Photo Credit: Sandy Zarka



Guiding and Sustaining Leaders

To improve world health by mentoring a new generation of leaders, the UCLA Center for World Health provides clinical, research, and humanitarian education and training for medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty from UCLA and around the world. Programs at the UCLA campus and at clinical and research training sites in diverse international settings encourage learners to engage health challenges worldwide through a compassionate and humanistic lens. The Center’s Global Health Education Programs are led by Drs. Tom Coates, Lee Miller, Tanya Arora, Dan DeUgarte, Jorge Lazareff, and Traci Wells. For more information, please email Traci Wells at

Please visit our EXPLORE database for a comprehensive view of the global education and training programs conducted by faculty at the David Geffen School of Medicine and UCLA Health in collaboration with international partners.


Programs for UCLA medical students include international clinical and research electives, a global health selective course, an intensive global health pathway, and opportunities to engage and network with global health leaders.


Information on international electives and global health learning opportunities at several of the Residency Programs at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.


The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA offers a variety of pre- and postdoctoral fellowships for U.S. and international scholars. We maintain a comprehensive, interactive database of our fellowship opportunities.


Our educational endeavors are broad, from advanced training for physicians from around the world to course offerings open to the public. We seek to engage and inspire faculty and students from diverse disciplines and institutions, from the U.S. as well as other countries.


The UCLA Center for World Health holds lectures, discussion groups, and special events throughout the year on a variety of cutting-edge topics from experts in global health and international medicine.


This resource serves as an overview of some of the possibilities for global health careers and the training required, as well as links to global health job listings and sources of funding for global health fellows and other trainees.


  • The Brenda Lucille Miller UCLA-South African Education Fund for Movement Disorders at the UCLA Center for World Health provides opportunities for junior South African doctors and scientists focusing on neurological diseases to come to UCLA to engage in postdoctoral studies for periods ranging from one month to one year.

    The Fund was created to honor the memory of Brenda Lucille Miller, a South African who lived with multiple sclerosis. Neurological illnesses tend to be underdiagnosed and undertreated in South Africa, and take a tremendous toll on individuals and families.

    The purpose of the Fund is to build capacity in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Such capacity will benefit not only South Africa but the entire continent, as South Africa can become a clinical leader in these diseases for the region. The Fund will contribute to the development of South Africa’s ability to discover, deliver, and disseminate novel strategies through helping its medical and scientific professionals to get exposure to research and treatment developments in the United States and to provide ongoing mentoring and support for these practitioners as they return to South Africa.

    The Fund brings early career doctors or scientists—those having just completed their medical and/or doctoral studies and beginning their clinical, teaching, or scientific careers—to Los Angeles for periods of one month to one year to work with UCLA faculty to learn clinical diagnostic and treatment skills in surgical, hospital, and outpatient clinical settings, with the goal of applying their new knowledge and skills to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and management of neurological diseases in South Africa and improve the health and well-being of their fellow South Africans.

    The Fund is merit-based and competitive, with awards granted based on applicants’ training, records of achievement, and potential to succeed. An impartial panel comprised of UCLA and South African scientists, physicians, and professionals select finalists who go through an interview process to determine the awardees.

    Photo: Lyolya (right) with UC Davis pediatric residents starting a day of research and clinical care at the Public Hospital of Roatan in Honduras.

    Lyolya Hovhannisyan is a 2nd year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She recently completed a short-term training program (STTP) in global health.

    Growing up in Armenia, Lyolya Hovhannisyan experienced the detrimental effects that inequitable healthcare access and a lack of health education have on communities, families, and individuals. Her background led her to immerse herself in various global public health coursework, service, and research, locally as well as internationally, throughout her academic career.

    As an undergraduate at UCLA, Lyolya and a colleague co-founded Flying Samaritans at UCLA, an organization that provides healthcare and health education in Colonia Margarita Moran (CMM), a low-resource community near Tijuana, Mexico. In 2013, the organization established a community clinic in CMM and commenced monthly trips to provide culturally-sensitive and locally-appropriate medical care and health education, as well as conduct community health assessments to improve their outreach efforts.

    During her undergraduate career, Lyolya also received a scholarship from UCLA Blum Center for Poverty and Health in Latin America to conduct research in the rural community of Petit Goave, Haiti. In collaboration with the HGD Foundation Clinic and under the mentorship of Dr. David Cutler, Lyolya worked with a research team to assess diabetes awareness in the community, create a local health resource catalogue, and provide diabetes education.

    Inspired and motivated by these experiences, Lyolya pursued a Master of Science in Global Health at UCSF to obtain a multi-disciplinary understanding of health and research training prior to matriculating at DGSOM. For her thesis, she conducted research on infant feeding determinants among mothers and pregnant women on the island of Roatan, Honduras. She also had the opportunity to collaborate with the University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI) to plan a satellite session for the Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH). In this role, Lyolya led interactive sessions on cultural sensitivity and providing healthcare to Syrian refugees in the United States.

    Born and raised in Armenia until the age of nine, Lyolya had desired for a long time to return to Armenia to conduct global health research. At the end of her first year of medical school, she was able to achieve this goal through the Center for World Health Global Short-Term Training Program (STTP), the guidance of her mentor Dr. Shant Shekherdimian, and the Children of Armenia Fund. Through her previous experiences in global health, Lyolya had developed a strong interest in non-communicable diseases, as they are the leading cause of death globally and highlight the devastating healthcare inequalities in institutions and communities. Therefore, for her global STTP, she developed a qualitative research project on diabetes knowledge, attitudes, and practices among healthcare workers and patients with diabetes in rural Armenia. While in Armenia, she visited various community health clinics to conduct interviews and shadowed local and foreign physicians collecting data. These experiences gave her a deeper understanding of the Armenian healthcare system and availability of local resources in the region. Lyolya is currently continuing data analysis and hopes to further develop local partnerships to expand the project nationally.

    When reflecting upon her various global health experiences, Lyolya says, “I learned that responsible humanitarianism and healthcare entail sustainability and strengthening of existing infrastructures. Most of all, I further embraced that health as a human right does not exist in isolation, that impactful change in health is embedded in simultaneously addressing clinical symptoms and the social and systemic determinants of health. This is what drives my passion in global health. I endeavor to continue strengthening this as a physician, locally, and globally.”

    More information on Lyolya’s global STTP:
    Dr. Michelle Anne Bholat (far right) gives a lesson on electronic medical records to IMG graduates. Photo: UCLA Newsroom

    Monday, August 14, 2017

    Across California, there is a shortage of Spanish-speaking, culturally sensitive physicians. Only 6% of the physician workforce in California is Hispanic, despite accounting for 39% of the state’s population. The UCLA International Graduate Medical (IMG) Program was developed by the UCLA Department of Family Medicine to address this dramatic shortage of Hispanic doctors and California’s changing demographics.

    The Program, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, provides Latino physicians a comprehensive education program to earn their California medical licenses and compete for a residency position in a California family medicine program. Upon successful completion of residency, program graduates spend between two and three years in an underserved community providing care to immigrants and low-income patients who face financial and language barriers to care. The objective of the Program is to increase the number of bilingual and bicultural Hispanic family physicians practicing in California’s underserved communities.

    Since its inception in 2007, the program has trained 104 Latino physicians, 45% of whom were from Mexico, 20% from South America, and 18% from Central America. Co-founders Michelle Anne Bholat, MD, MPH, (Executive Director, Professor and Executive Vice Chair, UCLA Department of Family Medicine) and Patrick T. Dowling, MD, MPH, (Executive Associate Director, Professor and Chair, UCLA Department of Family Medicine) direct the Program.

    The IMG Program has received international attention, including a recent report by EFE News. The article was syndicated by numerous international news outlets including La Opinión, San Diego Union-Tribune, Hoy Los Angeles, La ConexionUSA, Hidrocálido, Arizona Hispano News, el Economista America, Alianza News, La Guia Gratuita, World News en Español, and Meridiano90. The report features comments from Drs. Bholat and Dowling, as well as program graduate Dr. Blanca Campos.

    Read more about the UCLA International Medical Graduate Program.