The UCLA Center for Obesity and METabolic health center uses a team approach to provide the most comprehensive resources possible for the patient. Team members are involved in the patient's care from screening through follow-up.
Erik Dutson, MD, FACS Surgical Director, Center for Obesity and METabolic Health (COMET)
Executive Medical Director, Center for Advanced Surgical & Interventional Technology (CASIT)
Clinical Professor of Surgery
Dr. Erik Dutson is the Surgical Director of the Center for Obesity and Metabolic Health (COMET Program) at UCLA, and has been a part of the multidisciplinary approach to the clinical management of obesity at UCLA for twelve years. He has been actively involved in the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the American College of Surgeons and the Society for American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons, where he serves on several committees and presents research on an a regular basis. He has been the Director of the Minimally Invasive/Bariatric Fellowship training program at UCLA since 2006, and provided the structure necessary to properly train minimally-invasive (MIS) bariatric surgeons in a multidisciplinary fashion according to the requirements of the MIS Fellowship Council. He has multiple scientific publications on clinical management of obesity, and his role as a patient and clinician educator has required him to maintain active working knowledge of global research on obesity mechanisms and treatment. More >
Yijun Chen, MDAssistant Professor of Surgery
Dr. Yijun Chen grew up in Hunan, China and attended Fourth Military Medical School in Xi'an, China. He came to the United States to do cancer research, and did his postdoctoral training in cancer biology at Stanford University. Dr. Chen completed his surgical residency training at Stanford University, where he found his passion to become a bariatric and minimally invasive surgeon. After finishing his bariatric fellowship at Duke University, he joined the UCLA Department of Surgery. He enjoys connecting with patients and developing long-lasting partnerships with patients. Dr. Chen used his own weight loss experience to help him develop great empathy for his patients struggling with weight issues. Seeing many happy patients during his bariatric surgery rotation at Stanford, Dr. Chen decided to become a bariatric surgeon because he truly believes that this type of surgery can make a huge difference for obese patients. More >
Digestive Diseases and Pfleger Liver Institute
Simon Beaven, MD, PhDResearch and Medical Director, Center for Obesity and METabolic Health (COMET) Assistant Professor of Medicine
Dr. Beaven is the director of the Metabolic Syndrome Program within the Division of Digestive Diseases and has created a cross-disciplinary program (COMET) along with Dr. Erik Dutson for studying how metabolic pathways influence liver and gastrointestinal diseases. Dr. Beaven was a Named New Investigator in the UCLA Center for Ulcer Research and Education (CURE) and has received awards from the UCLA Department of Medicine Research Day Competition. He is an active peer reviewer for several scientific journals, including Diabetes, Molecular & Cellular Biology, Hepatology, Gastroenterology, and the Journal of Lipid Research. Dr. Beaven teaches in the medical school at all levels and lectures to medical residents and fellows on issues related to liver and gastrointestinal disease. Dr. Beaven is funded both by NIH grants and philanthropic gifts. He primarily sees patients with liver diseases, as well as patients enrolled in the research protocols related to COMET. More >
Alireza Sedarat, MD Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Dr. Sedarat joined UCLA in 2013 as a member of the interventional endoscopy team and hemostasis group within the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. His clinical interests encompass the development and application of advanced endoscopic techniques and interventions to diagnose, stage, treat and palliate a range of benign and malignant gastrointestinal disorders. He is proficient in the application of advanced endoscopic techniques including therapeutic ERCP, EUS with fine needle aspiration and biopsy, ERCP in surgically altered anatomy, interventional EUS (such as biliary drainage or rendezvous procedures, pancreas pseudocyst drainage, pancreas necrosectomy, fiducial placement and abscess drainage), pancreatic and biliary endotherapy, endoluminal stenting, endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), complex polypectomy, tumor ablation, deep (device assisted) enteroscopy, endoscopic fistula and leak closure, complex stricture dilation and endotherapy, endoscopic treatment of Barrett's esophagus with mucosal resection and radiofrequency ablation, Zenkers' diverticulum myotomy and chromoendoscopy. Dr. Sedarat also performs bariatric endoscopy, including primary endoscopic therapies for obesity, endoscopic treatment of weight regain following bariatric surgery, and treatment of post-surgical complications. More >
Medical Weight Loss Management
Zhaoping Li, MD Professor of Medicine, Physician Nutrition Specialist
Dr. Li is a Professor of Medicine and the Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Li completed her MD and Ph.D in Physiology at Bejing University. Her residency training was completed at the UCLA-VA Internal Medicine program in 1996 where she also served as Chief Medical resident. Dr. Li has been a faculty member at UCLA and VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System since 1997. Dr. Li is board certified in Internal Medicine, and Physician Nutrition Specialist. She is very passionate about patient's wellness, particularly preventing diet-related diseases like diabetes, hypertension and obesity. More >
Vijaya Surampudi, MD Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Internal Medicine, Division of Clinical Nutrition
Dr. Vijaya Surampudi is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Human Nutrition and work in the Center of Obesity and Metabolic Health (COMET). She is a Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and a Physician Nutrition Specialist. More >
Bariatric Program Manager
Kaitlyn McHale is the Program Manager for the Department of Bariatric Surgery. She joined the UCLA Bariatric Department in 2016. After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in New York City, she decided to begin her career in route to Healthcare Administration. In 2014, she obtained her first position working for a Bariatric Program in New York, where she gained insight and knowledge about obesity and healthcare as a whole. Upon moving to Los Angeles in 2016, she began working as the Financial Counselor for the UCLA Bariatric Department and in 2018 became the Program Manager. In her role, she manages staff, program analysis and outcomes, marketing and outreach, website development, accreditation maintenance, Family Medical Leave of Absence for patients and family members, and complex Insurance inquires.
Anna Balioukova, MSN, NP
Nurse Practitioner II
Anna Balioukova has been with UCLA for 12 years. After providing care to bariatric patients in the immediate post-operative period as a floor nurse, she witnessed firsthand the rapid resolution of comorbidities, which piqued her interest in metabolic surgery. After obtaining her Masters of Science degree in Nursing from UCLA In 2013, she began working as a bariatric surgery manager. Her clinical interests include the brain-gut connection and importance of psychological factors in postoperative weight loss maintenance. Her role is to assess, plan, implement and evaluate care for patients requiring specialized bariatric care in collaboration with health care team. She provides direct patient care and education to patients and serves as a resource and educator.
Seu Park, MSN, NP
Nurse Practitioner II
The Surgical Coordinator is available to assist patients through every step of the surgical process. She is a resource for information regarding the procedures, pre-operative instructions, scheduling pre-operative follow-up appointments, surgery-scheduling, and insurance authorizations.
Christine Goukasian, MS, RD
Christine completed her Masters of Science in Nutritional Sciences at California State University, Los Angeles. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science from California State University, Northridge. Her dietetic internship was completed at Lenoir-Rhyne University, with emphasis on childhood obesity. She has experience working in multiple areas including clinical nutrition, weight management, prenatal nutrition, diabetes and renal disease. She enjoys being part of a vital multidisciplinary team to help patients succeed in weight loss and is committed to helping patients meet their dietary needs through nutrition education. Christine believes the benefits of healthy nutrition on our mind and body is endless. She speaks Armenian fluently and is able to work with Armenian speaking patients.
Linda Y. Yung, MS, RD
Linda Yung is a New Yorker practicing dietetics in Los Angeles. She is a proud double Jumbo, having received her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations Global Health and Master of Science in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tufts University. After completing her dietetic internship at Tulane University, she worked with the heart transplant and critical care teams as the cardiac / medical ICU dietitian. In addition to acute nutrition therapy, Linda specializes in nutrition through the life cycle and nutrition communication. Her passions include spreading nutrition knowledge and promoting healthy lifestyle changes as part of a balanced diet.
Devon Kaiser, Psy.D Clinical Psychologist
The psychologist specializes in the assessment and evaluation of identifying and treating emotional components of improper eating habits.
The administrative assistant is the first point of contact for every patient. He guides each new patient through the process before their first clinic appointment and answers any questions the patient may have. He provides information about the program and schedules new patient appointments in addition to handling the day-to-day functions of the office.