD

Assistant Clinical Professor
Division on Internal Medicine-Pediatrics
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Olive View-UCLA Medical Center

Eleanor Emery, MD

Department of Internal Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine

The 24th Annual UCLA Health Care Symposium

is a presentation of the David Geffen School of Medicine of UCLA.
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