Current CERSI Diversity Scholars

Silver Alkhafaji
Graduate Student, UCSF

Silver Alkhafaji is a second-year PhD student in the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics (PSPG) program at UCSF. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Biology from UC Berkeley. Prior to UCSF, she worked in the Clinical Pharmacology Department at Genentech, where she was fascinated by the high-intensity regulatory tasks, such as the Investigational New Drug (IND) application and the New Drug Application (NDA) filing. Silver’s research focuses on an adaptive clinical trial that leverages diverse data to predict response and/or resistance to treatment of locally advanced breast cancer patients in the neoadjuvant setting. Her areas of interest are clinical pharmacology, PK/PD modeling, precision dosing, precision medicine, and clinical trial design. Her chief goal is to influence global health authorities to support policy that nourishes innovative drug development to deliver the safest and most effective medicines to patients, while encouraging inclusion and equity in clinical trials.

Jaysón Davidson
Graduate Student, UCSF

Jaysón Davidson is currently a PhD student with the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics program at UCSF. He completed his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at Hampton University in Hampton, VA where he also played Division I football and completed a post-baccalaureate program at Baylor College of Medicine in Biomedical Science before coming to UCSF. In the Butte Lab, he is extremely interested in clinical informatics with the intent to develop methods to effectively stratify the differences in disease and drug response outcomes between populations with different social determinants to improve healthcare. As a CERSI Diversity Scholar he is interested in regulating research that explicitly involves social determinants and clinical informatics.

Mario Hernandez, MD
Clinical Fellow, Stanford University

Dr. Mario Funes Hernandez is a clinical research nephrology fellow at Stanford University. He obtained his medical degree at the National Autonomous University of Honduras. His Internal Medicine residency was at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, serving as assistant chief resident and awarded best resident of the Internal Medicine Class of 2020. He’s the current Nephrology Chief Fellow, a Heart Health Tech Fellow at the Stanford Center of Digital Health and a student in the Master of Science of Epidemiology and Clinical Research. He’s mentored by Dr. Vivek Bhalla, the founder and director of the Stanford Hypertension Center. Dr. Funes Hernandez has an American Heart Association-Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Science award to assist in the development of digital health technology tools in the management of hypertension in patients with chronic kidney disease and resistant hypertension.

Alonso Torres
Graduate Student, UCSF

Alonso uses experiences from his upbringing and military career to influence his role in biomedical research and community outreach to assist in mitigating health disparities. He combined his previous career as a vehicle mechanic in the U.S. Army with his appreciation for combat medics to study bioengineering principles. His ability to adjust to different environments reflects his upbringing with many different cultures, ideologies, and children of immigrants throughout Fresno, California. Currently, he promotes health as a youth soccer coach. He relates to his players because they express similar concerns and obstacles that he encountered at a young age. Leadership opportunities in and outside of the laboratory have allowed Alonso to lead by example and he will continue doing so as a professor. He is now involved in the development of a bioartificial kidney as a PhD student in Dr. Shuvo Roy’s Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco.