People

Principal Investigators

Alison A. Moore, MD, MPH, FACP, AGSF, is the Larry L. Hillblom Chair in Geriatric Medicine, Professor and Chief of the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Care, as well as Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD. Dr. Moore is a geriatrician, clinician-scientist, and international expert on unhealthy alcohol use among older adults. Her research has been funded by NIDA, NIAAA, and NIA, including a K24 from NIAAA.

Christopher N. Kaufmann, PhD, MHS, is Assistant Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Palliative Care within the Department of Medicine. He is a public health researcher with research interests at the intersection of aging, sleep, and health services research. His research focuses on two main topics: a) examining the role of sleep quality on aging trajectories (in the physical, cognitive, and mental health domains), and b) characterizing trends in use and delivery of treatments for sleep disorders and determining how these trends may modify future aging trajectories. Prior to his current role, he received his PhD from the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and later completed a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the T32 Research Fellowship in Geriatric Mental Health at the Stein Institute for Research on Aging here at UCSD. Dr. Kaufmann received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California where he majored in communication.

Benjamin H. Han, MD, MPH, is an internist, geriatrician, and addiction medicine physician in the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Palliative Care and at the San Diego VA. His passion is to improve the health of people living with substance use disorders. Dr. Han’s research focuses on integrating the principles of evidence-based geriatric medicine with addiction medicine. He is currently funded through a K23 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to integrate geriatric-based care into opioid treatment programs.

List of publications.

Research Associates, Trainees and Students

Heidi Doland is a Research Associate and Executive Assistant to Dr. Alison Moore, Division Chief of Geriatrics, Gerontology & Palliative Care. She provides project management for ongoing research studies and supports Dr. Moore with a number of initiatives within the Division. Heidi received her BA in Psychology at UCSD as a Chancellor’s Associates Scholar. Originally from a small town in Alaska, she has a deep appreciation for nature. In her free time she enjoys spending time outdoors with her son and baking artisanal sourdough bread.

Makaya Funk-White is a current doctoral student in the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program studying Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use. Prior to that she earned both her bachelors and her masters degrees in Social Work at San Diego State University. After graduating she began to work full time as a Dementia Care Consultant at Alzheimer’s San Diego. Her research interests lie in studying the relationship between older adults and substance use, substance use and cognition, and policy research.

Wayne Kepner is currently a PhD student in the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use and currently a project coordinator in the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology, and Palliative Care. Wayne is an advocate for the elimination of health disparities in mental health and addiction treatment. His main research interests include improving the care of people with substance use disorder and how to better deliver harm reduction services. He has extensive experience working with community based (e.g., RCCs/RCOs) and organizational based (e.g., CRPs) recovery programs.

Rekha Narasimhan is a 4th year medical student at UCSD SOM. She is currently applying to medical residency in psychiatry. Her professional interests include substance use disorders and addiction (particularly cannabis and opioid use) and understanding and addressing the stigma and barriers to care that these populations face. She later hopes to specialize in addiction medicine or child and adolescent mental healthcare.

Nhi Nguyen is a second-year medical student at UC San Diego School of Medicine. She completed her B.S. in human biology and M.A. in global health at UC San Diego. Her research interests include aging, psychiatry, mental health, and health equity.

Paola Cruz Rivera is a third year student at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. Her previous education includes a B.A. in Public Health from Brown University and pre-medical studies at the Harvard Extension School. Prior to starting medical school, she worked at the VA Boston Healthcare System as a research assistant collecting data on COPD and physical activity in the Veteran population. This sparked her interest in older adults and substance abuse research. Specifically, her interests lie in studying chronic diseases and alcohol and opioid use.

Kevin Yang is a psychiatry resident physician at UCSD. He completed medical school in 2022 at UCSD where he worked with Dr. Alison Moore and Dr. Chris Kaufmann on a project assessing cannabis use characteristics among older adults as part of the MSTAR program in 2019. Since then, he has been assisting with additional projects on cannabis use in older adults as well as conducting epidemiology research on mental health and substance use.

Former Research Associates, Trainees and Students

Roxanne Ko MD is a family medicine resident at Columbia University’s Center for Family and Community Medicine and a graduate of the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Her previous education includes a B.A. in Linguistics and Spanish from Boston University and a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Hawai’i. She started working with Dr. Benjamin Han through the national MSTAR program at NYU as a rising MS2. Projects that they have completed together include publications and presentations on chronic disease and substance use in older adults, medical cannabis use in New York State and barriers to patients with opioid use disorder.

Mari Miyoshi MD is a psychiatry resident at UCSD and a graduate of the John A Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawai’i. Prior to medical school, she worked as the manager of an HIV testing program for people in substance use treatment centers across Hawai’i. She did research on substance use in older adults with Dr. Han as part of the MSTAR program and hopes to specialize in Addiction Psychiatry.