Faculty

Alice Kuo, MD, PhD

UC-LEND Program director

Dr. Kuo is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and of Health Policy and Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She is a Co-Director of the Health Care Transitions Research Network (HCT-RN), an MCHB-funded network for key stakeholders in the field to connect, collaborate, promote research, and develop innovative projects that will increase understanding of the factors at the person, family, community, health system, and policy levels that influence population-level measures of life course outcomes.

Clinically, Dr. Kuo directs the UCLA Medicine-Pediatrics Comprehensive Care Center, a 365-day a year primary care office with extended hours and services. She is the Director of the Research Training and Education Core of the NICHD-funded P50 Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) at UCLA, as well as a primary care consultant at the UCLA Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental (CAN) Clinic. Her clinical focus has been youth and young adults with ASD and she is building a registry of these individuals at UCLA.

Dr. Kuo has also been extensively involved in the teaching of public health and is the Director of the Pathways for Students into Health Professions program, an MCHB-funded Pipeline program. She is also the Director of Training for the NHLBI-funded P50 Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. Her work in Maternal and Child Health has led to the publication of a book, Child Health: a Population Perspective, published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

Dr. Kuo is the Chair of the Transition Care Committee of the Medicine-Pediatrics Program Directors Association and has spearheaded a national effort to develop and pilot a health care transition curriculum for primary care residents. She is a member of the Academic Pediatric Association’s Health Care Transition and Disease Self-Management Special Interest Group and is also on the Task Force for Adults with Chronic Conditions Originating in Childhood in the Society for General Internal Medicine. Most recently, she is on the Steering Committee for Pediatric to Adult Care Transitions Workgroup led by the Council of Subspecialty Societies of the American College of Physicians, working to raise awareness among internists about the care for adults with ASD and intellectual disabilities.

Jan Blacher, PhD

UCR Site Director / Training Director - Education

Jan Blacher, PhD, is Distinguished Professor of Education and UC Presidential Chair in the Graduate School of Education, UCR. She is also Director of the SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center (SEARCH = Support, Education, Advocacy, Resources, Community, Hope). Dr. Blacher’s primary research interests include: the study of both the positive and negative impact of children with intellectual disability on the family, longitudinal studies of child developmental risk and the collateral effects on parents, the cultural context of disability (including autism), as well as the successful transition to early schooling for young children with autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Blacher’s NIH-­funded research focuses on the family context of children and adolescents with and without developmental disabilities or autism, as well as family coping in Anglo and Latino families. Another recent study funded by the Institute on Education Sciences (IES) involved longitudinal study of successful outcomes of young children with autism transitioning into the early school grades. Accordingly, the main topics on which Dr. Blacher publishes include: 1) Studies of family impact; 2) Cultural context of disability; and 3) Student-teacher relationships and adaptation to school. Dr. Blacher serves as Consulting Editor for several leading journals, including the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability. She is the North American Editor of the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. She has served on a scientific study panel of the National Research Council of The National Academy of Sciences, and on the Johnson & Johnson/Rosalynn Carter Institute. She is a former columnist for EP, Exceptional Parent Magazine ( www.eparent.com ). In addition to holding Fellow status in three research organizations, Dr. Blacher is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Bobby Verdugo, LCSW

Clinical Training Director / Training Director - Social WElfare

Bobby Verdugo, L.C.S.W, is a mental health therapist specializing in the treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders using cognitive behavioral therapy for adult and pediatric populations.  As program coordinator of the UCLA Anxiety Behavioral Research Program, Mr. Verdugo conducted various clinical research studies on the nature and treatment of anxiety disorders within primary care healthcare settings and has presented these findings nationally. Mr. Verdugo also focuses on the treatment of pre & postpartum depression and has developed a collaborative treatment program with the UCLA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  Mr. Verdugo is also co-director of the UCLA School Function Program which focuses on identifying and assisting pediatric patients experiencing academic, mental health and developmental issues. Mr. Verdugo conducts clinical supervision and trainings to clinical interns and parent communities on pediatric mental health, development and attachment based parenting practices for children experiencing learning and psychosocial challenges. Mr. Verdugo is also a behavioral health faculty member and currently teaches behavioral medicine to resident physicians and graduate students at the UCLA Department of Internal Medicine & Pediatrics.

Rujuta Bhatt Wilson, MD

training director - neurology

Dr. Rujuta Bhatt is a Pediatric Neurologist specializing in general pediatric neurology, autism, and related neurodevelopmental disorders. She is a Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics and Pediatric Neurology at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and also a Behavioral Child Neurology Fellow working with Dr. Shafali Jeste within the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) and the Jeste Lab.

After completing a combined BA/MD program at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dr. Bhatt completed residency in pediatrics and child neurology at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Her interest and research in neurodevelopmental disabilities and neurogenetics began in medical school. Dr. Bhatt was awarded a grant from The Child Neurology Foundation and the recipient of the W.T. Gill Summer Research Fellowship to study brain malformations and cognitive profiles of patients with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). Dr. Bhatt also gained clinical expertise with this population by working in the NF1 Multidisciplinary Clinic at Children’s National Medical Center.

Throughout her training, Dr. Bhatt has remained engaged in gaining a better understanding of cognition and development in patients with neurologic disorders. While working at UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Bhatt worked with Dr. Raman Sankar to gain expertise in identifying and studying new treatments for Epileptic Encephalopathies with a goal to improve long term neurodevelopmental outcomes. Dr. Bhatt’s current research interests are focused on better evaluating and understanding motor function and how it is related to language development in children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. This includes assessing children at young ages and identifying early interventions that will ensure better long term outcomes in development and cognition. Dr. Bhatt’s clinical interests are in neurodevelopmental disorders and neurogenetics. Dr. Bhatt will be seeing patients in the pediatric neurology and developmental neurogenetics clinic with a focus on autism, neurodevelopmental disorders, ADHD, and Tics.

In addition to her clinical and research interests, Dr. Bhatt is an active member of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the Child Neurology Society (CNS). Dr. Bhatt was selected as a participant for the Women’s Leadership Conference at the 2014 AAN annual meeting and also a recipient of the AAN Meeting Resident Scholarship Award. Dr. Bhatt was also identified as one of the rising leaders in Neurology and was one of ten selected members for the AAN Enhanced Resident Leadership Program. Dr. Bhatt also has a passion for medical education and works with the UCLA Medical Education Department, the CNS, and AAN to improve medical education at UCLA and nationally.

Priyanka Fernandes, MD, MPH

training director - public health

Dr. Fernandes is a clinical instructor in the Department of Medicine and is Associate Program Director for the Preventive Medicine Fellowship at UCLA. She completed her medical school training in Mumbai, India, where most of the population was underserved and her initial interests in infectious diseases and preventive medicine began. She completed her residency training in pediatrics and fellowship training in pediatric infectious diseases and preventive medicine. Her research interests include antimicrobial stewardship, infection control, community-based prevention programs, quality improvement and developmental services.

LEND FACULTY

Julian Martinez, MD | Genetics

Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D | The UCLA PEERS Program

Steve Lee, PhD | Psychology + ADHD

Kathryn Smith, RN, MN, DrPH | Spina Bifida + Children with Special Health Care Needs

Sarah Gross, MA, CCC-SLP  |  Speech Pathology

Eileen Fowler, PhD | Cerebral Palsy

Rachel Thompson, MD | Cerebral Palsy

Francisco Ramos-Gomez, DDS | Dentistry

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