Leadership Team of the CTRI

Gary S. Firestein, MD, Director of CTRI

Gary S. Firestein, MD, Director of CTRI
Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego
Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine at UC San Diego

transmed@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 822-3824

Gary S. Firestein, MD, is Director of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute and the Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine at UC San Diego. Dr. Firestein joined the faculty at UCSD School of Medicine as Assistant Professor of Medicine in 1988. Four years later, he was recruited by Gensia, Inc. to be Director of Immunology where he supervised drug discovery efforts focusing on the potential role of purines in inflammation. In 1996, he returned to UC San Diego where he served as chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology from 1998 until 2010.

Dr. Firesteins research interest focuses on the pathogenesis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. He was among the first to map the cytokine profile of RA and demonstrate the dominance of macrophage and fibroblast products. These studies played a pivotal role in the development of highly effective anti-TNF and other anti-cytokine therapies for RA. More recently his research group has defined a novel epigenetic signature in rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Firestein has received the Carol-Nachman Prize for Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation Lee C. Howley Sr Prize for Arthritis Research, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Distinguished Investigator Award, and the Jane Wyman Humanitarian Award. He has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

Dr. Firestein has written over 320 articles and chapters and has edited or written several books. He served as the Deputy Editor of Arthritis & Rheumatism and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Kelley and Firestein’s Textbook of Rheumatology. He is past chairperson of the FDA Arthritis Advisory Committee and has served on the Board of Directors of the ACR Research and Education Foundation and the Veteran’s Medical Research Foundation, as chairperson of the ACR Committee on Journal Publications Committee, and on NIAMS Advisory Council. He is currently a member of the ACR Board of Directors.

View Dr. Firestein's Bio Page

CTRI Fall 2013, Presentation by Dr. Gary Firestein

CTRI in 30 Minutes, Presentation 2012 by Dr. Gary Firestein


David Boyle

David Boyle
Co-Director of CTRI Translational Research Technology (TRT) Division
CTRI Executive Committee Member

dboyle@ucsd.edu
Phone: 858) 822-0784

Since joining the CTRI leadership team in 2010, David Boyle, along with Translational Research Technology (TRT) co-director Paul Mills, has guided the TRT Division and transformed it into a one-stop shop of flexible laboratory-based services for translational studies. Under his leadership, the TRT laboratories have provided services for 99 biomarker projects, performed more than 18,000 biomarker assays, and processed more than 19,000 biosamples. In the past two years, Boyle has been instrumental in creating novel programs that integrate services to support molecular methods in clinical trials. He also oversaw the creation of the CTRI-Cancer Center Biorepository, which is among seven individual biorepositories for UC San Diego investigators hosted by TRT, and the Rady-UC San Diego breast milk research repository. He collaborates with our partners on campus and beyond, including the Moores Cancer Center, Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, and the San Diego Blood Bank. He is key personnel at UC San Diego on the UC San Francisco subaward for biorepositories, "Engaging University of California Stakeholders for Biorespository Research." A major focus is applying rigorous criteria for assay development and validation to small solid tissue samples in a clinical trial setting.

David Boyle is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at UC San Diego. His research has focused on inflammation of joint tissue, the role of the fibroblast-like synoviocyte and the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. He is an internationally recognized researcher in the development and application of biomarker analysis to clinical research, in particular, synovial pathology in rheumatoid arthritis.


Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH

Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH
Professor of Pediatrics at UC San Diego and Director of Clinical Research, Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital
CTRI Executive Committee Member

chchambers@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 246-1704

Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH, joined the CTRI Executive Committee in 2012. Dr. Chambers is a professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego and director of Clinical Research for the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego (RCHSD). She has been instrumental in smoothing the interactions between researchers at UC San Diego and Rady Children's researchers, working closely with CTRI's Mark Wallace, and in establishing a research-only breast milk biorepository at UCSD/Rady Children's, along with CTRI's David Boyle.

Dr. Chambers is a perinatal epidemiologist whose research is focused on environmental exposures and pregnancy and child health outcomes. She co-directs the UC San Diego Center for the Promotion of Maternal Health and Infant Development, and leads a number of national and international clinical research projects addressing medication and vaccine safety in pregnancy. She has conducted extensive research on improved diagnosis, prevention and treatment for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Chambers received a PhD in public health/epidemiology in 2002 from the joint doctoral program at UC San Diego and San Diego State University. She is the author of more than 100 research publications and has served as president of the US Teratology Society, as well as president of the North American Organization of Teratology Information Services.


Colin Depp, PhD

Colin Depp, PhD
Director of CTRI Education, Training and Career Development
CTRI Executive Committee Member

cdepp@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 822-4251

Colin Depp, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, a faculty member at the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging at UC San Diego and a staff psychologist in the VA San Diego. He became director of CTRI's Education, Training and Career Development Unit in 2014, after serving as associate director of the unit from 2011 to 2014. He has spearheaded multiple CTRI initiatives, including the Mentoring Core, research published on training methods, the Clinical Research Enhancement through Supplemental Training-Master of Advanced Studies (CREST-MAS) behavioral science curricula and the Day of Translational Science symposium. Dr. Depp has extensive experience in collaborative interventional research in the area of mental health and wireless technology, receiving continuous funding from NIH, VA, foundation and other sources for 10 years. He leads a multidisciplinary research group comprised of clinicians, clinical trialists, behavioral scientists, community health workers, biostatisticians, software engineers and patient stakeholders. An accomplished translational researcher, teacher and clinician, Dr. Depp has mentored more than 40 trainees through epidemiologic, translational, randomized, interventional and implementation science studies. Dr. Depp has served on multiple editorial boards, NIH and international review panels and collaborative networks, and has published more than 130 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and commentaries.

Dr. Depp received a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Louisville. He then completed a pre-doctoral internship at the Palo Alto Veteran's Administration and a National Research Service Award post-doctoral fellowship in the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at UC San Diego.


Scott M. Lippman, MD

Scott M. Lippman, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director, Moores Cancer Center
CTRI Executive Committee Member

slippman@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 822-1222

Scott M. Lippman, MD, joined the CTRI leadership team in 2013. Dr. Lippman is the director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in the region. He is Senior Associate Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor for Cancer Research and Care, Professor of Medicine, and Chugai Pharmaceutical Chair at UC San Diego, and adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Prior to arriving at Moores Cancer Center in 2012, Dr. Lippman was chair of the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Dr. Lippman brings more than 25 years of experience as principal investigator of translational research involving investigator-initiated clinical trials and maintains an active clinical practice. As a clinician, he is well-respected by his peers, with recognition in every major "Top Doctor" listing including U.S. News & World Report. His research interests include clinical and translational research focused on head and neck and lung cancer; genetic drivers of cancer and premalignancy; predictive molecular signatures and biomarkers for clinical response in solid tumors; and design of trials using molecular targets and markers for cancer prevention and therapy. Since 1990, he has had continuous funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), including as principal investigator of major programmatic grants to develop personalized or precision medicine. He recently received The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center team science award for his leadership of the multidisciplinary molecular-guided Biomarker-integrated Approaches of Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer Elimination (BATTLE) trial.

He has participated in the national leadership of clinical/translational research planning and development within the NCI Cooperative Group setting and currently sits on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Trials/Translational Research Advisory Committee and chairs an NIH Study Section. He serves on several NCI advisory boards, NCI cancer center external advisory boards and journal editorial boards. Dr. Lippman has served on the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee and was elected to the board of directors for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Association of American Cancer Institutes and National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Dr. Lippman completed fellowships in hematology and medical oncology at Stanford University and the University of Arizona, and internship and residency in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. He received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and is triple-board certified in internal medicine, hematology and medical oncology.

Author of more than 350 publications in high-impact journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, PNAS, and The Lancet, J Clin Oncol and chapters in major medical textbooks, Dr. Lippman has received many awards, among them the ASCO-American Cancer Society Award, AACR Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation Award, and the ASCO Statesman Award. He is an elected member of the prestigious Association of American Physicians.


Eric Mah, MPH

Eric Mah, MPH
Executive Director for Clinical Research Operations
CTRI Executive Committee Member

emah@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 657-5164

Eric Mah, MPH, joined the CTRI Executive Committee in 2015. He is the Executive Director of Clinical Research Operations for Health Sciences and has overall administrative oversight of the CTRI. Mah is responsible for clinical research administration across Health Sciences, the clinical trials contracting project management office, the clinical research billing project management office, Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) affiliations and CTRI strategic and operational management. Mah has extensive experience in research administration and compliance. Most recently, he served as senior director of research compliance at UC San Francisco and program director of regulatory, knowledge and support for UCSF's Clinical and Translational Science Institute. In these positions, including regulatory director for UC BRAID (a consortium of the five UC academic medical centers), Mah provided guidance and direction to address research compliance regulations and policies in clinical research. He was responsible for identifying emerging issues, leading projects and process efficiency redesigns, coordinating internal and external communications, and ensuring that regulatory matters were managed in a timely and appropriate way.


Paul Mills, PhD

Paul Mills, PhD
Co-Director of CTRI Translational Research Technology (TRT) Division
CTRI Executive Committee Member

pmills@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 822-1828

Paul Mills, PhD, is a professor of family medicine and public health at UC San Diego. He joined CTRI in 2010 as co-director of the Translational Research Technology (TRT) Division, and along with co-director David Boyle has helped guide the Division and develop it into a one-stop shop of flexible laboratory-based services for clinical and translational studies. In 2011, Dr. Mills established the CTRI Seminar Series, an avenue for fostering clinical and translational research by providing clinicians and scientists at UC San Diego and our partner institutions with education on cutting-edge clinical and translational research methodologies and applications. Dr. Mills also chairs the CTRI Membership Committee. Prior to working with CTRI, Dr. Mills was the director of the UC San Diego General Clinical Research Center Core Laboratories program for 14 years. He has expertise in cardiovascular and sleep physiology, integrative medicine, and psychoneuroimmune processes in wellness and in disease. He has published more than 300 manuscripts and book chapters on these topics.


Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD

Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD
Director of CTRI Biomedical Informatics
CTRI Executive Committee Member

machado@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 822-4931

Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, is the founding chief of the Division of Biomedical Informatics and Associate Dean for Informatics and Technology at UCSD. She received her medical degree from the University of Sao Paulo and her doctoral degree in medical information sciences and computer science from Stanford. Prior to her current position, she was on the faculty at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School and at the MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. She is former director of the Harvard-MIT-Tufts-Boston University training program in biomedical informatics. Dr. Ohno-Machado is an elected fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American College of Medical Informatics, and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. She serves as editor-in-chief for the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.


Deborah H. Spector, PhD

Deborah H. Spector, PhD
Co-Director of CTRI Translational Research Alliance
CTRI Executive Committee Member

dspector@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 822-4003

Deborah Spector, PhD, joined CTRI in 2010 to direct the Translational Research Alliance (TRA). She is responsible for all aspects of the TRA, including fostering collaboration with regional basic science researchers, strengthening and developing new educational programs that target basic researchers, coordinating joint faculty appointments, and communicating pilot project and core service information to partner scientists. She has been instrumental in forging collaborations with industry, both regionally and abroad, as well as in overseeing CTRI's Pilot Project program, and in establishing and administering the Galvanizing Engineering in Medicine (GEM) awards. The GEM awards were initiated in 2013 with the Institute of Engineering in Medicine to support projects that identify clinical challenges for which engineering solutions can be developed and implemented to improve health care. Dr. Spector chairs the GEM Committee and the Industry Advisory Council.

Dr. Spector is a Professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Dr. Spector received a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at University of California, San Francisco.


Murray Stein, MD, MPH

Murray Stein, MD, MPH
Co-Director of CTRI Translational Research Alliance
CTRI Executive Committee Member

mstein@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 534-6451

Murray Stein, MD, MPH, joined the CTRI Executive Committee in 2016. Dr. Stein is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego. He has successfully led the CTRI Pilot Project Program since 2012 and has demonstrated remarkable strength in helping CTRI create infrastructures that facilitate collaboration and actively bring various groups together. He continues to have oversight of the pilot program. In addition, he serves as the faculty lead for the UC Cures for Alzheimer’s Initiative RFA launched in early 2016 by the University of California.

Dr. Stein is also a staff psychiatrist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. He graduated from the University of Manitoba and completed his residency and post-residency fellowship at the University of Manitoba, the University of Toronto and at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He subsequently completed a master of public health degree at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Dr. Stein’s research interests include the epidemiology, neurobiology, and treatment of anxiety and trauma-related disorders, especially social phobia, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He has written or co-written over 550 peer-reviewed scientific articles on these topics, including in journals such as Journal of the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, American Journal of Psychiatry, and JAMA Psychiatry. His federally funded research has included studies of interventions for anxiety disorders in primary care, pharmacological approaches to treatment-resistant anxiety and stress-related disorders, and functional neuroimaging research in anxiety and trauma-related disorders. Dr. Stein is Co-Editor-in-Chief for UpToDate in Psychiatry, and Deputy Editor for the journal Biological Psychiatry. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF), and a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP).


Howard Taras, MD

Howard Taras, MD
Director of CTRI Community Engagement
CTRI Executive Committee Member

htaras@ucsd.edu
Phone: (619) 681-0665

Howard Taras, MD, joined the leadership team to direct the Community Engagement Division when CTRI was first established. Dr. Taras is a pediatrician affiliated with Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and UC San Diego Health System. He has extensive experience engaging with community agencies and professionals and managing large multidisciplinary projects. Under his direction, CTRI has enhanced its engagement with many different populations in San Diego and Imperial counties, and expanded its volunteer base for CTRI-supported clinical trials. Taras and his team have increased enrollment of ResearchMatch by 800 percent between 2012 and 2014, with enrollment rates still accelerating. ResearchMatch is an NIH-sponsored, online registry designed to match researchers and study volunteers. Dr. Taras is advancing the science of community engagement in research, through journal publications and scientific meeting presentations.

Dr. Taras established the Academic-Community Partnership Pilot Project program, which expands research endeavors of all CTRI partner institutions to effectively engage local communities in the conception and conduction of clinical research. Through his leadership and with advisement of the CTRI Community Advisory Board, the Community Engagement staff and faculty are supporting successful dissemination and implementation of evidence-based health practices. Taras has employed social media, produced YouTube videos such as the Safe Pregnancy series, engaged with members of the general public at community fairs and at employee worksites about research, and collaborated with the San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB), adding iPads at the SDBB main location so blood donors could register with ResearchMatch.

Dr. Taras is a health consultant/medical director for several large school districts; director of a UCSD-contracted dental health initiative of San Diego County health department, and a consultant to community agencies and a board member to several county-wide public health initiatives. He is active with local physician associations and is nationally recognized for his expertise in and contributions to the areas of school health and children with special healthcare needs. He is a recipient of the "Health Hero" award from Combined Health Agencies of San Diego. Dr. Taras received a medical degree from McMaster University School of Medicine in Ontario, Canada.


Mark Wallace, MD

Mark Wallace, MD
Director of CTRI Division of Clinical Research
CTRI Executive Committee Member

mswallace@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 657-7030

Mark Wallace, MD, joined the leadership team at CTRI in 2010 and has overseen the establishment of the CTRI Center for Clinical Research (CCR), including the opening of a Phase I clinical trials unit with an investigational pharmacy. Dr. Wallace has been responsible for extensive growth in the CCR, which provides assistance with study design and biostatistics analysis, nursing and clinical coordinator services, and regulatory and pharmacy services. He has overseen the growth of the clinical coordinator core from two coordinators to 11, and the biostatistics team from 1.5 to four. With the help of Christina Chambers, he also has been instrumental in establishing a larger CTRI presence at Rady Children's Hospital and is currently on a steering committee to streamline the clinical trials application process.

Dr. Wallace is the Chair, Division of Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology of University of California at San Diego, which is actively involved in clinical care, teaching, and research. A nationally recognized lecturer on pain medicine, he has extensive experience in all aspects of pain management and is involved in numerous ongoing clinical trials for the management of pain, including acute, chronic, and cancer related pain. Under his direction the UCSD Center for Pain Medicine has received the American Pain Society Center of Excellence Award in 2010 and 2014. His research interests include human experimental pain, spinal drug delivery, and the use of the cannabinoids in pain management. Dr. Wallace earned his medical degree at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. He then completed an internship in general surgery at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, a residency in anesthesiology at the University of Maryland, and a Fellowship in Pain Medicine at UCSD Medical Center. He has authored and coauthored more than 180 articles, abstracts, books, and book chapters concerning pain research and management. Dr. Wallace is an associate editor of The Clinical Journal of Pain and sits on numerous other editorial boards.


David P.Wellis, PhD

David P. Wellis, PhD
Chief Executive Officer San Diego Blood Bank
CTRI Executive Committee Member

dwellis@sandiegobloodbank.org
Phone: (619) 400-8222

David Wellis, PhD, became part of the leadership team at CTRI in 2014. Dr. Wellis is a cell biologist with more than 25 years of experience in the life science industry and currently serves as the CEO of the San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB). Dr. Wellis has been instrumental in forging the collaboration between SDBB and CTRI, working with CTRI's Translational Research Technology and Community Engagement divisions to provide resources for CTRI scientists and further support healthcare. Under his direction, the SDBB has added iPads at the main location so that blood donors can register with ResearchMatch and is creating a joint biorepository with TRT to collect and store fresh and expired blood samples for use in research. SDBB provides the Southern California regional hospitals with a wide range of blood banking services, including its Cell Therapy Program, which processes and stores cord blood, facilitating lifesaving stem cell transplants to patients worldwide. Dr. Wellis joined SDBB following his tenure as President at BioAtla LLC, an antibody drug development company with operations in San Diego and Beijing. Previously, Dr. Wellis headed Product Marketing for Illumina, Inc., one of the world's largest developers and marketers of genomic research and clinical analysis instruments. He was also previously president and CEO of the San Diego-based GenVault Corporation. The company was one of the world's leaders in biosample transport and banking and was instrumental in helping medical research, agriculture, and other fields advance genomic analysis and sample preservation. Dr. Wellis began his commercial career at Axon Instruments, Inc., that developed novel instrumentation for biomedical research, diagnostic and applied markets.

Dr. Wellis received a B.S. from UC Irvine, an M.S. and PhD from Emory University, postdoctoral training at Tufts University and UC Berkeley, and business training at Leavey Business School of Santa Clara University and Haas Business School at UC Berkeley. He is an active member of the Young Presidents' Organization, is a member of the Strategic Initiative and Academic Affairs committee at Francis Parker School, and is a board member of Triton Health and Nutrition LLC and GenTegra LLC.


Michael Ziegler, MD

Michael Ziegler, MD
CTRI Research Navigator
CTRI Executive Committee Member

mziegler@ucsd.edu
Phone: (619) 543-2885

Michael Ziegler, MD, joined CTRI in 2010 as the Research Navigator for CTRI researchers. In this role, he guides investigators about CTRI services and resources. Dr. Ziegler is a professor of medicine at UC San Diego. His research on sympathetic nervous system control of the cardiovascular system bridges basic and clinical research, and has resulted in over 300 publications. Dr. Ziegler served as the Director of the UC San Diego General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) for 16 years until it closed in June, 2010, and guided that program through a period of rapid growth, including expansion to a satellite GCRC at the University of California at Irvine. He has chaired the NIH Clinical Research Committee study section, NIH Loan Repayment Program, NIH site visits and NIH Special Emphasis Panels.