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Our Team

Research Staff

  • Jeffrey-Schwimmer.png

    Jeffrey Schwimmer, MD

    Principal Investigator

  • Paty-Ugalde.jpeg

    Patricia Ugalde-Nicalo, MD

    Program Manager
    Patricia “Paty” was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. She earned her MD from the University of Tecnologico de Monterrey. She completed her Master of Advanced Studies in Clinical Research at UC San Diego and has been working in Clinical Research in the United States for over 10 years. Currently she is the Clinical Research Manager for the Schwimmer Lab. Paty has been leading and coordinating clinical research studies in the pediatric population with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). She has had the pleasure to work closely with the Hispanic population, which has provided her with enormous gratification. Paty is very passionate about nutrition and having an active lifestyle. She has been vegan for 6.5 years, and has a special interest in cooking and baking plant based recipes. Paty loves weight lifting, yoga, hiking and playing tennis.
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    Amy Alba, MPH

    Program and Fiscal Coordinator
    Amy completed her B.S. in Public Health at the University of Arizona, then pursued her Masters of Public Health at Cal State San Marcos. She is interested in promoting healthy lifestyles and overall improving the health of people and their communities. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and going to concerts.
  • Rebecca Morfin

    Rebecca Morfin

    Research Coordinator
    Rebecca joined the Schwimmer Lab as an Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator. She is responsible for scheduling participants into clinical studies while also conducting the visits. She is currently working on her Associates degree in Biology. Some of Rebecca’s interests include: reading, coffee and traveling.

  • Jaret Skonieczyny

    Jaret Skonieczny

    Research Associate
    Jaret joined the Schwimmer Lab as a Staff Research Associate. He helps to prepare grant and IRB submissions, enters study data, and does quality control for the lab's studies. He also manages the lab's REDCap system. Jaret holds a B.A. in Earth and Oceanographic Science and is interested in social determinants of health, food systems, and nutrition.


  • K Newton

    ​Kimberly Newton, MD

    Children's Hospital-San Diego and a Clinical Professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine. She earned her medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, completed her residency in Pediatrics at New York Presbyterian Hospital- Cornell, and fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology at Hasbro Children’s Hospital- Brown University. Dr. Newton also completed an advanced fellowship in Pediatric Hepatology and Liver Transplantation at The Mount Sinai Hospital.

    Dr. Newton has worked to characterize the relationship between NAFLD and associated comorbidities in children. She has demonstrated that nearly 1/3 of children with NAFLD have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, which increases risk for more severe liver disease, particularly in girls. This adds to previously completed work that characterized the important comorbidity of hypertension in the pediatric NAFLD. Dr. Newton has also helped to broaden the understanding of the origins of NAFLD through the investigation of how early life may influence NAFLD risk. She was able to demonstrate that both high and low birth weight are risk factors for NAFLD, and are associated with different NAFLD histologic phenotypes. Dr. Newton currently serves as a co-investigator on several on-going studies aimed at learning more about pediatric NAFLD, its natural history, pathogenesis, associations, and treatment.
  • C Sirlin

    Claude Sirlin, MD

    Co-Principal Investigator
    Dr. Claude Sirlin is a clinician scientist who specializes in liver imaging, metabolic imaging, and imaging of abdominal cancers. Dr. Sirlin founded and directs the UC San Diego Health’s Liver Imaging Group, which actively collaborates with hepatologists, surgeons, pathologists, and statisticians to advance screening, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes in individuals with liver disease. He is also a professor in the Department of Radiology, where he instructs medical students, residents, and fellows at UC San Diego School of Medicine. Over the last 20 years, he has supervised more than 200 students in clinical imaging research, and made significant strides in defining the best methods of measuring liver fat content that the Schwimmer Lab has benefited from greatly.

    Dr. Sirlin’s group has refined the technique of double-contrast MRI for non-invasive evaluation of liver fibrosis using two complementary contrast agents (an iron oxide and an extracellular gadolinium-based contrast agent) to directly visualize advanced fibrosis. His team’s work has challenged the prevailing paradigm that liver fibrosis was not visible on imaging and has laid the foundation for subsequent studies to utilize quantitative texture analysis of contrast-enhanced MR images to detect and stage liver fibrosis. As Chair of the Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System (LI-RADS), he has overseen a multi-disciplinary international consortium of experts to develop a comprehensive system for imaging primary liver cancer. Since its initial release in 2011, LI-RADS has been adopted by imaging centers and hospitals worldwide, and it is anticipated that LI-RADS will become the major system for diagnosing liver cancer in the Schwimmer Lab, across the US, and internationally.
  • warren Shapiro

    Warren Sharpiro, MD

    Co-Principal Investigator
    Dr. Warren Shapiro is a pediatric gastroenterologist and clinical assistant professor at UCSD. He was born in South Africa, where he went to University of The Witwatersrand School of Medicine. Thereafter in 1985, he immigrated to the United States. He completed his pediatric residency at Schneider Children's Hospital in New York, and fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at the Children's Hospital Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital.

    Dr. Shapiro is interested in the delivery of care to children with gastrointestinal disorders. His research in the Schwimmer Lab has included one-on-one physician-to-physician interviews on the clinical practice approach to the management of NAFLD in children. He sees patients at Kaiser Permanente and has utilized their large database across Southern California to learn about patient trends in NAFLD. Dr. Shapiro is an avid ocean swimmer with TITW (toes in the water) early most mornings.
  • E Yu

    Elizabeth Yu, MD

    Co-Principal Investigator
    After graduating at Brown University for college and medical school, Dr. Elizabeth Yu completed her Pediatrics residency at the University of California, San Diego. She loved it so much that she stayed on for fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. After fellowship, Dr. Yu happily became faculty at UCSD, where she is currently the Associate Fellowship Program Director and the GI liaison for medical students and residents.

    Dr. Yu’s main area of research interest and focus is in clinical research in the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), particularly epidemiology and effects of exercise in pediatric NAFLD. She continues to be an active member in the clinical laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, who has been a mentor to her since residency. Currently, she is the co-principal investigator of a multi-center exercise study in pediatric NAFLD.
  • N Goyal

    Nidhi Goyal, MD

    Co-Principal Investigator
    Dr. Nidhi Goyal is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and an Assistant Clinical Professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine. She earned her medical degree at UC San Diego School of Medicine and a Masters of Public Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at John Hopkins. She completed her internship and residency in general pediatrics as well as a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at UC San Diego. During her fellowship, she was awarded the Pediatric Scientist Development Program grant funded by the NIH, and she developed a stem cell model for the study of NAFLD at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. Currently, her research interests include studying the genetic risk associations in pediatric NAFLD and she serves as a clinical investigator in therapeutic drug trials in pediatric NAFLD.


  • A Wang

    Andrew Wang, DO

    Dr. Andrew Wang was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where he did his undergraduate training at the University of Arizona and his medical school training at the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his pediatric residency training and an extra chief residency year at the University of Texas Austin - Dell Children’s Medical Center. Currently, Dr. Wang is a third year pediatric gastroenterology fellow at UC San Diego - Rady Children’s Hospital. He is conducting clinical research in the Schwimmer Lab where his main focus is on developing a fibrosis model to identify moderate to severe liver fibrosis in the pediatric NAFLD population. He will be presenting an oral presentation on this research at the annual Liver Meeting hosted by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). In addition, he was awarded as one of the “Best of Liver Meeting” in the NAFLD and NASH category. He also serves as a member of the fellowship committee and technology committee within the North American Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) organization. During his free time, Dr. Wang enjoys playing and recording music, filming and producing videos, traveling, and exercising and participating in Orange Theory fitness classes.
  • L Chun

    Lauren Chun

    Lauren is a fourth-year medical student, with plans to enter residency in pediatrics. Originally from Alaska, Lauren earned her B.A. in molecular biology at the University of Pennsylvania before spending two years as a staff researcher at UCSF. She started medical school at UCSD School of Medicine in 2018 and joined her first project at the Schwimmer Lab in 2019. Lauren is currently involved with ongoing research on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease at the Schwimmer Lab.
  • B Lin

    ​Bonnie Lin

    Medical Student
    Bonnie is a Data Science Research Assistant who completed her B.A. in Statistics at Amherst College. She is currently helping Dr. Schwimmer in writing scripts to prepare the data for outcomes analysis for the natural history of pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Her goal is to enroll in a graduate program to further her knowledge in the many ways electronic medical records are used as a source of data for health services, epidemiologic, and clinical studies.
  • G Malki

    ​Ghattas Malki

    Medical Student
    Ghattas is a UCSD Medical Student with a B.S. in Biochemistry who wants to become a pediatrician. The purpose of his current research is to determine the relative significance of adipose mass distributions and muscle mass volumes in hepatic fat accumulation. Using MRI and DXA scans, this project studies the association between body composition and hepatic steatosis.
  • A Mischel

    Anna Mischel

    Medical Student
    Anna is a UCSD medical student completing her Independent Study Research Project (ISP) at the Schwimmer Lab. After taking a Pediatric GI elective rotation during the first quarter of medical school, Anna became very interested in the pathophysiology and epidemiology of pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • D Jayasekera

    Dulshan Jayasekera

    Medical Student
    Dulshan is a fourth-year medical student at UCSD. He has been with the Schwimmer lab since June 2020 and is currently working on a project exploring changes in liver-related biomarkers with standard of card in pediatric patients with NAFLD. Dulshan is in the process of applying for residency and hopes to pursue a career in an academic setting that would allow him to stay involved in the care of pediatric and adult patients.


  • L Keyvan

    Leila Keyvan

    Student Assistant
    Leila is a 4th year undergraduate student-athlete at UCSD studying Human Biology. She is currently working as a student assistant at the Schwimmer Lab and as a Pathmaker intern with Palomar Health in pursuit of achieving her ultimate goal of becoming a pediatrician.
  • A Cueva

    Alejandra Cueva

    Student Assistant
    Alejandra is a research assistant studying Fatty Liver Disease as part of the Schwimmer studies. Alejandra is a pre-med student at UCSD studying Global Health with a minor in General Biology. She serves as a Peer Mentor in the biology department to best guide and support students in their time at UCSD. She has also worked in early childhood education for several years now and is very passionate about serving children and families in various community. In her free time she enjoys going to the beach and trying out new restaurants.
  • E Hansen

    ​Eleanor Hansen

    Summer Intern
    Eleanor is an undergraduate research intern studying biochemistry at Hillsdale College, a liberal arts college in southern Michigan. Living in a rural area sparked Eleanor’s interest in primary care with a community focus. Eleanor joined the Schwimmer Lab in spring of 2021. In her free time, Eleanor enjoys playing soccer and runs the local chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, a foreign policy interest and education group.
  • S Anderson

    Sabina Anderson

    Summer Intern
    Sabina is one of our undergraduate research interns. She is a senior studying French, Biochemistry, and Biophysics at Amherst College, a liberal arts college in Western Massachusetts. In addition to working in our lab, she is the head editor of the opinions section of the student publication Amherst College STEM Network, she works at the library, and is trying to pick up MMA.