Current Scholars

Ayesha Appa

Ayesha AppaDr. Appa is a physician dually board-certified in Infectious Diseases & Addiction Medicine whose research focuses on identifying effective, patient-centered models of care to simultaneously manage HIV/serious infections and substance use disorders. As the first UCSF fellow to complete medical training in both aforementioned fields, Dr. Appa’s observational studies have helped identify opportunities to improve care for people who use drugs with HIV and other serious infections. She also has been one of the primary physicians working at Ward 86’s Women’s Health Center of Excellence (as well as Ward 86’s low-barrier POP-UP clinic serving people experiencing homelessness). This work has led to her current focus on expanding access to treatment for stimulant use disorder and supporting HIV medication adherence. As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Appa will be implementing and evaluating contingency management in the Women’s Clinic at the Ward 86 HIV clinic, adapting this incentive-based intervention to simultaneously support reduced stimulant use and improved HIV medication adherence. These results will inform the optimal integration of stimulant use disorder treatment into HIV/ID care settings while also centering the experience of women with HIV and stimulant use disorder.

April Bell

April BellDr. Bell is a public health researcher and social epidemiologist whose research focuses on advancing equity in sexual and reproductive health among Black adolescents and women. She develops and implements novel methods and strategies in partnership with Black girls. Her work is informed by a life course perspective, reproductive justice, positive youth development, and public health critical race praxis. She uses intersectional, mixed methods and participatory research approaches in her work. As a BIRWCH scholar, she is conducting research with Black girls to explore attitudes and experiences around bodily and reproductive autonomy. Findings from this research will inform the development and testing of a Black girl-centered intervention that encourages positive attitudes about sexuality, prioritizes bodily and reproductive autonomy, and improves self-esteem, with the goal of improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes over a lifetime.  In 2022, Dr. Bell was named a UCSF Health Justice Scholar and a Society of Family Planning Changemaker. Dr. Bell also directs the soon-to-be launched UCSF Girlx Lab, which focuses on youth who experience gender-based barriers, including cisgender girls, transgender girls, and gender-expansive individuals.

Anita Hargrave

Anita HargraveDr. Hargrave is a general internist who is committed to a career in patient-oriented research aimed at improving health outcomes for women and people who have experienced trauma through identifying and addressing gaps in care using implementation science strategies. As a fellow in the National Clinicians Scholars Program (NCSP) she used qualitative and quantitative methods to characterize the impact of trauma and interpersonal violence on women’s health and health equity. This work included evaluating the association between trauma and PTSD with cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the leading cause of death and disability for women in the U.S. and yet, many women have inadequate control of traditional CVD risk factors. As a BIRCWH Scholar, Dr. Hargrave will evaluate the impact of trauma and other patient and system-level characteristics on treatment patterns and prevalence of CVD risk factors. The findings generated from this study will identify primary performance gaps in management of CVD risk factors for women and the factors that predict treatment and/or adherence to evidence-based interventions. The information will be used to create, adapt, and evaluate future health programs aimed at improving the cardiovascular health of women and incorporating trauma-informed cardiovascular care practices.

Susanna Mitro

Susanna MitroDr. Mitro is an epidemiologist and a staff scientist in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research whose research focuses on women’s health before, during, and after pregnancy. Dr. Mitro recently completed an intramural postdoctoral fellowship at NICHD, where she primarily studied how fibroids (benign tumors of the uterus) change during pregnancy and affect pregnancy outcomes. Fibroids are very common and can cause serious symptoms including bleeding and pain, but scientists don’t yet know how to prevent fibroid development or minimize recurrence after treatment. As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Mitro will use data science and predictive modeling methods to identify potential new risk factors for fibroid diagnosis, using electronic health records data from thousands of women diagnosed with fibroids. She will also compare rates of reintervention among fibroid treatment options to help patients and clinicians choose the best treatment option for long-term health. Her research findings will lead to future projects testing approaches to prevent fibroids and to improve long-term treatment outcomes.