Meet the distinguished faculty, staff and alumni of Family Health Center of San Diego’s Family Medicine Residency Training Program.
Thao P. Tran, M.D., FAAFPProgram Director
Dr. Thao Tran is the Program Director for the Family Medicine Residency Training Program. She has been with the residency program since its inception and was previously the Associate Program Director. She runs the Procedures Clinic for the residency clinic and the Practice Management rotation. She received her medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 2000. She completed her family medicine training at Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa in 2003, with a focus on care for the underserved populations of Sonoma County. She continued her work with immigrants and underserved populations after moving to San Diego.
Dr. Tran is fluent in Spanish and Vietnamese, and competent in French. She has interests in women’s health, hepatitis B, nutrition and sports medicine. As an immigrant herself, she understands first-hand the challenges her patients face. As the first in her family to go to college and medical school, she works to promote the advancement of women and minorities in medicine. She is board-certified in family medicine and has been a part of Family Health Centers of San Diego since 2003.
Christopher Gordon, M.D., FAAFP, AAHIVSAssociate Program Director
Dr. Christopher Gordon is the Associate Program Director for the Family Medicine Residency Training Program and Chief Medical Officer at Family Health Centers of San Diego. He received his medical degree from the College of Medicine at Texas A&M in 2001.
While attending medical school at Texas A&M, he served as Vice President of the medical student class and was also a volunteer at the Outreach Clinic. After graduation, Dr. Gordon completed two years of training in psychiatry at UCI-Medical Center. He then completed a residency program in family medicine at the Riverside County Regional Medical Center. While at Riverside County Regional Medical Center, he was awarded the Intern of the Year Award and Resident Teacher of the Year Award in 2009. He also served as Chief Resident.
He is a member of the American Academy of Family Practitioners, California Academy of Family Practitioners, the San Diego County Medical Association and the Society of Teachers for Family Medicine. Dr. Gordon enjoys playing soccer, running and speaking German. His interests include sports medicine, HIV medicine and palliative care. He is board certified in family medicine and has been part of Family Health Centers of San Diego since 2009.
Christian Ramers, M.D., MPH, AAHIVSDirector of Graduate Medical Education
Dr. Christian Ramers serves as the Assistant Medical Director for Research & Special Populations and Director of Graduate Medical Education at Family Health Centers of San Diego. He earned his medical degree from the University of California, San Diego in 2003 and completed his internship and residency at Duke University Medical Center in internal medicine/pediatrics. He completed a fellowship in adult infectious diseases and received a graduate degree in public health at the University of Washington. Dr. Ramers leads several clinical and educational programs supporting HIV and Hepatitis C treatment within our clinics, consults for the California Office of AIDS, the CDC and Project ECHO on HIV and HCV-related clinical care initiatives and is a co-investigator on several NIH-sponsored research projects in collaboration with University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University investigators. Dr. Ramers maintains a busy bilingual clinical practice providing specialty and primary care to underserved and homeless individuals of all ages.
Kristin Brownell, M.D., MPHCore Faculty
Dr. Kristin Brownell received her medical degree and master’s degree in public health from the University of California, San Diego/San Diego State University Joint Program in 2001. She completed her family practice residency at Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa in 2004, where she served as Chief Resident in 2003. Dr. Brownell also completed a fellowship in underserved medicine from the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego in 2005.
In addition to her role as core faculty, she runs the community medicine rotation. Her special interests include women’s, refugee and international health. She serves as the Dunya Women’s Health Collaborative Principal Investigator, a project which focuses on issues of refugee women’s health collaborating with five community organizations. She is passionate about social determinants of health and food insecurity. Additionally, she served as a volunteer Peace Corps member in Paraguay from 1994 to 1996.
Dr. Brownell is board certified in family medicine. She is also a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, California Academy of Family Physicians, Society of Teachers in Family Medicine and California Medical Association. Since 2004, Dr. Brownell has been teaching medical students for the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic Project. She co-leads the San Diego region of the CAFP California Residency Network.
Dr. Brownell is fluent in Spanish and has been part of Family Health Centers of San Diego since 2007.
Laura Coulson, M.D.Core Faculty
Dr. Laura Coulson joined the core faculty in 2016. She received her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco in 2000, which also included a one year junior pathology fellowship. She completed her family medicine residency at Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa in 2003, during which time she also attained a goal started in medical school of receiving her first-degree black belt at the UCSF Tae Kwon Do program.
Dr. Coulson’s interests include women’s health, breastfeeding support, outpatient clinic procedures including colposcopy training and preventive care. She is thrilled to be able to fulfill her passion for teaching and mentoring residents not only in the day-to-day acts of clinical medicine, but also in the nuances of practicing the art of medicine.
She is board certified in family medicine and speaks proficient Spanish. She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and Society of Teachers in Family Medicine.
Cynthia Jauregui, Psy.DCore Faculty
Dr. Cynthia Jauregui is the Faculty Psychologist of Behavioral Health Medicine for the Family Medicine Residency Training Program. She received her doctorate in psychology in 2012 and her license in marriage and family in 2008. Dr. Jauregui recently completed the STFM Behavioral Science Family Systems Educator Fellowship and runs the Resident Wellness Program and Behavioral Health Clinic for the residency program. Dr. Jauregui has been with Family Health Centers of San Diego since 2004.
She has received specialized training in trauma informed care with a special interest in how trauma manifests physically. Her internships focused on serving both survivors and perpetrators of various types of trauma. Dr. Jauregui’s previous research explored the correlation between trauma history chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. She is fluent in Spanish, and has a passion for mindfulness and wellness.
Mike Schmerber, M.D., AAHIVSCore Faculty
Dr. Mike Schmerber earned dual bachelor degrees in Biology and Psychology from Texas A&M University before receiving his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He completed residency training at the University of California, San Diego. He is board certified in family medicine and has been part of Family Health Centers of San Diego since 2015.
As core faculty, Dr. Schmerber is involved in precepting in the residency continuity clinic, inpatient attending, didactic lecturing and coordination, program development and mentoring. His medical interests include resident education, behavioral health, LGBTQ and addiction medicine.
Ava Chase, FNPStaff Faculty
Dr. Chase has been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 1999 and is board certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She received her master’s degree in nursing from Graceland University and earned a doctorate in nursing practice from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She owned her own private family practice in Iowa for more than a decade before relocating to San Diego and joining Family Health Centers of San Diego in 2013.
Dr. Chase has taught in a graduate level nurse practitioner program for over 13 years and teaches procedures workshops throughout the United States. In addition, she serves as an expert witness for medical malpractice cases and has spoken at several national conventions, including the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. She has received several nursing awards, including an award from the California Nurse Practitioners Association. She also served as a board member for both the Iowa Nurse Practitioner Society and the North San Diego Chapter of the California Nurse Practitioner Society. Fluent in Spanish, Dr. Chase’s medical interests include Latino health care and primary care procedures.
Ken Griffiths, M.D., AAHIVSStaff Faculty
Dr. Ken Griffiths completed his medical degree at The Ohio State University in 1995. After completing his residency in Family Medicine, he worked in private practice for eight years prior to moving to San Diego in 2006. He spent eight years as faculty at the University of California, San Diego Department of Family Medicine, then joined Family Health Centers of San Diego in 2015.
Dr. Griffiths is a preceptor at the City Heights residency continuity clinic. He has his continuity clinic in Hillcrest and focuses on HIV care and prevention and LGBTQ health care. He is board certified in family medicine and certified by the American Academy of HIV Medicine.
Suriti Kundu, M.D.Staff Faculty
Dr. Suriti Kundu received her medical degree from the University of California, Davis in 1993. After an internship at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in San Diego she completed her residency in family medicine at UCSD in 1997. Over the years, Dr. Kundu has published several medical reviews and book chapters.
She loves to read and teach, and has been a Volunteer Assistant Clinical Professor at UCSD since 2006. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband, Suraj, and three sons.
She has been a Diplomate of the American Board of Family Medicine since 1997. Dr. Kundu speaks Spanish and has been part of Family Health Centers of San Diego since 2012.
Veronica Palomino, M.D., MPHStaff Faculty
Dr. Veronica Palomino received her medical degree at The University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School in 2009. She completed her family medicine residency at The University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City in 2012 and her preventive medicine residency at the University of California, San Diego in 2014. During her preventive medicine residency, Dr. Palomino obtained a Master’s degree in Public Health from San Diego State University and served as chief resident in 2013. She also completed a fellowship in underserved medicine from the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego in 2015.
Dr. Palomino’s special interests include community medicine, underserved medicine and preventive medicine. She is director of a screening health fair in the Linda Vista community, where she supervises undergraduate students and preventive medicine residents.
Dr. Palomino is fluent in Spanish and has been part of Family Health Centers of San Diego since 2012.
Charles Bart Smoot, M.D.Staff Faculty
Dr. Charles Smoot is the Assistant Medical Director for Clinical Quality at Family Health Centers of San Diego. He is responsible for directing the organization toward improving quality metrics across a wide variety of national standards using interdisciplinary methods. He works closely with the medical providers and the IT department to help develop a robust e-decision tool, as well as improve our proprietary electronic health records system. Dr. Smoot received his medical degree from the University of California, San Diego in 2005 and completed his family medicine residency at UCSD in 2008. Dr. Smoot is a recipient of the UCSD Outstanding Contributions to Medical School Community Award and the Roderick K. Calverley Humanitarian Service Award, and was a member of the Gold Humanitarian National Medical Honor Society. He has traveled to both Haiti and the Honduras to provide medical care to patients. Dr. Smoot is board-certified in family medicine and speaks proficient Spanish. He has been part of FHCSD since 2008.