Program Leadership

MSTP Director | Alan L. Goldin, MD, PhD 

Dr. Goldin received his MD,PhD from the University of Michigan and he completed postdoctoral training in molecular neurobiology at Caltech.  He is a faculty member in the departments of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Anatomy & Neurobiology, and Physiology & Biophysics and he serves as Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in the College of Health Sciences.  His lab investigates how mutations in ion channel genes cause epilepsy using mouse models and human neurons. Dr. Goldin's goal for the program is to have students with diverse backgrounds and research interests help each other learn to apply rigorous scientific approaches from many fields to research and clinical practice.


121107 monuki s780pxMSTP Associate Director | Edwin Monuki, MD, PhD

A Southern California native, Dr. Monuki received his B.S. in Biology from M.I.T. He then earned his MD,PhD at UC San Diego, after which he completed his Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology residency and clinical fellowship at Massachusetts Gen, Brigham and Women’s, and Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon completion of his clinical training, Dr. Monuki became an attending at the Brigham and Children’s as well as a Howard Hughes postdoctoral fellow at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In 2001 he joined UCI’s Department of Pathology, where he studies forebrain development and translational applications using embryonic, induced-pluritpotent, and neural stem cells. He is the Warren L. Bostick  Chair of Pathology at UC Irvine. His vision for UCI’s MSTP is to develop new education and training initiatives to prepare the next generation of leaders in academic medicine and to help make our program an MSTP-of-choice for incoming students.

MSTP Advisors

Program Advisors meet with students every quarter and provide guidance regarding selecting a laboratory, research rotations, and more, or direct your questions to someone who can answer them. 


Tallie Z. Baram, MD, PhD

Anatomy & Neurbiology

Dr. Baram received her PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, and her MD in the PhD to MD program at the University of Miami, FLA. Baram, a child neurologist and a Neurobiologist is focusing her research on the programming of the developing brain by early-life experience, in two broad contexts: a). how early-life experiences including stress and maternal care influence resilience and vulnerability to cognitive and emotional disorders; b). how early life seizures, especially those associated with fever, can convert a normal brain into an epileptic one. Using rodent models and cutting-edge molecular, cellular epigenetic and imaging methods, Baram’s group is making major contributions to our understanding of the effects of early-life experience on normal brain function and the contributions of early-life adversity and seizures to neuropsychiatric disorders.


Steven Chessler, MD, PhD

Medicine & Endocrinology

Dr. Chessler received his MD, PhD from the University of Washington.  He remained at UW to complete a residency in Internal Medicine and a combined research-clinical fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. His laboratory is interested in the biology of the pancreatic islets and in islet failure in diabetes. Current work is focused on the role of extracellular protein interactions in insulin secretion and on identifying candidate cell-surface drug targets for the treatment of diabetes. Dr. Chessler also has a limited clinical practice and participates in the training of medical students, residents and fellows in diabetes and endocrinology.


Robert Edwards

Robert Edwards, MD, PhD

Pathology & Laboratory

Dr. Edwards received his MD,PhD from Baylor College of Medicine where he also completed a residency in Combined Anatomical and Clinical Pathology. Dr. Edwards completed a Post-Doctoral fellow in Dr. Steven L Kunkel's lab at the University of Michigan. His lab is interested in the relationship between chronic inflammation and colorectal carcinogenesis in human and animal models. Other areas of interest involves include  translational research projects performed in collaboration with several clinical investigators at UCI and other institutions . One ongoing project involves a proteomics approach to the serologic diagnosis of IBD and responses to biologic therapies, using patient samples collected at UCIMC.


Anand K Ganesan, MD, PhD

Department of Dermatology




Frithjof Kruggel, MD, PhD

Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Kruggel received his M.S. degree in Chemistry and M.D. from Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany, 1983 resp. 1987), and Ph.D. from Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich (Germany, 1989). He completed a residence in Neurology and Clinical Neuropsychology at Kli

nikum rechts der Isar (Munich), after which he joined the Max-Planck-Institute on Cognitive Neuroscience in Leipzig (Germany) as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2005, he joined UCI's Department of Biomedical Engineering, where he studies the relation between structures and functions of the human brain. He is developing and applying new signal and image processing algorithms to the data analysis of neurofunctional methods (anatomical and functional MRI, emission tomography, event-related fields and potentials).


Ulrike Luderer, MD, PhD, MPH

Environmental Toxicology

Dr. Luderer received her MD, PhD from Northwestern University and her MPH from the University of Washington.  Dr Luderer's research is aimed at elucidating the mechanisms by which toxicants disrupt reproductive function and the protective mechanisms that prevent toxicant-induced reproductive dysfunction.  The laboratory's ongoing work is investigating the interactions between genetic deficiencies in antioxidant capacity and toxicant exposure in ovarian toxicity, reproductive aging and ovarian cancer.


Sabee Molloi, PhD

Radiological Sciences

Dr. Molloi received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  At UCI, Dr. Molloi leads the Imaging Physics Laboratory.  The lab focuses on the quantitative aspects of medical imaging and its applications for cardiovascular disease and breast cancer diagnosis.



Ruth Benca, MD, PhD

Psychiatry & Human Behavior

Dr. Ruth Benca received her undergraduate education at Harvard University and her MD degree and a PhD in Pathology from the University of Chicago. She completed a residency in Psychiatry and a fellowship in Sleep Medicine, also at the University of Chicago. She is currently the Chair of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and is working to build a comprehensive sleep medicine center at UCI, dedicated to providing outstanding clinical care for sleep disorders throughout the region as well as developing a world-class translational research program. Dr. Benca has a broad background in basic and clinical sleep research and has served as PI or co-Investigator on numerous projects funded by NIH and the Department of Defense over the past 25 years. Her ongoing work has focused on the use of high-density EEG, actigraphy and home sleep testing to assess sleep and brain function in obstructive sleep apnea. She also uses high-density EEG along with brain imaging to assess brain activity in normal and pathological aging, including in patients with mild cognitive impairment and cognitively intact subjects at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.


Daniela Bota, MD, PhD


Dr. Daniela Bota is a UC Irvine Health neuro-oncologist who specializes in the treatment of primary and metastatic brain and spinal cord tumors, as well as in the neurological complications of cancers. Bota is co-director of the UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program and is a lead investigator on several clinical trials, including novel treatments using brain tumor vaccines and the use of electrical fields to inhibit the growth of gliomas.


Autumn Ivy, MD, PhD


Dr. Autumn Ivy is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UCI. She is an alumnus of the UCI MSTP program and completed her training here in 2012, and continued her residency studies at Stanford university. She is a Child Neurologist Career Development Program (CNCDP-K12) awardee and her research investigates genomic and epigenetic regulation of neuronal development and function with early-life exercise. Additionally Autumn is a Diplomate on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, with special qualifications in Child Neurology and participates as a faculty member to the Program in Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC).


Yama Akbari, MD, PhD


Dr. Yama Akbari earned his medical degree and PhD from UCI’s Medical Scientist Training Program. He completed residency in neurology at UCLA”s David Geffen School of Medicine and a two-year fellowship in neurocritical care at Johns Hopkins University. He is current the principal investigator of a basic and translational research laboratory focusing on coma recovery.