The School of Medicine Welcomes 30 New Faculty Members

Meet the new professors and doctors at UCR’s School of Medicine

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The UC Riverside School of Medicine Research Building. Photo by Ross French

Meet the new professors and doctors at UCR’s School of Medicine:

Waqas Aftab

Waqas A. Aftab, M.D. is an assistant professor of internal medicine. Aftab is board certified in internal medicine and clinical lipidology. From 1999 to 2002, Aftab was a medical officer for three different medical centers in Pakistan. Shortly after, he worked as a research fellow and assistant at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. Before coming to UCR, Aftab previously served as an assistant professor of medicine at the Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he also worked as a hospitalist in the transplantation institute, focusing on pre- and post- liver and kidney transplant patients. He was also a hospitalist at the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno for acute inpatient, step-down, and telemetry settings.

Lama Al-Khoury

Lama Al-Khoury

Lama Al-Khoury

Lama Al-Khoury, M.D. is an associate clinical professor and a neurologist with UCR Health in Riverside specializing in pain management. Al-Khoury previously worked at UC Irvine, where she was an assistant professor of neurology with expertise in stroke and headache medicine. At UCI she oversaw the supervision and teaching of neurology residents on inpatient and outpatient services and supervised research projects. In addition, she was co-director of the Medical Students’ Neurology Clerkship. She is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Heart Association, the American Headache Society, and the International Headache Society.

Kenneth Ballou

Kenneth Ballou

Kenneth Ballou

Kenneth Ballou is an assistant clinical professor of family medicine. After receiving his M.D. from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Ballou served his internship and residency in family medicine at the Malcolm Grow U.S. Air Force Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He then was assigned to the hospital at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Upon leaving the Air Force, he spent a year as a staff physician at the Visalia Medical Clinic before joining the staff at Beaver Medical Group/Redlands Community Hospital in Redlands. Ballou began his teaching career as a volunteer clinical faculty member in the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a member of the American Medical Association.

Priya Batra

Priya Batra

Priya Batra

Priya Batra, M.D., M.S., is an assistant professor in residence at the UCR School of Medicine and the Center for Healthy Communities. Batra completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles and received post-doctoral training in health services research through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program. She completed an M.S. in health policy and management from the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. Batra practices general obstetrics and gynecology. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She serves on the Preconception Health Council of California and is a member of the Society of Family Planning. Batra is a member of Academy Health, and an associate editor for Women’s Health Issues.

Takesha Cooper

Takesha J. Cooper

Takesha J. Cooper

Takesha J. Cooper, M.D., is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCR School of Medicine and a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Riverside County Department of Mental Health’s Lake Elsinore Family Mental Health Services. Cooper earned her B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology from UC Santa Barbara, then came to UCR to earn a master’s degree in the fields. She then attended the Keck School of Medicine at USC to earn her M.D. She is board certified in child and adolescent psychiatry and general psychiatry, and is a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, the Southern California Psychiatric Society, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Medical Association.

Deborah Deas

Deborah Deas

Deborah Deas

Deborah Deas, M.D., M.P.H. joined UC Riverside as the Mark and Pam Rubin Dean of the School of Medicine and Chief Executive Officer for Clinical Affairs in May, 2016. Previously, Deas was the interim dean of the College of Medicine and professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. Deas earned her B.S. in biology from the College of Charleston in 1978 and her M.P.H. from the University of South Carolina in 1979. She earned her M.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1989. Deas is a fellow with the American College of Psychiatrists and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. She is a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Council of Deans and as well as the Group on Diversity and Inclusion, the Group on Education Affairs, and the Group for Student Affairs, and many more.

Byron Ford

Byron Ford

Byron Ford

Byron Ford is a professor of biomedical sciences. He joined UCR from the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, where he had been a professor and vice chairman of the Department of Neurobiology. Ford earned his undergraduate degree at Grambling State University, followed by his Ph.D. at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. At UCR, Ford and several of his Ph.D. students continue to work with neuregulin-1 in multiple ways, examining its role in systemic inflammation, regeneration after stroke, and protection from traumatic brain injury and concussions. Ford also works with Yonggang Li, an associate project scientist at UCR.

Jeff Gill

Jeff Gill

Jeff Gill

Jeff Gill, M.D., M.B.A., is an assistant clinical professor within the pediatrics department. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a senior fellow of the Society of Hospital Medicine, and is board certified with the American Board of Pediatrics. Gill completed his B.A. with distinction in human biology at Stanford University before completing his M.D. with honors at UC San Diego in 1992. He then completed his residency training in Oakland in 1995. Before joining UCR he was most recently president of Inpatient Specialists Medical Group, Inc. in Brea and also practiced general pediatrics with North Orange County Pediatrics in Placentia. Currently, he is on staff at Desert Regional Center in Palm Springs and at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio.

J. Whitney Griffith

Whitney Griffith

Whitney Griffith

J. Whitney Griffith, M.D. is an assistant professor of psychiatry. She is also a staff psychiatrist for the Riverside County Mental Health Department. As the clerkship coordinator, Griffith implements the clerkships for third year medical students. Griffith earned her B.S. in biochemistry from UCR and followed that with a master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. She then went to UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine to earn her M.D. She is a member of the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry (ADMSEP). She enjoys volunteering for the Riverside Free Clinic.

Tiffany Kamerman

Tiffany Kamerman

Tiffany Kamerman

Tiffany Kamerman, D.O., M.S., F.A.A.P. is an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics and a pediatrician with UCR Health in Palm Springs. Kamerman came to UCR from USC’s Keck School of Medicine, where she was a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics. She also worked as a faculty pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She received her D.O. from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, New York, then completed her internship and residency at the University of California, San Francisco’s Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno and the Children’s Hospital of Central California in Madera, Calif. She is a member of the American Board of Pediatrics, the Society of Hospital Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Osteopathic Association.

Prabhakar Kavipurapu

Prabhakar Kavipurapu

Prabhakar Kavipurapu

Prabhakar Kavipurapu, Ph.D., M.D., F.A.A.F.P., is an assistant clinical professor and a doctor of family medicine at UCR Health in Palm Desert. Kavipurapu completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry in Australia in 1971 and shortly after became a research associate and post-Ph.D. fellow at the USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. He earned his M.D. physician and surgeon degree at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City in 1987 then completed his residency at UC San Francisco in 1994. Kavipurapu, who is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, has worked as a family physician and urgent care physician with six different medical centers throughout Southern California.

Jeannie Lochhead

Jeannie Lochhead, M.D.

Jeannie Lochhead, M.D.

Jeannie Lochhead, M.D. is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry. Lochhead came to UCR from the UC Irvine Department of Psychiatry, where she completed psychiatry residency. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. She then attended the Columbia University Premedical Postbaccalaureate Program, worked full-time for the Mailman School of Public Health, assisted with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fogarty Southern Africa-Columbia HIV training program, and served on the Master of Public Health Curriculum Committee. She attended the University of Rochester School of Medicine for her M.D.

Elizabeth Morrison-Banks

Elizabeth Morrison-Banks

Elizabeth Morrison-Banks

Elizabeth Morrison-Banks, M.D., M.S.Ed., is a health sciences clinical professor. Morrison-Banks completed medical school at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She then completed a master’s degree in medical education and a residency in neurology at the USC’s Keck School of Medicine. She co-founded the Cascadia Multiple Sclerosis Center in Bellingham, Washington then served as director of medical student education and faculty development at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Most recently she was a staff physician in neurology and neuroimmunology at Ventura County Medical Center. Morrison-Banks currently serves on the Clinical Advisory Committee for the Southern California & Nevada chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Claudia Muñoz

Claudia Muñoz

Claudia Muñoz

Claudia Muñoz, M.D., M.P.H. is an assistant clinical professor of neurology and director of epilepsy. In addition to practicing at the UCR Health Neurosciences facility, Muñoz is developing a comprehensive epilepsy program at UCR Health. Muñoz previously worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, Calif., as a neuro-hospitalist. She earned her B.A. in international relations from Stanford University, followed by a master’s in public health from Tulane University. She later attended Case Western University School of Medicine to earn her M.D., followed by an internship at Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif. and residency at the UC Irvine Medical Center.  She is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, the International League Against Epilepsy, and the Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.

Samer Nahas

Samar Nahas

Samar Nahas

Samar Nahas, M.D., M.P.H. is an assistant clinical professor of gynecology and oncology. She practices at both the Riverside University Health System – Medical Center and Riverside Community Hospital. Nahas earned her Canadian board in obstetric and gynecology from the University of British Columbia and earned a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She previously worked as a member of the teaching faculty for medical students and residents at Trillium Health Partners Hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, she is also a member of the teaching faculty at the Laparoscopic Institute of Gynecologic Oncology in San Francisco. She is a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Royal College of Physician and Surgeons Canada, and many more.

Kristyn Pellecchia

Kristyn Pellecchia

Kristyn Pellecchia

Kristyn Pellecchia, P.M.H.N.P-B.C., is an assistant clinical professor of neuroscience. Her primary interest is working in palliative and hospice care, providing psychiatric support to patients with severe medical illness. In addition, she works in geriatric psychiatry as a consultant to skilled nursing facilities. Pellecchia worked as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at the UC San Diego Mother Child and Adolescent Program where she provided psychiatric care as part of an interdisciplinary team to HIV-positive mothers with substance abuse issues. She also provided HIV psychiatric care in the UCSD Owen Clinic to the broader HIV population.

Maurizio Pellecchia

Maurizio Pellecchia

Maurizio Pellecchia

Maurizio Pellecchia is a professor of biomedical sciences. He came to UCR from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego. There, his research focused on developing new potential therapeutic drugs for cancer and, more recently, neurodegeneration. A discovery in his laboratory has spun off a new company, Iron Horse Therapeutics, Inc., which is developing a potential therapeutic agent for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Pellecchia’s lab is also developing novel agents aimed at inhibiting cancer metastases and delivery agents that may be used in conjunction with chemotherapeutic drugs to selectively kill cancer cells while sparing normal cells.

Alina Popa

Alina Popa

Alina Popa

Alina Popa, M.D., is an associate clinical professor of internal medicine. She received her M.D. from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Timisoara in Romania and followed that with her residency in neurology at the County Hospital Timisoara. Upon coming to the United States, she completed an internship and residency at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital/SUNY Brooklyn in New York. Prior to coming to UCR, Popa was director for medical education at the UC San Diego Division of Hospital Medicine and a core faculty member of the internal medicine residency program. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, a fellow in hospital medicine if the Society of Hospital Medicine, and a member of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine.

Remus Popa

Remus Popa

Remus Popa

Remus Popa, M.D., is an associate clinical professor on internal medicine. He received his M.D. from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Timisoara in Romania, then completed his internal medicine residency at the school. He also completed a residency in internal medicine at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital/SUNY Downstate in New York. Prior to joining UC Riverside, Popa was an assistant clinical professor at UC San Diego Division of Hospital Medicine. He was a faculty member in internal medicine at the City Hospital in Timisoara, Romania, and in the Department of Medicine at Luther Midelfort, Mayo Clinic Health System. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, a fellow in hospital medicine of the Society of Hospital Medicine, and a member of the American College of Physicians, the Society of Hospital Medicine, and the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine.

Hoda Pourhassan

Hoda Pourhassan

Hoda Pourhassan

Hoda Z. Pourhassan, M.D. is a clinical instructor in internal medicine. She earned her B.S. in genetics from the University of Minnesota, then earned M.S. degrees in biomedical sciences and Health Care Administration and Management from the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science College of Health Professionals. She then completed her M.D. from the university’s Chicago Medical School. Pourhassan has served internships in Austria, Iran, China as well as the United States. While in Minnesota, Pourhassan volunteered with multiple groups that worked extensively with Minnesota’s Somali and Oromo refugee populations, providing guidance and health care. She is a member of the American College of Physicians and the Iranian Society for Protecting Rights of the Child.

Jose Quitain

Jose D. Quitain III

Jose D. Quitain III

Jose D. Quitain III, M.D., is an assistant clinical professor of pediatric medicine. He is a pediatric hospitalist at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Desert. Most recently, Quitain was a pediatric ICU attending and pediatric hospitalist at the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Elmhurst, New York and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai. After completing his education in the Philippines, Quitain completed rotating internship in 1996, then became a medical coordinator for the Jardine Davies – Medical Outreach Program in Davao City, Philippines. In 2006, Quitain completed his fellowship training in New Jersey for pediatric critical care medicine in Children’s Regional Hospital for Cooper University and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School/University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey.

Beri Ridgeway

Beri Ridgeway

Beri Ridgeway

Beri Ridgeway, M.D., is an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology. She practices gynecology at the Riverside Community Hospital and the Riverside University Health System – Medical Center. Ridgeway earned her B.A. from UC San Diego and her M.D. from UC San Francisco. She returned to UCSD for her internship and residency, serving as administrative chief resident. She did a three-year fellowship in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. She is board certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery as well as general OB-GYN by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is also certified as a console surgeon on the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System.

Jonathan Sorci

Jonathan Sorci

Jonathan Sorci

Jonathan Sorci, M.D., Sc.D., is an assistant clinical professor of family medicine. He joined the UCR School of Medicine faculty in March 2016, after spending 12 years practicing medicine in Southern California. During medical school, Sorci participated in a two-month tropical medicine and community development program in Ecuador, where he served in a hospital in the Amazon jungle, treating the indigenous population. He completed his doctorate in environmental health science from the Harvard School of Public Health studying the effects of pollution on the health of both individuals and populations. From 2006 to 2011, Sorci was president and CEO of Be Well Family Health Care, Inc., his solo practice in family medicine in Fallbrook, Calif. He then worked in Vietnam as the first medical director responsible for opening a new, secondary care international hospital.

Srinivasa Srinidhi

Srinivasa K. Srinidhi, D.O. is an assistant clinical professor. After earning his B.A. in biology, psychology and history from the University of Colorado, Boulder, he received his D.O. from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. While at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, he participated on the Readmission review Committee and the Pediatric Board Review Committee. He is a member of the American College of Physicians, the American Association of Pediatrics, and the American Osteopathic Association. He has participated in medical mission trips to Puebla, Mexico and northern Ghana.

Charles Stout

Charles E. Stout

Charles E. Stout

Charles E. Stout, M.D./Ph.D., is an assistant clinical professor and director of neurointerventional surgery in the Department of Neuroscience. His expertise is in ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), arteriovenous fistula (AVF), vascular malignancies of the central nervous system and aneurysms of the brain and spine. Stout earned his M.D/Ph.D. in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at Loma Linda University in 2002. He completed his dissertation research at University of California, Los Angeles in 2000. He completed his diagnostic radiology residency at Loma Linda University followed by diagnostic neuroradiology fellowship at University of Washington, Seattle. He then completed his clinical training in neurointerventional radiology from University of California, San Francisco.

Patrick Sweet

Patrick Sweet

Patrick Sweet

Patrick Sweet, M.D. is an assistant clinical professor of family medicine. He is also the associate program director for the UCR Family Medicine Residency in Palm Springs. After graduating from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville with his B.A. in biology, he earned his M.D. at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia. He then joined the United States Navy, completing his surgery internship at the Naval Medical Center San Diego before becoming a general medical officer for the fleet. Sweet is a member of the American Medical Association, Society for Teachers of Family Medicine, and the American Association of Primary Care Endoscopy, where he is a member of the board of directors.

Bich-Van Tran

Bich-Van Tran

Bich-Van Tran

Bich-Van Tran, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. is an assistant clinical professor of gynecology. She practices at Riverside University Health System – Medical Center and Riverside Community Hospital. Tran previously was an associate clinical professor at the UC Irvine School of Medicine. Tran is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and a member of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists. She has served as invited faculty at a number of laparoscopic courses, including the World Robotic Gynecologic Congress, the ACOG Annual Clinical Meeting and post-graduate courses.

Raj Vyas

Raj Vyas

Raj Vyas

Raj Vyas studied biology and economics at Stanford University. Vyas completed his medical education at UCLA. Following medical school, Vyas joined the Harvard Plastic Surgery Residency. There, he was mentored by a broad range of world leaders in everything from delicate cleft repairs and state-of-the-art breast reconstruction to cutting-edge facial transplantation. In Boston, he treated patients at several “Top 10 U.S. News” hospitals: Massachusetts General, Brigham & Women’s, and Boston Children’s. After residency, he pursued additional fellowship training in craniofacial surgery at New York University – the nation’s first and most comprehensive program.

Brent Wagner

Brent Wagner, M.D., is an assistant clinical professor. Wagner attended the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio, first earning his B.S. in sports and biomechanics followed by his M.D. He conducted his residency in internal medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Afshin Zandpour

Afshin Zandpour

Afshin Zandpour

Afshin Zandpour, M.D. is an assistant clinical professor of family medicine. He is a provider of full-scope traditional family medicine for patients of all ages. Zandpour earned his B.S. in cellular biology from the University of Kansas, then joined the U.S. Army, where he served as a combat medic for four years, also working at Walter Reed Hospital. After receiving his honorable discharge, he earned his M.D. from Ross University then completed his residency in family medicine at the St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, New York. He is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Association.

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