National Clinician Scholars Program

Advancing health through scholarship and action


The National Clinician Scholars Program at UCLA joins forces with a broad array of private and public Southern California partners to create the UCLA-Southern California Clinician Leaders Program. Our goal is to train the clinician workforce needed to address the most pressing health problems in our region.

Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH
Program Director

Linda Sarna, PhD, RN, FAAN, AOCN
Program Director

Debra Saliba, MD, MPH, AGSF
Associate Director - VA Liaison

Cristina Punzalan, MPH
Program Administrator

10940 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 710
Los Angeles, Ca 90024
Phone: (310) 794-2268
Fax: (310) 794-3288
Website: UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program

Affiliated VA Medical Center:
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Carol Mangione

Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH, FACP, is the Barbara A. Levey, MD, and Gerald S. Levey, MD, endowed chair in medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and professor of public health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. In addition, she serves as director of the UCLA/Drew Resource Center for Minority Aging Research/Center for Health Improvement of Minority Elderly, co-director of the UCLA Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, associate director of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Sciences (CTSI) and director of the UCLA CTSI Workforce Development Program. Dr. Mangione is also a practicing primary care physician in the UCLA Faculty Practice Group and a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA. She also serves as the national study co-chair for the multicenter program Natural Experiments in Translation for Diabetes, which is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) and Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Dr. Mangione’s areas of expertise include diabetes, diabetes prevention, health disparities, aging, public health, health insurance benefit design, and public health policy. She is a member of numerous professional societies and organizations, including the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Society for General Internal Medicine, the American Geriatrics Society, AcademyHealth, the American Diabetes Association, American College of Physicians and recently appointed to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. She was also a member of the Board of Governors for the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

Dr. Mangione was the principal investigator for “The Diabetes Health Plan: A System Level Intervention to Prevent and Treat Diabetes,” funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to evaluate the effectiveness of the first disease specific health plan in the United States. This work focused on studying the influence of benefit design on prevention of diabetes, adherence to medications, and control of cardiovascular risk factors among persons with diabetes. Dr. Mangione is the Principal Investigator of the “Managing Your Medication for Education and Daily Support,” (MYMEDS) program which embeds clinical pharmacists in primary care practices to enhance communication, educate, and improve medication adherence for patients with poor control of cardiovascular risk factors and in older adults who have polypharmacy and are struggling with adherence to their medications. She is co-principal investigator of a grant from NIDDK, “A Cluster-Randomized Trial of Pharmacist-Coordinated Implementation of the Diabetes Prevention Program,” which evaluates a primary care based program that uses a shared decision making tool to help patients with pre-diabetes learn about the condition and make treatment choices that will reduce their chance of developing diabetes. Finally, she has recently received an award from CDC and NIDDK entitled “A Partnered Evaluation of United Health Care’s (UHC) Medicaid Plan Innovations for Diabetes Patients” that will evaluate health plan level innovations designed to improve the care of patients with chronic conditions in the Medicaid expansion population.

Dr. Mangione was recognized in 2013 with the UCLA Exceptional Physician Award and in 2005 with the Society of General Internal Medicine Mid-Career Mentorship Award. She serves as a reviewer for the Journal of General Internal Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Mangione has authored more than 230 peer-reviewed articles and seven book chapters.

Dr. Mangione received her B.S. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She earned her M.D. at the University of California, San Francisco and completed her residency at University of California Affiliated Hospitals. Dr. Mangione earned her M.S.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health and has completed fellowships at Harvard Medical School.

Linda Sarna

Linda Sarna is internationally recognized for her scholarly activities promoting nursing involvement in tobacco control and in her oncology nursing research focused on quality of life and symptoms of patients with lung cancer. As the Principal Investigator for the Tobacco Free Nurses (TFN) initiative, funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she initiated the first national program to help nurses quit smoking in the US and to promote the role of nurses in tobacco control inaugurating the award-winning TFN Website, She was the lead investigator on an analysis of 27-­‐year smoking trends of participants in the Nurses' Health Study and led a team of investigators in the examination of national smoking trends among health care professions. She has led translational research projects to increase nursing interventions to treat tobacco dependence among hospitalized patients in the U.S., China, and Eastern Europe using web-­‐based educational programs and resources. Dr. Sarna has collaborated with national and international nursing organizations on policies related to nurses and tobacco control, including the American Academy of Nursing, and leading the implementation of a tobacco-free policy at UCLA.

Dr. Sarna is the author of more than 200 peer-­‐reviewed articles, books, chapters and other publications. Her numerous honors and awards include election as a fellow to the American Academy of Nursing, recognition as a distinguished research professor by the Oncology Nursing Society, and induction into the International Nurse Research Hall of Fame, Sigma Theta Tau International. She has served on commissions and task forces for the National Cancer Institute, the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care, the Oncology Nursing Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Institute of Medicine, among others. Dr. Sarna received her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from UCLA, and her doctorate from UC San Francisco.

Debra Saliba

Dr. Debra Saliba is a physician with the VA GRECC and serves as the Associate Director for Education for the VA HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation and Policy. Dr. Saliba also holds the Anna & Harry Borun Endowed Chair in Geriatrics at UCLA and directs the UCLA Borun Center for Applied Gerontological Research. She is also a senior natural scientist at RAND. Dr. Saliba’s research has focused on creating tools and knowledge that can be applied to improving quality of care and quality of life for vulnerable older adults and others with long-term care based services, disaster response, quality measurement, fall prevention, the association between institutional structure and quality and the development of instruments to predict functional limitation and death. One focus of Dr. Saliba’s work has been direct inclusion of older adults in assessments of their health and needs. She developed the VES-13, a survey that identifies vulnerable elders living in the community. The VES-13 has gained widespread acceptance in clinical, program and research settings internationally. Recently, Dr. Saliba was the principal investigator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ MDS 3.0 Revision and Evaluation project and collaborative VA MDS Validation project. Through this work, items that relied on resident voice were introduced, providing a direct link between MDS and resident-centered care in nursing homes throughout the US. Significant gains in MDS reliability, validity, staff satisfaction and assessment efficiency were seen. Dr. Saliba’s current research includes work to assist the state of California in developing coordinated assessment of needs and eligibility for MediCal enrollees (funded by SCAN), an evaluation of the impact of the transition of seniors and persons with disabilities to managed care (funded by CHCF), a randomized trial of an intervention to reduce nursing home to hospital transfers (funded by VA HSR&D) and an evaluation of a collaboration between VA and the Indian Health Service (funded by VA HSR&D).

Dr. Saliba directs the Los Angeles VA’s HSR&D and Clinical Scholars Fellowships and is associate director for the UCLA Clinical Scholars Program. Dr. Saliba is also a Co-director of the UCLA Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center. Her research in quality of care and vulnerable populations has received awards from the Journal of American Medical Directors Association, VA Health Services Research & Development, and the American Geriatrics Society. A recognized leader in geriatrics research and quality, Dr. Saliba has served as an expert on multiple national advisory panels addressing quality of care for older adults across care settings. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the California Association for Long Term Care Medicine, Dr. Saliba serves on the Board of Directors for the American Geriatrics Society.

Cristina Punzalan

Cristina Punzalan, MPH is the Program Administrator for the UCLA RWJF Clinical Scholars program and the National Clinician Scholars Program. Prior to coming to UCLA in 2001, she spent seven years with the Peace Corps in various capacities including serving as a student aid during her undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley, as a health education volunteer and volunteer trainer in Ecuador, and then as a recruiter upon her return to the United States. Having worked with Latina women with limited resources on a healthy lifestyle intervention program, Cristina brings a wealth of experience in research project management and operations including community engagement, institutional review board processes, budget monitoring, staffing, recruitment, training, and data collection.

Cristina has a bachelor's degree in social welfare from the University of California Berkeley and a Master of Public Health from the University of California Los Angeles.