Faculty & Staff
Dr. Elmore is a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Director of the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program. Dr. Elmore conducts scientific research on diagnostic accuracy of screening and medical tests and methods to increase engagement with patients via the OpenNotes project (www.myopennotes.org). She was previously a professor of medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, as well as an affiliate investigator with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Group Health Research Institute. She has also served as head of general internal medicine at Harborview Medical Center from 2000 to 2010.
Prior to this time, Dr. Elmore was a faculty member at Yale University. Dr. Elmore has also served as Associate Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program at Yale and the University of Washington. Additionally, she was recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Generalist Faculty Award, and subsequently a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Generalist Faculty award and the Clinical Scholars Program.
Dr. Elmore received her medical degree from the Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residency training in internal medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital, with advanced training in epidemiology from the Yale School of Epidemiology and Public Health and the RWJF Clinical Scholars Program. In addition, she was a RWJF generalist physician faculty scholar. Dr. Elmore is board certified in internal medicine and serves on many national and international committees. She is Editor in Chief for Primary Care at UpToDate. Dr. Elmore enjoys seeing patients as a primary care internist and teaching clinical medicine to students and residents.
Dr. Linda Sarna, Dean and Lulu Wolf Hassenplug Endowed Chair, UCLA School of Nursing, is internationally recognized for her scholarly activities promoting nursing involvement in tobacco control. As the Principal Investigator for the Tobacco Free Nurses, recognized by the American Academy of Nursing as an Edge Runner, she initiated the first national program to help nurses quit smoking in the US and to promote the role of nurses in tobacco control, inaugurating the award-winning Website. She was the lead investigator on an analysis of 27-year smoking trends of participants in the Nurses' Health Study and led a team of investigators in the examination of national smoking trends among health care professions. She has led translational research projects to increase nursing interventions to treat tobacco dependence among hospitalized patients in the U.S., China, and Eastern Europe using web---based educational programs and resources. Dr. Sarna has collaborated with national and international nursing organizations on policies related to nurses and tobacco control, including the American Academy of Nursing and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and leading the implementation of a tobacco-free policy at UCLA.
Dr. Sarna’s honors and awards include election as a fellow to the American Academy of Nursing, recognition as a Distinguished Research Professor by the Oncology Nursing Society, and induction into the International Nurse Research Hall of Fame, Sigma Theta Tau International.
MarySue V. Heilemann is an associate professor at the UCLA School of Nursing. She is internationally known as an expert due to the rigorous approach she takes to qualitative research using Grounded Theory methodology informed by Constructivism and Pragmatism. Dr. Heilemann has pioneered the use of transmedia in health interventions related to mental health. Transmedia involves the use of storytelling over multiple digital platforms accessible on smart phones, tablets, or computers via the Internet. Dr. Heilemann’s current work involves transmedia interventions to enhance symptom management among English speaking U.S. Latina adults who are struggling with depression and/or anxiety. Fueled by qualitative input from participants, and in collaboration with community partners, Dr. Heilemann integrates issues of motivation, resilience, intergenerational cultural expectations, social justice, and gender issues in her work. Dr. Heilemann has also focused her scholarship on improving the accuracy of portrayals of nurses in film and television. She gave the June 2015 National Institute of Nursing Research Director’s Lecture entitled, “From the Silver Screen to the Web: Media Portrayals of Nursing,” and frequently speaks or consults on the topic. Dr. Heilemann initiated and moderated national symposiums in both 2011 and 2012 at UCLA focused on Media Representations of Nurses; this brought together over 300 filmmakers, nurses, administrators, producers, journalists, screen writers, directors, activists, faculty, and students. She was the Guest Editor for a special volume of the official journal of the American Academy of Nursing (Nursing Outlook) that featured original scholarship created for the 2011 Symposium. Based on her three-fold area of expertise (media-based interventions, methodologically-driven qualitative research, and mental health), Dr. Heilemann is actively refining a new model for nursing science that features transmedia portrayals of nurses as part of powerful and promising interventions with patients, the public, and nursing professionals. Dr. Heilemann completed her BSN degree at the University of Wisconsin and both her MSN and PhD at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Debra 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).
Dr. Saliba directs the Los Angeles VA’s HSR&D and Clinical Scholars Fellowships and is associate director for the UCLA Clinical Scholars Program. Dr. Saliba is also a Co-director of the UCLA Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center. Her research in quality of care and vulnerable populations has received awards from the Journal of American Medical Directors Association, VA Health Services Research & Development, and the American Geriatrics Society. A recognized leader in geriatrics research and quality, Dr. Saliba has served as an expert on multiple national advisory panels addressing quality of care for older adults across care settings. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the California Association for Long Term Care Medicine, Dr. Saliba serves on the Board of Directors for the American Geriatrics Society.
Kenneth B. Wells, MD, MPH, is the David Weil Endowed-Chair and Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Fielding School of Public Health. He is also Affiliated Adjunct Staff of the RAND Corporation. He received his M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco, and his M.P.H. from the UCLA School of Public Health, and is a graduate of the UCLA-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program. Dr. Wells, a psychiatrist and health services researcher, has led a number of far-reaching investigations into how variations in health services systems and financing affect clinical care as well as on the use of Community-Partnered Participatory Research to address disparities in access to and outcomes of services for depression. Dr. Wells is the academic Principal Investigator (PI) of Community Partners in Care (CPIC), which was initially funded by NIMH and now continues with funding from the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Dr. Wells is Director of the Center for Health Services and Society of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Health Behavior and Co-Director of the California Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health at UCLA, funded by the Mental Health Services Act. Also a leader in training, Dr. Wells is Co-Director of the UCLA Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. Dr. Wells also co-led the largest American Red Cross grant in history to support mental health recovery efforts in New Orleans post-Katrina. Dr. Wells is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine) and is former Chair of its Board for Neuroscience and Behavioral Health. He was the first recipient of the Young Investigator Award and later received the Distinguished Investigator Award of AcademyHeath. He received the Senior Health Services Research Award and later the Research Prize for lifetime achievement in research of the American Psychiatric Association. A pioneer in applying Community-Partnered Participatory Research to behavioral health, Dr. Wells with community partner Loretta Jones as Team Leaders on behalf of the Community Partners in Care Council received the 2014 Team Science Award of the Association of Clinical and Translational Science, the 2015 Campus-Community Partnerships for Health Annual Award, and the 2015 UCLA Community Program of the Year Award. Dr. Wells founded the Media and Medicine for Communities (MMC) program at the Semel Institute, which seeks to engage diverse communities in understanding health and mental health issues through media and the arts. An active choral director and composer, his first opera, , “The First Lady,” on the life of Eleanor Roosevelt was produced through MMC at UCLA in 2010. His second opera, “The Center Cannot Hold” based on the life of Elyn Saks with Dr. Saks as co-librettist, will be produced at UCLA in 2016.
Rebecca Dudovitz, MD, MSHS is an Assistant Professor in General Pediatrics and Vice-Chair of the Primary Care College in the David Geffen School of Medicine who works as part of the Faculty Practice at the Santa Monica 12th St Clinic and as a Faculty Researcher for the UCLA Children’s Discovery & Innovation Institute. Dr. Dudovitz graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in 2005 and completed her residency training in the UCLA Pediatric Community Health and Advocacy Training (CHAT) program in 2008. After residency, she served as a chief resident before entering a health services research fellowship through the UCLA Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program. Through the Clinical Scholars Program she gained experience in community based participatory research and received a Master’s degree in health services. Following her fellowship training she joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the division of General Pediatrics. In addition to seeing patients at the UCLA General Pediatrics 12th Street Office in Santa Monica, she supervises resident physicians at the UCLA Children’s Health Center in Westwood and the Venice Family Clinic. Her research interests include understanding the relationship between academic achievement and health and leveraging school environments to improve adolescent health and prevent substance use.
Dr. Keith C. Norris is an internationally recognized clinician scientist and health policy leader who has been instrumental in shaping national health policy and clinical practice guidelines in the area of kidney disease. He has been one of most highly funded National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigators in the nation, and one of the most highly cited scientists in the world in the area of chronic kidney disease and health disparities. He has been a powerful advocate for minority institutions and served for 7 years as the president of the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program Association. After leaving Cornell in 1976 at the age of 19, he attended Howard University College of Medicine. Upon graduation in 1980, he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. He then completed his residency training and chief residency in internal medicine. From 1983-86, he trained in nephrology at the combined West Los Angeles Veterans Administration-UCLA program. In addition to being board certified in internal medicine and nephrology, he is an American Society of Hypertension, Specialist in Clinical Hypertension. In 2014 he received his doctorate in religious, spiritual and metaphysical philosophy. After serving as Executive VP for Research and Health Affairs and Interim President at Charles Drew University he returned to UCLA as a Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute Community Engagement Research Program. Presently he directs the NIH Biomedical Research Consortium Program Coordination and Evaluation Center.
Casey Covarrubias, MPH is the Administrative Director for the UCLA National Clinician Scholars program. Prior to UCLA, she managed a wide range of projects at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Population Medicine, as part of an FDA pilot initiative to create an active pharmaceutical safety surveillance system using big data. Her experience also includes serving as a researcher and coordinator for international health care conferences at Harvard Business School. Casey most recently completed a practicum at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) in DC, where she provided study portfolio management, research support, and evaluation of research proposals. Casey earned her bachelor’s degree in History and Latin American Studies from Boston College and a Master of Public Health from the Yale School of Public Health, where she concentrated on health disparities and policy.