Leadership Team

Elizabeth Ozer, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Ozer 2018

Professor of Pediatrics, Director of Research, Division of Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine, & Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Equity. Dr. Ozer has served as Principal Investigator (PI)/ Co-PI on federal research grants supporting interventions to improve AYA health through targeting clinicians, adolescents, and health care systems, as well as social determinants of health and disparities in health care delivery. Recent research has focused on incorporating technology into successful models of preventive care. This includes developing and piloting an interactive behavioral/emotional health module for adolescents that can be integrated into health care delivery; designing a computerized personalized behavior change system for adolescent preventive health; and enhancing the training and diversity of the biomedical, behavioral and clinical research network. Through decades of focused research and university service and leadership roles, she has worked to develop and evaluate initiatives aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Charles E. Irwin, Jr., MD, Co-Principal Investigator

Co-Principal Investigator, Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Division of Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine, Director of Health Policy for Pediatrics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. Dr. Irwin, a board-certified Adolescent Medicine specialist, has led research for 40+ years focused on improving the delivery of clinical preventive services, assessing the role of social disparities on access to care, and evaluating the impact of federal and state policies on AYAs’ access to care. Recent research focuses on improving integration of screening for mental and behavioral health disorders into clinical practice. Irwin served as President, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM, 2002-03); Editor-In-Chief of Journal of Adolescent Health (2004-19 & Supplements Editor, 2019-2023); and member of three Institute of Medicine Committees. His notable awards include: the Title V Lifetime Achievement Award (2019) and the AAP Lifetime Achievement Award in Adolescent Health (1998). In 2019, SAHM renamed the Young Investigator’s award the Charles Irwin, Jr, M.D. Young Investigator Award for his commitment to mentoring the next generation of AYA health researchers.

Carlos Penilla, DrPH, MS, Co-Investigator

Assistant Professor of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UCSF. Dr. Penilla’s work focuses on improving the quality of preventative healthcare for Spanish-speaking families through mixed methods intervention research, as well as program development, implementation and evaluation work with community health organizations. His primary research examines the development of obesity in Mexican American families, with a special focus on the role that fathers play in preventing obesity in their children. Additionally, Dr. Penilla has been awarded a NIH National Cancer Institute Diversity Supplement to examine research methods for reducing potential algorithmic bias in innovative technology-based behavioral health interventions, and help ensure cultural representation and responsiveness for Latinx youth. Dr. Penilla’s other interests include STEM education, health policy research and mentoring underrepresented minority students.

Alison Giovanelli, PhD, Network Coordinator

Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor in Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine at UCSF. Dr. Giovanelli’s research focuses on leveraging technology for intervention in common adolescent mental health problems. She is experienced in evaluation and treatment of numerous mental health concerns in children and adults, with special expertise in adolescent mental health, early childhood development, the impacts of early adversity such as abuse and neglect, and the treatment of youth anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and Substance Use Disorders (SUDs). She is the lead psychologist in UCSF’s Youth Outpatient Substance Use Program, where she facilitates caregiver education and support groups, conducts brief targeted consultations relating to mental health and substance use, and leads a pilot study of group Community Reinforcement and Family Training with caregivers of adolescents with SUDs who are not engaged in treatment.

Core Partners

Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Program

The Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Program funded by MCHB, trains and mentors the next generation of leaders in AYA health through nine university-based training projects at the graduate and post-graduate levels across five core disciplines: medicine, nursing, nutrition, psychology and social work.

University of California, Berkeley (UCB) School of Public Health

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health links the AYAH-RN to multiple research initiatives on health equity, participatory research engaging youth and communities, and developmental science,in addition to serving as partners in mentoring activities, translation, and dissemination. Initiatives include The Center of Excellence in Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, the Leadership, Education, and Advancement in Undergraduate Pathways Program, and Innovations for Youth, and the MCHB MCH Nutrition Training Program

UCSF’s Latinx Center of Excellence

Funded by HRSA, UCSF’s Latinx Center of Excellence is a partnership that will strengthen the AYAH-RN’s mentoring objectives and link the AYAH-RN to UCSF-based research centers that partner with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and focus on health equity. The Latinx Center of Excellence aims to increase the number of physicians from Latinx and other under-represented backgrounds and support students and physicians at every stage of their career, including academic research pathways.

The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM), is the largest network of transdisciplinary researchers and providers in AYA health. SAHM members serve diverse populations, including underserved AYAs such as youth in juvenile justice and foster care systems; racial/ethnic minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth; and urban and rural youth. SAHM aims to promote the optimal health and well-being of all AYAs by supporting adolescent health and medicine professionals through the advancement of clinical practice, care delivery, research, advocacy, and professional development.

MCHB Research Networks

MCHB Research Networks. The MCHB Research Networks (RNs) advance research to accelerate the translation of research into MCH practice across a range of populations and health issues. These partner Research Networks broaden the research capacity and content expertise of the AYAH-RN.
o LifeCourse Intervention Research Network (LCI-RN)
o Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Research Network (DBPNet)
o Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Research Network (CYSHNet)
o Maternal and Child Health-Measurement Research Network (MCH-MRN)
o Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN)
o Pediatric Research in Office Settings Research Network (PROS)