Associate Members are investigators who work closely with one or more Center members and who have major responsibility for design, conduct, and reporting of research studies, but who have not yet reached independence in funding; and individuals who contribute greatly on an ongoing basis to research projects at Center for Neurobiology of Stress. They are reviewed periodically for advancement to full membership.
If you are interested in becoming an Associate Member, please contact Million Mulugeta, DVM, PhD at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Associate Members are listed in alphabetical order.
Olujimi Ajijola, MD, PhD
Dr. Olujimi Ajijola is a cardiologist in Los Angeles, California and is affiliated with UCLA Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine and has been in practice for 9 years. Dr. Ajijola accepts several types of health insurance, listed below. He is one of 156 doctors at UCLA Medical Center who specialize in Cardiovascular Disease.
Nigel Bunnett, PhD
Nigel Bunnett was educated at Cambridge University where he was awarded a Ph.D. degree in 1981. He spent the next thirty years of his career on the West Coast of the United States, as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, and then an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 1987 he joined the University of California, San Francisco, and he remained there for almost twenty five years, becoming Professor of Surgery and Physiology, Vice Chair of Surgery, and Director of the UCSF Center for the Neurobiology of Digestive Diseases. Nigel relocated to Monash University, Melbourne in 2011, where holds appointments as NHMRC Australia Fellow, Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, and Deputy Director of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Science.
Nigel’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of inflammation and pain, which underlie diseases of global relevance. He is particularly recognized for his work on defining the functions and regulation of G protein-coupled receptors and transient receptor potential ion channels, two major classes of cell-surface proteins that are essential for the transmission of inflammation and pain. Nigel’s work has been reported in ~300 research papers, reviews and chapters, and is funded by the NHMRC, ARC and NIH. His contributions have been recognized by awards including an Australia Fellowship, an NIH MERIT Award, the Novartis Neurogastroenterology Award, the Jansen Award for Basic Research in Gastroenterology, and the Victor Mutt Award for Research in Regulatory Peptides. Throughout his career Nigel has been committed to medical education, and he has received numerous awards in recognition of his dedication to teaching.
PubMed Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Bunnett%20N
Murphy JE, Padilla BE, Hasdemir B, Cottrell GS, Bunnett NW. Endosomes: a legitimate platform for the signaling train. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 106: 17615-17622, 2009.
Alemi F, Kwon E, Poole DP, Lieu T, Lyo V, Cattaruzza F, Cevikbas F, Steinhoff M, Nassini R, Materazzi S, Guerrero-Alba R, Valdez-Morales E, Cottrell GS, Schoonjans K, Geppetti P, Vanner SJ, Bunnett NW*, Corvera CU. The TGR5 receptor mediates bile acid-induced itch and analgesia. J Clin Invest, 123: 1513-1530, 2013. * Corresponding author
Steinhoff MS, von Mentzer B, Geppetti P, Pothoulakis C, Bunnett NW. Tachykinins and their receptors: contributions to physiological control and the mechanisms of disease. Physiol Rev, 94: 265-301, 2014.
Jensen D, Halls M, Murphy JE, Canals M, Cattaruzza F. Lieu T, Poole DP, Koon H-W, Pothoulakis C, Bunnett NW. Endothelin-converting enzyme-1 and β-arrestins exert spatiotemporal control of substance P-induced inflammatory signals. J Biol Chem. In press.
Naomi Eisenberger, PhD
Why is it that our social relationships have such a profound impact on our emotional and physical well-being? Why does feeling connected to those we love feel so good, whereas feeling estranged from them cause so much pain? In my laboratory, we use behavioral, physiological, and neuroimaging techniques to understand how our need for social connection has left its mark on our minds, brains, and bodies. The following are some of the topics that we are currently investigating:
The Neural Basis of Social Rejection:
When people feel rejected or left out, they often describe their feelings with physical pain words, complaining of “hurt feelings” or “broken hearts.” Our research has shown that feeling socially excluded activates some of the same neural regions that are activated in response to physical pain, suggesting that social rejection may indeed be “painful.” To follow up on this research, we are currently examining the genetic determinants of rejection sensitivity as well as whether the fear of rejection relies on different neural circuitry than the experience of it.
The Neural Basis of Social Connection:
We all know the feeling that we have when we feel truly connected to someone else. However, we know very little about the neural circuitry that underlies this feeling or the physiological processes that accompany it. We are currently investigating the neural and physiological substrates associated with feeling “social warmth,” the positive, contented experiential state associated with being in the company of close others.
Social Support and Health:
Over the past several decades, researchers have repeatedly shown that having social support is beneficial for physical health whereas not having it increases the risk of morbidity and mortality. Although social support is a robust predictor of physical health, comparable to other risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure, little is known about how social support influences health. In our lab, we use neuroimaging techniques to examine the neural processes that translate perceptions of social support or a lack thereof into the health outcomes that follow.
Helena Ennes, MD
Leah FitzGerald, RN, FNP-C, PhD
Leah FitzGerald, RN, FNP-C, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the UCLA School of Nursing. Dr. FitzGerald is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). Dr. FitzGerald has 23 years of clinical research experience. She completed post-doctoral training at the UCLA Norman Cousins Center in psychoneuroimmunology, providing a strong foundation for Biobehavioral Nursing research, recognizing the benefits and risks of preventive health behaviors and the complexity underlying behavioral change. As an educator, clinician and scientist, she has the tools to make observations about the nature and progression of health/disease that stimulates basic investigation. Dr. FitzGerald recently completed curriculum development and a subsequent research study translating oral health theory into clinical practice with master level nursing students and is familiar with the proposed methodology. This foundation provides the ability to support the expertise and experience needed to implement this proposed project.
Terri Getzug, MD
Dr. Getzug is the director of the Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) Clinic which is the only clinic of its kind in the United States and a major referral center for this under-recognized and very treatable condition. More than 700 patients have been registered at the FMF clinic since its inception in the early 1960’s.
Dr. Getzug graduated from the University of California at Davis with a major in Nutritional Sciences. She received her medical degree from the Keck School of Medicine at USC and completed her internship, residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at UCLA. She is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
Dr. Getzug has been on the UCLA faculty since 1991. Her primary areas of interest are general gastroenterology, functional bowel disease, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, motility, colon cancer screening and acid peptic disorders. She has extensive expertise treating patients with the gastrointestinal complications of scleroderma.
Christina Ha, MD
Dr. Christina Ha graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned her medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She completed both her internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. Following GI fellowship, she spent a year as the Present-Levison Inflammatory Bowel Disease Fellow at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Subsequently, she joined the faculty at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as part of the Meyerhoff Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center prior to joining the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases in 2013.
Her areas of clinical interest are in the inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Her research is also centered around Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis with a particular focus in the natural history and outcomes of IBD in the elderly.
Marion Ho, MD
Dr. Ho graduated from the University of Hawaii Burns School of Medicine in 1990. She works in Woodland Hills, CA and 1 other locations and specializes in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Internal Medicine. Dr. Ho is affiliated with Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and West Hills Hospital & Medical Center. She speaks Arabic, English and Spanish.
Wendy Ho, MD
Dr. Wendy Ho received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and earned her medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She completed both her internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. During fellowship training, she also received a Masters of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Ho finished her training in 2008 and subsequently joined the UCLA faculty as a clinician educator, where she specializes in seeing gastroenterology patients.
Dr. Ho has clinical expertise in functional bowel disorders including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease, colorectal disorders, motility disorders, pancreatitis, colorectal cancer screening, colonoscopy, and endoscopy. Dr. Ho is board-certified in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine and is a member of American Gastroenterological Association.
Eunok Im, PhD
Johanna Jarcho, PhD
My research program bridges the areas of clinical, development, and social affective neuroscience. We study brain function and social-cognitive processes (i.e., interacting with others) that evolve during adolescence. I build on concepts from mental health research by examining the boundaries between normal and abnormal behavior, to determine how such processes manifest when people are feeling rejected or accepted by others. I study these processes in healthy adolescents and adults, and those who have, or are at risk for, anxiety disorders. I am particularly interested in early childhood temperament and exposure to peer victimization, because these can lead to developing psychological disorders. One way I study this is with functional neuroimaging (fMRI). We image the brain when individuals think that their peers are evaluating them. This allows us to investigate brain function as it relates to social learning, prediction error processing, and fear of negative evaluation. Another focus of my current research uses eye tracking to assess whether anxious adolescents and adults pay more attention to different aspects of a social situation as they try to decide what their peers are thinking and feeling. Results from this work will establish whether paying more attention toward specific facial features predict the ability to accurately “read” social situations, and whether these patterns vary across development or psychological disorders.
Zhiguo Jiang, PhD
Swapna Joshi, PhD
Dr. Joshi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the G Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience (CNSR) at UCLA. She has worked with Dr. Chang (co-director of grant) on pathophysiologic mechanisms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for the past 8 years. Her research focuses on bioinformatic analysis to study brain-gut-microbiome axis in IBS. Her research aims at understanding molecular mechanisms that mediate environmental effects on disease phenotype. Dr. Joshi’s expertise includes analysis and integration of gut microbiome, epigenetic and gene expression data, with specific training in the key research areas. She has published articles in various high profile journals including Nature. As a Co-Investigator on the CNSR’s NIH SCOR and PI on a NIH/CURE pilot seed grant, she is involved in conducting various studies geared at investigating sex differences and molecular pathways associated with IBS. Additionally, she collaborates extensively with groups sharing similar interests and produces several peer-reviewed publications from each project.
Sahib Khalsa, MD, PhD
Dr. Khalsa received a B.S. in Psychology from SUNY Stony Brook in 2002. He graduated from the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Iowa, receiving M.D. and Ph.D. (neuroscience) degrees in 2009. He completed his residency training in Psychiatry at UCLA in 2013, serving as the program Chief Resident and Chief Resident in the UCLA Anxiety Disorders Clinic. At that time, he joined the department as a faculty member in the Division of Adult Psychiatry at UCLA, becoming an Assistant Professor in Residence in 2014.
Dr. Khalsa’s research examines how people feel their heartbeat, how the human brain maps cardiac sensation, and whether there is dysfunctional cross talk between the heart and brain in psychiatric and cardiovascular illnesses. To approach these questions, his studies have examined the effects of aging, focal brain injury, cardiac dysfunction, and long-term meditation practice on awareness of the heartbeat. Ongoing projects examine the neural basis of cardiac sensation, the neural basis of dysfunctional heart-brain communication in anorexia nervosa, and the impact of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) on awareness of the heartbeat. These studies aim to ultimately answer the question “How can we develop new treatments that re-establish a functional dialogue between the heart and brain?”
Dr. Khalsa’s clinical expertise focuses on the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders. As a faculty member Dr. Khalsa served as Associate Director of the UCLA Anxiety Disorders Clinic, supervising resident physicians in the treatment of anxiety disorders. As founding Director of the Healthy Hearts Behavioral Medicine Program, an interdisciplinary endeavor started with the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, he specializes in treating anxiety and mood disorders in individuals with cardiovascular disease and who have received ICDs. He also worked as an attending psychiatrist in the UCLA OCD Intensive Outpatient Program.
In February 2015, Dr. Khalsa joined the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the Director of Clinical Studies, and as an Assistant Professor (tenure track) on the Faculty of Community Medicine at the University of Tulsa.
Hon Wai Koon, PhD
Dr. Koon’s research is focused on the roles of antimicrobial peptide Cathelicidin in inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal infection and colon cancer. Cathelicidin is a natural endogenous anti-microbial peptide that is protective to host as a part of innate immune system. Dr. Koon’s laboratory was the first to show the anti-inflammatory effects of cathelicidin in C. difficile infection in mice and C. difficile toxin A and B in monocytes and macrophages. Cathelicidin mediates various anti-inflammatory signaling pathways that promote healing of intestinal mucosa. Such anti-inflammatory effects of cathelicidin may be protective to other acute and chronic intestinal inflammation. This involves the coordination of epithelial, endothelial and immune systems in intestine and establishes a new direction of research in digestive diseases across various functional systems in body.
Dr. Koon is also interested in the correlation of gene expression of cathelicidin and other antimicrobial compounds with the development of inflammatory bowel disease and other intestinal diseases.
Dr. Koon received Master and PhD degrees at the University of Hong Kong. He then completed his postdoctoral training in basic gastroenterology research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School in Boston. He is Assistant Professor of UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases as well as a member of UCLA IBD Center and American Gastroenterological Association. Dr. Koon has a team of 3 undergraduate research project students, 1 postdoctoral fellow and 1 medical resident researcher. Dr. Koon’s projects are currently funded by NIH and CCFA grants.
Muriel Larauche, PhD
Dr. Larauche research focuses on the modulation of visceral pain and colonic motor function by stress in rodents, with a special interest on the role of ovarian hormones and the gastrointestinal immune system, particularly mast cells. Her research activities also involve the development of new rodent models of visceral pain and stress. Her central hypothesis is that the higher susceptibility of females to visceral pain and constipation is related to sex-specific alterations of the immune (mast cells) and epithelial (ion channels and secretion, tight junctions and permeability) systems related to sex hormones. Dr Larauche intends to test her central hypothesis by pursuing the following specific aims. In Aim 1, she will dissect the role of gonadal hormones and sex chromosome complements in the sex difference in stress-induced visceral hyperalgesia and examine the influence of gonadal hormones on the recruitment and activity of colonic mucosal mast cells. In Aim 2, Dr Larauche will dissect the influence of sex chromosome and gonadal hormones on the sex- specific stress-induced alterations colonic epithelial permeability/secretion in female rats by assessing the modulatory effect of ovarian hormones on epithelial cells via tight junctions proteins modulation/permeability and on ion channels/secretion and on mast cells release of chymase and subsequent increase in angiotensin II leading to a reduction in ion secretion. Together, the proposed studies will enhance knowledge on interactions existing between sex and neuroimmune mucosal functions influencing pain sensitivity and secretion in IBS and enable the candidate to propose new testable hypotheses regarding mechanisms of IBS pain and constipation, in particular regarding differential treatment approaches based on pathophysiology and sex differences
Jeanette Papp, PhD
Dr. Papp is the Director of the UCLA Genotyping and Sequencing Core (GenoSeq ), and a member of the UCLA Bioinformatics Core. She came to UCLA in 2000. Prior to that she worked at genome centers in Paris and Oxford. In addition to overseeing data generation and analysis in the Core, her research interests include developing novel bioinformatic solutions for the management and analysis of all types of genetic data within the Department of Human Genetics.
Rafael Ramirez, PhD
Eric Sobel, PhD
Eric Sobel received his PhD from the UCLA Department of Biomathematics in 1996. However, having grown up in much colder climates, he does not take Califormia’s beautiful and varied environments for granted. So, after a few years in Oxford and Paris, he and his fellow bioinformatician wife, Jeanette Papp, were glad to return and join the faculty at the newly-minted Department of Human Genetics.