Spotlights

The department spotlights employees to gain a little more insight on our dynamic team and the work that we accomplish.

Priyanka Jha, MBBS, Associate Professor

Priyanka Jha, Associate ProfessorFebruary 19, 2021

Priyanka Jha, MBBS, associate professor of clinical radiology in the Abdominal Imaging and Ultrasound Section understands time as a precious and limited gift. Dr. Jha is dedicating her journey to addressing the challenges of being a work-outside-the-home parent, advocating for women in medicine, and making a difference for the community. She actively demonstrates the importance of using our gift of time wisely, both at home and at work, a practice her mother taught early on.

Dr. Jha was born and raised in Delhi, India. “Delhi is a big city. Growing up there was a lot of fun,” recalls Dr. Jha. “The structure of the school system was pretty similar to that in the United States – one difference I enjoyed was that both educators and learners would start every morning by practicing wellness and gratefulness through prayers.” 

“Both my parents established careers in the sciences,” says Dr. Jha. “Science was such an important part of our lives growing up. My siblings and I were raised to be critical thinkers.”  Dr. Jha’s mother, Ranjana Jha, M.Sc., PhD, has been her forever role model. “My mother earned her PhD in solar physics with three children in tow. To date she is the coolest mother ever,” says Dr. Jha. “Currently, she is researching optimal designs for solar cells suitable to power cars, and pre-COVID, the lab's prototypes were taking part in solar car races!”  Following her love of the sciences, Dr. Jha attended Maulana Azad Medical College. She was extremely happy and thankful to be able to live at home during medical school.

Dr. Jha lived in the same house for 23 years until she adventured to San Francisco in 2007 as a visiting medical student in the UCSF Department of Radiology.  “After experiencing how enthusiastic everybody was and how much science was included in everyday conversation, I was amazed,” recalls Dr. Jha. “It created an environment of immense curiosity for the students and encouraged us to find answers to the unknown. The admirable collegiality that existed amongst the team members was very inspiring and motivated me to become a radiologist someday.”

Dr. Jha completed her radiology residency at UC Davis in 2014. She was delighted to return to UCSF for her postdoctoral fellowship. In 2015, Dr. Jha joined UCSF Radiology’s Abdominal Imaging and Ultrasound section as a faculty member. Dr. Jha approaches each case with the “open every case like a gift” mindset, allowing her to have the excitement and engagement of solving it like a puzzle. On clinical days, Dr. Jha can be found interpreting ultrasound, CT, and MRI images of the abdomen and pelvis. “With some of UCSF’s thought leaders, we get to participate in multidisciplinary tumor boards, endometriosis, high-risk obstetrics, and fetal treatment conferences. This has been a fabulous opportunity,” declares Dr. Jha.

Dr. Jha’s collaborative nature drew her to take part in the long-standing partnership with UCSF’s Obstetrics and Gynecology department, where radiologists are well-integrated in the patient care routine. “Early in my fellowship, I became very engaged and enthusiastic about women’s imaging, which included high-risk obstetrics and gynecology. Over a period of many years, I was able to build a trajectory in OB-GYN Imaging. Ultrasound guidance is critical for safely performing innovative procedures. I think most people may not be able to guess that as radiologists, we get to participate in fetal interventions. We also get to participate in delivery of high-risk placenta accreta cases ­– a serious medical condition where the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall. We help find a safe window to deliver the babies; hearing the first cry of the newborn in these cases still fills me with hope and joy every single time!”

“I find it gratifying to be able to contribute to our diversity efforts and overall radiology community,” says Dr. Jha who has recently taken on a leadership role in the department's RADWomen UCSF, a diversity and inclusion initiative advocating for women in radiology. The program has the goal of using an evidence-based approach to promote equity for women in radiology. Women make-up half of the medical student population, yet the ratio of women entering the field of radiology remains low.  Women are present at the assistant professor level, but there are few associate professors, fewer professors, and even fewer in leadership positions in medical schools in the United States. Dr. Jha observes that “There’s definitely a phenomenon of loss along the way.”

Traditionally a lot of women have taken on caregiving roles. “For women in medicine there are excessive and exaggerated demands on time,” says Dr. Jha. “The challenges of being the main source of income, gender inequity, and work life balance in medicine are factors deterring women from staying in academia and being productive.”  According to Dr. Jha a common challenge that women face is “being expected to fulfill these multiple roles successfully and still have the tiara on straight with a smile on your face.”  The aim of RADWomen UCSF is to support women by providing mentorship and sponsorship in order to address, ameliorate and allow for an equitable environment for all women at UCSF Radiology and beyond.

“Many of these challenges are here to stay, the hope is that RADWomen UCSF can provide an opportunity to help women thrive, have a gratifying career and not feel the need to choose between work and life at all times. Although our job titles and descriptions are different, in many ways our challenges of being a woman, bread winner, and caregiver are all the same,” says Dr. Jha. “RADWomen UCSF is not only for faculty and doctors. I see this as an all-encompassing experience for all women that come to work for UCSF Radiology.”

UCSF Radiology has undertaken many efforts to promote diversity and faculty wellness in recent years. “Once you’re an attending, life gets busy. Academic radiology is a marathon and the unwavering commitment from our leaders towards wellness helps affirm our investments in the success and longevity of our careers.” Dr. Jha advises self-care as an important part of wellness. “To share your knowledge with the world, you have to take little steps to make big differences. One component of wellness that has made a difference for Dr. Jha is writing for 30 minutes every day as a creative outlet. “Take care of yourself: there’s only one of you,” advises Dr. Jha.

Dr. Jha’s husband Nick works in finance technology. They have two children, Kanishk, seven years old, and Aarnika, five years old.  “Kanishk and Aarnika are extremely interested in the work their father and I do – they think of medicine as a way to help other people,” states Dr. Jha, adding that Aarnika gets up every day and exclaims, “I want to be a radiologist!”

Nick is fortunate to be able to work from home so their son Kanishk can attend school remotely.  Aarnika spends her days at one of the UCSF Childcare Centers. “I am so thankful for the UCSF childcare,” says Dr. Jha. “I am able to come to work and know my child is in a safe and age-appropriate environment, that promotes individual skill-building and socialization, while nurturing a lifetime love for learning.”  

Dr. Jha starts her day with a cup of soy latte “it’s the elixir of life for me,” she shares.  “I recently have turned into a Nespresso barista. Between my love for coffee, my husband's black Friday purchase and the pandemic, making patterns on lattes was a natural choice.” Family fun-time is spent outdoors, as Dr. Jha’s entire family loves nature and enjoys spending time hiking on the numerous trails in and around San Francisco.

“Whether it be work or personal life, we have been given the gift of time. I hope to make the most of the journey I'm sharing with those around me,” reflects Dr. Jha.  "This time that we have together is the greatest gift we have.”

By L. Delgado

Martin Rawlings-Fein, MAJS, Educational Technician Specialist

Martin Rawlings-Fein

January 8, 2021

Martin Rawlings-Fein, MAJS, Educational Technician Specialist at UCSF Radiology, was born and raised in the Bay Area, in and around San Jose, Santa Clara County and San Mateo County. He is also a filmmaker, parent, student of Judaism, local politico, and trans activist in his spare time! Martin joined the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging in the summer of 2013. “I will achieve 20 years of service in February,” says Martin. Pranathi Sundaram, former manager of IT Operations, spoke so highly of departmental PRIDE values, LGBTQ support, and her support of religious community that Martin could not pass the opportunity to join the team. “Pranathi really sold it, that along with Cathy Garzio’s “culture of YES”, meant I couldn’t say no.”

Educational Technology changes constantly, especially video conferencing and communications. Martin’s role in the department is to setup Zoom and share video conferencing subject matter expertise in order to provide education across many different sites and devices. “I enjoy editing videos. I like crafting the story and cleaning up the times when people don't share their full screen,” says Martin. He also provides training for items like Zoom, Teams, Office 365, maintains video conferencing equipment, and is one of our Radiology IT purchasers. COVID-19 has made Martin one of our most valuable players this year. He is now the co-host to all our radiology lectures, webinars, and events. “We went from having to be in rooms that connected to other rooms by a bridge to then be able to use Jabber and connect to the call from a laptop or desktop,” says Martin. “Then we went to Zoom which is an entirely different apparatus with many abilities that I couldn't have dreamed of when we were just starting out with video conferencing. I can't wait to see the future of video and web conferencing and what ease it will bring.”

Prior to his service in our department, Martin began his UCSF tenure in 2001. JoAnne Keatley, the former director of the UCSF Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, scouted Martin from the UC Berkeley Public Health Library. “Born in Mexico, JoAnne and her family fled to the United States when she was 8 years old. She transitioned over 50 years ago,” says Martin. “JoAnne gave me my start at UCSF in the Correctional Medicine Consultation Network (CMCN).” Martin went on to work with the UCSF Alliance Health Project (AHP) in Psychiatry, and the Department of Family and Community Medicine. “JoAnne taught me to always try new things no matter if they scare you -- the best piece of advice I ever received. She is a force of nature. My work with her has taught me to always look to what is over the horizon and keep a positive attitude around new and exciting things,” says Martin.

Martin served with JoAnne as a co-chair of SF TEAM at the SF LGBTQ Center and on the UCSF Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on LGBTQ issues in the mid to late 2000s, creating exciting programs for the trans community, including the biannual UCSF National Transgender Health Summit.

Martin was assigned female at birth and raised in a Southern Baptist household where he experienced a number of negative stereotypes about non-heterosexual people. “My family was extremely conservative, and I hoped at some point they would change,” says Martin.

Aside from his mother, his family tolerated him, however it wasn’t until much later and after a lot of education that his family became more supportive. Martin’s mother has always been his biggest cheerleader. From day one she was the rainbow on his rainy days. She kept a special eye on her “Marty” and it’s a good thing she did because he needed her strength to overcome one of the biggest and scariest challenges in his life. “I am a childhood stroke survivor” says Martin.  At age 10, Martin was exposed to chickenpox from a sibling, in an attempt to give him immunity. About a month later Martin developed trouble speaking, understanding, walking and then collapsed at school. It turned out Martin had chickenpox on his brain which caused a subsequent stroke. Teachers called for the nurse, and his mom picked him up. They went to the emergency room, where he was admitted to the hospital. “It took a while to get back in the saddle, but eventually, I was able to graduate from the fifth grade,” says Martin. “I had a lot of bigoted people not trust that I was smart, or that I would achieve success in life. It hasn't been an easy road to recovery, but I made it. I just don't take ‘no’ for an answer anymore.”

At 19, Martin came out to his family, began his transition and also his conversion to Judaism.  When asked about advice he would give his younger self, Martin says, “Don't give up hope. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ Let's carry that with us toward the future.”

Martin ventured off to the East Bay to further his education and work in information technology. He attended Berkeley City College for his associate’s degree, followed by the now defunct New College of California in San Francisco for his bachelor’s degree. Already learning IT skills on the job, Martin pursued an education outside of IT. He earned his master’s degree in Jewish Studies from the Graduate Theological Union and completed two years of the Davvenen’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI) program with Alliance for Jewish Renewal.  “I started applying to all of the more liberal schools, and ended up at the ALEPH Rabbinic Program, which was a good fit because I live and work in San Francisco, and I don't want to move anywhere else,” says Martin. “I am motivated to create space for people to be their authentic selves in religious community. I feel a calling to service, to represent the diversity of trans folks in Judaism.” Rabbinic studies require a five-year commitment of service. Martin has completed two years.  “I want to be a Rabbi at some point in my life,” says Martin. “I haven't completed rabbinic studies yet, maybe after I retire as I am really loving where I am right now.”

Martin’s dependable, enthusiastic, and tenacious demeanor are how he is able to accomplish so much outside of work. “I am a trans activist and LGBTQ politico who has run for office in San Francisco a couple of times,” says Martin. He is currently on the ballot for the California Democratic Party for Assembly District Delegate for AD 19, and on the San Francisco Pedestrian Safety Committee.  “In 2005 I was hit and dragged by a motorcycle, along with my dog Buddy. I joined the committee to ensure that no other pedestrian experiences a terrible accident, like we did.”

Martin is also a filmmaker, who has created 6 documentary and narrative shorts focused primarily on the stories of transgender people. Martin does a lot of volunteer work with his wife Shelli, and two children Sadie, who is 15 years old and Matthew, who is 9 years old. He enjoys teaching his children to create change, while being a family. Martin has taught Hebrew school for children and young adults, with a focus on creating diversity.  “I love teaching kids and finding new ways to adapt to their learning needs and many of my students from those early years are now service leaders and have led for the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur,” says Martin. 

Martin’s relationship with radiology has come full circle. He spent a lot of time in radiology after his childhood stroke and has now returned to radiology through his service to the department. “The entire radiology team has been so wonderful and great. I like how we reach out to each other like a family does,” says Martin. “By the time anyone reads this we will have gone through Chanukkah and Christmas,” says Martin. “It is no secret that all of our holidays around this time of year increase the light.  Let's carry those ever-increasing holiday lights with us well into 2021. Happy New Year to all!”

By L. Delgado

Erika Padilla-Morales, CNMT, Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Erika Padilla-Morales, CNMT, Nuclear Medicine TechnologistNovember 6, 2020

“Approach each day with humility, as a student” is a daily affirmation of Erika Padilla-Morales, BS, CNMT, a Nuclear Medicine Technologist in UCSF Radiology’s Molecular Imaging & Therapeutics section at UCSF China Basin Imaging Center. Erika was born in the Bronx and raised in small towns up and down the East coast, including Upstate New York, South Central Pennsylvania, South Florida, and the Piedmont region of North Carolina. She attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school.

Erika developed a love for science at a young age. Her aunt Ana F. Morales (“Titi Ana”), a now-retired NYC middle school science teacher, gave Erika her first microscope. This planted a seed that science could be used as a tool to connect with the world around her and inspired her to love the sciences. Titi Ana modeled independence, strength, curiosity, accessibility, openness, and generosity. “I take inspiration from Titi Ana’s teachings and share my Boricua and third culture life experiences to create a safe, and accepting environment for those around me,” says Erika. 

Coming to California, Erika began focusing on a non-profit career in youth education. She learned classroom management, encouraged skill sharing practices, and viewed each student in the classroom as a potential teacher. “I never knew I could be an educator until my web design instructor at the Bay Area Video Coalition asked me to be her teaching assistant in 2001,” says Erika.  “I fell in love with sharing techniques to make each student successful with coding and graphics editing! Seeing a student make a synaptic connection to material is always powerful! So many of my instructors did that for me and I wanted to share those ‘Aha!’ moments with my students.”  From 2011-2014 Erika worked at the UC Berkeley campus as a Creative Communications Instructor with Cal Performances, Ailey Camp – an educational experience using dance to help youth explore their creativity and personal development. Concurrently Erika began studying for her associate’s degree at Laney College in Oakland. 

“As a non-traditional student with learning differences, I doubted my ability to be successful at Laney College,” says Erika. “Dr. Amy Lee, program director of TRiO Student Support Services offered focused, academic counseling, personal counseling, and workshops to ensure college completion.” Dr. Lee’s mentorship and the community of scholars around her, provided Erika with opportunities to develop her study skills, confidence, and resilience.  In 2014 Erika graduated with honors and earned her associate’s degree.   

During Erika’s schooling she learned that another aunt was fighting cancer. The grant was ending for the digital storytelling work she was doing with Streetside Stories, a nonprofit arts education organization, and she began to explore career options. In caring for her aunt, she was introduced to many professions involved in cancer care, including Radiology, and learned how each role contributes to patient care. Erika was inspired by all of the professionals who supported and cared for her aunt during her journey. “Nuclear Medicine seemed like the perfect blend, offering advanced medicine with a human touch,” says Erika. 

Five years ago, Erika was a nuclear medicine student working four jobs and commuting on bicycle to complete her degree. Erika experienced food insecurity, was often exhausted, and at times was unsure if she could successfully complete her degree. Her family, friends, classmates, and instructors never doubted Erika’s ability and commitment, even when she did. “Keep going, Erika!” were three simple words essential to her completing her bachelor’s degree.   

Upon graduation Erika did an internship in radio-guided surgery with Dr. Sergi Vidal-Sicart at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, a teaching hospital, in Spain. There she focused on the use of a portable gamma camera called the Sentinella. She was part of a team that imaged sentinel node lymph biopsies with the camera in the operating theater.   

“Teaching hospitals offer incredible care and have a mission to serve their patients with innovation and compassion. The University of California San Francisco is that institution in the Bay Area. Working at UCSF was a dream of mine when I was in Nuclear Medicine school” says Erika.   

In 2016 Erika connected with the NorCalCarciNET community and was introduced to the work of Dr. Thomas Hope. In 2017 Erika got to see Dr. Hope speak at another patient education conference, and took the opportunity to speak to him. “Dr. Hope encouraged me to apply and a few weeks later I was called for an interview. It felt like a dream come true when our Lead Technologist, Michelle Swenson, called with the offer to join the team!” 

Erika supports patients through diagnoses and emotions that can arise as intravenous lines are being placed and blankets are being offered. “There can be a lot of intimacy with direct patient care” says Erika. From toileting to assisting in dress, and occasionally escorting patients to their cars after imaging, nuclear medicine technologists provide essential emotional labor and exceptional medical care. “It's humbling and an honor that patients can feel safe with us to allow themselves to feel vulnerable.” 

Erika expresses gratitude to the entire team of nuclear medicine radiologists. “They are a force to be reckoned with regarding their innovation and research. They are absolutely approachable,” says Erika.  She is also grateful for her China Basin imaging team in particular her first mentor, Gabriel Magana. “Gabriel is an incredible mentor! Thanks to his patience and guidance I was running the SPECT/CT modality solo in less than six weeks! As a recent graduate and admirer of UCSF, I wanted to get the procedures right. When I injected my first lymphoscintigraphy solo I was absolutely thrilled!” 

Erika’s interests outside of work are diverse and very adventurous. They include kite flying, “It’s a practice in physics with my hands. The conditions need to be just right and suddenly the kite is aloft in the air and you marvel at it from the ground,” and the magical experience of spelunking into caves. “Slipping down into the earth and seeing bats in their natural habitats and walls of gypsum crystals is breathtaking!” Pre COVID-19, Erika could be found enjoying live music, and participating in the arts and theater.  She even took a fire eating class. “I got to experience a class at the Crucible in January of 2017. It was on my bucket list and such an awesome experience. I had been a fire safety volunteer for about 10 years before experiencing my first class and I loved the magic of playing with fire in that way!”  To feed her soul Erika aids people living with food insecurities through volunteer work. “Food programs were a staple for me while I was in school and create an incredible feeling of community,” says Erika.  

Erika aims to provide compassion and hope to others. “Compassion is the first tool one has in patient care,” says Erika. “Hope is another tool. A lot of adversity is amplified in the world. Some of it is used to inform us, some of it is used to demoralize us. Hope allows us to breathe more easily, filter through the noise, and keep going.” 

By L. Delgado

Lindsay Lawless, RN, CPN, CEN, Pediatric Radiology Nurse

Lindsay Lawless, RN

September 25, 2020

Lindsay Lawless, RN, CPN, CEN, was born and raised in Anderson, a very small town in Indiana. Lindsay always knew she wanted a career in healthcare, and wanted to work in a hospital on the frontlines. At 17 she was counting down the days to her 18th birthday so she could finally apply to be a hospital telephone operator at Saint John’s Hospital.  Lindsay worked the night shift for the next four years while taking classes toward her BSN. During this time Lindsay became very close with her hospital colleagues, many of whom were nurses. They soon became valuable mentors and inspired her to become a nurse. 

Not only did Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana educate late night comedian David Letterman (an alumnus!), it’s also where Lindsay received her nursing degree. Throughout the nursing program Lindsay served as a nurse’s assistant working with adult patients. Upon completion of nursing school Lindsay continued to work with both critical and non-critical adult patients, graduating in 2008. “Nursing school was four of the best years of my life and where I met four of my closest friends,” says Lindsay.

After achieving her goal of working at a level one trauma unit at St. Vincent Hospital, Lindsay began to experience wanderlust. On a whim one summer, Lindsay and her best friend booked a cruise to Mexico where they met a group of friends who were from San Francisco. “We returned from our cruise and I gave two-weeks notice, signed a travel contract at a non-profit hospital in Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai, and took off! I've been here, in California ever since!” 

In 2012, Lindsay joined the University of California, Davis, a nationally recognized academic medical center. In the five years Lindsay spent at the UC Davis emergency room she observed great work happening in patient care, but also experienced many challenges in pediatric patient care. “For the first time in my career I experienced a lot of moral distress in the emergency room. I witnessed how broken our healthcare system really is. Not having beds for patients, a lack of resources for our homeless population, not being able to provide access to mental health care, and all-around staff burnout.”  The emergency room experience left Lindsay wanting to do more for pediatric patients and motivated her to seek specialized pediatric training at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, where she worked in the pediatric intensive care unit for two years.

In 2019, Lindsay joined the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at UC San Francisco working under Charlene Fong, RN, Radiology Nurse manager. Lindsay supports patients, anesthesiologists and technologists for every modality – CT, Nuclear Medicine, MRI, XR, and Ultrasound. She places a lot of intravenous lines for both adult and pediatric patients in order to give medications to optimize certain images, and monitors patients recovering from anesthesia.

Lindsay soon discovered that her role as a registered nurse in Radiology requires her to also serve as the eyes and ears for radiologists. “We are the gate-keepers of patient safety, confirming patient diagnosis, orders, medications, and any other concerns the patients may have,” says Lindsay.

Lindsay enjoys supporting patients across their lifespan. Lindsay cares for neonates, children in hospice, the elderly, and patients receiving palliative care. “Every encounter is unique. We have an opportunity to make a difference in someone's experience in just the short time they are in our holding room,” says Lindsay. Great lengths are taken to support patients fearful of an exam. Among the coping tools that Lindsay and her colleagues share with patients are essential oils, eye masks, movies, audio books, podcasts, and music, in an effort to create a calm experience.

A good portion of Lindsay’s day is spent anesthetizing children who aren't able to lie still for the duration of an MRI. A successful pediatric scan requires massive coordination with the child and their parent or guardian, radiologist, nurse, technologist, as well as teams in Anesthesia and Cardiology. Realizing that this process was overwhelming for the patient, Lindsay began to research ways to redesign our pediatric scanning process. She advocated for using untapped resources such as UCSF’s Scan Without Anesthesia Program offered by Child Life, a department dedicated to developing coping plans for children of all ages. Working with nursing leadership to implement these scanning protocols for pediatric patients, Lindsay observes that “So far we have had much success with coordinating scans at bedtime.”

Central to Lindsay’s nursing career is an ethic of service. Recently Lindsay provided care for underserved patients while on a short per diem assignment at San Quentin Prison performing COVID-19 symptom checks, remarking that it was “one of the best humanitarian experiences ever.” In 2020 the DAISY Foundation recognized Lindsay with a DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

Reflecting on her short time thus far in UCSF Radiology, Lindsay feels fortunate to work with nurse leaders Charlene Fong and Jordan Kaitz: “They both have hearts as big as the COVID-19 tents in the emergency room parking lot! It truly makes working here even more fulfilling.”

By L. Delgado

Peder Larson, PhD, Associate Professor

Peder Larson, PhDAugust 28, 2020

“Surround yourself with people who you can learn from – and listen to them!” is advice that guides Peder Larson, PhD, associate professor in residence and a principal investigator for The Larson Advanced Imaging Technologies Research Group in the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging. Dr. Larson’s research interests are in radio frequency pulse design, pulse sequence development, novel imaging strategies, and optimized reconstruction methods for MRI, with an emphasis on applications in Hyperpolarized carbon-13 agents and semi-solid tissue imaging with ultrashort echo time (UTE) methods. Dr. Larson came to UCSF as a post-doctoral scholar in 2007 under the supervision of Dan Vigneron, PhD, and joined our faculty in 2011.

Larson’s research group works on metabolic imaging with hyperpolarized MRI for cancer imaging, pediatric lung MRI methods, myelin MRI with ultrashort echo time techniques, quantitative imaging on PET/MRI systems, and AI-based analysis of prostate and kidney cancer imaging data. “We are working in a place where nobody is the expert in everything. My team knows its strengths and weaknesses, and our first research question is always: “what does this data mean?” In most cases, Dr. Larson and his team must draw on their backgrounds in engineering, physics, biology, and chemistry in order to fully analyze complex imaging data and provide novel information about tissue structure and function. Reflecting on academic research as a career, Dr. Larson notes that he was attracted to the “idea of working on problems that have never been solved” without the pressure, more typical in industry, of monetizing each discovery.

Dr. Larson very much enjoys being a mentor. He has brought together graduate students, post-docs, and research assistants to develop advanced clinical imaging methods using modern engineering applications. Recalling his undergraduate time at Stanford, Dr. Larson remarked that his undergraduate advisor, Dr. Dwight Nishimura mentored him for many years and witnessed his transition from a student to researcher. “He inspired research directions that have led to years of discovery including current lung MRI, myelin UTE MRI, and PET/MRI projects,” says Dr. Larson. “He also had great values - he showed great respect to everyone from students to colleagues and staff, never dismissing anyone or their ideas, and rarely spoke negatively about anyone.” Continuing his electrical engineering graduate studies at Stanford with Dr. Nishimura, Dr. Larson conducted his doctoral research on "MRI of Semi-solid Tissues.”

Dr. Larson also credits his grandfathers as important mentors and roles models in his life. Dr. Larson’s paternal grandfather was always optimistic and could put a smile on anyone's face at any time. “He would always greet complete strangers as we walked down the street, and make up a name for them! They would always look at him a little funny, but then smile and realize he was just being extremely friendly,” says Dr. Larson.

His maternal grandfather, a urologist, was a great philanthropist with exceptional generosity. He also gave Dr. Larson an appreciation for how medicine can benefit people. “In retirement, he and my grandmother founded a free clinic, originally Dover Free Clinic, and now called Zufall Health Center for underserved communities,” says Dr. Larson.

Dr. Larson makes it a point to teach compassion towards research subjects and patients. For example, he encourages his team to have the experience of being in an MRI machine by volunteering for medical and research imaging. “It is important to understand what your patient and research subject experience is going to be,” says Dr. Larson. “This step won’t win you grants, but it’s the human thing to do.”

Home life for Dr. Larson can occasionally resemble life in the Larson Lab. Projects range from repairing favorite toys to broken ovens, microwaves, and toasters. His all-time favorite lab partner, Dr. Suzy Fong Larson, knows he’ll avoid calling a repair person so that he can try to fix items himself. Other fun activities include bike riding, and gardening, and time with his three kids is full of cards games, chess, checkers, Candyland, Uno, and trips to Half Moon Bay beaches.

Dr. Larson shared this closing advice: “try to find things you are passionate about early on, don’t limit your interests, and try new things. If you are passionate about your work you are very lucky.”

By L. Delgado

Bamidele Kammen, MD, Pediatric Radiologist

Bamidele Kammen, MDJuly 31, 2020

Bamidele Kammen, MD has watched and re-watched J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring with her family over the years. Something that always stood out to her was when Gandalf said to Frodo, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” In keeping with Gandalf’s insight, Dr. Kammen tries to be mindful, purposeful and intentional in her personal and professional life. She believes that although life can throw you curveballs, one must use these challenges as opportunities for growth.

For the past twenty years, Dr. Bamidele Kammen has served as an attending pediatric radiologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (BCHO). She enjoys and is invigorated by the collegiality that comes with being a member of a team that works together to solve problems and care for patients. Furthermore, she says that “the constant interactions with clinical colleagues who value our input is both gratifying and essential to how our team of radiologists function. The opportunity to utilize our imaging armamentarium to impact patient care, through expedient and accurate diagnosis, is always rewarding.” Dr. Kammen and her colleagues (radiologists, clinical colleagues, and department staff) take to heart the shared mission of providing the best possible care for patients at all costs. “The BCHO community is caring, compassionate, and incredibly dedicated,” says Dr. Kammen. “It has been an honor to work at BCHO for the past 20 years!”

The Fayemi family immigrated from Nigeria to the United States when Dr. Kammen was five years old. Her father, a pathologist enjoyed taking Dr. Kammen to his laboratory to develop science projects for her. Due to a horrific car accident, her mother was not able to start her obstetrics and gynecology practice as planned. After a year-long recovery, all the while raising three young children, Dr. Kammen’s mother decided to start over and pursue a radiology residency. Seeing her mother’s strength of character to start over again resonated with Dr. Kammen, and she recalls her mother saying, “if you are willing to put in the work nothing is impossible.”

Dr. Kammen grew up in Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York. She attended Woodlands Middle/High School a racially and economically diverse public school. She enjoyed the nurturing environment that allowed her to grow and develop her interests. She loved her teachers and felt their love in return. For example, “Toni Abramson, my English teacher, and field hockey coach found out one year that the school would not have a track coach. Toni did not know anything about track and field but she did not want her students deprived of having a track season, so she taught herself how to coach track.” In high school and college, Dr. Kammen was a sprinter in both indoor and outdoor track; she held the record in college for the 55-meter dash for a few years.

Dr. Kammen’s extracurricular activities did not stop at field hockey and track. During her senior year of high school, she attended a six-week science and engineering residency program in MIT called Mites (Minority Introduction To Engineering and Sciences). This program allowed her to experience different facets of engineering with other diverse aspiring young engineers. She met other like-minded people and developed friendships that still exist today.

Dr. Kammen attended Harvard College where she majored in electrical engineering and obtained her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She then completed a four-year residency in radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. During medical school, Dr. Diego Jaramillo’s impactful mentorship led Dr. Kammen to her passion - pediatric radiology. Dr. Kammen’s experience during her pediatric radiology rotation with Dr. Jaramillo was filled with time in the reading room, reviewing stimulating cases, supplemented by hours in the lab researching Cartilaginous Path of Physeal Fracture-Separations. Dr. Kammen was struck, not only by how passionate Dr. Jaramillo and the other pediatric radiologists in the department were about taking care of the children, but also by how much fun they had doing it. She expressed that “their enthusiasm and commitment were infectious as they taught me and all the other trainees.”

In 1999, Dr. Kammen came to UCSF to complete her pediatric radiology fellowship. She was ready to absorb all the knowledge her mentors in pediatric radiology had to offer, and with that knowledge, find her focus in pediatric radiology. She says “The wonderful thing about Pediatric Radiology is that there is breadth and depth in its practice. Pediatric radiologists treat children of all ages, from infants to young adults, and we examine them head to toe, with a diverse set of imaging modalities. Intellectually, the complexities and challenges that our cases provide is fun and stimulating. I chose this field because I knew the diversity of pathology would always keep me engrossed throughout my career. I have not been wrong; I have been practicing for 20 years and still see new or unusual pathologies daily”.

Her area of interests are pediatric musculoskeletal radiology and resident education. “I take an active role in resident education and developing curriculum for our trainees. During my radiology training I was especially fortunate to have excellent teachers. Like them, I too have found teaching fulfilling. As radiologists, we are invested in teaching learners at many levels from high school through radiology fellowship and the rewarding moments are when whatever concept you are teaching “clicks” and the trainee's eyes light up with understanding. I enjoy teaching real time during read outs, giving lectures and finding novel teaching methods.” Early on in her career she was awarded the Outstanding Clinical Faculty Award by the UCSF Radiology department.

Dr. Kammen’s advice to trainees is “know yourself and pursue a subspecialty that piques your interest and stokes your passions - a subspecialty that will allow you to be true to yourself. Absorb as much as you can; there is so much expertise, knowledge and depth at UCSF Radiology”.

“Of equal import is to develop your interests outside of radiology. Whatever you choose to pursue, work hard and play hard. And if you discover what you have chosen doesn’t meet your expectations, pivot and pursue your passion.”

Professionally, Dr. Kammen is pursuing what she is passionate about – pediatric radiology. Personally, she feels blessed to have a wonderful husband and two amazing daughters. Dr. Kammen and her family love traveling. Among destinations to which they have traveled are Senegal, Morocco, French Polynesia, and China. They enjoy the varied cuisines and with every trip, she brings back a little piece of culture by replicating the cuisine of the places they have visited - Nigerian, Senegalese, Indian and Moroccan dishes are some of their favorites.

By L. Delgado

Yi Li, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology

June 18, 2020

Dr. Yi Li, an attending neuroradiologist, recalls a teacher in childhood who advised her to follow her interests and pursue things in life not because they are easy, but because the reward is worth the challenge and the investment. With her motivated, calm, and curious temperament, this advice has served Dr. Li well thus far in her education and career.

Growing up in the small town of Fort Dodge, Iowa as the daughter of two scientists had its benefits. Dr. Li knew from an early age that she would have a career in science, crediting her family with encourgement.

During college, Li worked with yeast in a molecular genetics lab and described that experience as “incredibly boring!” While that early lab experience didn’t make the direct connection to human health that she was seeking, Li was fortunate to find excellent mentors in medical school, residency, and fellowship, all of whom have contributed to her career as a clinician, teacher, and researcher. As a medical student Li’s initial focus was pediatrics, but after working on a fetal and pediatric neurologic imaging project, she found her calling in radiology.

Dr. Li has held many roles at UCSF, starting in 2011 when she came to the department as a first-year diagnostic radiology resident. At residency graduation, she was a recipient of the Margulis Society resident research award.  She then stayed for a neuroradiology fellowship, serving as chief fellow during her clinical instructorship year. Dr. Li received the 2018 Outstanding Fellow/Instructor Teaching Award, and in July 2018 joined the neuroradiology section as faculty member.

Dr. Li is also a researcher and a recipient of the RSNA Research Scholar Award.  As an early career faculty member, she is thankful for her many collaborators and mentors in the department. In particular, she cites the mentorship of Dr. Rahul Desikan as profoundly formative, and recalls that in addition to being a brilliant scientist, Desikan was always extremely generous with his time and ideas. In 2019, Dr. Li was the recipient of the department’s inaugural Rahul Desikan, MD Award for Outstanding Research.

This year, Dr. Li became the Associate Fellowship Director for the neuroradiology fellowship, noting that “By far the most rewarding part of my job is working with residents and fellows on a daily basis. We are so fortunate every year to attract smart, motivated and engaging trainees into our residency and fellowship programs. I really enjoy teaching and watching them transition through the years to become stellar radiologists and neuroradiologists.” Dr. Li looks forward to working closely with Dr. Vinil Shah, the neuroradiology fellowship director, and the neuroradiology fellows to continuously improve the already top-notch training program. 

Two years ago, Li took on a new role – she became a mother. This year due to the shelter-in-place, she has picked up gardening as well.  She has a small strawberry patch, many raspberry canes, and a plot of basil and kale to tend. Her two-year-old son has decided he really likes gardening too!

Dr. Li is grateful for the many role models and mentors who have supported her training and career. She notes, in particular, all of the strong women in the department, at all levels of training and seniority, and across all the sections. “I have turned to so many people for advice over the years. Every day, I receive advice on career and motherhood, and I am really grateful for the support and encouragement. I look forward to doing my part in contributing to the department’s tradition of mentoring.”

By L. Delgado

Cynthia Hammond, MBA, RT

Cynthia Hammond, MBAMay 8, 2020

Early in her career, Cynthia Hammond, the Quality and Safety Manager for UCSF Health Radiology, learned two powerful lessons from her mentor, Alexa Canady, MD: focus on the positive and maintain your own integrity. A Detroit native, Cynthia was fortunate, as a new supervisor at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, to work with Dr. Canady, the first African-American woman neurosurgeon in the United States. For 10 years, Cynthia watched and learned from Dr. Canady, noticing how her mentor worked within a system that was not always accepting of a trailblazing African American woman physician, defused tense and heart-breaking situations with patients, and developed relationships with operating room teams that seemed almost like an extension of her because their communication and rapport felt so seamless. Cynthia recalls that “Dr. Canady respected all of her staff, patients, and their family members. She taught me that you can help people get through horrific situations by being open, honest and showing compassion.” Cynthia’s compassion and dedication to her profession were also influenced by hearing author Maya Angelou speak at a live event. Cynthia remembers, “Angelou said that People won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel. So, I focus on making patients and staff feel that I care about them.”

While Cynthia’s work home has long been in teaching hospitals, she worked for several years at a for-profit medical practice, but found that it was not her preferred environment due to high staff turnover and a work setting that did not prioritize mentorship and building teams and leadership from within. Following her work experience in the for-profit sector, Cynthia joined UCSF in 2007 first as Chief Radiologic Technologist, then as the site manager for UCSF Mount Zion Radiology and UCSF Montgomery Street Radiology, and in 2018 earned a promotion to her current role. Upon returning to a teaching institution, Cynthia remarked that she was “so glad to again work with doctors early in their careers. I enjoy watching them progress through their training.” At UCSF, Cynthia noted that she still relies on Dr. Canady’s example, noting that an important value in education is “not faulting people for what they don’t know. Instead, model the next level.”

Just as mentoring has been central to her professional life, Cynthia has made time over the years to mentor young people through Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (founded in 1913 at Howard University), the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. As a working, single parent, Cynthia joined Big Brothers Big Sisters during her son’s teen years so that he would have a strong male role model to go to for questions and advice. At the same time, Cynthia was surprised to find how much she enjoyed mentoring young women who did not have strong and positive female role models in their lives. Cynthia is still in contact with a ‘little sister’ whom she started mentoring more than 20 years ago and is very proud of the professional woman and parent this ‘little sister’ has become. Through her participation in Delta Sigma Theta, Cynthia contributes to this service sorority’s long history of promoting education, political awareness, philanthropy, and social justice. Recent projects include working with her sorors to fundraise for COVID-19 affected communities, leading college tours for teens, and sponsoring a year-long debutante program that includes workshops on life skills such as financial and time management, etiquette, and setting education goals. Cynthia is proud to note that her son and daughter-in-law continue this family tradition of service and mentoring through involvement in their own organizations.

Outside of work Cynthia likes to sew, from costumes to face-masks, and loves to travel and spend time with her family and friends.

By L. Delgado

Melinda Parangan-Chu

Melinda Parangan-ChuApril 10, 2020

You just completed a significant milestone at UCSF of 20+ years – is there anything you would like to tell us that stands out during your 20 years?

What stands out for me during my years here in Radiology is the constant change and evolution in advancement. It amazes me and seems like yesterday that I was processing by hand X-rays in the development room. I still recall hanging up film on alternators in the reading room two times a day. I remember when PACs was brought into our department and how we moved from film to the digital world. So much continues to change and move forward with time, to stay at the forefront and cutting edge of technology. It amazes me that the people we walk around with every day in the halls of our department are geniuses and leaders in research, medicine, and academia. It is truly an honor to work in our Department.

What do you do at Radiology?

I am the Director of Education Programs. I oversee the medical students, residency and fellowship programs offered in our department.

How long have you been with Radiology?

Well, it’s actually going to be 22 years in June. I actually started on June 7, 1998 in the Medical Center side of Radiology.

With UC?

Same. I came here as a temp in the film library and worked my way up to where I am now.

What was the greatest advice given to you?

Not necessarily advice, but a motto I live by. I went to an all-girl school and our school motto was “Non vox, sed votum” – not words, but deeds. So to me, words are just words until you transform them into action!

What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

I love being a mom, and I feel I can be like a “den mom” at work. I love watching people grow, from medical students to faculty. I’ve been here long enough to see trainees become faculty - even our own Chair from resident to his current leadership position now. I love connecting with people and just being able to help anyone – not only our trainees, but my colleagues who I consider my work family.

What would people never guess you do in your role at UCSF Radiology?

I don’t know about this. I’m an open book.

What are 3 words to describe yourself?

This is hard – don’t like to describe myself (usually negative)… I’m easy-going, hard-working, fun.

Can you tell us about an important role model or mentor in your life? Why?

My mother.

Mothers are usually the ones who exemplify unconditional love. I’ve learned from her, her faith, and by her examples. She’s taught me how to love unconditionally, give unconditionally, have faith, and have a passion and purpose in life.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to try new foods, travel so I can gain different cultural experiences and learn new recipes, and cook! I love to spend time with friends and family. Oftentimes, I share what I’ve learned by hosting/cooking food in theme parties.

Tell us a hidden talent or experience that few people know about you.

I used to hula in my younger days.