Gonzalo Castaneda MD
Born in Zacatecas, México, my family and I immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1990’s. Like most other immigrants in this country, I encountered a lot of obstacles. Nonetheless, through hard work, perseverance, and strong family relationships, I managed to overcome adversity and become a first-generation college and medical school graduate. Along the way I developed a strong sense of community and a passion for medicine, advocacy, and equity.
I chose Harbor-UCLA for its faculty diversity, and for their dedication to serving disenfranchised communities and alleviating healthcare disparities. I look forward to sharing this journey with my peers, who are just as passionate and committed to fighting against social injustices and other inequalities, as I am.
Languages: English and Spanish
Who/What inspires me: My family, my community, and a better tomorrow
Christine Choi DO
I’m an ESTJ born and raised in Southern California to Korean immigrant parents, and knew I wanted to become a doctor since a young age of 12 because of my personal experience as a patient. A chronic condition and serious surgery sparked my curiosity in the human body, and enables me to empathize with people from the deepest part of my heart. Over the years, my desire to help people morphed into a passion for social justice and healthcare advocacy as I volunteered at free clinics in Mexico while at UCLA, and worked as a medical assistant mastering health insurance before medical school.
I chose to practice Family Medicine because I love everything—ortho, PM&R, sports, surgery, urgent care, psych, OB/gyn, neuro, inpatient, outpatient—and in addition, FM satisfies my need to figure out the cause of disease and see the patient as a whole. Over the course of medical school, what I have enjoyed most about medicine is hearing the raw, unfiltered stories of patients and their struggles. And I love that I will foster long term meaningful relationships with patients and know them outside of their disease.
I also find purpose and hope in Family Medicine. Healthcare is broken. It is the neglected who need the most help, yet they cannot get access because of increasing prices in healthcare, poor communication and follow up, and socioeconomic limitations. Family medicine is uniquely entailed to improve healthcare as a whole, and I am more than willing to contribute to the solution by becoming a primary care physician.
I’ve lived everywhere including OC, LA, DC, NJ, NYC the last five years and I’ve finally returned home, because there’s nothing like driving an hour in traffic on the 405. I am absolutely thrilled to be training at Harbor-UCLA because it is a strong academic county program, and am so excited to work with others at who share the same vision of working with the underserved.
Languages: English, Korean, Español muy poquito
Who/What inspires me: Stories of people who have known defeat, suffering, and struggle, and have found a way to press on.
Favorite places in LA: DTLA, Ktown, Little Tokyo, Abbott Kinney Blvd, El Taurino
Celebrity Crush: Ron Swanson
Deirdre Davis MD
I was born and raised mostly in San Diego, California. I first began seriously thinking about medicine on a medical mission tip to Panama, where I saw people working all day picking bananas that would likely be shipped to other countries, yet barely able to make ends meet. After that I completed a PhD in Biomedical Science in an attempt to better understand the diverse roles of immune cells in the brain. What pushed me to finally apply to medical school was when I worked as a health educator at a transitional housing shelter in San Diego. Though I felt hopeless knowing that some of my patients slept on the street, I felt proud to work for an organization and with doctors that continued to see these individuals as people who merely needed help (physical, mental, social) to get back on their feet.
I chose Family Medicine when I realized in medical school that I loved being able to treat the whole patient, and not just one organ system. I chose Harbor’s FM program because I saw how genuinely invested they were not only in their patients, but in the health of the diverse communities that they serve. At Harbor, I’m really looking forward to getting to know my co-residents, my patients and learning how to better serve this community.
Languages: English and Spanish
Who/What inspires me: My mom and family that came before me that weren’t able to fulfill their dreams but worked hard so that I could.
Favorite Places in LA: Universal Studios
Celebrity Crush: Pharrell Williams, Michael B Jordan, Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba
Renee El-Khoury DO
My parents, Lebanese immigrants who came to Los Angeles to establish a more stable life for their family, instilled in my brother and me the values of hard work, perseverance, and giving back to the community that welcomed us with open arms. Through my involvement with the Mobile Clinic Project at UCLA, an organization committed to providing street-side care and resources for Hollywood’s homeless population, and as an AmeriCorps Health Education Programs Coordinator with the UMMA Community Clinic in South LA, I knew that medicine would be my lifelong opportunity to merge these values and provide service for the greater good. In particular, Family Medicine has the unique massive potential for creating change at the local level, whether that is through health education and resource awareness, social justice, or policy change (or all of the above!). It is the perfect intersection of healthcare advocacy and complex problem solving while balancing continuity of care, promoting health empowerment, and practicing with compassion. I knew that I wanted to be a part of program that is actively working to change the healthcare narrative in its community, and I believe that Harbor-UCLA is doing this on a daily basis. I am excited to be returning to LA and joining this family of mission-driven physicians!
Languages: Arabic, Spanish
Who/What inspires me: My brother’s work ethic. My parents’ resilience. My dog’s unwavering commitment to play fetch every time he hears and/or sees an orange squeaky ball.
Favorite places in LA: The Griffith Observatory, any small music venue (The Fonda, The Observatory, Teragram Ballroom), Rosie’s dog beach, any and all LA county museums
Celebrity Crush: Tracee Ellis Ross, Michael B. Jordan, Mindy Kaling, Solange Knowles (sorry, Beyonce)
Diana Garcia MD
As a graduate of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Program in Medical Education (PRIME)- Health Equity, I worked tirelessly to understand and meet the health care needs of underserved populations of California. Harbor-UCLA’s mission/vision, patients, faculty, and residents shared my passion. Before medical school I began coordinating parenting skills workshops for migrant communities in Spanish. Since then, I’ve been dedicated to improve cultural sensitivity in my field to empower those who seek medical care with efficacious treatment, education, skills workshops, interventions, policy, mentoring, and research. My interests are vast: patient safety, quality, mental health, trauma prevention, health equity within immigrant/refugee, incarcerated, homeless, geriatric, and adolescent populations. My main objective is to reduce the health literacy gap between diverse communities of color and to improve health outcomes for patients as a Family Physician and dedicated community activist. It’s wonderful to be back in L.A. after so many years away and an honor to be part of this academic-patient centered residency program.
Who/What inspires me: Collaboration, Kindness, Brilliance, Passion, Curiosity, Vulnerability
Favorite Places in LA: Griffith Park Observatory and Getty Museums
Celebrity Crush: Angela Davis, Father Gregory Boyle, Daddy Yankee
Lorenzo Gonzalez MD
To challenge how medicine, health, and wellness is engendered within our current societal structure, I am dedicated to improving the lives of the neglected and disenfranchised communities through my career as a doctor, urban planner, and activist. Medicine is a profession which faces human disease; a highly intersectoral and manifestation of an oppressive system. Through multi-sectoral collaboration, I intend to incorporate medical expertise, policy, and social/community capital to push towards a sustainable framework of change and wellness. Health and wellness require a movement in which medical professionals understand and confront the obstacles of our patients in order to deliver exceptional comprehensive patient-centered care, and at Harbor UCLA’s Family Medicine Residency, the movement continues. The program is in the forefront advocating for the right to health, and fosters a vanguard rooted in social justice. I am excited to continue this legacy, work with passionate individuals, and give my heart to a patient population that has been historically underserved.
Languages: Español and English
Who/What inspires me: My father and mother Lorenzo y Luisa Carmen Gonzalez, and the rest of my family. Thank you for teaching me the values of community, resiliency, and justice.
Favorite Places in LA: The Baldwin Hills Overlook which gives a spectacular 365 view of Los Angeles., and shout out to “Marielas Tacos” for the best tacos in Los Angeles
Celebrity Crush: Maria Felix and Alicia Keys
Annie Haynes MD
MD: University of Minnesota (Go Gophers)
BS: Biochemistry , University of Minnesota
I chose medicine and specifically family med because I loved the idea of being able to partner with patients on an individual level to help improve their health while also using the power of an MD to advocate for better systems to keep patients healthy. I chose Harbor because they were doing this better than any other program I had seen. While a lot of places I considered were very proud of all the health equity curriculum they had, Harbor seemed to be out there truly walking the walk, partnering with communities to create change.
Languages: English and Spanish
Who/What inspires me: As an Enneagram 6 (there’s a fun google hole to fall down for a while) I am primarily motivated by fear and a need for security, so I like to sabotage that sometimes by doing things like uprooting 25 years of living calmly in the Midwest to try out California. I learn best when I am pushed outside my comfort zone, a concept an instructor of mine once called being in “the zone of productive distress,” which I think is an accurate term for what we can all hope for residency to be.
Favorite Places in LA: Having lived here about 2 weeks and seen mainly the hospital and clinic that’s a rough call, but I love to skateboard so I went to Venice Beach one day to see the pool/bowl set-up they’ve got there and that was awesome. Also Torrance High School because it’s where Buffy the Vampire Slayer went to school and practicing medicine a mile from the Hellmouth is pretty cool.
Celebrity Crush: Hayley Kiyoko
Amber Lara DO
My first introduction to medicine was seeing the great relationship that my mother had with her family doctor. It made me realize that I wanted a career that would not only gratifying, but would also help others. As a second-generation Mexican-American, I found that it would be the best way to help those in my community live happy and healthy lives. I hope to empower and instill confidence in my patients, to reassure them that they can live a healthy life and that they have every right to it. Volunteering with farm workers while at UC Santa Barbara made me realize just how important primary care and family medicine are. To help patients understand the very basics of their health and to accompany them in the complicated health care system. I love that family medicine takes into account every aspect of the patient’s life. I am so excited to be a part of Harbor, to be able to provide high quality of care to any patient regardless of their background or ability to pay. The program here is filled with like-minded residents who are willing to advocate for their patients. It is such an honor to be a part of such an inspiring program that is dedicated to it’s community.
Languages: English and Spanish
Who/What inspires me: My family and community, the human connection
Favorite Places in LA: Griffith Park and Observator, The Fashion District, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Pizzanista, Dodger’s Stadium
Celebrity Crush: Javier Bardem, Idris Elba
Saba Malik MD
I’m so excited to be back in California after spending my medical school years in upstate New York! I lived in LA for ten years before medical school including undergraduate, graduate school and working as an anesthesia technician at the UCLA hospital in Westwood. While in LA, I developed a strong interest in working with and supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged populations which led me to pursue my degree in public health. I chose family medicine because it is perfect for being able to work with a very diverse panel of patients and for reaching beyond the individual to communities and special populations. I’m passionate abou working with incarcerated individuals, refugees and asylum seekers, LGBTQ folks, the homeless population, adolescents, and other vulnerable groups. I also have a strong interest in the mind-body-spirit connection and exploring alternative and integrative healing modalities. Harbor was my top choice because of its mission to serve those most in need and its reputation for health justice and advocacy. I’m am incredibly grateful and excited to train here and be back home!
Languages: English, some Urdu, Spanish, trying to learn American Sign Language
Who/What inspires me: Incredibly brave human rights warriors, i.e. Malala Yousafzai, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, RBG
Favorite Places in LA: Farmer’s markets and exploring new vegan spots!
Celebrity Crush: Kate Mckinnon, Sara Ramirez
Francisco Mendoza MD
I was immediately drawn Harbor-UCLA due to program’s commitment to serving diverse communities in Los Angeles. I was born in Leon Guanajuato Mexico and grew up in different communities in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego. Being raised in these different communities afforded me the privilege of seeing the strengths of diversity and what different perspectives bring to the table.
As a former undocumented student, I first attended community college in San Diego and transferred to UCLA for undergraduate studies where I completed a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. At UCLA I volunteered at the UMMA free clinic in South Los Angeles and was able to see the positive impact of primary care in our communities. I also became empowered as an undocumented student thanks to the many mentors and leadership we had in the community programs office. I believe this is the kind of culture that is present at Harbor-UCLA; one that is committed to excellent patient-centered care while being rooted in social justice.
Languages: Español, English
Who/What inspires me: I am most inspired by the everyday people in our city that sacrifice so much to provide a better future for their families and their community.
Interests/Hobbies: Playing soccer, meditation, gardening, going to the beach!
Elisa Nasol MD
I was born in eastside San José, raised in a household fueled by young cousins singing around the piano, my uncles’ and aunts’ loud jokes, and my Lola’s hearty pancit. My family cares deeply for loved ones from birth to death, and these roots inform how I approach practicing Family Medicine. I carry my inter-generational, immigrant history into clinic and into community, serving others by remembering how issues of healthcare equity have affected us all. I am extremely grateful to train at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where I am surrounded by mentors who embody this mission of advocacy and service, not just in medicine but also through policy and research. Amidst the complexities of working in primary care, my Harbor co-residents continue to strive toward an ideal of social justice, and I am proud to march forward with them.
Languages: English, working on Tagalog and Spanish
Who/What inspires me: My parent’s faith, my sister’s music-making, and my husband’s sense of humor
Favorite Places in LA: Ruben’s Tacos, Santa Monica-Venice beach bike path, and Porto’s Bakery!
Celebrity Crush: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Janelle Monae
Josh Zyss DO
I am thrilled to be here in warm sunny SoCal, being born and raised in cool and cloudy Toronto! Some of my interests include: skiing, travelling, canoe trips, badminton and running. Before and during college I was a lifeguard and canoe trip guide (some which were weeks long!). During and after college, I volunteered for an extended time in Tacloban City Philippines developing a feeding/educational program and working in a correctional facility. I later went to medical school in Kansas City (eating BBQ regularly) and completed my clinical rotations mainly in Denver (skiing regularly)!
I knew I wanted to become a family physician for as long as I can remember. When finished my training, I plan to practice full spectrum family medicine for underserved communities both locally and internationally. I find it very rewarding being able to treat all patients on both a social and medical level, regardless of age and socioeconomic status. I currently have specific interests in sustainable global health/mission trips, geriatrics, and correctional facility medicine. I chose Harbor UCLA due to their primary focus on providing excellent comprehensive care to underserved patient populations regardless of the ability to pay, the excellent and very supportive training environment, and amazing personalities I met during my interview day! I can’t wait to learn from all the faculty and staff, residents and patients over the next several years.
Languages: Canadian English
Who/What inspires me: My parents (Veronika and Roman Zyss) and Dr. Paul Farmer
Favorite Places in LA: Redondo and Hermosa Beach
Celebrity Crush: Yvonne Strahovshi (in Handmaid’s Tale, 24, Dexter), Maggie Siff (in Billions, Mad Men, Son’s of Anarchy)