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CTSI Research Associates Program

The UCLA CTSI Research Associates Program (CTSI-RAP) provides undergraduate UCLA students with the opportunity to gain exposure to hospital-based medicine as well as clinical research in an academic medical center. The program also builds a stronger support infrastructure for the research initiatives of UCLA faculty physicians and investigators. Research associates play a key role in the implementation and integrity of research protocols in which they are involved. They are also given the opportunity to make rounds with medical teams, observe common procedures, and experience didactic teaching sessions during the course of their research days.

The unique blend of first-hand clinical experience and scientific research gives alumni a unique advantage in public healthcare.

Research associates are trained to conduct clinical research studies, collect and maintain securitized data, assist in the authorship of research protocols, aid in statistical analyses, and co-author abstracts, posters, and papers. In addition to research, students are exposed to experiences meant to educate and prepare them for a career in healthcare. As a result, research associates become comfortable with the workings of a hospital and gain skills in professionalism, patient communication, and research methodology. 

Program Benefits:

  • Clinical Research Experience
  • Hospital Volunteer Hours
  • Rounding with Attendings
  • Observing Procedures

Press Releases and Social Media:


and Camaraderie

Clinical Research



Shagufah Ajmal

Class: 2020
Major: Biophysics
Minor: South Asian Studies


Eman Burney

Class: 2020
Major: Human Biology and Society


Jolene Chan

Class: 2020
Major: Physiological Sciences


Janice Chang

Class: 2020
Major: Pyschobiology
Minor: Gender Studies


Jagjot Dosanjh

Class: 2019
Major: Psychobiology


Victoria Ford

Class: 2019
Major: Neuroscience


Omar Habib

Class: 2019
Major: Psychobiology


Sohini Halder

Class: 2021
Major: Human Biology and Society
Minor: Music Industry

Hyejin Hong

Class: 2020
Major:Computational and Systems Biology
Minor: Bioinformatics, Korean


Rachel Kipp

Class: 2019
Major: Biology

Le_Gabrielle Le.JPG

Gabrielle Le

Class: 2021
Major: Human Biology and Society


Sonia Lele

Class: 2020
Major: Neuroscience


Jar-Yee Liu

Class: 2019
Major: Physiological Sciences


Joyce Ma

Class: 2020
Major: MCDB

Minor:Applied Developmental Psychology


Mario Martinez

Class: 2021
Major: Human Biology and Society, Physiological Science


Xena Martinez

Class: 2020
Minor:Global Health


Vineet Mathew

Class: 2019
Major: Computation & Systems Biology


Ryan McLaughlin

Class: 2019
Major: Chemistry


Elizabeth Murgia

Class: 2020
Major: Biology
Minor:Chicano/a Studies, Global Health


Ankita Nair

Class: 2020
Major: Human Biology and Society

Disha Nangia

Class: 2020
Major: Biology


Terry Nguyen

Class: 2020
Major:Physiological Sciences
Minor:Society and Genetics


Matthew Obusan

Class: 2019
Major: Human Biology and Society


Jessica Osanyinpeju

Class: 2020
Major: Biology


Mili Patel

Class: 2020
Major: Human Biology and Society

Vaidehi Ramanaryanan

Class: 2021


Dean Renna Jr.

Class: 2019
Major: Physiological Science


Mayilone Sathialingam

Class: 2021
Major: Bioengineering


Afrida Anwar Sara

Class: 2019
Major: Physiological Sciences


Manpreet Singh

Class: 2020
Major: Psychobiology


Michelle Tenggara

Class: 2020
Major: MIMG
Minor: Art History


Elizabeth Tran

Class: 2019
Major: MIMG


Shirley Wong

Class: 2019
Major: Psychobiology

Jessica Yang

Jessica Yang

Class: 2021
Major: Environmental Science
Minor: Environmental Health

Not pictured: Ratushtar Kapadia, Mimi Lu, Serena Burgos, Aditya Mamtora, Diana Trujillo

Alumni: Paul Abraham, Gregory Bogie, Tanya Budarina, Quang Cao, Nathan Cheung, Ipsita Dey, Crystal Dickson, Aria Fariborzi, Kereat (Kiki) Grewal, David Ho, Kashif Iqbal, Kelsey Jiang, Daniel Kadden, Sne Kanji,  Rabia Khan, Gyunho (Justin) Kim, Marilyn Kimbrough, Victoria Lee, Michelle Liang, Karrie Ly, Nikita Mathew, Rohit Mohindra, Cassia Ng, Maria Nguyen, Stephanie Ong, June Pan, Joyce Ye Hee Park, Pegah Savehshemshaki, Katherine Sheu, Joshua So, Ekaterina Tiourin, Joyce Tran, Zoey Wang, Qi (Vera) Yang, Daniel Zaki, Lily Zhang 

Our Projects:

Prospective Assessment of Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVS) Supression in Cardiomyopathy (PAPS): A Pilot Study

  • PI: Dr.Marmar Vaseghi
  • Study Liaison: Gabrielle Le and Mayilone Sathialingam
  • IRB:18-001006

  • Description: 
  • The purpose of this pilot study is to gain a better understanding of how premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) affect heart function and which treatment strategy, radio frequency ablation or antiarrhythmic drugs, is more effective at eliminating PVCs and possibly improving heart function. Part I of this study compares the two standard of care therapies, and part II will help to estimate the prevalence of cardiomyopathy and frequent PVCs in the overall population by evaluating ECG holter monitors.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  •  Associates perform patient record reviews in order to abstract relevant cardiac information, assist with tracking and transmitting cardiac data, and aid research staff in the patient consent process.

Serum Collection in Healthy AB Donors

  • PI: Dr.Antoni Ribas
  • Study Liaison: Serena Burgos, Michelle Tenggara
  • IRB:18-000099

  • Description:
  • The purpose of this protocol is to collect serum from healthy donors with AB blood type to aid in the expansion of Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TILs) in vitro in the Ribas laboratory at UCLA. The ability to expand TILs in vitro from resected material has been demonstrated to require a high-quality source of human AB serum, of which commercially available products have been demonstrated to be ineffective.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates participate in the consent process including observation of blood draw, assist with scheduling for study procedures and organization of various regulatory documents, and transport blood samples

An Exploratory Study of Nivolumab with or without Ipilimumab in Advanced Metastatic Cancer (PICI0025)

  • PI: Dr.Alexandra Drakaki
  • Study Liaison: Serena Burgos, Michelle Tenggara
  • IRB:18-001539

  • Description:
  • This is an open-label, exploratory study to evaluate nivolumab with or without ipilimumab based on the percentage of CD8 cells in a patient's tumor. This study is open to any type of solid tumor. The primary objective is to assess the proportion of participants whose tumor change from CD8 low to CD8 high, based on the percentage of CD8 cells in the tumor.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates participate in the consent process, collect research information, assist with compilation of study charts, assist with data entry, transport and shipping of biospecimens and investigational drugs.

The Caregiver Sleep (CARES) Study

  • PI: Dr.Michael Irwin
  • Study Liaison: Michelle Tenggara, Dean Renna
  • IRB:16-001256

  • Description:
  • The UCLA Caregiver Sleep Study (CARES Study) is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. The goal of the study is to examine the ability of Mindfulness Meditation versus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia to reduce caregiver distress, improve sleep, and promote changes in overall health in caregivers age 50 and above.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates will perform baseline patient assessments and eligibility interviews.

Monocyte E-cigarette Study

  • PI: Dr. Holly Middlekauff
  • Study Liaison: Elizabeth Tran
  • IRB:18-001147

  • Description:
  • The study is a randomized, controlled study. The goal of the study is to understand the health effects of electronic e- cigarettes compared to tobacco cigarettes or not smoking at all. Specifically, the  study attempts to determine whether using an e-cigarette (for chronic e-cigarette users and non-users) for approximately 30 minutes or smoking a tobacco cigarette for chronic tobacco cigarette smokers will change the blood level of inflammatory markers in the subject's blood.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates will assist in data acquisition, oversee procedure protocol, and perform baseline assessments.

Sleep Health Aging Research for Depression

  • PI: Dr. Michael Irwin
  • Study Liaison: Michelle Tenggara,Dean Renna, and Angela Wang
  • IRB:16-000583

  • Description:
  • Late-life depression is a significant public health concern, and effective interventions for prevention and treatment are needed. Insomnia and inflammation are modifiable targets for depression prevention, and this study is significant in using an experimental approach (i.e., inflammatory challenge) to probe acute inflammatory and depression responses as a function of insomnia, which will inform identification of molecular targets for pharmacologic interventions, and improvement of insomnia treatments to prevent depression in older adults.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates will assist during patients screening and assessment interviews as well as perform tests during experimental appointment. 

PREDICTS-  QRISK3 and Lupus and Depression

  • PI: Dr. Maureen Mcmahon
  • Study Liaison: Manpreet Singh and Sonia Lele
  • IRB:13-001285

  • Description:
  • We are using the QRISK3 calculator to calculate a patients risk of developing a cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years. We are also using the same PREDICTS data to see if disease activity is correlated to mental health.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates will be responsible for clinical data entry, data analysis,  obtaining consent from patient, collection of clinical research information, literature searches and observations of ultrasounds. 

ICVD Diagnosis by PhekB

  • PI: Dr. Jessica Wang
  • Study Liaison: Vineet Mathew
  • IRB: 18-001167

  • Description:
  • Familial Hypercholerolemia (FH) is a commonly inherited cardiovascular disease that is clinically underdiagnosed. This study aims to develop an algorithm to identify individuals who are at high risk for FH. This is done by filtering through various key factors such as LDL levels, family history, and statin use. We hope to refine the algorithm in order to increase its scope of diagnosis.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates will be responsible for querying EMRs to further validate the FH algorithm and identify individuals who may benefit from early intervention.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

  • PI: Dr. Daniel Dumesic M.D.
  • Study Liaison: Elizabeth Tran, Ryan McLaughlin
  • IRB: 12-001780

  • Description:
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine system disorder caused by hormone imbalance. Women with PCOS have enlarged ovaries filled with small collections of fluid. Symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, pelvic pain, and infertility, and associated long-term complications are Type II diabetes, heart disease, and endometrial cancer. The purpose of this research study is to identify changes that take place in the body that result in PCOS by collecting specimen samples and medical information from women with or without PCOS. As part of this study, all patients will undergo a physical exam, blood tests, diagnostic procedures and surveys. Women with PCOS will be placed in randomized groups to receive the drug flutamide or a placebo in 6 - 28 day cycles until all post treatment assessments are completed.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates aid in patient transport, data collection and logistical preparation as needed.

The Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) Consortium

  • PI: Martin Caderias MD; Jessica Wang, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Study Liaison: Jar-Yee Liu, Afrida Sara, Mario Martinez, Terry Nguyen, Eman Burney

  • Description:
  • The DCM Consortium is a national registry aiming to identify a genetic cause of dilated cardiomyopathy ( DCM) by gathering DNA samples and survey information from 2000 families affected by idiopathic DCM in the US.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Students screen records for potential subjects, conduct the informed consent process for each patient, and help administer surveys to each participant. Furthermore, associates may also administer a randomized intervention to each participant, designed to aid and direct family communication on participation of at-risk family members in clinical screening and appropriate followup surveillance for DCM. 
The Myocardial Infarction Biomarkers Project
  • PI: Linda Cai
  • Study Liaison: Mili Patel, Ankita Nair, Diana Trujillo 
  • IRB: 16-002018

  • Description:
  • The MI Biomarker Project is being performed in order to better understand myocardial infarction (MI also known as a heart attack) by better characterizing a biological marker of interest, netrin-1-DCC, or netrin-1. Netrin-1 has been identified as a biomarker that improves cardiac function in mice. By collecting blood samples from patients that have recently had a heart attack, we are trying to better characterize the relationship between pathways of netrin-1 signaling and various characteristics of heart attacks in patients, including clinical information about cardiovascular risk factors and outcomes. There is also a genetic component to the study, with the genetic information being collected through blood samples and studied in order to see any connections to heart attacks.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Research associates also interview patients for medical history of the myocardial infarction, as well as information regarding past incidences within their family as well. Associates also consent patients after they have a heart attack to join study and donate samples of blood.
The Role of Vitamin C in Pediatric Critical Care
  • PI:Michelle Korn M.D.
  • Study Liaison: Victoria Ford, Ryan McLaughlin, Ankita Nair
  • IRB:17-00128

  • Description:
  • Vitamin C, an essential nutrient to the immune system and many enzymatic processes, is critical during times of oxidative stress due to its antioxidant abilities. Oxidative stress is particularly high in critically ill patients due to conditions such as sepsis, multi-organ failure, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The recommended daily dose of Vitamin C administered during one’s hospital stay cannot account for the rate at which antioxidants are used in times of oxidative stress. Administering high Vitamin C dosages is currently being explored to help treat patients with high oxidative stress in attempt to replenish these antioxidant levels in the body. As pediatric patients present a unique case due to their undergoing physical and neurological growth and development, this study aims to better understand the role of Vitamin C in critically ill pediatric patients through measurement of Vitamin C levels throughout the child’s hospital stay.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Research associates conduct informed consent process for patients, transport blood samples to lab for Vitamin C level analysis, perform data collection from patient medical files, and analyze Vitamins C against other factors during hospital stay. Associates also serve to aid in the data collection process through Redcap.

E-Cigarettes Study

  • PI:Holly Middlekauff, M.D.
  • Study Liaison: Kevin Nguyen, Elizabeth Tran

  • Description:
  • This study aims to study the effects of e-cigarette delivery of nicotine on the cardiovascular system, namely to determine heart risk factors. We measure two key risk factors for heart disease: oxidative stress and adrenaline levels. Oxidative stress, an indicator of the body's ability to defend against free radical particles, is detected from measuring biomarkers in blood samples from the patients. The effects of adrenaline levels are measured using a technique called heart rate variability. Future expansion of the study might aim to include other biomarkers and to increase the population being studied. While there is consensus that e-cigarettes contain lower levels of carcinogens compared to tobacco cigarettes, the effects of nicotine on heart disease risk factors are less established and this study aims to elucidate upon this question.

BrainMapD-Threat and Reward Neurocircuitry 

  • PI:Michelle Craske
  • Study Liaison: Sienna Ringgenberg

  • Description:
  • The goal is to examine the relationship between threat- and reward-related neural circuitries and symptom dimensions of anxiety and depression during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. The objective is to identify new strategies for psychiatric classification based on observable dimensions and their corresponding neural circuitries.

Pediatric Immunodeficiency Study 

  • PI: Dr.Donald Kohn
  • Study Liaison: Omar Habib, Xena Martinez,Bryanna Reinhardt
  • IRB:11-002303

  • Description:
  • The major focus of the research is the development and implementation of gene therapy using hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). New approaches to gene therapy for ADA-deficient SCID are emphasized, such as the use of lentiviral and foamy viral vectors for ex vivo gene transfer to HSC, direct in vivo ADA gene delivery and ADA gene correction using site-specific endonucleases to augment homologous recombination. Investigators are determining whether using a lentiviral vector (based on HIV-1) will be more effective and safer at gene transfer to HSC compared to previous gene transfer vectors based on murine (mouse) retroviruses for ADA-deficient SCID. The study entails the treatment of infants and children diagnosed with ADA-deficient SCID, in which the EFS-ADA lentiviral vector with the human ADA cDNA is used to transduce autologous CD34+ cells from the bone marrow of the subjects. Following the re-infusion of the gene-modified cells, investigators look to determine whether the cells can engraft and produce mature cells that contain and express the corrected ADA gene in the absence of PEG-ADA enzyme replacement therapy (ERT). Efficacy studies are then conducted to evaluate the level of immune reconstitution in the first year and beyond.
SLE Atherosclerosis
  • PI: Maureen McMahon, MD
  • Study Liaison: Harrison Lam
  • IRB: 13-001285, 15-000786

  • Description:
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and many other organ systems. It primarily affects women between the ages of 15 and 44. There is no cure and the causes are unknown. However, patients with SLE have been found to be at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis (ATH). ATH is characterized by plaque buildup in the arteries, causing thickening of arterial walls and blockage of arterial blood flow. Unfortunately, the underlying mechanism for the accelerated atherosclerotic risk for SLE patients is not well understood. The current study aims to identify lipid and protein biomarkers to predict the risk of ATH in SLE patients by tracking the changes in arterial wall thickness and plaque buildup. 
  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • CTSI-RAP students have the opportunity to conduct literature searches, administer patient questionnaires, and escort patients to arm and neck ultrasound appointments across the UCLA Medical Plaza. They also play a key role in conducting phone calls to study participants to ensure their return for follow-up testing. CTSI-RAP students also become familiar with UCLA's electronic medical record system by accessing patient charts for data collection and analysis.
The Inherited Cardiovascular Disease Registry (ICDR)
  • PI: Jessica Wang, MD, PhD
    Study Liaisons: Jar-Yee Liu, Afrida Sara, Mario Martinez, Terry Nguyen

  • Description:
  • The ICDR aims to understand genetic factors influencing heart- related disease progression within affected families. After whole exome sequencing or genetic tests, resulting data is statistically analyzed to characterize how genomic factors influence disease manifestation. Collected samples may also be used to advance the understanding of disease mechanisms within families or disease conditions to uncover treatment options in the future. 
  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • RAP students screen medical records and recruit patients suitable for participation in the study. Thereafter, they gather consent for participation from patients of the UCLA Adult Congenital Cardiology Clinic as well as the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) at Ronald Reagan Medical Center. Students also assist patients to the pathology lab for blood collection and transport the samples for immediate processing. Furthermore, they work alongside Dr. Wang and a team of research specialists and genetic counselors to design and construct a comprehensive virtual database for the ICDR.

The Teen Resilience Project (TRP)
  • PI: Katie Kuhlman, PhD
  • Study Liaisons: Afrida Sara
  • IRB:16-001848

  • Description:
  • The Teen Resilience Project aims to characterize the impact that acute stress has on immunological mechanisms in teenagers aged 12-15.  A biological response to the stress test can indicate disregulation of the immune system, which may correlate to a reduced response to stress throughout life.
  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Students work as lead research associates to gather informed consent for the study, as well as administering Triers Social Stress Test (TSST) procedures to induce acute stress on pediatric participants.  Furthermore, students also conduct literature searches for authorship of comprehensive review papers.

Ongoing Rounds:

CTRC Rounds

Study Liaison: Serena Burgos

The Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) is the primary outpatient unit for clinical research conducted at UCLA. Specialized areas of research include Cardiology, Neurology, Neuro-oncology, Oncology, Endocrinology, Pediatrics, and Sleep Study. RAP students are granted a great opportunity to closely observe bedside clinical research as well as to interact with patients. Common procedures include, but not limited to, intravenous (IV) injection, blood draw, ultrasound testing and minor surgery. Additionally, you will be mentored one-on-one by highly experienced nurses, who can explain each procedure/study in detail. Rounding in CTRC also offers you an extensive exposure to different healthcare professionals, such as physicians, nurses, clinical research coordinators, and basic science researchers. This would help you consolidate your career goal in the healthcare field or other industries.

Our Projects:

  • RUSH Project
    • Description:
    • The primary goal of this study is to assess whether systematic inclusion of a bedside ultrasound protocol early in the assessment of patients in shock (RUSH-Rapid Ultrasound in Shock) impacts clinically relevant outcomes. Shock is a condition of inadequate oxygen delivery to vital organs that creates end organ dysfunction and eventually death if not adequately managed. The RUSH evaluation includes a focused and rapid assessment of cardiac function, intravascular volume status, large vessel pathology (aortic dissection, deep vein clots), and significant lung pathologies (effusion and pneumothorax), all of which could contribute to shock states. This study will address the question of whether determining the etiology of shock earlier in the hospital course makes a significant impact on outcomes for the patient and the hospital system
  • Copper Touch
    • Description:
    • Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are among the most serious adverse events in healthcare. As the number of new effective antimicrobial agents declines and treatment of HAIs becomes increasingly difficult, hospital environments have become reservoirs and vehicles for the spread of nosocomial infections. Instead of trying to control the human behavior around the immune-compromised patients in the Intensive Care Units (ICU), the Copper Touch project aims to make changes in the environment around the patients. The Copper Touch project aims to assess the health benefits and costs of coating high touch surfaces within selected ICU rooms with copper-infused materials. Over a period of three years, the project will compare the incidence of HAIs using data collected by the Infections Prevention teams. Periodic testing of the surfaces for the microbial burden will be performed as well to evaluate the efficacy of copper material.

  • Actigraphy
    • Description:
    • Actigraphy builds upon a previous Intensive Care Unit (ICU) sleep quality improvement (QI) project by performing a multi-ICU intervention effort aimed at promoting nighttime rest and daytime activity in non-surgical critically ill adult patients at RRUMC. This observational pilot study will assess the feasibility of using the Philips Respironics Actiwatch 2 (AW-2) to measure patient sleep and activity during the larger intervention project. Similar to other available actigraphs, AW-2 is a small battery-operated watch-like device that uses an accelerometer to measure patient movement and embedded light sensors which can provide data on nighttime and daytime light exposure. This pilot study will assess the feasibility of AW-2 to measure rest and motion for ≥24 hours in non-surgical critically ill adult patients.

  • Orthostasis
    • Description:
    • The age dependent normal ranges for resting vital signs are known, but the changes in heart rate and blood pressure in response to a change in posture, or the orthostatic vitals, do not have standard references for age. A better understanding of the normal responses for orthostatic vital signs in asymptomatic children and adolescents will help identify abnormal responses and those who become symptomatic with changes in posture. This project aims to measure the orthostatic responses of asymptomatic children over a broad age range using common, easily obtainable methods that are available in the ambulatory setting. The data can be used to create an age-based reference for normal ranges of orthostatic vitals and to identify characteristics that may influence those responses, enabling better care for pediatric patients with abnormal orthostatic responses or symptoms of orthostatic intolerance. The participant will have heart rate and blood pressure measurements made after lying down, upon standing, and while remaining standing.

  • Carotid-corrected Flow Time
    • Description:
      Shock is a condition of inadequate oxygen delivery to vital organs that creates end organ dysfunction and eventually death if not adequately managed. Initial management of shock includes early intravenous (IV) fluid administration. However, the decision to administer additional fluid after the initial resuscitation is a common challenge for physicians in the intensive care unit (ICU), general wards and surgical rooms. Previous methods used to manage shock, such as catheterization of the pulmonary artery or ultrasound of the inferior vena cava, have been deemed either too invasive or too unstandardized. Recently, however, ultrasound assessment of systolic corrected flow-time in carotid arteries (ccFT) has been suggested as, potentially, an easy, non-invasive method to assess fluid resuscitation. This study aims to assess the value of ultrasonographic evaluation of the carotid artery in patients with shock as a tool to predict fluid responsiveness and to evaluate whether or not change in ccFT as a test can predict IV fluid responsiveness in shock states.

Past Studies:

Undiagnosed Disease Network

  • PI:Katrin Dipple M.D., Ph.D; Stanley Nelson M.D.; Christina Palmer Ph.D.; Eric Viliain M.D., Ph.D
  • Study Liaison: Ryan McLaughlin, Elizabeth Tran

  • Description:
  • The Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) works to diagnose patients that previously could not be diagnosed by other physicians and medical centers. The UDN primarily conducts genetic testing in order to find mutations or genetic abnormalities in order to explain the patients' conditions. RAP students assist with patients visiting for the UDN as well as maintaining a database of UDN participants and procedure status.


  • PI:Douglas Bell, M.D., PhD.
  • Study Liaison: Jack Buckanavage, Shirley Wong

  • Description:
  • ADAPTABLE (Aspirin Dosing: A Patient-centric Trial Assessing Benefits and Long-Term Effectiveness)  is a three-year pragmatic clinical trial that will compare the effectiveness of two different daily doses of aspirin widely used to prevent heart attacks and strokes in individuals living with heart disease. Pragmatic trials are designed to reflect “real-world” medical care by recruiting broad populations of patients, embedding the trial into the usual healthcare setting, and leveraging data from health systems to produce results that can be readily used to improve patient care.

POMA Phase 1 Interaction Study

  • PI:Keith Heinzerling M.D.
  • Study Liaison: Jack Buckanavage, Sienna Ringgenberg

  • Description:
  • POMA is an orally available drug in clinical development for schizophrenia. The excellent safety and tolerability profile of POMA suggests that POMA is an excellent candidate for clinical development as an metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR) 2/3 agonist to prevent methamphetamine (MA) relapse. Preclinical studies suggest that targeting mGluR 2/3 may be effective in counteracting MA-induced glutamatergic adaptations, thereby preventing relapse. The study design is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multiple ascending-dose study with aims to determine the safety and tolerability of POMA, whether co-administration of POMA and MA alters the pharmacokinetics of MA and/or POMA, and whether treatment with POMA alters MA self-administration in a model of MA relapse.
UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT
  • PI: Christopher Giza, MD
  • Study Liaison: Adrian Jones

  • Description:
  • The UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT program aims to utilize clinical care, education, and research to characterize the true nature of clinical and physiological recovery after sport-related concussions (SRC). With Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and SRC both being major public health problems, BrainSPORT aims to improve safety, prevent injuries and expand medical care in athletes and military personnel. 
  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • CTSI research associates are trained to assist the BrainSPORT multidisciplinary team with obtaining baseline concussion information from collegiate athletes and children. These tests include but are not limited to the Standard Assessments of Concussion, Weschler Tests of Adult Reading (WTAR), reaction time tests, and balance error scoring systems (BESS). Furthermore, students are given the opportunity to shadow attending physicians at the Wasserman Neurosurgery Clinic.
Neural, Inflammatory, and Genomic Mechanisms Underlying Risk for Depression in Adolescence
  • PI: George M. Slavich, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Mimi Lu

  • Description:
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the most prevalent and debilitating diseases affecting Americans today. Starting in adolescence, women are twice as likely to suffer from the condition than men, making them disproportionately at risk for co-occuring diseases like heart disease, certain cancers, and as a result, early mortality. One of the best markers of risk for MDD in female adolecents is a mother with depression. This is the first integrative, multi-level fMRI study of both high (maternal history of depression) and low (no maternal history of depression) risk female adolescents and their responses to social stressors at the psychological, neural, physiological, molecular, and genomic level.
  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • RAP students participate in subject recruitment, observation of the consenting process, and guidance of subjects through experimental procedures. Students also assist with blood sample handling and processing, including the preparation for ELISA, RT-PCR, and microarray analyses. RAP students are also able to observe fMRI scanning procedures and any other experimental procedures.
Cord Umbilical Blood Study (CUB)
  • PI: Kara Calkins, MD
  • Study Liaison: Stevyndennis Onggo

  • Description:
  • The CUB research study looks for biomarkers in cord blood that may be indicators for hepatic issues such as Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). In the U.S., 33% of children are classified as obese, and 38% of those children develop NAFLD, the leading cause for liver transplants in the US. Classifying babies at different gestational ages may help evaluate risks of developing NAFLD. By analyzing the micro-RNA in the cord blood and studying the metabolomics of the individual, this study aims to see if these items are linked to higher susceptibility to liver disease. 
  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • CTSI-RAP students contribute by screening pregnant mothers for a LGA (Large Gestational Age), SGA (Small Gestational Age), IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction), Obese, Overweight and/or Gestational Diabetes label. When the patient qualifies for the study, the RAP students proceed to the Labor and Delivery Unit of Ronald Reagan Hospital to consent the mothers before the baby is born. RAP students also participate in cord blood collection, immediate blood processing, and maintaining patient databases.

Fall 2019 Recruitment Cycle


Applicants must meet the following program requirements:

  • 3.0+ GPA
  • Attend weekly group meetings
  • Commit a minimum of 9+hours a week
  • One-year commitment


Our applications for the Fall 2019 application cycle will open Monday September 30th and will be due Friday October 11, 11:59pm.

Applicants must upload 1) a completed application form, 2) a resume, and 3) a picture through the Online Submission Portal.

*If the submission form is down please email your application to  ctsi.rap.recruitment@gmail.com. Please include your Full Name in the subject line.

A pdf of the application can accessed here:


Information Sessions

1. Friday, Oct. 4 6-8pm | CS 24
2. Tuesday, Oct. 8 5-7pm | NRB 132
3. Thursday, Oct. 10 6-8pm | CS 50

NRB is the Neuroscience Research Building. You can find it on the official UCLA Campus Map (west of La Kretz and Life Sciences, north of CHS)

Please contact the recruitment coordinators through ctsi.rap.recruitment@gmail.com. Thank you for your interest in the UCLA CTSI Research Associates Program. Good luck everyone!

Q: What types of students are you looking for?

A: We encourage students of all backgrounds and experience interested in clinical research and medicine to apply.  We review and evaluate all applications and interviews very carefully to determine those students best suited to participate in the program and benefit from its mission and goals.  

Q: What if I do not have an established UCLA GPA since I am a first quarter freshman? 

A: If you do not have an established UCLA GPA, then you will not be able to apply. This year, we are only accepting applications from 2nd and 3rd year students. Transfer students may use their transfer GPA.

Q: What if I am in my final year at UCLA and will be graduating in June 2020? 

A: Unfortunately, we are unable to accept freshmen and senior students at this time. Since most students remain in the program past the one-year commitment to continue their research involvement, only 2nd and 3rd years students will be eligible to apply.

Q: What if I am not pursuing a pre-med major? 

A: You do not have to be pursuing a pre-med major to apply. All majors are welcome. We would expect that one of your career goals is in medicine, health care, or research to reach your full potential in the program. 

Q: Is there any special coursework required as prerequisites? 

A: No, there is no required coursework, although an introductory biology or physiology class taken either in high school or at UCLA would be beneficial.

Q: What does the one-year commitment require?

A: The one-year commitment requires participatory hours throughout the academic year and does require some summer hours.  Summer hours are to be determined by leadership and our study portfolio at that time. If a student is unable to commit to summer hours, there may be other alternatives to arrange for participatory hours.  

Q: Which days of the week and what times do I need to be available to commit to the program? 

A: A total of 9 hours per week is required for active participation in the program which consists of a 1-hour weekly meeting and 8 hours of research.  The weekly 1-hour meeting is typically scheduled on a weekday early evening. Most research is conducted Monday through Friday 7am-7pm. However, there are opportunities for research activities outside these hours in the evenings and/or on weekends. If you are unable to commit to these requirements, you will unfortunately be unable to fulfill the needs of our investigators who depend upon us for assistance with their studies. 

Q: I have other activities that I am involved with at UCLA and/or I have to work to earn money for my education, will there be times that this will conflict with my those schedules? 

A: We would hope that you will be able to balance your academic, extracurricular, and work commitments with those of RAP.  You might choose to be on studies that do not conflict with those other schedules.  However, prior to applying, please consider whether you will be able to balance the strict commitments of this program with your other commitments. Only you will be able to make that determination. We are very supportive of your main academic purpose at UCLA and want to ensure that you continue to maintain high academic excellence.   

Q: Will there be opportunities for academic credit and/or a stipend?

A: At this time, we are unable to provide academic credit and/or a stipend through RAP.  We continue to re-visit this each year with respect to current Health System student volunteer policies. 

Q: What details should I provide in my resume? 

A: The resume should include any work or volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, and special skills/talents. Tips and pointers for your resume may be found on the UCLA Career Center website at https://www.career.ucla.edu

Q: How important is prior work and/or volunteer experience in a research or medical setting? 

A: Prior work and/or volunteer experience in a research or medical setting is not required, but including such activities in your application and/or resume would be viewed favorably.

Q: What if I did not have prior opportunities to participate in activities outside of school due to family, work, health, or other obligations?

A: There is a section in the application to include this additional relevant information at the end.    

Q: Will you be verifying the information in my application? 

A: No, we will not be verifying the information in your application prior to the interview process, however, we may choose to verify relevant information including references for final candidates. In order to volunteer in the UCLA Health System, all final candidates will undergo volunteer screening and orientation requirements. We strongly advise that you be completely honest in all your responses prior to submission and during the interview and final evaluation process. 

Q: What is the average GPA of students in the program? 

A: We are encouraging all students with a GPA of 3.0 or above to apply.

Q: How competitive is the program? 

A: The program is highly competitive every year. RAP students have routinely been very satisfied with their experience and have encouraged fellow students to apply.

Q: When will interviews and final selection take place? 

A: Interviews will be conducted late October to early November and final selection will take place by late November.

Q: How can I prepare for my interview?

A: Tips and pointers for your interview as well mock interviews may be found on the UCLA Career Center website at https://www.career.ucla.edu.

Q: How many students will be accepted in Fall 2019? 

A: We expect that 10-15 new students will be offered participation in the program.

Q: What if I am not accepted? 

A: If you are not accepted into the program this year, we encourage you to seek out other research opportunities on campus including those offered through the Undergraduate Research Center – Sciences Program. Those opportunities may be accessed at http://sciences.ugresearch.ucla.edu  .  If you are still interested in RAP, please consider re-applying next year if you remain eligible for the program.

Q: Will I be notified if I am not accepted? 

A: Yes, all applicants will be notified of their application status at the end of each round.  If you do not hear from us, we encourage you to please follow up and e-mail: ctsi.rap.recruitment@gmail.com

Q: If I am one of the accepted students, when will I start in the program? 

A: Students will participate in the volunteer screening and orientation process during the months of December and January. 

Q: What are the policies of the program?

A: The policies of the program are articulated in our CTSI-RAP Student Manual and in the CTSI Human Resources and Office of Volunteer Services policies.  

Q: What if I need assistance with completing the application and/or have additional questions not answered here?

A: Please contact the CTSI-RAP Recruitment Committee at ctsi.rap.recruitment@gmail.com.

The CTSI Research Associates Program (CTSI-RAP) seeks to work with clinical research teams by providing undergraduate UCLA students with the opportunity to gain exposure to medicine and clinical research in an academic medical center. RAP students are able to assist teams with subject visits, data collection/management/analysis, and research administration. Each year, CTSI RAP sends campus communications when it is ready to select studies.

There are typically 25-30 students in the program who work with clinical research teams in a variety of therapeutic areas. Students have UCLA Health System volunteer status and have completed CITI and HIPAA training. A student Study Liaison is assigned to each project and is the main contact person with investigators and their teams. Further information about the program and its mission may be found at this CTSI link under CTSI Research Associates. If you are interested in having students in this program work with you, please contact Dr. Laurie Shaker-Irwin, Clinical Research Advisor to the CTSI-RAP students, at LShakerIrwin@mednet.ucla.edu or 310-794-7504.

Study Application: RAP Application

Dr. Laurie Shaker-Irwin
Clinical Research Advisor
Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Dr. Noah Federman
RAP Medical Director
Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Colleen Divalerio
RAP Administrator
Clinical and Translational Science Institute