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Matthew J. Budoff, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Program Director and Director of Cardiac CT, Division of Cardiology, Harbor-UCLA Medical CenterEndowed Chair of Preventive Cardiology, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute

Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Program Director and Director of Cardiac CT, Division of Cardiology, Harbor-UCLA Medical CenterEndowed Chair of Preventive Cardiology, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute

Dr. Matthew Budoff is at the forefront of the medical community’s efforts to develop early detection methods for cardiac disease, the number one cause of death in the U.S. Given that approximately 50 percent of U.S. heart disease victims learn of their illness by experiencing a sometimes fatal heart attack, Dr. Budoff has devoted much of his time over the past 20 years to advancing procedures that can help doctors identify cardiac patients early, and place them on a therapeutic path to prevent a heart attack.

Dr. Budoff works on at least 20 active medical research trials at any given time, and is a frequent lecturer on topics of cardiology at symposia, congresses and annual conferences on every continent. He has authored or co-authored over 750 research papers, six books, and 40 book chapters.

 Dr. Budoff has been listed among America's and Los Angeles' Top Doctors every year since 2005.  In the past two years alone, Dr. Budoff has been honored with multiple awards recognizing his professional skills and accomplishments. Of particular note is his receipt of the Einstein Award for Scientific Achievement from the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, U.K.; being named to the US News list of Top Doctors for 2011; and, most recently, named to “Worlds Most Influential Scientific Minds” in 2014. In 2015, he was named the Endowed Chair of Preventive Cardiology at his institution and was awarded the Arthur S. Agatston Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Award.

Dr. Budoff graduated cum laude from the University of California, Riverside, with a major in biochemistry. He went on to graduate with distinction and a member of Alpha Omega Alpha from the George Washington University School of Medicine, in Washington, DC, before returning to his native California to complete an internship and residency in internal medicine, and a fellowship in cardiology, at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, where he currently acts as Program Director for the Cardiology Fellowship and Director of Cardiac Computed Tomography.



Meghana Gadgil, MD

I am an Assistant Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCSF, and have worked with the MASALA cohort since 2012.  My research focus is on the role of nutrition in the prevention of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, especially in minority women. To date, my work with MASALA has  characterized the prevalent dietary patterns in this population, and examined their associations with risk factors for cardiometabolic disease. These investigations inform my ultimate goal: to design nutritional interventions to enhance the prevention of these chronic diseases in women throughout the life course.



Neil A. Zakai, M.D., M.Sc.


Dr. Zakai is Associate Professor of Medicine and Pathology, and a practicing hematologist at the University of Vermont. He supervises the MASALA lab repository. His expertise is in evaluation and management of premature arterial vascular disease and hyper-coagulable syndromes. Dr. Zakai is also an investigator for the The REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study (REGARDS).

J. Jeffrey Carr, M.D., M.Sc.


Dr. Carr is a Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Informatics and Cardiovascular Medicine at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Carr specializes in non-invasive cardiovascular imaging and studies ways to predict disease before it is clinically evident. He is a co-investigator for the MASALA study and his lab has conducted the readings for ectopic pericardial fat and liver fat for the MASALA study. His lab is also making novel measurements of coronary artery cross-sectional area from MASALA cardiac CT scans currently.

Sarah Nadimpalli, RN, MA, PhD

My primary research interests are in health inequities, the social determinants of health, and psychosocial factors that may lead to poorer health behaviors and outcomes among ethnic minority groups. Specifically, I evaluate how psychosocial and acculturative factors mediate cardiovascular health pathways among South Asian Americans. My work with the MASALA Study has primary focused on how discrimination may relate to multiple health outcomes among Asian Indians.

Sameera Talegawkar, PhD

I am a nutritional epidemiologist by training and focus broadly on diet and chronic disease linkages. My areas of research include: (1) dietary assessment methodologies in diverse populations; (2) studying the role of diet in the risk for chronic diseases in minority populations in the U.S.; and (3) understanding the role of dietary factors in age-related functional declines.

My goal through the MASALA study is to understand the reasons for health disparities experienced by South Asians with respect to diabetes and heart disease. To this end, my research focuses on: 1) the associations of acculturation and length of residence in the U.S. with diet and nutrient intakes, and 2) associations of lifestyle related behaviors and health factors with subclinical atherosclerosis in the cohort.


Unjali Gujral, MPH, PhD

Unjali Gujral, MPH, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University. Dr. Gujral’s research area of interest lies primarily in comparing the pathophysiological mechanisms of cardiometabolic disease development between South Asians and other ethnic groups, as well as examining factors of cardiometabolic risk associated with migration. Dr. Gujral has done research assessing the relative contributions of insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function on baseline glycemic status and incident glycemic progression on a sub-sample of participants from the MASALA study. She has also compared the prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes in a cohort of migrant Asian Indians from the MASALA study with a cohort of non-migrant Asian Indians living in an urban city in South India.       


Belinda Needham, PhD, MA

Belinda Needham is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan.  Her research focuses on health disparities.  In general, members of socially disadvantaged groups have worse mental and physical health than those who have higher social status.  Belinda’s work seeks to identify, explain, and reduce gender, socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and sexual orientation health disparities.  Using data from the MASALA study, she has authored or coauthored papers on (1) sex steroid hormones and cardiometabolic health and (2) acculturation and symptoms of depression.

Morgana Mongraw-Chaffin, PhD, MPH

Mongraw-Chaffin Morgana 0218A web.jpg

Dr. Morgana Mongraw-Chaffin is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Prevention at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the etiology and prevention of obesity and cardiometabolic disease with particular interest in metabolically healthy obesity, glucose dysregulation, and ectopic fat. Her complementary work has investigated the role that reproductive and pregnancy factors play in women’s lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease. Dr. Mongraw-Chaffin’s work in MASALA has concentrated on her specific interest in elucidating differences by sex and race/ethnicity in the distribution and resulting risk from ectopic fat.

Yichen Jin, MSPH


Yichen Jin is a Research Associate in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She has a Master of Science in Public Health (specializing in Nutrition) from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her research interests are in examining the role of dietary determinants of health and wellness. In the MASALA study, Yichen has focused on the role of diet and other lifestyle factors with cardiometabolic health.