The LAGHC 2018 planning team consists of 21 students and 4 faculty and staff from UCLA (David Geffen School of Medicine, Fielding School of Public Health, and Undergraduate Campus), USC (Keck School of Medicine, Global Health Institute, and Department of Clinical Psychology).


Learn more about previous planning teams here:


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Madeleine Heller
M.D. Candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Madeleine’s time spent living in Cape Town, South Africa solidified her understanding of global inequities in access to and quality of health care. As an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, Madeleine spent a semester studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and conducting research on how hygiene, living conditions, and resulting shifts in the vaginal microbiome of South African adolescent girls impacts HIV risk. She began studying the Xhosa language and worked alongside UCT medical students in primary care mobile clinics held in informal settlements. After graduating, Madeleine returned to South Africa to work on a project evaluating biological mechanisms for increased HIV risk among users of certain contraceptive methods. Madeleine has also researched immune activation as a potential mechanism for increased HIV risk among Kenyan female sex workers living in Mombasa, Kenya. In her career, Madeleine hopes to tackle societal systems of oppression that reinforce health inequities both abroad and here in LA.


Joe Friedman
M.D. Candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Joe Friedman is a first-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine interested in the measurement and alleviation of health disparities, with a particular focus on social determinants of health, reproductive justice, and HIV. Prior to starting at UCLA, he completed a combined MPH and research fellowship program at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. He worked on the Global Burden of Disease project, quantifying how improvements in social determinants lead to gains in health. He also worked on disease modeling projects exploring global HIV trends and how they can be improved with anti-retroviral therapy treatment programs. As part of his MPH, he worked in Mexico City, researching social and economic barriers to accessing legal abortion care. For his undergraduate studies, he attended the University of Vermont, studying medical anthropology and Spanish. He has worked on ethnographic and mixed methods projects in Mexico and Costa Rica, as well as medical development trips in Peru and Ecuador.

Logistics Co-Chairs

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Annemarie Kelleghan (Lead Chair)
Ph.D. Candidate at the USC Department of Clinical Psychology

Annemarie Kelleghan is a second year clinical science PhD student at USC whose current research focuses on child and adolescent mental health. Prior to attending USC, Annemarie worked at the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Program where she helped develop an intervention for parents of substance abusing adolescents and also assisted in conducting research and implementing the use of a smartphone app for methamphetamine users in the US and China. Annemarie completed her undergraduate education at UCLA where she double majored in Human Biology & Society and Psychology. As an undergraduate, her research involvement included work on gesturing and early development of children in rural and urban India, parenting of children with intellectual disabilities, cognitive behavioral therapy interventions for children with comorbid autism and anxiety, and issues of stigma for adults treated in public mental health settings for severe mental illnesses. Annemarie is passionate about addressing mental health as a global, public health concern using community-based approaches to alleviate health disparities and to improve overall mental health.

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Ashley Han
B.S. Candidate at the UCLA Department of Human Biology and Society

Ashley is a fourth year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Human Biology and Society under the department of Society and Genetics with a concentration in Medicine and Public Health. During her first year in college, she discovered her passion for Global health through the exposure and opportunities offered by the UCLA Center for World Health and through her experience as an intern for the UCLA T.E.A.C.H. (Together Educating and Advocating Community Health) program promoting public health education for at-risk intercity youth. She continues to support and advocate for public/global health efforts on campus as Co-President and founding member of P.I.L.O.T. (Public Health Initiative- Leaders of Tomorrow), the only pre-professional public health organization on campus and by serving as the Co-Logistics Chair on the Planning Committee of the LAGHC. Upon graduation, she looks forward to contributing her professional skill set and compassion to global health efforts both local and abroad.

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Alex Winnett
M.D./Ph.D. Candidate at UCLA Medical Scientist Training Program

Alex Winnett is a first year medical student pursuing an MD/PhD within the University of California Los Angeles Medical Scientist Training Program. Prior to his move to Los Angeles, he worked for Socios En Salud (Partners In Health) at their Clinical Tuberculosis Laboratory in Carabayllo, Lima, Peru. He has worked in academia and industry laboratories developing therapeutics for infectious disease targets including Dengue Virus and drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus. While studying biochemistry and mathematics at the University of Massachusetts Boston, he worked as a Unit Coordinator on an inpatient medicine unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and served on the hospital’s HAZMAT Response Team. He also trained with the Boston Medical Reserve Corps to prepare coordinated responses to disasters between institutions. Alex envisions a career connecting microscopic discoveries with macroscopic systems of care to reduce the global burden of infectious diseases while building capacity to protect vulnerable populations.

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Janelle Cyprich
M.D. Candidate at the Keck School of Medicine at USC

Janelle is a second year medical student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She previously earned her BS in Neuroscience and Biology from Tulane University. While at Tulane, she wrote an honors thesis that focused on modifiable risk factor control in ischemic stroke patients. Her research project sought to identify how deficiencies in stroke prevention may impact patient outcomes in New Orleans. Currently, she serves on the executive board of the Global Health Student Interest Group at Keck, where her role involves collaborating and facilitating connections with medical and professional students at Keck as well as other Southern California institutions who have similar interests in the global health field. Her interests lie specifically in the implementation and sustainability of public health efforts both locally and abroad.

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Thanh Tran
M.D. Candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Thanh is a first year medical student at UCLA. He graduated from UCSD majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology with a minor in Global Health. He also completed a Masters of Science at UCSD in biology doing research regarding epilepsy. Prior to starting at UCLA, Thanh volunteered at the Health Frontiers in Tijuana clinic, a joint collaboration between UCSD and UABC to help the underserved community there. At the clinic, he was exposed to how immigration and deportation policies can affect the physical and mental health of individuals. His interest in global health also led him to volunteer abroad in Nicaragua. In medical school, he is interested in addressing mental health as an important health concern, reforming health systems, and resource allocation.


Public Relations Co-Chairs

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Eesha Jagtap (Lead Chair)
M.P.H Candidate at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Eesha is a second year student at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health working towards her MPH in Health Policy and Management. She received her BA in Psychology from Whittier College, where she had the opportunity to study abroad in Vienna, Austria. There, she observed groups of migrants and refugees making their way to Europe as a result of the Syrian Civil war. This experience sparked her interest in global and public health, specifically focusing on refugee and underserved populations. After graduation she volunteered as a case manager at AIDS Project LA serving the HIV positive community in West Hollywood and the general LA area. Following that experience she spent a few months in Bangkok, Thailand working as an interpreter for asylum seekers and refugees who fled religious and political persecution from their home countries. Prior to coming to UCLA she worked for a year in administration for a mental health non-profit serving system youth. Currently she works at the Providence Institute for Human Caring as an implementation project management intern working on advance care planning initiatives to further "whole person care." After finishing her MPH she hopes to work in global health management and program development for underserved populations focusing on mental health and improved wellbeing.  

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Grace Chen
B.S. Candidate at the Department of Psychology at UCLA

Grace is a fourth year Psychobiology major and Spanish minor at UCLA. Her first exposure to global health was on a mobile clinic trip to Lima, Peru with MEDLIFE, where she learned the dangers of "volontourism" and developed an interest in global health. She brought this interest home, and found similar levels of poverty in the homeless individuals of Los Angeles. In her time at UCLA, she has worked as a Clinic Assistant at Venice Family Clinic, providing free healthcare services for low-income, uninsured and homeless families and individuals in West LA. She is an AHA-certified BLS instructor and enjoys teaching others the lifesaving skill of CPR. Most recently, she has interned at Joshua Medical Group where she scribes for providers and organizes outreach events at senior centers and homes. Grace plans to pursue medicine upon graduating and continue serving the underserved.  

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Karolina Niedzwiadek
B.S. Candidate at the Department of Global Health at USC

Karolina is a fourth year undergraduate student at USC, where she is studying Global Health and Health Administration. Karolina is passionate about improving access to healthcare and quality of care for underserved populations, particularly low-income and immigrant families. As an immigrant from Poland, Karolina became interested in healthcare disparities after witnessing them in her own community, and hopes to give back to those facing similar challenges. In the past, she has worked with homeless injection drug users on Skid Row and HIV patients in West Philadelphia, and hopes to continue working in underserved communities before applying to medical school. This past summer, she had the opportunity to explore the daunting world of health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, where she became particularly interested in the translation and dissemination of research into policy and practice—and more specifically, how health equity can be achieved through a combination of community-based initiatives along with state and federal policy reform. She is excited to help create a space in which people can learn about global health through a policy lens and gain the tools they need to translate their passions into action.

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Lea Hunsinger
M.P.H. Candidate at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Léa Pauline Hunsinger is currently pursing her MPH in Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She has her BS from Houston Baptist University, having majored in Biochemistry. She has developed her interest in public health in many different ways. While living in Houston, Texas, she volunteered with various NGOs and the American Red Cross to help the Houstonian community. She grew up in Luanda, Angola, where she saw first hand tremendous disparities and inequalities in terms of access to health. Léa has a dual citizenship from France and Angola; seeing how health issues are handled in those three different continents she constantly moves around her passion for Global Health is only growing. Most recently she spent her summer interning in the Global Malaria Programme at the Headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva. As part of the Drug Efficacy and Response unit, her work focused on gathering reported data from malaria endemic countries on two specific antimalarial molecular markers that have been associated with parasite’s resistance. The ultimate goal of this data collection was to give the GMP the ability to recommend endemic countries on malaria treatment policy. Léa is driven by a will to strengthen the health system of her home country to improve the Angolan’s health, more specifically maternal and child’s health.

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Milli Patel
B.S. Candidate at the Department of Human Biology & Society at UCLA

Mili is currently a second year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Human Biology and Society. Since entering UCLA, she has been an active member of the ARC Medical Program through which she researches the quality of patient care delivered by Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center’s Pediatric resident physicians. She is a research associate for the UCLA based student-run global health non-profit, F.I.S.H. (Fellowship for International Service and Health). F.I.S.H. was designed as a means of improving the lives of underserved populations in a sustainable manner and has been serving the community of Maclovio Rojas, Mexico for the past 12 years. Since April, she has been a federal global health policy advocate and chair of community outreach for the UC Global Health Institute Advocacy Initiative. As an advocate, Mili has actively worked to increase cross campus global health collaboration, has engaged over 4,000 students, researchers, and other faculty in a letter writing campaign addressed to all 53 California congressional members and both California Senators, and has attended in person meetings with federal legislators and their staff in order to advocate for effective global health legislation. Mili plans to pursue an MD/MPH dual degree upon graduation from UCLA, first using her knowledge in a clinical setting and then transitioning to the policy sector of healthcare in order to bridge the current gap between medical professionals and federal health policy makers.

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Varina Clark
M.D. Candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Varina Clark is a second-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. During her undergraduate career at Brown University, Varina participated in the Minority Global Health Disparities Research Training Program at John’s Hopkins University, where she traveled to Newcastle, Australia to investigate the immunological effects of neonatal exposure to stress as it relates to health disparities such as genetic predisposition and environmental susceptibility. While exploring science and medicine abroad, her interest in global health blossomed. After graduating with a Sc.B. in Human Biology, Varina collaborated with the Panamanian Ministry of Health through United Against Infectious Diseases (UAID) and Hands for America to develop sustainable HIV testing and health education programming within clinics in rural Panama. Prior to starting medical school, Varina also worked as a Clinical Research Supervisor at Memorial Sloan Kettering and volunteered as a Bronx Community Health Leader at the Montefiore Family Health Center in NYC. This past summer, Varina travelled to Cuernavaca, Mexico to assess current preventive practices related to colorectal cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma. Her ongoing research will help to lay the foundation for the implementation of a future colorectal cancer screening program in Mexico. Through these experiences, Varina learned a lot about health disparities and the essential components of providing culturally-competent, comprehensive healthcare to patients. She is passionate about the delivery of primary care services to underserved communities locally and abroad and is excited to become a part of the LAGHC community.

Speakers Co-Chairs

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Simone Renault (Lead Chair)
M.D. Candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

As the lone child living in the international student dormitory at Eden Theological Seminary, Simone was raised by her “aunties and uncles” from all over the world. The relationship between individual identity and global community fostered in that early environment is at the heart of her desire to become a physician. She’s happiest when she is innovating within the gaps of health care, founding Girl the World Over, an empowerment platform for girls’ education, and The ImmUNITY Campaign, the first student organization committed to advancing equitable access to vaccines. She received the 2014 Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award for her work. Through a fellowship with the NIH Fogarty International Center, Simone continued her work on immunization capacity-building at the Gambian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. She has also interned with Partners In Health and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law examining the feasibility of a Framework Convention on Global Health. She has served as teaching assistant for the University of Global Health Equity in Kigali, researched the impact of social support networks on stroke outcomes in Boston, cared for orphans in a Romanian neurocritical care unit, and studied the confluence of health and social work in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Simone holds degrees in Biology and International Studies from the University of Iowa, her honors thesis focusing on the biosociality of global eradication initiatives.

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Briah Fischer
M.D. Candidate at the Keck School of Medicine at USC

Briah Fischer is a second year medical student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Her interest in global health began as an undergraduate at Tulane University, where she majored in public health. After graduation, she spent six months backpacking through Southeast Asia and Nepal, during which time she came to better understand how cultural context and resource availability shape conversations around health. Briah hopes to focus on the intersection of health and human rights as she moves forward in her medical career.


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Charley Jang
M.D. Candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Charley Jang is a first year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine interested in global and local underserved communities. During his undergraduate years, he worked at the San Francisco General Hospital working on a research project involving rheumatoid arthritis and helping as an in-clinic translator for Spanish-speaking and Cantonese-speaking patients. He has worked with vulnerable populations volunteering for the Center for the Homeless and several clinics in South Bend, Indiana. Charley was also a member of the University of Notre Dame’s chapter of GlobeMed. He also conducted research in a breast cancer lab on a research project involving aggressive breast cancer in Western Kenya.

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Gail D'Souza
M.P.H. Candidate at Claremont Graduate University

Gail D’Souza is a second year Masters of Public Health student at Claremont Graduate University with a focus in Health Promotion, Education and Evaluation. She received an Honors Bachelor of Science in Health and Disease and Biology from the University of Toronto, where she became interested in chronic disease prevention research. Her interests led her to travel to Belize on a public health volunteering trip where she hosted a radio show educating the public about chronic disease prevention. Recently, she worked for the Alameda County Public Health Department in Northern California, to understand the needs of the underserved populations and to promote healthy eating among individuals. Gail currently works as a Randall Lewis Health Policy Fellow for Partners for Better Health, a non-profit organization that is leading the regional initiative, Bridging for Health in the Inland Empire. She is also the President of the School of Community and Global Health Student Association Board at Claremont Graduate University. In the future, Gail hopes to work as a Public Health Advisor to promote idyllic chronic disease prevention programs in the world, locally and globally.

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Tina Samsamshariat
M.P.H. Candidate at the Keck School of Medicine at USC

Born in Iran, Tina developed an interest in global health early in her academic career because it allowed her to combine biculturalism with her passions for social justice and medicine. She received her B.S. from UCLA in 2015, and is currently a MPH candidate at USC in global health leadership. During her undergraduate career, she volunteered on medical missions to rural areas of Ghana and Honduras. There, she built strong connections with local communities, and was further exposed to health challenges like access and inequity across borders. In her gap year, she spent time backpacking through the Sierra Nevadas, South America, and Europe. Her travel experiences as a volunteer, and as a tourist, have continued to shape her passion for global health and culture. She will begin medical school next fall as she continues to establish her niche at the intersection of medicine and humanitarianism.

Conference Advisers

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John Nesemann
M.D. Candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

John is a second year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine. After completing his undergraduate at the University of Virginia in Anthropology John moved to Los Angeles to attend the David Geffen School of Medicine where he acted as Co-Director for the 2017 Los Angeles Global Health Conference. John spent this past summer in Leon, Nicaragua working with the Blum Center and the Center for Health Demographics Investigation on mental health care access and suicide trends.


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Matt Hing
M.D. Candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Matt Hing is a second year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine interested in global primary care, community health workers, and the intersection of health, violence, and peacebuilding. Prior to starting at UCLA, Matt was working with Partners in Health as a Community Health Programs Assistant in Chiapas, Mexico, where he helped manage and expand their acompañante community health worker program. During his undergraduate years, he worked with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health through the Foundation for Sustainable Development to assist a governmental health post in implementing a community-based reproductive and maternal health initiative, and interned with a public HIV/AIDS clinic in Puebla, Mexico to support their health and human rights education programs. Matt also conducted ethnographic research on the medical and community management of gender-based violence in Nicaragua, and most recently, spent the past summer conducting research for an ongoing project on the costs, barriers, and perceptions of NCD care among patients with HIV in Malawi through UCLA's Global Short-Term Training Program.

Matt holds a B.A. in Spanish and Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Institutional Staff & Faculty

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Thomas J. Coates, Ph.D.
Director, UCLA Center for World Health

Thomas J. Coates, PhD, is Director of the UCLA Center for World Health, which advances the international and global health mission of the David Geffen School of Medicine and UCLA Health. He is Director of the University of California Global Health Institute, which advances the mission of the 10-campus UC system to improve the lives of people in California and around the world. He is the Michael and Sue Steinberg Endowed Professor of Global AIDS Research within the Division of Infectious Diseases at UCLA. He co-founded the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at UCSF in 1986 and directed it from 1991 to 2003, and was the founding Executive Director of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute, leading it from 1996 to 2003. His areas of emphasis and expertise are global health, HIV prevention and its relationship to treatment, and international health policy. With funding from USAID and WHO, he led a randomized controlled trial to determine the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of HIV voluntary counseling and testing for individuals and couples in Kenya, Tanzania, and Trinidad. He has just completed directing a 48-community randomized clinical trial (NIMH Project Accept/HPTN 043) in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Thailand to determine the impact of strategies for mobile HIV voluntary counseling and testing and for changing community norms on HIV incidence at the community level.
Dr. Coates was cited in Science in 2002 as the 4th-highest-funded scientist in the clinical, social, and behavioral sciences. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2000, and has served on the IOM’s Board on Global Health.
Link to publications on PubMed:


Laura Van Voorhis
Administrative Assistant, UCLA Center for World Health

Laura Van Voorhis is the Program Manager for the UCLA Center for World Health. Laura earned her bachelor’s degree in International Development from UCLA, with a minor in Environmental Studies. During her time at UCLA, Laura was actively involved in UCLA’s Pediatric AIDS Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Under her leadership, the organization raised nearly $1 million for various HIV/AIDS organizations, primarily the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the UCLA AIDS Institute. Prior to joining the Center, Laura worked at mothers2mothers and the Pacific Council on International Policy. Her global health interests include maternal and child health, specifically the social determinants affecting women and children’s health outcomes, as well as mental health in developing countries.

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Traci Wells, Ph.D.
Director of Education, UCLA Center for World Health

Dr. Traci Wells is the Director of Education for the UCLA Center for World Health’s Global Health Education Programs and is Adjunct Assistant Professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. She mentors medical students who have an interest in global health, from research and clinical opportunities to obtaining grants and earning degrees with a focus on global health. Some of her interests in global health range from establishing adequate pre-departure training, teaching about ethics and cultural humility, and finding creative ways to assess students and evaluate these programs. Her doctoral degree is in International Education, and she is passionate about providing medical trainees from both the United States and other countries with opportunities to participate in transformational, cross-cultural learning experiences.

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Amber Dargenio, Ph.D., MHS
Administrative Assistant, UCLA Center for World Health





Read about the 2017 conference planning team here.