Luis R. Castellanos, MD, MPH, Appointed Director of Diversity in Medicine and Faculty Outreach for the Department of Medicine

February 27, 2017

An announcement from Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine

Luis Castellanos, MD, MPH

Luis Castellanos, MD, MPH

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Luis R. Castellanos, MD, MPH as Director of Diversity in Medicine and Faculty Outreach for the UCSD Department of Medicine.  Dr. Castellanos is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Cardiology.

In his new role, he will work to promote the recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse medical professionals, including internal medicine residents and faculty, from underrepresented in medicine minority (URM) groups within the Department of Medicine.  Dr. Castellanos has demonstrated a sustained commitment to the critical mission of improving diversity and promoting inclusion in the medical field in order to better serve the members of our diverse community.

Dr. Castellanos graduated from UC Davis summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School.  He first joined UCSD as an Internal Medicine resident in 2003. He was then completed a prestigious Fellowship in Minority Health Policy at Harvard University/Commonwealth Fund Program, obtaining a Masters in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Castellanos subsequently completed a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis where he was selected as the Chief Research Fellow for his involvement in clinical research that addressed vulnerable populations.  He joined the faculty at UCSD in 2010.

As part of his clinical service, Dr. Castellanos travels to the Imperial Valley to provide cardiac care to underserved populations from El Centro, Brawley and neighboring communities.

Dr. Castellanos’ research focuses on health outcomes and inequities involving racial and ethnic minority groups.  He has co-authored peer-reviewed articles in the American Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of Cardiac Failure.  Dr. Castellanos was awarded a research grant from the Clinical and Translation Research Institute to study the effectiveness of a home-based cardiac rehabilitation program in patients with coronary heart disease who live in rural communities.  He has been invited to present his research at national conferences such as the American Heart Association and the National Hispanic Medical Association annual meetings where he has been a strong advocate for improving cardiovascular heath of vulnerable populations.

Dr. Castellanos has been recognized by the UCSD Clinical Advancement and Recognition of Excellence in Service and received the National Center for Leadership in Academic Medicine Award in 2013. Most recently, Dr. Castellanos was selected as a UCSD LEAD (Leaders for Equity, Advancement and Diversity) Fellow.

High Rankings for Internal Medicine Specialties in 2013-2014 “America’s Best Hospitals” Report

Internal medicine subspecialties received high rankings and played a large part in UC San Diego Health System’s excellent showing in the U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Hospitals 2013-2014” guide released July 16.

Clinical efforts of Department of Medicine divisions are either partly or completely responsible for 7 of the 10 UC San Diego Health System adult specialties that ranked in the nation’s top 50 this year and 1 of the 4 ranked as high performing:

In addition, Rheumatology is ranked as high performing once again (Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology).

Last year, three Department of Medicine specialties ranked in the nation’s top 50 and five were rated high performing.

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD“We can be very proud of achieving such a significant rise in our specialty rankings in one year,” said Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

In an announcement to the Department of Medicine faculty, he said, “Thank you for your hard work and your dedication in your patient care activities.

“Your efforts play a major part in distinguishing UC San Diego Health System as one of the finest hospitals in the country, and the top hospital in the San Diego metropolitan area.”

Details of the rankings for UC San Diego Health System are published online here. |  More about the methodology

Fate of the Heart: Researchers Track Cellular Events Leading to Cardiac Regeneration

Studies in zebrafish reveal abundant potential source for repair of injured heart muscle

In a study published in the June 19 online edition of the journal Nature, a scientific team led by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine visually monitored the dynamic cellular events that take place when cardiac regeneration occurs in zebrafish after cardiac ventricular injury. Their findings provide evidence that various cell lines in the heart are more plastic, or capable of transformation into new cell types, than previously thought. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Neil Chi

Dr. Neil Chi

Principal investigator of the study is Neil Chi, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology and member of the Institute for Genomic Medicine.

Chi directs the UC San Diego Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic and Cardiac Tissue Harvest and Biorepository Core.

In 2010, he received an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award for his study of cardiac regeneration in zebrafish. He is currently the principal investigator on that project and two R01 grant projects for research in cardiac morphogenesis and cardiac conduction development and disease.

Citation for the report: Zhang R, Han P, Yang H, Ouyang K, Lee D et al. In vivo cardiac reprogramming contributes to zebrafish heart regeneration. Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12322.  |  Read the full text (UCSD only)

More Information About Dr. Chi:

Cocoa May Enhance Skeletal Muscle Function

A small clinical trial led by researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine and VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) found that patients with advanced heart failure and type 2 diabetes showed improved mitochondrial structure after three months of treatment with epicatechin-enriched cocoa. Epicatechin is a flavonoid found in dark chocolate. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Test tubes in a laboratory.
Pam R. Taub, MD, principal investigator of the initial study, is now leading a larger clinical trial. Dr. Taub, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology, was named to the 2011 “San Diego’s Top Doctors” list.

The study’s senior investigator, Francisco J. Villarreal, MD, PhD, is professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology.  |  Read the abstract of the research report in Clinical and Translational Science

Identifying Heart Failure When Minutes Count

News Feature from the UC San Diego Health System Newsroom

Identifying Heart Failure When Minutes Count
A profile of Dr. Alan S. Maisel
Director of the Coronary Care Unit and Heart Failure Program
Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
by Scott LaFee

The ambulance arrives: lights flashing, siren blaring. Paramedics rush their patient – a 55-year-old male complaining of severe shortness of breath – into the hospital’s emergency room. He may be a case of life-threatening heart failure, but many non-cardiac diseases have similar symptoms. Confirmation is critical. It will determine what happens next; how the patient will be treated.”… Read the full profile from the UC San Diego Health System newsroom

UC San Diego Center for Transplantation “VAD Destination Therapy” Approved

Heart failure patients with few options find future in mechanical devices

The Joint Commission has approved UC San Diego Health System’s Disease-Specific Care Certification for Ventricular Assist Device (VAD). Hospitals performing VAD as a “destination therapy” (for permanent use) receive a certification of distinction and receive reimbursement from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services… Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Co-directing the VAD program is Eric Adler, MD, Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Cardiology. Dr. Adler co-directs the Ventricular Assist Devices program with Jack Copeland, MD, at the UCSD Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center (pictured above).

Biologists Use Flies and Mice to Get to the Heart of Down Syndrome

A novel study involving fruit flies and mice has allowed biologists to identify two critical genes responsible for congenital heart defects in individuals with Down syndrome, a major cause of infant mortality and death in people born with this genetic disorder. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


M. Geoff Rosenfeld, MD   Dr. Kirk Peterson

UC San Diego collaborators in this multi-center effort are Drs. Amir Gamliel, M. Geoff Rosenfeld and Kirk L. Peterson. M. Geoffrey Rosenfeld, MD, above left, is professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Kirk Peterson, MD, FACP, FACC, above right, is director of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, Edith and William M. Perlman Professor of Clinical Cardiology and professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology.

Amir Gamliel, PhD, is a postdoctoral research scientist in the Department of Medicine.

Read the research report in PLoS Genetics (open access article).

UCSD Cardiovascular Team Honored with AHA Gold

UC San Diego Health System is one of only 167 hospitals nationwide to receive the American College of Cardiology Foundation’s NCDR ACTION Registry–GWTG (Get with the Guidelines) Gold Performance Achievement Award for 2011…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

UC San Diego Health System Opens New North County Cardiology Clinic

Patients in San Diego’s North County coastal area now have access to the region’s only top-ranked academic health system, with the convenience of being close to home. UC San Diego Health System North Coastal Cardiology is now open at 477 North El Camino Real Road, Suite D300, in Encinitas… Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

UC San Diego Health System Recognized for Quality Heart Disease/Stroke Care

Dr. Ori Ben-Yehuda describes the significance of UCSD’s Get With The Guidelines® Gold Performance Achievement Award in the UCSD Newsroom story, “UC San Diego Health System Recognized for Quality Heart Disease/Stroke Care.”

Get With the Guidelines® is a quality improvement program of the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Ori Ben-Yehuda, M.D., F.A.C.C., is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology and Director of the Coronary Care Unit at UCSD.