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Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Palliative Care Research Faculty

Faculty Research & Projects

Research into the aging process is our most powerful tool for promoting longevity (life span) and enhancing quality of life (health span) for older adults.

Alison A. Moore, M.D., M.P.H.

Alison A. Moore, M.D., M.P.H. Division Chief, brings to UC San Diego over 25 years of research experience focused on the epidemiology and health-related effects of alcohol and other substances among diverse populations; and developing and testing screening and brief interventions to reduce unhealthy alcohol use among older adults and other diverse populations. Her ongoing research in older adults is expanding to include a) cannabis use and b) technology to support older adults. She is also one of the Principal Investigators of an Alzheimer's Disease focused Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (ADRCMAR), funded by the National Institute on Aging to support underrepresented early-stage investigators to conduct research in Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias. She is engaged in work focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in several ways including her research and research training. Finally, she is the interim director of the UC San Diego Stein Institute for Research on Aging (SIRA) and has been building on its highly successful focus on healthy aging to bring research to the community and to bring community into SIRA.

Anthony Molina, Ph.D.

Anthony Molina, Ph.D. is Chief of Research for the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Care and an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine. He joined UC San Diego in 2018 from Wake Forest School of Medicine. He has a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a gerontologist and translational researcher with his main research focus being on the role of mitochondrial bioenergetics in aging and age-related diseases/conditions. Dr. Molina has established a strong track record as a team-oriented, collaborative, translational researcher, both as a Principal Investigator of several NIA-funded multi-disciplinary projects and as a key co-investigator studying the role of mitochondrial bioenergetics in a variety of age-related conditions.

Benjamin H. Han, M.D. M.P.H.

Benjamin H. Han, M.D., M.P.H. is Associate Chief of Research and Assistant Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Care within the Department of Medicine. He is a geriatrician, addiction medicine physician, and a clinician-researcher. His research focuses on the intersection of chronic medical disease and substance use disorders. The aim of his research is to better manage chronic diseases among adults with substance use disorders as well as understand the changing trends of substance use among older adults. His work integrates the principles of evidence-based geriatric medicine with addiction medicine and harm reduction interventions. He is currently funded by a K23 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to embed geriatric-based interventions into opioid treatment programs.

Biren Kamdar, M.D., M.B.A., M.H.S.

Biren Kamdar, M.D., M.B.A., M.H.S. is Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine. Dr. Kamdar is a health services researcher is the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. His NIA-funded research focuses on sleep-wake rhythms in the intensive care unit (ICU); in particular, methods to evaluate sleep in critically ill adults and to measure the effect of interventions to improve sleep-wake cycles on delirium and other important outcomes. Dr. Kamdar is also involved in system-wide delirium detection and prevention efforts.

Maile Karris, M.D.

Maile Karris, M.D. is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Care, in addition to the Division of Infectious DiseasesandGlobal Public Health. She is a "bedside to bench" research that utilizes her training in translational, clinical, behavioral and implementation science to address the unmet needs of her patients. She is primarily interested in improving the quality of life for older adults living with HIV (OALWH)with historical and current projects including characterization of the syndemics of aging with HIV, exploring the impact of polypharmacy in OALWH on geriatric conditions, implementing the Village model for OALWH, evaluating behavioral therapy for pain management and implementing multi-modal interventions to address syndemics of aging with HIV. She continues to care for PLWH at UCSD's HIV Medicine clinic (Owen clinic) and loves to mentor trainees and junior faculty in her roless as the Co-Director of the Center For AIDS Research Clinical Investigations Core; Vice Chair of Underrepresented Populations and Co-Chair of HIV and Aging Working Group, AIDS Clinical Trials Group; and a co-chair of the American Geriatrics Society Tideswell scientific interest group.

Tala Al-Rousan, M.D., M.P.H.

Tala Al-Rousan, M.D., M.P.H. is Assistant Professor and founding faculty at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity brings to UC San Diego expertise in health equity research focusing on marginalized populations. Dr. Al-Rousan has extensive expertise in global health epidemiological research in limited resource settings. She has studied the impact of institutionalization on brain health, function, and disease outcomes in older adults. She studies vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations including refugees in camps, incarcerated adults, older mobile home dwellers in trailer parks and older adults in nursing homes. Trained in medicine and epidemiology in Jordan, Egypt and the US, Dr. Al-Rousan's ongoing research focuses on designing evidence-based interventions and health policies that reduce health disparities using a human rights approach to health and aging. In San Diego, she is currently leading a hypertension self-management intervention study among Middle Eastern and East African refugees and another study assessing perceptions, attitudes and behaviors towards dementia among recently-resettled Syrian and Iraqi refugees, one of the fastest growing foreign-born populations in San Diego. Internationally, she is leading a study on the impact of encampment on cognition in Jordan and Lebanon, and is part of a study assessing hypertension management in Peru, Malawi and Cameroon. Dr. Al-Rousan is a former Doctors Without Borders physician having served in Yemen and at the headquarters in Switzerland, a current Atlantic fellow for Equity in Brain Health at UC San Francisco and the Rhodes House in Oxford, England, and a Bernard Lown Fellow at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Melody Schiaffino, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Melody Schiaffino, Ph.D., M.P.H. is an assistant professor, health services researcher, and epidemiologist in the School of Public Health at San Diego State University, and affiliated faculty in the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Care. She is also a core investigator at the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health (IBACH) and a visiting professor in Radiation Medicine at UCSD Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla. She is a bilingual, bi-cultural healthcare delivery systems, cancer, and aging disparities researcher. Her current focus is on building the evidence base for pioneering the use of data and systems science to improve outcomes for diverse older adults. Her existing expertise in health services research and organizational theory, health disparities, and language services have helped her develop an understanding of cancer care delivery and aging disparities.

Her goals are to: 1) understand how healthcare is delivered to aging populations undergoing cancer treatment and 2) leverage massive administrative, EHR, and similar data sets to identify risk factors and inform the development of culturally appropriate, technology-driven interventions that can improve care to diverse and vulnerable older adults. She believes that understanding the role of non-clinical pathways, race/ethnicity, age, and other patient and provider factors on treatment (intermediate treatment toxicities, timely care, effectiveness, efficiency), is critical for tailoring care delivery and improving sub-optimal outcomes. Dr. Schiaffino has also been awarded two pilot project awards through the San Diego Alzheimer's Disease Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (AD-RCMAR), with her current project focused on improving the identification of dementia in cancer research using claims data for diverse older adults.

Kiana Aran, Ph.D.

Kiana Aran, Ph.D. is the Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Cardea Bio, an Associate Professor of Medical Diagnostics and Therapeutics at Keck Graduate Institute, a member of the Claremont Colleges, and a visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Aran also serves as a Consultant of Drug Delivery and Medical Diagnostics for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She received her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the City University of New York in 2007 and her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Rutgers University in 2012. She then continued her postdoctoral studies in bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a recipient of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral training fellowship at the Buck Institute for Aging Research in 2015. Her research efforts focus on designing novel biosensing platforms, using 2D nanomaterials, for early disease diagnosis as well as utilizing biology as tech elements for a variety of biosensing applications. In addition to biosensing, she combines various engineering modules to develop tools to better understand the process of aging. Dr. Aran’s scientific vision is to explore the utility of nano-electronic systems to develop transformative and customizable platforms for multiomics applications and the commercialization of these platform. Her efforts have been recognized within the scientific community by the Clinical OMICs 10 under 40 Award, Athena Pinnacle Award in Life Sciences, and Nature Research Awards for Inspiring Women in Science: Scientific Achievement Category’s Overall Winner. Dr. Aran is also the recipient of numerous government grants to develop the next generation of electronic biosensors.

Annie Nguyen, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Annie Nguyen, Ph.D., M.P.H. is an associate professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health. She was previously a faculty member at the University of Southern California for 8 years before making the move to UCSD. Dr. Nguyen is a public and community health researcher and her work focuses on older adults. Her current research lies at the intersection of HIV and aging and ultimately seeks to understand and promote strategies for resilient aging

Aladdin Shadyab, Ph.D.

Dr. Aladdin H. Shadyab is an Associate Professor of Public Health and Medicine at the University of California San Diego, with a joint appointment in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science and the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Palliative Care, Department of Medicine. Dr. Shadyab has broad expertise in the epidemiology of aging, exceptional longevity, women's health, geroscience, and multi-omics. He has authored >240 scientific publications broadly focused on aging in prestigious scientific journals, including JAMA, Alzheimer's & Dementia, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, and American Journal of Epidemiology. Dr. Shadyab's publications have been cited over 4,000 times (h-index: 32; i-10-index: 101). Dr. Shadyab’s seminal research publications have identified risk factors for major chronic conditions of aging (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, hip fracture, cancer) and mobility disability among older adults, identified determinants of exceptional longevity and exceptionally healthy aging, and identified aging biomarkers for healthy aging outcomes. As Principal Investigator (PI), he leads several multi-million-dollar population-based studies focused on examining the role of biological aging in the etiology of chronic diseases of aging and exceptional longevity by leveraging large scale -omics data (e.g., proteomic, epigenomic).