Spotlights

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

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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.