Research Team

Nisha Acharya, MD, MS

Nisha Acharya is the Director of the Uveitis Service and the Uveitis Fellowship at the F.I. Proctor Foundation. Her clinical expertise is the diagnosis and management of patients with infectious and inflammatory eye diseases.  She is experienced with the latest medical and surgical treatments for uveitis, including treatment with new immunomodulatory drugs and cataract surgery in uveitis patients. Dr. Acharya’s research focuses on the design and implementation of clinical trials to determine the optimal treatment for these conditions. Current projects include clinical trials on infectious corneal ulcers, uveitis-related macular edema, and tuberculous uveitis.

Ariana Austin, MS

Ariana coordinates Dr. Rose-Nussbaumer’s research on corneal ulcer treatment in South India and Portland. Her interest in global health developed from working in free clinics in Los Angeles and rural Panama. Before coming to the Proctor Foundation Ariana completed an MS in Global Health Sciences from UCSF, focusing her research on using microfinance interventions to reduce HIV risk behaviors among sex workers in Cambodia. Her background also includes domestic work in community health as well as a BS in Psychobiology and a minor in Spanish from UCLA.

Stephanie Chin

As a staff research associate, Stephanie spends much of her time working with the trachoma team through laboratory research and database management. Working on various studies, such as TANA and PRET, she helps to process conjunctival and nasopharyngeal swab samples and assists with updating and maintaining an extensive database. With an interest in genetics, Stephanie’s background includes a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology and minors in both Biotechnology and Chemistry from Santa Clara University.

Puja Cuddapah

Vicky Cevallos, MT

Bio coming soon.

Catherine Cook, MPH 

Catherine coordinates the MORDOR trial across the Niger, Tanzania and Malawi sites. Her research background includes organizational development and capacity building for NGOs in Ethiopia as well as strategies for mental healthcare navigation in Boston. Prior to this, she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Suriname. Catherine earned her MPH from Boston University in International Health with a concentration in Monitoring and Evaluation. Her interest in global health developed while earning her BA in Anthropology from St. Michael’s College in Vermont, particularly as a Student Global AIDS Campaign member and volunteering with Jamaica AIDS Support for Life in Kingston, Jamaica.

Susan Ford, BS, MBA

Susan works part time with the Proctor Foundation. With numbers in her background, Susan helps maintain the financial records of the International group. She handles reimbursements for the team and the paper work and record keeping for other expenditures. Included in her administrative duties, Susan manages the submission of manuscripts for publication as well as the assorted other projects that come up in the office . She is an valuable go-between for guiding new personnel in the University systems. Susan has an MBA from San Francisco University and a BS from Cornell University.

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Dionna Fry, MPH

Dionna coordinates Dr. Keenan’s studies on glaucoma in South India and CMV in Thailand. Her interest in global health stems from her experience working on water access issues with Somali refugees in Seattle. A recent graduate of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, she has an MPH in global environmental health. During her time at Emory, Dionna led a research project in Ethiopia to evaluate the sustainability and adoption of the arborloo, a composting latrine. She also received a BA in history and international affairs from George Washington University.

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Bruce Gaynor, MD

Bruce Gaynor is an ophthalmologist who has been involved in international research with UCSF/ the Proctor Foundation since 1998.  He is interested in mass treatment programs for trachoma, beneficial and deleterious secondary effects of these programs and integrated research combining various treatments for multiple neglected tropical diseases.  He has been an invited speaker at the World Health Organization Global Elimination of Trachoma scientific workshop in Geneva, consultant for The Carter Center trachoma program in Sudan, and involved in Proctor Foundation research in Nepal and Ethiopia.

John Gonzales, MD

Dr. Gonzales's interest involves the diagnosis and management of infectious and non-infectious inflammatory conditions of the eyes (uveitis). Many ocular inflammatory diseases are part of a systemic disorder and require a complete review of one’s health, personalized treatment, and close monitoring. Working as a team with a patient’s rheumatologist, internist, pediatrician, or other subspecialists ensure that his patients receive optimum care.

Andrew Hirst

Andrew Hirst, MS 

Andrew manages and analyzes data for Dr. Acharya’s uveitis studies. He received his MS in Biostatistics from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Prior to grad school, Andrew completed a service year through AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, where he worked with such organizations as Desert AIDS Project and Pioneertown Mountains Preserve among others. His research interests include latent variables, structural equation modeling, and longitudinal data analysis. He also holds a BA in mathematics and music from St. Olaf College.

Jeremy Keenan, MD MPH

Jeremy Keenan is an Associate Professor in Ophthalmology at UCSF and an investigator with Proctor International Programs. He is interested in the epidemiology of major causes of blindness in the developing world, as well as the cost-effectiveness of treatments for these eye diseases. He is currently a member of Dr. Tom Lietman's team, assisting with clinical trials of mass azithromycin treatments for trachoma in Ethiopia. In addition, he is helping Dr. Todd Margolis with a project to investigate telemedicine screening for CMV retinitis in Thailand.  

Tom Lietman, MD

Tom Lietman is the director of the World Blindness Center at the Proctor Foundation. His research interests include: trachoma control in Ethiopia and Niger, corneal ulcer treatment and prevention in India and Nepal, and mathematical modeling of infectious disease transmission in communities. He believes that with the appropriate strategies, the strains of chalmydia that cause trachoma can be completely eradicated, and that new developments in prevention and treatment of bacterial and fungal corneal ulcers will dramatically reduce blindness. He also believes that mathematical models of infectious disease transmission can be used to predict trachoma and antibiotic resistance.

Caitlin Moe, MS

Caitlin is a coordinator for Dr. Keenan's glaucoma studies in Ethiopia, Nepal and India, and cytomegalovirus studies in Thailand. She received her Master's degree in Global Health Sciences from UCSF, where her research focused on treatment-seeking behavior for fever in Namibia. Her background in global health includes research on healthcare as a public good in Kenya, HIV treatment and prevention in Tanzania and the US, cervical cancer screening programs in Kenya, and malaria elimination research in Namibia. She also hold a BA in International Political Science from UC San Diego.

Kieran O'Brien, MPH

Kieran coordinates the Proctor Foundation’s studies on corneal ulcers in Nepal and South India. Her interest in international health developed while living and working in West Africa, particularly in Ghana and Senegal. A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Kieran has an MPH in International Health Epidemiology. She also received a BA from the University of Michigan where she studied International Development and minored in French and Francophone Studies.

travis porco

Travis Porco, PhD, MPH

Travis Porco is a mathematical epidemiologist and biostatistician whose interests include drug resistance during trachoma control, ophthalmological clinical trials, evolution of virulence, HIV transmission, tuberculosis control, and control of epidemic disease through contact investigation.  Porco has taught mathematical epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s Center for Infectious Disease Preparedness, and has contributed to Proctor Foundation research projects in Ethiopia, India, and Thailand.

Maya Rao, MPH

Maya coordinates research activities for Dr. Acharya’s uveitis studies at the Proctor Foundation. Before coming to Proctor, she completed a one-year ORISE fellowship as a program coordinator with the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She developed her passion for global health while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Health Sector in Madagascar. Maya earned her MPH in Global Health and BA in Mathematics from Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

Kathryn Ray, MA

Kathryn is currently an Epidemiology PhD student at UCSF and works with the team in mathematical modeling of infectious diseases as well as statistical analysis on randomized control trials assessing treatment options for Corneal Ulcers. Her academic interests include innovative randomized control trials, microbiome analysis methods, and simulation studies to optimize epi study designs and or methods. Her academic background includes a BS in Engineering and a MA in Mathematics. She has contributed to research performed in Ethiopia, the Gambia, Tanzania, India, and Nepal.


Jennifer Rose-Nussbaumer, MD

Dr. Rose- Nussbaumer is a Cornea fellowship trained Ophthalmologist. In addition to her clinical work, she is an NIH funded clinical researcher. Her current research focus is on corneal ulcer treatment in India and Nepal in collaboration with the Dr. Tom Lietman and Dr. Nisha Acharya. In addition, she is studying corneal transplant outcomes in Ethiopia along with Dr. Jeremy Keenan and Dr. Doug Holsclaw. She is the principle investigator on the Corneal Preservation Time study at UCSF. Her previous vision research in Ophthalmology includes work with the World Health Organization on Trachoma, as well as investigating the ocular manifestations of HIV disease.

John Whitcher, MD, MPH

As the primary ophthalmologist in the SICCA (Sjögren’s International Collaborative Clinical Alliance) Study, Dr. Whitcher has spent the past three years developing and standardizing protocols and calibrating ocular examinations at the lead center at UCSF with the four collaborating centers in Japan, China, Argentina, and Denmark. Two more SICCA collaborating centers in London, England and in Madurai, India are being added to the study. The Sjögren’s Clinic at UCSF also continues to function as a research and diagnostic center for Sjögren’s patients who are not part of the SICCA Study.  He is also involved in corneal ulcer prevention studies in South East Asia and trachoma studies in Ethiopia. 

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Lina Zhong

As a research associate with the Proctor Foundation, Lina works with the trachoma team through laboratory research and performance of data entry. She is working on TANA and PRET studies; she helps to process conjunctival swab samples and maintenance for all studies samples. Lina has a B.S in Computerized Accounting from Guangzhou University in China plus additional PCR skills training at UCSF.

Zhaoxia Zhou

Zhaoxia joined the Proctor team nearly 6 years ago and currently works as the Data Manager for the trachoma studies.  She has used her BS in Biology and 15 years of teaching Biostatistics experience at Guizhou University (People’s Republic of China) plus additional training in Clinical Database Management at UCSF to create a complete sample processing system for collecting accurate laboratory results.  She collaborates with the study coordinators to develop data collection protocol, oversees all study-related databases and generates data for reports and publication.