The Alumni Association of UC San Francisco has named 15 winners of the 2020 UCSF Campaign Alumni Awards, honoring the remarkable work not only of some of its most accomplished alumni, but also up-and-coming alumni leaders.
“UCSF-trained scientists, clinicians, educators and health care leaders are known all over the world for their intelligence, resilience and humanity,” said Mario Peraza, executive director of Alumni Relations. “These award winners are just a few shining examples of the important contributions our alumni have made to health care and science worldwide.”
Three winners were selected in each of five categories (The Audacious, The Innovators, The Compassionate, The Dedicated, and The Pathfinders) based on their distinguished service in research and education, transforming care delivery, or improving access to advance health equity.
The 15 winners were selected from an accomplished group of 160 nominees.
Sidra Bonner, MD ’18, MPH
Bonner is a general surgery resident at the University of Michigan, where her clinical practice focuses on health equity and social justice. After completing a year of AmeriCorps service conducting home visits for vulnerable populations at a federally qualified health center in her home state of Colorado, she was motivated to apply to the UCSF Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved.
While she was at UCSF, Bonner co-founded the White Coats for Black Lives movement and organized the first “Die-In,” a peaceful protest in response to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and in support of the national Black Lives Matter movement.
Molly Steen, PharmD ’15
Steen is the chief pharmacist at the El Reno Indian Health Center in El Reno, Okla. After graduating from UCSF, she completed a PGY1 pharmacy residency with the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority.
She went on to establish the first accredited pharmacy residency program at the Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility (Indian Health Service) in Belcourt, N.D., an extraordinary feat given its remote and underserved location. Steen also implemented a program for patients with diabetes to be managed by pharmacist practitioners following a provider-initiated consult. She has become a recognized and respected expert on chronic disease management in rural areas.
Adrian Espinosa, MS ’15, RN, MPH, PHN, FNP-BC
Espinosa is a chronic care coordinator at School Health Clinics of Santa Clara County, where he works with vulnerable and underserved populations in a primary care setting. He is also an RN case manager at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara, assisting patients with chronic health conditions.
Espinosa is president of the greater San Jose chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, and in 2019, he established one of the first Latinx nursing conferences focused on increasing diversity in the profession.
Espinosa has mentored many nursing students as a “padrino” or godfather, providing guidance as they complete their training.
Michelle Nakaishi, MS ’06
Nakaishi is the interim psychiatry program manager at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and a pediatric primary care mental health specialist. In these roles, she provides psychiatric medication evaluation and medication management to diverse and often underserved children and young people ages 3 to 21 years.
Throughout her career, Nakaishi has treated thousands of children and adolescents suffering from complex mental health conditions. Known for her dedication to her patients, she advocates for them with hospitals and local and state agencies and frequently visits with her patients in group homes and at their schools.
Nakaishi also leads a dialectical behavioral therapy group for seriously depressed teens and a trauma-informed educational work group for mental health clinicians in the Bay Area.
Thomas Tayeri, MD ’90
Tayeri cofounded the Fiat Lux Foundation in 2010 to prevent and reverse blindness in the developing world. The foundation partners with local ophthalmologists to build sustainable eye-treatment centers in underserved areas, with a focus on self-sufficient models that do not rely on perpetual outside support.
Tayeri completed his residency training in ophthalmology at Stanford University after earning his medical degree at UCSF. He credits his travels to India and Kenya with Surgical Eye Expeditions International for inspiring him and his wife to found Fiat Lux.
Michele DiTomas, MD ’00
DiTomas is the chief physician and surgeon and hospice medical director for the California Department of Corrections. In this role, she works to create an environment where terminally ill patients are treated with dignity and respect in their final days.
DiTomas and her team have provided palliative care for more than 1,500 incarcerated men and their families, and their work has served as a model for numerous other prison systems. DiTomas advocates for prison reform, providing compassionate medical care in an environment that often fails to prioritize individual well-being.
Stuart Heard, PharmD ’72, Resident Alum
Heard is executive director of the California Poison Control System (CPCS), which provides poison-control information for the entire state.
He was responsible for merging four distinct centers into what is now the largest poison-control system in the United States.
In addition to overseeing a $15 million budget, Heard supervises dozens of poison-control experts who respond to nearly 700 calls per day from medical professionals and the general public. He is also a past president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Monica McLemore, RN, PhD ’10, MPH
McLemore is an associate professor in the UCSF Department of Family Health Care Nursing, an affiliated scientist with the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health program, and a member of the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health.
Her current research focuses on understanding reproductive health and justice and the factors that influence the health, well-being, and livelihood of low-income women and women of color. McLemore has had her work cited in numerous scientific and mainstream publications, as well as in three U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs. Her groundbreaking work is aimed at creating equity for vulnerable communities.
Elaine Bearer, MD ’83, PhD ’81, Resident Alum
Bearer is the Harvey Family Professor in the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center’s Department of Pathology. She was the first graduate of UCSF’s Medical Scientist Training Program but began her career as a composer after receiving music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and New York University.
As a scientist, she has studied biological systems and explored the principles that govern the complex dynamics of the mind-brain continuum. Most recently, her work has focused on magnetic resonance imaging of the living brain in transgenic mice, and her discoveries rely on novel technologies that she develops. Bearer continues to compose music – some inspired by her scientific discoveries – and wishes to harness her varied training to define how music can affect the mind and improve human lives.
Wendy Katzman, PT, DPTSc ’06
Katzman is a professor emerita in the UCSF Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. She was one of the first therapists to become board-certified in orthopedic physical therapy and one of the first women to open a clinical practice in San Francisco specializing in pelvic health.
Katzman has a particular research interest in the influence of excessive spinal curvature in the aging thoracic spine – also known as hyperkyphosis – on physical function and health-related quality of life.
A beloved mentor, she is known for her warmth, listening skills, and nuanced questioning.
Avelino Silva, DDS ’79
Silva is a part-time faculty clinical instructor at Chabot College Dental Hygiene Clinic teaching dental hygiene, general dentistry, and local anesthesia. He is also a predoctoral clinic director at the USCF School of Dentistry.
During his distinguished 37-year career at UCSF, Silva has been a dedicated teacher and mentor to his students, and he continues to contribute to the school by evaluating prospective student applications for the Admissions Committee. He also has served on numerous committees dedicated to increasing diversity and the awareness of its importance.
Amy Houtrow, MD, MPH, PhD ’12
Houtrow is a professor and endowed chair for pediatric medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She also directs the pediatric rehabilitation medicine fellowship, and serves as chief of pediatric rehabilitation medicine.
Her career has been dedicated to improving the health and functioning of children with disabilities. This includes reducing the stigma of disability to improve health outcomes for her patients. Houtrow’s research evaluates how children with disabilities and their families interact with the health care system and is aimed at discovering ways that pediatric health services can better serve children with disabilities.
Peter Milgrom, DDS ’72
Milgrom is a professor of oral health sciences and pediatric dentistry in the School of Dentistry and an adjunct professor of health services in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington.
He is also the co-owner of Advantage Silver Dental Arrest LLC, which is the producer of the first silver diamine fluoride available in the US. In 2016, this product received the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Breakthrough Therapy Designation for the arrest of tooth decay in children and adults. This was the first oral-care product to receive this honor, which represents the FDA’s effort to address an unmet, serious, and life-threatening medical need for which there is no available therapy.
Paul Yock, MD, Resident Alum
Yock is the Weiland Professor of Bioengineering and Medicine at Stanford University and director of the Byers Center for Biodesign. He came of age at a time when coronary angioplasty was just emerging as a specialty field, which provided him with an opportunity to help develop some of the technologies and procedures in this area.
Yock is known for having invented, developed, and tested new devices including the Rapid Exchange angioplasty and stenting system. He currently holds 50 US patents including the fundamental patent for mechanical intravascular ultrasound imaging.
Andrew Polson, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar Alum
Polson is a principal scientist at Genentech, where he leads the discovery of antibody-based therapeutics for the treatment of cancers, primarily hematological malignancies. He is known as a leader in the field of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).
Polson was instrumental in the discovery of an ADC recently approved by the FDA, aimed at patients with an aggressive form of lymphoma who have relapsed or have not responded to previous treatment. He also has led teams taking a new approach to immunotherapy, developing bispecific antibodies for cancer treatment that can bind two targets simultaneously, as well as other diseases.