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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

News Articles and Social Media:


and Camaraderie

Clinical Research

2023-2024 Leadership

Amanda Piring
Student Director
Class: 2024
Major: Human Biology & Society 

Sam Duong-Brett
Student Director
Class: 2024
Major: Human Biology & Society 

Mona Reddy Kurra
Research Ambassador
Class: 2025
Major: MCDB 

Ashley Ko
Research Ambassador
Class: 2024
Major: MCDB 

Sara Piao
Recruitment Chair
Class: 2025
Major: MIMG 

Hannah Jin
Recruitment Chair
Class: 2025
Major: Human Biology & Society 

Daniel Hong
Recruitment Chair
Class: 2024
Major: Physiological Science 

Nicolette Zargari
Mentorship Chair
Class: 2024
Major: Neuroscience 

Jonathan Malau
Operations and Logistics Chair
Class: 2024
Major: Neuroscience

Nicolette Simoni
Social Chair
Class: 2024
Major: Nursing

Libby Stafford
Social Chair
Class: 2025
Major: Psychobiology 

Sabrina Ghalambor
Outreach and External Relations Chair
Class: 2024
Major: Human Biology & Society 

Madeline Mai
Outreach and External Relations Chair
Class: 2025
Major: Human Biology & Society 

Sohan Talluri
Study Evaluation Chairs
Class: 2025
Major: MIMG 

Nathan Pham
Social Media Chair
Class: 2024
Major: Biology 

Kasey Nguyen
Recruitment Chair
Class: 2024
Major: Human Biology and Society

2023-2024 Members

Jyotsna Hiranandani
Class: 2024
Major: MIMG 

Mirna Issa
Class: 2024
Major: Biology 

Anoushka Kathiravan
Class: 2024
Major: MIMG; Global Studies 

Collin Le
Class: 2025
Major: Computational & Systems Biology 

Yuri Lin
Class: 2023
Major: MIMG

Camellia Liu
Class: 2023
Major: Psychobiology; Art

Brittney Luong
Class: 2024
Major: Human Biology & Society 

Alice Ma
Class: 2023
Major: MCDB

Isabella Machado
Class: 2024
Major: Biochemistry

Ashley Michel
Class: 2025
Major: Biochemistry

Dami Park
Class: 2024
Major: Psychobiology

Sukanya Mohaptra
Class: 2023
Major: MCDB

Grace Sawyer
Class: 2025
Major: MCDB

Katarina Scala
Class: 2025
Major: Biology

Omar Selim
Class: 2023
Major: MCDB 

Ishika Seth
Class: 2024
Major: Human Biology & Society

Kaitlyn Smolens
Class: 2023
Major: Biology 

Curtis Wong
Class: 2021
Major: Neuroscience; Asian American Studies

Alumni: Paul Abraham, Shagufah Ajmal, Eli Aminpor, Fiza Baloch, Ashraf Beshay, Udayvir Birdi, Gregory Bogie, Jack Buckanavage, Tanya Budarina, Emaan Burney, Quang Cao, Jolene Chan, Janice Chang, Tiffany Chen, Nathan Cheung, Hussain Chharawalla, Ipsita Dey, Crystal Dickson, Andrew Dionson, Sherry Dorosk, Jagjot Dosanjh, Aria Fariborzi, Victoria Ford, Christen Gerhart, Kereat (Kiki) Grewal, Michelle Guan, Omar Habib, Sohini Halder, David Ho, Hyejin Hong, Erin Hu, Joshua Hughes, Kashif Iqbal, Kelsey Jiang, Adrian Jones, Neha Joshi, Daniel Kadden, Sne Kanji, Ratushtar Kapadia, Rabia Khan, Gyunho (Justin) Kim, Marilyn Kimbrough, Rachel Kipp, Megan Kirschner, Amy Kumar, Gabrielle Le, Connie Lee, Harrison Lee, Victoria Lee, Sonia Lele, Michelle Liang, Jar-Yee Liu, Franklin Liu, Oria Mimi Lu, Karrie Ly, Joyce Ma, Aditya Mamtora, Mario Martinez, Nikita Mathew, Vineet Mathew, Ryan McLaughlin, Muskaan Mehra, Rohit Mohindra, Xena Morataya, Elizabeth Murguia, Ankita Nair, Varshni Nandakumar, Disha Nangia, Cassia Ng, Jewel Ng, Katherine Ngo, Alan Nguyen, Kevin Nguyen, Maria Nguyen, Terry Nguyen, Matthew Obusan, Stephanie Ong, Stevyndennis Onggo, Jessica Osanyinpeju, June Pan, Joyce Ye Hee Park, Alyssa Parry, Mili Patel, Shreya Patel, Hannah Pham, Rebecca Phelan, Sandhya Rajkumar, Vaidehi Ramanarayanan, Katherine Reckamp, Bryanna Reinhardt, Dean Renna, Sienna Ringgenberg, Afrida Sara, Pegah Savehshemshaki, Ellery Schlingmann, Katherine Sheu, Alec Simoni, Manpreet Singh, Joshua So, Clara Song, Bhavanna Spreepad, Michelle Tengarra, Ekaterina Tiourin, Elizabeth Tran, Joyce Tran, Matthew Tran, Hailey Valles, Zoey Wang, Shirley Wong, Jessica Yang, Qi (Vera) Yang, Douglas Yao, Jordan Young, Hamzah Yusuf, Daniel Zaki, Lily Zhang, Edmund Zhi

Current Studies

COVID-19 Studies

  • RAP students are currently remotely assisting with multiple ongoing COVID-19 studies, including roles like data entry, management, and analysis.

Adolescents and Young Adults with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)

  • PI: Lauren Wisk PhD.
  • Study Liaisons: Ashley Huynh, Connie Lee

  • Description:
  • Adolescents and young adults (AYA) with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) are at significant risk for interruptions in health care, poor self-care, and negative diabetes-related health outcomes as they assume independent disease management during the transition to adult-focused care. The goal of this project is to understand how AYA with T1D navigate the health care system during transition and to develop, implement, and evaluate a novel intervention designed to motivate preparation for transition among AYA with T1D. This research will provide preliminary evidence to inform a multi-site, longitudinal intervention to improve transition preparation, and ultimately positively impact health outcomes for AYA with T1D.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Students screen records for potential subjects, conduct the informed consent process for each patient, and help administer surveys to each participant. Students also use statistical programs to analyze qualitative survey data, create literature reviews of the current behavioral health research, and interview patients during focus groups to determine factors impacting adolescent medication adherence.

ATN-CARES Study - Adolescent HIV Medicine Trials Network (ATN); Comprehensive Adolescent Recruitment and Engagement Studies (CARES) [IRB: 16-001819]

  • PI: Dallas Swendeman
  • Study Liaison: Curtis Wong

  • Description:
  • Gay, bisexual, transgender, and homeless youth are at high risk of HIV infection and other sexually-transmitted infections, as well as other public health concerns like mental health, homelessness, and substance use - especially so if they are Black and/or Latino due to racial/ethnic disparities. In this study, youth in Los Angles and New Orleans, were followed over 24 months and interviewed about sexual health, mental health, economic security amongst other things as they were undergoing 4 different interventions methods. Using these interviews, the study hopes to find primary and secondary outcomes to inform understanding of risk relationships, policy proposals, and improvements to strength-based, youths-centered coaching model.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • CTSI-RAP students, each week, go through the transcribed interviews and conduct a qualitative analysis on the topic of interest, such as strengths with mental health, in the qualitative research software, Dedoose. They read the file, highlight excerpts, and code them to the respective parent, child, and grandchild code that they see fit.

Developmental Synaptopathies Associated with TSC, PTEN, and SHANK3 Mutations [IRB: 15-000205]

  • PI: Rajsekar Rajaraman, MD
  • Study Liaison: Hannah Pham

  • Description:
  • An observational, prospective, longitudinal, multiā€center study looking at Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) patients to characterize developmental phenotype of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS) and Intellectual Disabilities (ID). There will be 20 participants enrolled locally and 195 across all sites.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Students participate in the in consenting process, collection of clinical research information, observation of procedures, and data analysis.

Magnetic Resonance Elastography for the Quantification of Liver Fibrosis in Children with Liver Disease [IRB: 16-002044]

  • PI: Kara Calkins, MD; Holden Wu, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Kelsey Kuwahara

  • Description:
  • Obese children have larger amounts of subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue (SAT, VAT) and are at high risk for cardiometabolic disease. SAT and VAT can be quantified using free-breathing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in children. However, the reference standard for SAT and VAT analysis requires manual annotation, which depends on expert knowledge and is time consuming. In our lab, we are developing deep neural networks to automatically segment SAT and VAT on MRI and quantify their fat content and volume in children. Our neural networks will only take seconds to accurately segment the desired tissues.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates have created an anatomical map for future research assistants, generated reference manual annotations for adipose tissue on pediatric MR images, and helped train and test neural networks for adipose tissue segmentation. They have also researched in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and pancreatic fat in pediatric patients, primarily focusing on machine and deep learning tools and reported performance metrics.

Neurocognition, Depression, and Alzheimer's [IRB: 15-000184; 17-001218;17-001876; 18-001442]

  • PI: Helen Lavretsky, MD, MS
  • Study Liaison: Brandon Ton

  • Description:
  • There are several studies under Dr. Lavretsky. We perform clinical trials with antidepressants for treatment resistant depression, compare brain activation and functional connectivity of the amygdala during exposure to visual art/nature stimuli vs. neutral stimuli, and use MRI to study the blood-brain barrier for participants with and without COVID-19.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • RAP student responsibilities include the following: telephone screenings, participating in consent process, collection of clinical research information, data entry, transport of biological samples, observations of procedures, MRI second safety, and write-ups of abstracts and posters.

Pediatric Oncology Studies [IRB: 19-000353, 18-000211, 16-000073, 18-001815]

  • PI: Noah Federman, MD
  • Study Liaisons: Rebecca Phelan, Omar Selim

  • Description:
  • 1. Using a combination of chemotherapy infusion and oral medication, Mocetinestat is being studied to identify the efficacy and safety for use in pediatric and adult patients with Rhabdomyosarcoma that has not been controlled by any previous therapies, or has returned.
  • 2. Treatment of Sarcomas positive for NTRK fusion mutation with oral suspension form of second generation TRK inhibitor Selitrectinib to observe efficacy and safety of drug on patients.
  • 3. Utilization of continuous infusion TK216 chemotherapy to treat metastatic refractory relapsed Ewings Sarcoma.
  • 4.  Double blind study of Nirogacestat oral medication for therapeutic use to treat Desmoid Tumors and Aggressive Fibromatosis.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • RAP students are responsible for assembling ISF documents from patient charts and assisting with regulatory action with local IRB. As well as, liaising between the Principal Investigator and the Research Coordinator to review patient labs and study test results, and working with a study team to complete an electronic case report form and study data compilation. 

Potential THC- and opioid-sparing effects of myrcene and beta-caryophyllene [IRB: 19-001519]

  • PI: Ziva Cooper, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Jordan Lo

  • Description:
  • This study will examine if terpenes, organic compounds that contribute to the aromatic nature of cannabis, have analgesic properties alone or in combination with THC in order to further clarify their clinical potential to treat pain in the effort to decrease reliance on opioids as analgesics.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • RAP students will be active clinical volunteers in observing patients during study sessions, and invited to contribute the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative's online presence by creating content for their Twitter and website.
Sex-dependent Effects of Cannabis [IRB: 19-000876]
  • PI: Ziva Cooper, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Jordan Lo

  • Description:
  • This study will examine if and why men and women respond differently to the pain relieving and addictive properties of cannabis compounds and the contribution of endocannabinoids to these differences, in order to inform sex-specific public health approaches related to medical and non-medical cannabis use.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • RAP students will be active clinical volunteers in observing patients during study sessions, and invited to contribute the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative's online presence by creating content for their Twitter and website.

Smoking and Vaping in People Living with HIV/Smoking QT [IRB: 20-001179]

  • PI: Holly R. Middlekauff, MD
  • Study Liaison: Catherine Beaudin

  • Description:
  • This study aims to determine if the adverse health effects of electronic cigarettes are as severe as tobacco cigarettes in people who live with HIV. This study also aims to determine if acute or chronic electronic cigarette use adversely impacts specific parameters on the ECG which are associated with sudden death.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • RAP student responsibilities include the collection of clinical research information, the observation of research procedures, data entry and analysis, involvement in lab research meetings, as well as the write-up of abstracts, posters, or papers which may include literature searches (depending on the progress of the research project).

Therapeutic Response of Cannabidiol in Rheumatoid Arthritis [IRB: 19-001123]

  • PI: Veena Ranganath, MD, MS
  • Study Liaison: Alice Ma

  • Description:
  • This study seeks to assess the efficacy and safety of cannabidiol use in patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • Associates assist with compilation of patient data, data entry and organization, recruiting eligible study participants, blood transport, and logistical preparation as needed.

Use of a Wearable Sweat Sensor to Detect Electrolytes and Biomarkers in Patients with Heart Failure [IRB: 19-000388]

  • PI: Jeffrey Hsu, MD, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Erin Hu

  • Description:
  • This study aims to develop a wearable sweat sensor to analyze biomarkers in the sweat of patients with heart failure, to determine whether these measurements can provide clinically meaningful data. For this specific project, sweat, spit, and blood samples are from both healthy patients and from patients with a diagnosis of heart failure, to determine whether the biomarkers of interest correlate well between sweat, spit, and blood in these two groups.

  • RAP Responsibilities:
  • RAP students participate in the consenting process, collection of clinical research information, administration of EKGs, observation of procedures, transport of biological samples, and data analysis. Students are also invited to participate in the write-up of abstracts, posters, or papers.

Ongoing Rounds

CTRC Rounds

    Study Liaison: Alec Simoni

    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.

CTRC Operations

  • Study Liaison: Alec Simoni

  • Description:
  • Analyzing/Updating Clinical and Translational Research Center operational guidelines, REDCap data entry, NP Assistance

Past Studies

Serum Collection in Healthy AB Donors [IRB:18-000099]

  • PI: Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD
  • Study Liaisons: Serena Burgos, Michelle Tenggara
  • 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.

An Exploratory Study of Nivolumab with or without Ipilimumab in Advanced Metastatic Cancer [IRB:18-001539]

  • PI: Alexandra Drakaki, MD, PhD
  • Study Liaisons: Serena Burgos, Michelle Tenggara
  • 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.

Monocyte E-cigarette Study[IRB:18-001147]

  • PI: Holly Middlekauff, MD
  • Study Liaison: Joyce Ma
  • 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.

Sleep Health Aging Research for Depression [IRB:16-000583]

  • PI: Michael Irwin, MD
  • Study Liaison: Michelle Tenggara, Angela Wang, and Jordan Lo
  • 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.

ICVD Diagnosis by PhekB [IRB: 18-001167]

  • PI: Jessica Wang MD, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Hyejin Hong
  • 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.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome [IRB: 12-001780]

  • PI: Daniel Dumesic, MD
  • Study Liaison: Sohini Halder, Aditya Mamtora
  • 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.

The Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) Consortium

  • PI: Martin Caderias, M.D; Jessica Wang, MD, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Mario Martinez, Terry Nguyen, Eman Burney 
  • 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.
The Myocardial Infarction Biomarkers Project [IRB: 16-002018]
  • PI: Linda Cai MD, PhD; Rushi Parikh, MD
  • Study Liaison: Diana Trujilo
  • 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.

Pediatric Immunodeficiency Study [IRB:11-002303]

  • PI: Donald Kohn, MD
  • Study Liaisons: Xena Martinez, Bryanna Reinhardt 
  • 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.
The Inherited Cardiovascular Disease Registry (ICDR) [IRB:13-001772]
  • PI: Jessica Wang, MD, PhD
  • Study Liaisons: Mario Martinez, Terry Nguyen 
  • 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. 

Desmoid Tumors/Fibromatosis  [IRB: 18-001815]

  • PI: Noah Federman, MD
  • Study Liaisons: Aditya Mamtora, Jessica Osanyinpeju

Peanut Oral Immunotherapy [IRB:18-000124; 18-0001392]

  • PI: Maria Garcia-Lloret, MD
  • Study Liaisons: Jolene Chan, Brandon Ton

Pre-Operative Telemedicine Consultation  [IRB:19-000554]

  • PI: Nirav Kamdar, MD
  • Study Liaison: Muskaan Mehra, Anne Nguyen

Microbiome and Diet in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) [IRB:13-000080; 15-000691]

  • PI: Lin Chang, MD; Swapna Joshi, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Jolene Chan

Cannabis Questionnaire in Rheumatology Patients [IRB:19-001123]

  • PI: Veena Raganath, MD, MS
  • Study Liaison: Rebecca Phelan

Prospective Assessment of Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs) Supression in Cardiomyopathy (PAPS): A Pilot Study [IRB:18-001006]

  • PI: Marmar Vaseghi, MD, PhD
  • Study Liaisons: Gabrielle Le, Mayilone Sathialingam
  • This study intended to assess how premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) affect heart function and which treatment strategy, radio frequency ablation or antiarrhythmic drugs, was more effective at eliminating PVCs and possibly improving heart function. Part I of this study compared the two standard of care therapies, and part II estimated the prevalence of cardiomyopathy and frequent PVCs in the overall population by evaluating ECG holter monitors.

The Caregiver Sleep (CARES) Study [IRB:16-001256]

  • PI: Michael Irwin, MD
  • Study Liaison: Michelle Tenggara, Dean Renna
  • This study examined 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 students performed baseline patient assessments and eligibility interviews.
The Role of Vitamin C in Pediatric Critical Care [IRB:17-00128]
  • PI: Michelle Korn, MD
  • Study Liaison: Victoria Ford, Ryan McLaughlin, Ankita Nair
  • As pediatric patients present a unique case due to their undergoing physical and neurological growth and development, this study aimed 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 students conducted informed consent process for patients, transported blood samples, and performed data collection and analysis.
The Teen Resilience Project (TRP) [IRB:16-001848]
  • PI: Katie Kuhlman, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Afrida Sara
  • The Teen Resilience Project aimed 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.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Atherosclerosis [IRB: 13-001285, 15-000786]
  • PI: Maureen McMahon, MD
  • Study Liaison: Harrison Lam
  • Since the underlying mechanism for the accelerated atherosclerotic risk for SLE patients is not well understood, this study aimed 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. 

BrainMapD - Threat and Reward Neurocircuitry  

  • PI: Michelle Craske, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Sienna Ringgenberg
  • This study examined the relationship between threat- and reward-related neural circuitry and symptom dimensions of anxiety and depression during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. The study aimed to identify new strategies for psychiatric classification based on observable dimensions and their corresponding neural circuitry.

Undiagnosed Disease Network 

  • PI: Katrin Dipple, MD, PhD; Stanley Nelson MD; Christina Palmer PhD; Eric Viliain MD, PhD
  • Study Liaisons: Ryan McLaughlin, Elizabeth Tran 
  • The Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) worked to diagnose patients that previously could not be diagnosed by other physicians and medical centers. The UDN primarily conducted genetic testing in order to find mutations or genetic abnormalities in order to explain the patients' conditions. 


  • PI: Douglas Bell, MD, PhD
  • Study Liaisons: Jack Buckanavage, Shirley Wong
  • ADAPTABLE (Aspirin Dosing: A Patient-centric Trial Assessing Benefits and Long-Term Effectiveness) was a three-year pragmatic clinical trial compared the effectiveness of two different daily doses of aspirin which were widely used to prevent heart attacks and strokes in individuals living with heart disease.

POMA Phase 1 Interaction Study 

  • PI: Keith Heinzerling MD
  • Study Liaisons: Jack Buckanavage, Sienna Ringgenberg
  • The study design was 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 methamphetamine (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
  • The UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT program utilized clinical care, education, and research to characterize the true nature of clinical and physiological recovery after sport-related concussions (SRC). CTSI research associates are trained to assist the BrainSPORT multidisciplinary team with obtaining baseline concussion information from collegiate athletes and children. 
Neural, Inflammatory, and Genomic Mechanisms Underlying Risk for Depression in Adolescence
  • PI: George M. Slavich, PhD
  • Study Liaison: Mimi Lu
  • This was 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 students participate in subject recruitment, observation of the consenting process, and guidance of subjects through experimental procedures. 
Cord Umbilical Blood Study (CUB)
  • PI: Kara Calkins, MD
  • Study Liaison: Stevyndennis Onggo
  • The CUB research study assessed biomarkers in cord blood that may be indicators for hepatic issues such as Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). By analyzing the micro-RNA in the cord blood and studying the metabolomics of the individual, this study aimed to find associations to higher susceptibility to liver disease. CTSI-RAP students contribute by screening pregnant mothers for gestational age, among other factors, and consented qualifying patients before the baby was born.

PREDICTS - QRISK3 and Lupus and Depression [IRB:13-001285; 15-000786]

  • PI: Maureen McMahon, MD
  • Study Liaisons: Manpreet Singh, Sonia Lele 

Asthma Phenotypes Assessment [IRB:18-002015]

  • PI: Mindy Ross, MD, MAS, MBA
  • Study Liaison: Hyejin Hong 

Visual Aid - PrEP in HIV High Risk Youth 

  • PI: Joan Christodoulou, PhD, MPhil
  • Study Liaison: Disha Nangia 

USIDNET Registry for Immune Disorders [IRB:17-001393; 16-001950]

  • PI: Manish Butte, MD, PhD

RUSH Project

  • PI: Elizabeth Turner MD; Igor Barjaktarevic MD
  • This study assessed 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. The RUSH evaluation included 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).

Copper Touch

  • PI: Daniel Uslan, MD
  • The Copper Touch project aimed 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 compared the incidence of Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) using data collected by the Infections Prevention teams. 


  • PI: Biren Kamdar, MD
  • Actigraphy built 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. This observational pilot study assessed the feasibility of using the Philips Respironics Actiwatch 2 (AW-2) to measure patient rest and motion for ≥24 hours in non-surgical critically ill adult patients.


  • PI: Jeremy Moore MD, MPH; Benjamin Hendrickson, MD
  • This project measured 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 was 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. 

Carotid-corrected Flow Time

  • PI: Igor Barjaktarevic, MD
  • 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 assessed 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.

2021 Abstracts - Featured at the virtual 2021 Undergraduate Research Day at UCLA:

2020 Abstracts - Virtual presentations featured at the 2020 Virtual Undergraduate Research Day at UCLA (due to the COVID-19 pandemic, abstracts are shared in lieu of poster presentations):

2019 Posters - Featured at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Day at UCLA:

2018 Posters - Featured at the 2018 Undergraduate Research Day at UCLA:

2017 Posters - Featured at the 2017 Undergraduate Research Day at UCLA:

2016 Posters - Featured at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Day at UCLA:

Fall 2023 Recruitment Cycle

Join our mailing list to receive email updates throughout the application process: bit.ly/ctsi_rap_recruitment

  • 9/26 (Tuesday): Apply HERE for the 2023-2024 recruitment cycle: https://rfp.ctsi.ucla.edu/Awards/rap/
  • 10/14 (Saturday): Applications due at 5:00 PM PST. No exceptions to this deadline!
  • 10/25 (Wednesday): Round 1 Interview invites sent out.
  • 10/30-11/3 (Week 5): Round 1 Interviews.

Zoom Information Sessions:

  • 10/2 (Monday): Information Session #1, 6-7 PM PST
    • Click HERE for a recording of our information session
    • Click HERE for our presentation slides

In-Person Coffee Chats:

  • 10/5 (Thursday): Coffee Chat #1, IN PERSON 3-5 PM PST
    • Moss Auditorium, A2-342 MDCC
  • 10/11 (Wednesday): Coffee Chat #2, IN PERSON 3-5 PM PST
    • Geffen Hall 122

To Apply:

  • Must be a 2nd or 3rd year, or 1st year transfer student
  • Please regularly check this page for updates and review all FAQ’s under the “Application FAQs” tab prior to submitting your application. For additional questions, please contact the recruitment coordinators at ctsi.rap.recruitment@gmail.com.
  • No late applications will be accepted.

Good luck!

Q: What types of students are you looking for?

A: We encourage students of all backgrounds and experience interested in clinical research, healthcare 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. Even if you are unsure, we still encourage you to apply.

Q: What are the weekly commitments to the program?

The program has a required weekly 1-hour meeting and then 8 hours of volunteering on one or more studies for a total of 9 hours. There is some flexibility during exams and university breaks and holidays.

Q: What if I am a freshman or in my final year at UCLA and will be graduating in June 2024? 

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 are eligible to apply.

Q: How has the program changed with the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: We have resumed numerous in-person volunteer research activities and are working on transitioning into more shadowing. The Volunteer Office continues to evaluate the possibilities and our leadership and advisors actively explore available opportunities for our members. This is a continual process, and we actively communicate with UCLA Health to monitor updates.

Q: What is the admission process like? Is the application process holistic?

A: The admission process includes an application and resume submission, followed by interviews for candidates invited to move forward in the process. There are two stages of interviews during fall quarter. Our application process is holistic and takes into account all elements of the application and interview processes. We encourage anyone interested in the program to apply.

Q: Will my research qualify for SRP 99/199 credit?

A: Many of our students partake in SRP 99/199 research for course credit. Depending on the study(ies) that you onboard onto, there may be an opportunity to pursue SRP 99/199 credit.

Q: What benefits will I gain from the program?

A: CTSI-RAP offers its students many benefits, ranging from: clinical research experience, hospital volunteer hours, providing and receiving mentorship and career guidance, patient contact, shadowing/rounding with medical teams, observing procedures, leadership opportunities, interaction with healthcare specialists, professional networking, and abstracts/posters/publications.

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 in the early evening on Mondays. 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 not be able 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 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 standards 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: 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, however, 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, background checks, 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: How competitive is admission to the program?

A: We receive many applications from interested students every year. Accepted 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 mid 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 2024? 

A: We expect that 15-20 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, we always encourage reapplying 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, onboarding, 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.

Study Application: RAP Application

For student inquiries, please contact ctsi.rap.recruitment@gmail.com. If you are a PI or study staff member, please contact Dr. Shaker-Irwin. 

Dr. Laurie Shaker-Irwin
Executive Director
Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Dr. Noah Federman
Medical Director
Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Brisa Garcia
Program Coordinator
Clinical and Translational Science Institute