CTSC Connections - Building Research Teams of the Future to Improve Human Health newsletter banner

UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center
Welcomes New KL2 Scholars

Improving the health of our patients and communities depends on developing the next generation of clinical and translational investigators -- a core mission of the UC Davis CTSC. Early career faculty are the foundation of our community of scholars dedicated to team science and serving our communities. We are thrilled to welcome four new scholars into the current KL2 cohort. These early career colleagues inspire us with their dedication and the willingness to acquire new skills and knowledge needed to advance the spectrum of clinical and translational research. The demand for these positions is increasingly competitive and we are pleased to welcome these outstanding individuals to the CTSC family.

New KL2 Scholars

The junior faculty who make up our KL2 scholars will conduct a multidisciplinary clinical/patient-oriented research investigation, supported by tailored trainings and the mentorship of senior investigators. The goal of the KL2 program is to accelerate their development as independent clinical multidisciplinary research investigators.

Simon Ascher headshot

Simon Ascher, M.D., M.P.H.
Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor
Department of Internal Medicine

Simon Ascher is a hospitalist and epidemiologist passionate about transforming clinical decision-making for cardiovascular disease prevention by developing personalized strategies to translate evidence from trials to individuals. He grew up in San Antonio, Texas, completed medical school in North Carolina, and has lived in California since moving here for residency training at UCSF. He and his wife, a UC Davis School of Medicine oncology faculty member and K12 scholar, have enjoyed exploring Sacramento and the surrounding area with their two young children.

For his KL2 project, "Incorporating Patient Outcome Preferences into Personalized Blood Pressure Target Decisions", Ascher will utilize data from a large clinical trial to develop individualized predictions of the net benefit of lower versus higher blood pressure targets. He will then develop a stakeholder-informed patient preference survey that quantifies the relative importance of different outcomes. These projects will enable Ascher to develop and pilot test a blood pressure target decision aid, and to achieve his long-term goal of leading efforts to design and implement cardiovascular disease prevention decision aids that incorporate a patient's risks and outcome preferences.

Mary Claire Manske headshot

Mary Claire Manske, M.D.
Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Mary Claire Manske is a pediatric hand and upper extremity surgeon. Her clinical practice and research focuses on children with complex congenital upper extremity conditions. She has a particular interest in brachial plexus birth injuries (BPBI), an injury to the neonatal cervical nerve roots sustained during childbirth that results in upper extremity paralysis, impaired musculoskeletal development, and functional deficits. While her clinical practice focuses on treating this condition surgically, her research interests are broader. She has come to realize that many of the critical questions about BPBI extend beyond their surgical management, beyond their orthopedic manifestations, and beyond childhood, including prior to birth. In particular, she is interested in improving understanding of the epidemiology of BPBI and its risk factors, including those that can be identified prenatally, to allow us to develop strategies to prevent this incurable condition.

Manske's career ambition is to become a clinician-scientist with expertise in the epidemiology and risk factors of BPBI (and other congenital limb conditions) to improve clinical care and the health of affected individuals at both the individual and population levels. The KL2 is a critical opportunity that helps me build toward this goal by providing protected research time to analyze a large cohort of greater than 11 million maternal-infant pairs to evaluate potential risk factors for BPBI that have not been evaluated in smaller cohorts. In addition, the KL2 has helped me develop multidisciplinary collaborations with clinician-researchers in Orthopedics, Obstetrics, Family Medicine, Statistics, and Epidemiology that have the broad interdisciplinary insight to answer these important questions. Lastly, the KL2 affords the opportunity to complete course work in areas of my choosing, such as Public Health, Epidemiology, and Statistics, that will enable me to complete this project, develop additional research investigations that build on the findings of my KL2 project, and implement interventions that improve clinical care.

Na'amah Razon headshot

Na'amah Razon, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Family and Community Medicine

Na'amah Razon is a medical anthropologist and family physician with extensive expertise in qualitative research of health policy with the goal of advancing health equity. In her KL2 project, Razon will apply a mixed methods approach to integrate patient, provider, and community perspectives with epidemiologic data to address transportation insecurity in patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) treated with in-center hemodialysis (HD). As a medical anthropologist and family physician, she will use her existing skills as a qualitative researcher alongside training in epidemiology and transportation science to identify an innovative person-centered transportation intervention to improve access to HD and address longstanding disparities in dialysis outcomes. Razon states, "There is growing recognition across the healthcare sector that patients’ social context, including transportation, housing, and food insecurity, are the biggest drivers of health and health outcomes. Yet how to best evaluate and intervene on these social factors remains largely unknown. With five million individuals in the United States missing or delaying medical care because of a lack of transportation, addressing transportation barriers is a critical step to improve healthcare access, bolster treatment adherence, and advance health equity." Beyond her research and clinical work, she enjoys the outdoors and camping, biking, and gardening with her family.

Sheela Toprani headshot

Sheela Toprani, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Neurology

Sheela Toprani joined the Department of Neurology in the Division of Epilepsy in July of 2021. Her research bridges the fields of epilepsy, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroengineering. She is collaborating with incredible UC Davis researchers in the departments of biomedical engineering, neuroscience, and neurosurgery. Her training includes philosophy, neuroscience, biopsychology, biophysics, and biomedical engineering, with a focus on elucidating brain networks for developing minimally invasive neuromodulation therapies.  She completed her medical degree at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine as part of the first medical school class concurrently with her Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) as the first MSTP candidate of the combined program. She completed her neurology residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital and epilepsy research as well as clinical fellowships at Stanford Hospital.

Toprani is overjoyed to be part of the CTSC KL2 program at UC Davis. She is excited to learn from mentors who are experts in the areas of her learning goals: how to apply dynamical modeling to learn about epilepsy (Karen Moxon); how to investigate neuropsychological symptoms including cognition with intracranial EEG (Jack Lin); and how to be an effective scientist as well as communicator (Amy Brooks-Kayal).  She is looking forward to building her lab and research program with guidance from her mentors and to working closely with the CTSC team with the goal of leading a successful multidisciplinary collaborative intracranial EEG research laboratory well. She is inspired by her lab team as well as collaborators and is enthused to gain skills through the KL2 program to amplify these interactions for laying groundwork together to improve epilepsy care.

In the News

Dr. Craig McDonald and DMD patientCTSC Supported Cellular Therapy Study Improves Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

A clinical trial at UC Davis Health and six other sites showed that a cellular therapy offers promise for patients with late-stage Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

Read More

Image of Julie BidwellCTSC KL2 Scholar Transitions to K01 Award

Julie Bidwell, assistant professor with the Family Caregiving Institute at Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, describes how the CTSC KL2 Career Development Program assisted her in obtaining a K01 award.

Read More

study patient about to receive vaccineCTSC Clinical Research Center Supports COVID-19 Booster Trial

UC Davis Health is partnering with Pfizer on two new clinical trials to test the COVID-19 vaccine in healthy adults. The CTSC Clinical Research Center (CCRC) is providing professional patient care and research services to both clinical trials.

Read More

Lin Tian head shotLin Tian Receives W.M. Keck Foundation Award

Lin Tian, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, received a $1 million grant to further her research surrounding understanding deep regions of the brain to improve treatments.

Read More

CTSC Clinical Research Center staff CTSC Clinical Research Center Highlighted in Nurse Newsletter

UC Davis Health Nurse Newsletter Winter 2022 highlights the CTSC Clinical Research Center and describes the role it plays in supporting clinical research across the institution.

Read More

Ian Koebner head shotCTSC KL2 Scholar: Using the Arts to Help Manage Pain

On March 11, Ian Koebner, an assistant professor in the Division of Pain Medicine, co-hosted a half-day virtual conference in Amsterdam on the topic of using the arts to help manage pain.

Read More