Last updated 10/23/2023
The Keck School of Medicine recently announced its Salerni Board of Directors. You can read about everyone elected below:
Mary Kasem ’98 – President
Dr. Mary Kasem is a board-certified family physician. Dr. Kasem earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Cal State University Northridge, and her MD from the Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1998. She has been interested in primary care and geriatrics since her first year of medical school. She completed a summer internship program in clinical gerontology at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center, under the supervision of Dr. Laura Mosqueda. Dr. Kasem completed her family practice internship and residency training at Kaiser Permanente of Southern California. She practices in Claremont and was formerly the medical director of Claremont Manor Care Center. Dr. Kasem is an ICM instructor at Keck and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Kasem and her husband, Sam, live in San Gabriel Valley, and have three daughters: Nicole, Noelle, and Joelle.
Brent Allen ‘65
Dr. Brent Allen has been a member of the Salerni Collegium Alumni Association Executive Board since 2014. Dr. Allen earned his BA from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences in 1962, and his MD from the Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1965. Dr. Allen received the Distinguished Alumni Award at the 2019 Scholarship Gala and was honored for his service to the Keck School of USC. He is a retired hand surgeon and practiced at Kaiser Permanente of Southern California for most of his life. His parents graduated from USC as did is wife, Polly, and his brother.
Ghada Aluzri – Resident Alumni ‘96
Dr. Ghada Aluzri is an anesthesiologist in Laguna Hills and joined the Salerni Collegium Alumni Association Board in 2017.
She graduated with honors from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland. She completed her residency in anesthesiology at Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1996, with a subspecialty in OB/Anesthesia, and has more than 26 years of diverse experience in the field of anesthesiology. She is a part owner, and the anesthesia director, of Pacific Hills Surgery Center in Laguna Hills. Dr. Aluzri and her husband, Kadum, also a USC alumnus (BS 1985, MS 1987), currently live in Laguna Beach, CA, and have three daughters, one of whom graduated in 2020 from Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Dr. Anna Baum ‘80
Dr. Anna Baum graduated from USC’s School of Medicine, Class of ’80 with honors, and completed her pediatric residency at CHLA along with a Fellowship in Ambulatory Pediatrics. She continues her affiliation with CHLA where for 35 years she was an attending in the Emergency Department ‘Kids Care’, Behavioral Clinic, and General Pediatric Clinic, where she taught residents and medical students. After obtaining a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, she also worked with children and adolescents at the Maple Center. She taught Introduction to Clinical Medicine alongside Eric Cohen in the 1980s and returned to teach ICM in 2014 in furtherance of her passion to improve medical education. She is committed to shaping future generations of physicians to be their best, never forgetting the importance of treating each patient with the compassion, care and understanding they would want for their own family. In 2016, she received an Outstanding Teaching Award from Keck. Anna is married to Barry Novack, a personal injury attorney, who graduated USC with a BS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering. They have a blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren.
Robert “Bob” and Caroline Burk, Co-Presidents, Parents Association
Bob and Caroline are the co-presidents of the Keck School of Medicine of USC Parents Association. Bob, a trojan by marriage, is semi-retired and currently consults part-time as a medicinal chemist for several different companies and golfs/exercises the other half of his time. Caroline has been consulting full-time as a health economist since graduating from the USC School of Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy and loves yoga. They have one daughter Kelly, who is currently in her fourth year of medical school at Keck and loves to knit and bake in her not-so-very spare time. They have another daughter Gracie, a shih tzu bichon mix small dog who turned 13 this year.
Heather Davis ‘98
Dr. Heather Davis is the UM/Hospitalist Medical Director at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC). She has served as the Chief of Staff at PVHMC, a 450 bed, Comprehensive Stroke Center and Level II Trauma Center serving eastern Los Angeles and western San Bernardino Counties. She has practiced Critical Care, Pulmonary Medicine, and Sleep Medicine in the area since 2004. She received her MD from Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1998. She speaks multiple languages, including Spanish.
Leon DeLeon ‘78
Dr. DeLeon did his undergraduate studies at UCLA where he majored in psychobiology. After completing his medical degree at Keck in 1978, he did an Internal Medicine internship at
LAC-USC. He completed his residency in Family Medicine Kaiser Sunset. He continued his career with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group where he had several leadership roles including Physician-in-Charge of the Temple City Medical Office. He was the first Chief of the Family Medicine Department at Kaiser Baldwin Park and was very involved in the development of various Medical Office Buildings in the San Gabriel Valley. He was also privileged to have been appointed acting Medical Director of the Kaiser Baldwin Park Medical Center. He was one of the lead physicians who helped in the implementation of the EMR at Kaiser Baldwin Park. He finished his career at Kaiser as the Physician-in-Charge of the Urgent Care Department at the Kaiser Baldwin Park. During his tenure at Kaiser Baldwin Park, Dr. DeLeon taught many ICM students and participated in the Primary Care rotation required of Keck students. In addition, he hosted students for the Primary Care elective. Dr. DeLeon is now retired and enjoys spending time with his wife, Gloria, traveling the world and visiting his 6 grandchildren.
Armen Dikranian ‘99
Dr. Armen Dikranian is past president of the Salerni Collegium Alumni Association Executive Board. He is a urologist in private practice in Pasadena and is the founder and director of Huntington Urology Specialists. He specializes in robotic surgery and has been the medical director of robotic surgery at Huntington Hospital since 2014. Dr. Dikranian completed his bachelor’s degree at USC with a major in psychobiology and a minor in bioethics. He earned his MD from Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1999, then he completed his urology training at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Dikranian enjoys doing medical missions with International Volunteers in Urology. He and his wife, Talin, have three daughters and live in Pasadena.
Michael Directo ‘13
Mike Directo, MD, MBA is the medical director of Clinical Efficiency & Value within the Cedars-Sinai Health System. In his role, Dr. Directo leads collaborative efforts focused on improving the value of health care through re-design of processes of care, implementation of clinical and operational improvements, clinical decision support, and other innovation initiatives. Board-certified in clinical informatics, he also maintains a focus on leveraging technology to help drive greater efficiencies and support change management. Dr. Directo is board-certified in internal medicine and continues to practice in Los Angeles, California. He holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Division of Informatics, and is responsible for supervising and teaching clinical informatics fellows and other trainees. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Biological Sciences and Political Science from the University of Southern California, an MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business, and his MD from the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Claudia Emami, ‘05
Claudia Emami is a general pediatric surgeon in Los Angeles with over 7 years of clinical experience in private practice. Dr. Emami is a part of the general surgery residency teaching faculty at Huntington Hospital’s general surgical residency in Pasadena CA. She also teaches residents as faculty at Cedar-Sinai medical center’s general surgery program in Los Angeles. She has been involved in resident education and mentorship since the beginning of her medical practice as well as during her own training as a fellow at McGill university. She has also served as a coach for pediatric surgical fellows the last several years through the American Pediatric Surgical association’s (APSA) coaching program.
Dr. Emami serves as the section chief for general surgery at Huntington hospital and is an active member of multiple medical staff committees such as the credentialing committee and the Bylaws committee. She has been involved in the transition of Huntington hospital’s Electronic health record from Cerner to Epic as a member of the Physician advisory council for informatics. She has been a physician EPIC super user and involved in data transition from the Old EHR to the new EPIC model over the last year and a half. In addition, Dr. Emami is the physician champion for several QI projects across different departments at Huntington hospital.
Dr. Emami is active in multiple national surgical organizations. She is a member of the governing council of the American College of Surgeon’s young fellow association (YFA) and serves as the chair of the membership committee for the YFA. She is also on the board of governances of the American College of Surgeon’s State Chapter. She serves as the upcoming chair of advocacy committee in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) surgical section. As a part of her work in advocacy, Dr. Emami represents the YFA in the American College of surgeons SurgeonPAC.
John Gonzalez ‘80
Dr. John Gonzalez is a past president of the Salerni Collegium Alumni Association Executive Board and the current treasurer. He earned his BS in electrical engineering from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in 1976, and his MD from the Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1980. He specializes in orthopaedic surgery and practices in Riverside. Dr. Gonzalez and his wife, Irma, have two children, Jonathan and Ryan. Dr. Gonzalez recently helped establish the Latino Leadership Recruitment Scholarship, along with several other Keck alumni.
Shemi Jalil, ‘12
Alexander Klonoff, ‘19
Dr. Alexander Klonoff is a medical device lead reviewer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hospitalist at Southern California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG), and adjunct clinical instructor at Keck School of Medicine. Dr. Klonoff is a USC “lifer” as he earned his bachelor’s degree at USC Dornsife in 2013, MD at USC Keck School of Medicine in 2019, and MBA at USC Marshall School of Business in 2019, followed by residency in internal medicine at USC/LAC+USC Medical Center. Dr. Klonoff serves on executive committees with the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), including the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society and the Technology and Engineering Management Society, and has a passion for advancing medical devices and technology to improve lives.
Devinda Kurera ‘03
Dr. Devinda Kurera is an emergency physician who practices in Montclair, Chino, and San Dimas. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology and Political Science from USC in 1999. Dr. Kurera attended the Keck School of Medicine of USC on a Naval Health Science Professional scholarship and graduated in 2003. He subsequently served in the Navy for ten years, completing his residency at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, and was deployed twice to the Middle East. Dr. Kurera enjoys spending time with his wife, Heather, and their two daughters, attending USC football games, and playing volleyball. He enjoyed Salerni’s volleyball court on campus as a student and looks forward to encouraging current students to play.
Michael Lew, ‘90
Dr. Michael Lew is a board-certified anesthesiologist at City of Hope. Dr. Lew was born and raised in Los Angeles; and attended Columbia University in New York prior to graduating cum laude from the University of Southern California in 1986. While at USC, he was elected to be a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Dr. Lew continued his postgraduate training and received his medical degree from Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1990. In 1994, Dr. Lew completed residency and was chief resident at the Keck School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology. After residency, he joined City of Hope and served as chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine from 2002-2018 and currently is a Clinical Professor within the department.
At City of Hope, Dr. Lew was instrumental in the growth and development of the anesthesia and perioperative department. Some of his key accomplishments included the early adoption of a Preanesthesia Testing Clinic, applying LEAN (black belt-certified) to improve OR efficiency, and overseeing the development of the minimally invasive surgery program (personally anesthetized over 5000 robotic surgeries).
Dr. Lew’s wife, Kristen is also a Trojan (BS ‘87 Dental Hygiene) and they have three sons. He has demonstrated his gratefulness to USC by serving as a past Board of Governor and establishing a named scholarship. Dr. Lew relaxes by smoking (ribs and brisket), spending time with his family and friends, and he enjoys running.
Retired Faculty Association Liaison
Dr MacKenzie is Professor (Emeritus) of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine after spending 42 years as Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He is a graduate of McGill University School of Medicine in Montreal, Canada. As an internist, he developed, early in his career, an interest in the medical and health issues of adolescents and young adults. He subsequently played a critical and essential role in developing the now Board-Certified field of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine.
He is recognized both nationally and internationally in his field having been Past President of the Society of Adolescent Medicine, Consultant to the World Health Organization, the Mentor Foundation, and the International Program on Substance Abuse Prevention in Youth. He has received distinguished awards from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Adolescent Medicine in addition to recognition by UNICEF, and both the American Medical and American Hospital Association. He is particularly known for his work with High-Risk Youth and Bio-behavioral issues in young people. Part of his work was captured, Hollywood style, in a film written and directed by one of his patients. Keanu Reeves played Dr. MacKenzie.
He is presently a Member of the Board of the Retired Faculty Association and represents the RFA, as alternative on the Academic Senate. He is a proud second-generation Scot and Vice President of the Scottish St. Andrews Society of Los Angeles.
Linda Mirdamadi, ’94
USC Alumni Association Board of Governors Liaison
Dr. Mirdamadi is an Internist with over 20 years of clinical and leadership experience. She is the former Chief Wellness Officer and Medical Director for the Center for Healthy Living and Weight Management and co-founder of the Bariatric Medicine program at Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles. Currently, Dr. Mirdamadi is an adjunct clinical instructor at the Keck School of Medicine and is the co-alumni faculty advisor for the Latino Medical Student Association. She also serves on the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors and volunteers her time with the USC Latino Alumni Association (USCLAA). Dr. Mirdamadi received her BS in Biology from the University of California, Irvine and earned her MD at the Keck School of Medicine as a USCLAA Scholar. She completed her Internal Medicine residency at Huntington Memorial Hospital and currently lives in Los Angeles. She enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, traveling, and embracing a healthy lifestyle.
President, Medical Faculty, Family and Friends
Dr. Marvin Nelson is chairman of the Department of Radiology at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and professor of radiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He received his BS in chemistry from Loma Linda University and his MD from Loma Linda University Medical School. He went on to complete his internship and residency in diagnostic radiology at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Dr. Nelson serves as the president of Medical Faculty, Family and Friends, a support organization that was established in 1929 and operates under the SCAA umbrella. Its mission is to raise funds to support the Required Scholarly Project (RSP) and to provide engagement opportunities for current and formal faculty.
Diana Ramos, ‘94
Dr. Diana E. Ramos is a well-recognized public health leader dedicated to improving health care quality and equity. She recently served as the Assistant Deputy Director of Chronic Disease Prevention for the California Department of Public Health. Past roles include the Director for Reproductive Health in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and adjunct Associate Professor at the Keck University of Southern California School of Medicine.
Dr. Ramos is the Immediate Past Chair for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, California & Ecuador (IX) District, secretary for the executive board of the National Hispanic Medical Association, and is co-chair for the Women’s Preventive Service Initiative implementation committee.
She serves on many national and international women’s health improvement and equity committees. Her areas of expertise include health disparities, social determinants of health, preconception/interconception health, preterm birth, contraception, and quality improvement in health. The Orange County Medical Association recently named Dr. Ramos the 2023 Physician of the Year. Dr. Ramos has written and contributed numerous articles to the obstetrics and gynecology and public health literature and has lectured in Spanish and English, locally, nationally, and internationally.
Dr. Ramos received her medical degree from the University of Southern California with honors and completed her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. She received her MBA from the UCI Paul Merage School of business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and innovation and her master’s in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Ramos completed her undergraduate degree, a BA in Communications, Arts & Science from the University of Southern California.
Donna Pachorek ‘87
Dr. Donna Pachorek is a past president of the Salerni Collegium Alumni Association Executive Board. She earned her MD from the Keck School of Medicine of USC in 1987 and president of Conejo Children’s Medical Group. Dr. Pachorek was chief resident at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Her daughter graduated from the Keck School of Medicine of USC in 2017 and is a conducting her residency in neurosurgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Dr. Pachorek has 10 siblings, four of whom went to USC. Her brother, Dr. Joe Pachorek (’86), is an internist and practices in Pasadena. He conducts interviews for Keck Admissions and participates in our annual Business of Medicine alumni panel.
Alesandra Rau, ‘23
Robert “Bo” Riewerts ’87
Robert (Bo) Riewerts, MD is a Board-Certified Pediatrician who has been a practicing physician for over 30 years, spending most of his career working at Kaiser Permanente. He graduated from USC School of Medicine (Now Keck) in 1987 and completed his internship and residency training in Pediatrics at LAC/USC in 1990.
During his career with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Dr. Riewerts served in numerous leadership capacities, providing leadership and oversight of the pediatric care provided by the 600 Pediatricians and Pediatric Subspecialists that care for nearly one million members across Southern California. After retiring from SCPMG at the end of 2020, Bo took on a new role of working at the Engemann Student Health Center on the USC Campus. Beginning January 2023, he joined the faculty at Keck as a Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine.
Throughout his career he has been involved in teaching and Community Service. He has served as an attending physician in the Pediatrics Residency Training programs at both the Keck School of Medicine and Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center and regularly mentored medical students and nurse practitioners. He has donated his time to the Boards of the Pasadena Community Health Foundation, Foothill Family Service, Camp Ronald McDonald, the Boys and Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley, and the Salerni Collegium Alumni Association for the Keck School of Medicine.
He resides in Pasadena with his wife Susan Regas of 40 years and enjoys traveling, cycling, hiking, skiing, and playing tennis in their free time.
Suzanne Roberts ‘87
Suzanne Roberts MD is a Keck School of Medicine grad, class of 1987, and a former Salerni Collegium president. She is a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Keck, teaching residents and caring for children with medical and social complexity at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Her husband, Wayne Kaufman MD (Keck ’90), JD (Gould ’86) is a professor of anesthesiology at Keck. They are proud parents to two currently employed USC grads (’21 and ’23).
Vas Sarma ‘93
Dr. Srinivas J. Sarma is a Southern California native and is a past president of the Salerni Collegium Alumni Association Executive Board. He attended USC and graduated in 1993 with a degree in gerontology. Dr. Sarma earned his MD at the American University of the Caribbean and completed his residency in internal medicine at LAC+USC Medical Center. He also completed fellowships in both pulmonary and critical care and pulmonary transplant. Dr. Sarma is the director of the Cardiovascular Surgical Intensive Care, as well as chair of the Critical Care Committee within the regional department of cardiac surgery at the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. Dr. Sarma and his wife, Sabena, live in Glendale with their two children.
Margaret Spencer, ‘94
Dr Margaret Spencer is a Board-Certified Ophthalmologist specializing in Glaucoma Surgery and is a Partner at Kaiser Permanente. Dr Spencer earned her BS degree from USC in Biology with Minors in French and Chemistry, her MD degree from USC and completed her Fellowship in glaucoma surgery at USC. Dr. Spencer’s clinical interests include surgical management of refractory glaucoma using glaucoma drainage implants, population based epidemiological studies, telemedicine, healthcare technology, health information technology and artificial intelligence. Dr. Spencer’s research interests include viral vector mediated gene therapy and neuroprotection in glaucoma. During her previous tenure at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Spencer was awarded grant support, established and ran a basic science laboratory investigating the role of viral vector mediated gene transfer of anti-apoptosis genes on retinal ganglion cell survival. Dr. Spencer has been invited to speak at numerous scientific meetings in the U.S. and international on glaucoma drainage implant devices, population based epidemiological studies, gene therapy, neuroprotection and glaucoma. Dr. Spencer has published numerous peer reviewed articles in scientific journals. Dr Spencer and her husband Doug live in Santa Monica with their daughter Sophia, a 7th grader at Brentwood School and their labrador, Sunshine.
Christos Theophanous ‘16
Dr. Christos Theophanous is a cataract and glaucoma surgeon at Palo Alto Medical Foundation. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Harvard University and medical degree from Keck School of Medicine of USC in 2016. During his time at Keck, he served as Class President and sat on the national board of the American Association of Medical Colleges’ Organization of Student Representatives. He completed his residency in ophthalmology at the University of Chicago Medical Center and glaucoma fellowship at Duke Eye Center. He also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Henry Wu ‘12
Dr. Henry Wu is a general pediatrician with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG) and is an adjunct assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Dr. Wu considers himself a triple Trojan, earning his bachelor’s degree at USC in 2008, his medical degree at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in 2012, and later finished his pediatric training at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), an affiliate hospital of USC, where he served as a Chief Resident. Dr. Wu works with patients and their families in the outpatient and virtual healthcare settings and serves on the local Quality Improvement and Innovation Committees at SCPMG.
Stephanie Zia ‘03
Dr. Stephanie Zia is a clinical assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics (clinician educator) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and was recently appointed Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the Keck School of Medicine of USC as of July 2019. Dr. Zia earned her MD from Keck School of Medicine of USC in 2003, where she also was a former SCAA Student Chapter board member. She then completed her internship and residency at LAC+USC Medical Center in the combined internal medicine and pediatrics program, where she served as Chief Resident. Dr. Zia continued her education at Keck by completing a Masters in Academic Medicine (MACM) in 2015.
Langley Grace Wallace, MSII
Langley Grace was raised in New York City and Washington D.C., but decided to trade the East Coast for better weather for medical school! She graduated cum laude from Columbia University, where she obtained a B.A. in Biology and served in student leadership positions in the Biology department. Langley Grace’s passion for medicine grew from her experience caring for her parents during their respective cancer treatments and her work in basic science research throughout high school and college. In her free time, Langley Grace enjoys hiking, reading, beach days and exploring new LA restaurants with friends.
Nandini Marolia, MSII
Nandini grew up in Orange County, California and attended UCLA for her undergrad earning a degree in Mathematics/Applied Sciences. After graduating, she followed in her father’s footsteps to Keck, where he graduated in the class of 1997. The Trojan Family is what drew her to Keck as well as the incredible opportunities to pursue her career interests. Currently, Nandini is interested in either pediatric surgery or general pediatrics. She is also interested in culinary medicine and global health.
In her free time, Nandini enjoys running and has completed the LA Marathon three times! She also enjoys cooking all sorts of dishes and going to the beach with her dog, Nike. Nandini cannot wait to connect current students with Keck Alum and strengthen the Trojan Family through these mentorships.
Sina Sobhani, MSII
Sina was born and raised in Iran and decided at the age of 17 to move to Southern California’s Orange County by himself to pursue higher education. Sina enrolled in the University of California, Irvine, where he obtained a degree in Biology. While attending UCI, Sina developed a passion for scientific research, community service, and patient care. During his free time, Sina enjoys a variety of hobbies, including playing the piano, watching sports, exploring the vibrant city of LA, and going on road trips.
Emerson Harris, MSII
Emerson grew up in Los Angeles, CA and graduated from USC with a degree in Biochemistry. Her amazing experience and mentorship at USC persuaded her to continue her journey to becoming a physician at Keck. Emerson has worked at the USC Norris Cancer Center, CHLA, and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. Emerson is thrilled to be a leading member of Salerni and give back to an institution which has given so much to her. Outside of school, Emerson loves to travel and spend time with friends and family.