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Program Directors, Faculty & Staff
Current Scholars
Program Directors, Faculty & Staff  
Robert H. Brook, M.D. (Co-Director)

Robert H. Brook is Professor of Medicine and Health Services at UCLA and has served as Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program for the past 40 years.  He also holds the Distinguished Chair in Health Care Services at the RAND Corporation, where he previously served for 19 years as vice president and director of RAND Health. Dr. Brook led the Health and Quality Group on the $80M Health Insurance Experiment and was co-principal investigator on the Health Services Utilization Study. He was the co-principal investigator on the only national study that has investigated, at a clinical level, how Medicare's prospective payment system affected the quality and outcome of acute hospital care. He was also the co-principal investigator on a joint activity of 12 academic medical centers, the American Medical Association, and RAND, the purpose of which was to develop appropriateness criteria and parameters for the use of procedures.Brook is a member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the American Association of Physicians. In 2005, Brook won the Institute of Medicine's Gustav O. Lienhard Award, cited "as the individual who, more than any other, developed the science of measuring the quality of medical care and focused U.S. policymakers' attention on quality-of-care issues and their implications for the nation's health."  


Carol M. Mangione, M.D. (Co-Director)

Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH, is the Director of the UCLA Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Education and Training Core, Director of the NIH/NIA funded UCLA/Drew Resource Center for Minority Aging Research/Center for Health Improvement of Minority Elderly (RCMAR III/CHIME II), and Co-director of the UCLA Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. In all of these programs she mentors and trains physicians developing research careers.

Dr. Mangione is the principal investigator for “The Diabetes Health Plan: A System Level Intervention to Prevent and Treat Diabetes,” funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to evaluate the effectiveness of the first disease specific health plan in the United States. This work focused on studying the influence of benefit design on prevention of diabetes, adherence to medications, and control of cardiovascular risk factors for persons with diabetes.  Dr. Mangione is also the National Study Chairperson for the CDC/NIDDK funded multi-center program called Natural Experiments in Diabetes Translation (NEXT-D). This national collaboration identifies and disseminates best analytic practices for comparative effectiveness research using observational data.  Dr. Mangione is also the Principal Investigator of the “Managing Your Medication for Education and Daily Support,” (MYMEDS) program which embeds clinical pharmacists in primary care practices to improve adherence for patients with poor control of cardiovascular risk factors and for older adults who have polypharmacy and poor adherence to their medications.

Dr. Mangione received her B.S. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, her M.D. degree from the University of California, San Francisco, and her MSPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. She completed residency training in primary care at UCSF.  She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians (ASCI/AAP) and recipient of the 2007 Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) Mid-Career Mentorship Award. She is also currently a member of the Board of Governors for the Pardee RAND Graduate School.


Kenneth B. Wells, M.D., M.P.H. (Co-Director)

Dr. Kenneth Wells is the David Weil Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Professor of Health Policy and Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and Affiliated Adjunct Staff at RAND.  He is the Director of the Center for Health Services and Society Scientific Director of the California Behavioral Health Center of Excellence at the UCLA Semel Institute, and Co-Director of the UCLA Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program.  Dr. Wells’ research focuses on improving mental health outcomes and mental health policy with a primary focus recently on community-engagement and partnership in science and services programs. Dr. Wells is a recipient of the American Psychiatric Association’s Research Prize, both the Junior and the Senior Investigator Awards of Academy Health and is a member of the Institute of Medicine and for four years chaired its Neuroscience and Behavioral Health Board. He has been Principal Investigator of the NIMH Partnered Research Center for Quality Care and Community Partners in Care, a group-level randomized trial of community engagement compared to technical assistance to improve outcomes for depressed clients across health and social/lcommunity-based agencies in under-resourced communities in Los Angeles. The community-academic leaders of Community Partners in Care received the 2014 Team Science Award of the Association of Clinical and Translational Science.


Paul Chung, M.D.

Paul Chung is an associate professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, an associate professor of health services at the UCLA School of Public Health, a senior natural scientist at RAND, and a faculty affiliate at the California Center for Population Research. He is also the director of the UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion (a CDC Prevention Research Center) and an associate director of both the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at UCLA and the NRSA Primary Care Research Fellowship at UCLA.

In 2009, Chung was the recipient of the Nemours Child Health Services Research Award, given annually to a single emerging child health services researcher in the United States. His personal research interests include family leave policy for vulnerable families, well-child care quality and redesign, adolescent health risks, child development and education, and childhood obesity, and he has received grants from funders including CDC, NIH, and Pfizer. He serves on national committees for organizations including the Academic Pediatric Association, the Academy Health Child Health Services Research Interest Group, and the CDC Prevention Research Centers. The UCLA/RAND Center's portfolio is large and eclectic, focusing broadly on policy-relevant prevention research addressing the needs of children, adolescents, young adults, and their families. The UCLA/RAND Center is also committed to community-based participatory research with public and private community partners in the South Bay region of Los Angeles and other areas of Los Angeles County.


José J. Escarce, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. José J. Escarce, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Senior Natural Scientist at RAND. Dr. Escarce has published extensively on a variety of topics including physician behavior, medical technology adoption, racial and socioeconomic differences in health care, and the effects of market forces on access, costs, and quality of care. His research interests and expertise include health economics, managed care, physician behavior, racial and ethnic disparities in medical care, and technological change in medicine. Dr. Escarce has studied racial differences in the utilization of surgical procedures and diagnostic tests by elderly Medicare beneficiaries, and was lead investigator of a study of racial differences in medical care utilization among older persons that was based on the 1987 National Medical Expenditures Survey. Recent research for an NIH conference used the 1996 - 1998 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to assess racial and ethnic differences in public and private sources of health care expenditures in the Medicare population. He was also co-investigator of a study that used interactive videodisc technology to assess the impact of patient race and gender on physician decision-making for patients with chest pain.

Dr. Escarce is currently working on several projects that address socio-demographic barriers to access in managed care organizations, and is principal investigator of a program project entitled "Health Care Markets and Vulnerable Populations," which uses the MEPS and is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Among other issues, the program project addresses racial and ethnic differences in access to and quality of medical care. He was member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.


Clifford Ko, M.D.

Dr. Clifford Ko is Professor of Surgery and Health Services in the UCLA Schools of Medicine and Public Health and he holds the Robert and Kelly Day Chair in Surgical Outcomes. He is also a research affiliate at the RAND Corporation. Clinically, he is an operating colorectal surgeon and recently was chosen as one of the top surgeons in Los Angeles. Dr. Ko is double board-certified (general and colorectal surgery) and a formally trained health services researcher. He is considered one of the leading surgical health services researchers investigating quality and quality improvement with over 150 peer reviewed publications and has received research funding as a Principal Investigator from the NIH, CDC, VA, and American Cancer Society. Recently, Dr. Ko led the California Collaborative on Surgical Quality Improvement.

Dr. Ko is also the Director of the Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care at the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This Division houses all the quality evaluation/improvement programs at the ACS, including the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP), the Cancer Approvals Program, the Trauma Center Verification Program, and the Bariatric Surgery Center Network Accreditation Program. Dr. Ko is also the Director of ACS NSQIP.
Dr. Ko graduated with his MD from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where he also received his MS in Biolog ical/Medical Ethics. In 2001, Dr. Ko received his MSHS from UCLA in Health Services Research.


William E. Cunningham, M.D., M.P.H.

William E. Cunningham is a Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, and Department of Health Services, School of Public Health. He received his training in health services research through the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, and received his MPH degree in epidemiology from UCLA.

Cunningham is author of over 60 manuscripts addressing access to medical care, disparities, and health outcomes in AIDS and other populations. As the PI of an HRSA-funded Special Project of National Significance (SPNS), he conducts a case-management intervention study for vulnerable persons with HIV infection. Cunningham is co-PI on an NICHD-funded project on gender and HIV risk prevention. He is also an investigator at RAND and was a collaborator on the HIV Costs and Utilization Study (HCSUS), a national study of AIDS costs and AIDS patients' access to and quality of care.

Cunningham is Director of the Investigator Development Core for the NIA-funded Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR), Director of the Training Core for the NCMHD-funded project Export, and an Associate Director of the newly refunded Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at UCLA. He teaches courses on race, ethnicity and health, health services organization and outcomes, and effectiveness research. He is a practicing physician in internal medicine. In 2004, Cunningham was selected for honors in the prestigious American Society for Clinical Investigation.


Debra Saliba, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Saliba is a physician with the VA GRECC and serves as the Associate Director for Education for the VA HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation and Policy. Dr. Saliba also holds the Anna & Harry Borun Endowed Chair in Geriatrics at UCLA  and directs the UCLA Borun Center for Applied Gerontological Research.  She is also a senior natural scientist at RAND. 

Dr. Saliba’s research has focused on creating tools and knowledge that can be applied to improving quality of care and quality of life for vulnerable older adults and others with long-term care based services, disaster response, quality measurement, fall prevention, the association between institutional structure and quality and the development of instruments to predict functional limitation and death.  One focus of Dr. Saliba’s work has been direct inclusion of older adults in assessments of their health and needs.  She developed the VES-13, a survey that identifies vulnerable elders living in the community. The VES-13 has gained widespread acceptance in clinical, program and research settings internationally. Recently, Dr. Saliba was the principal investigator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ MDS 3.0 Revision and Evaluation project and collaborative VA MDS Validation project. Through this work, items that relied on resident voice were introduced, providing a direct link between MDS and resident-centered care in nursing homes throughout the US.  Significant gains in MDS reliability, validity, staff satisfaction and assessment efficiency were seen.   Dr. Saliba’s current research includes work to assist the state of California in developing coordinated assessment of needs and eligibility for MediCal enrollees (funded by SCAN), an evaluation of the impact of the transition of seniors and persons with disabilities to managed care (funded by CHCF), a randomized trial of an intervention to reduce nursing home to hospital transfers (funded by VA HSR&D) and an evaluation of a collaboration between VA and the Indian Health Service (funded by VA HSR&D).
    Cristina Punzalan, M.P.H.

Cristina Punzalan, MPH is the Program Administrator for the UCLA RWJF Clinical Scholars program. Prior to coming to UCLA in 2001, she spent seven years with the Peace Corps in various capacities including serving as a student aid during her undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley, as a health education volunteer and volunteer trainer in Ecuador, and then as a recruiter upon her return to the United States. Having worked with Latina women with limited resources on a healthy lifestyle intervention program, Cristina brings a wealth of experience in research project management and operations including community engagement, institutional review board processes, budget monitoring, staffing, recruitment, training, and data collection. Cristina has a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from the University of California Berkeley and a Master of Public Health from the University of California Los Angeles.
      Raul J. Moreno

Raul J. Moreno is Program Coordinator for the UCLA RWJF Clinical Scholars Program, bringing over 9 years of institutional and organizational knowledge with the University of California. He has acquired extensive knowledge and skills in program management, communications and organization from previous posts with Student Affairs-Admissions at the UC Office of the President, the UCLA Division of Cardiology and the Cardiovascular Research Laboratory. Most recently coming from UCOP where he supported the Associate Vice President, as well as the Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Raul worked on various independent projects, Presidential Initiatives, and affinity group leadership.

Graduating from UCLA in 2009 with a double major in Political Science and Scandinavian Languages and Literature, he has remained active with the university, volunteering as an application reader and interviewing future Bruins for several UCLA Alumni Association scholarships.


Elise Hayes

Elise Hayes is the Fund Manager for the UCLA RWJF Clinical Scholars program.  Her prior experience includes 8 years with the Burbank Unified School District Fiscal Services department.  Most recently she served as the fiscal liaison for Categorical Programs and Maintenance/Operations for Burbank Unified.  Her experience includes serving as the Assistant Director of International Admission for Pepperdine University’s Seaver College.  Elise earned her bachelor’s degree in International/Intercultural Communications from Pepperdine University and gained valuable experience teaching English in Thailand during the summers throughout her undergraduate years.