Core Medicine Faculty

Neill Ramos, MD
Residency Program Director
Associate Clinical Professor of Health Sciences, UCLA
Medical School: University of Toledo

Dr. Ramos was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He stayed in the Midwest for his undergraduate training at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where he completed his Bachelors of Science in Chemical Engineering. Prior to entering medicine, Neill worked for SC Johnson in Racine, Wisconsin in the co-op program in engineering on products such as OFF!, Glade candles, and Scrubbing Bubbles. He also worked 2 years after graduating from college at Degussa Construction Chemicals in Beachwood, Ohio just prior to entering medical school. Neill attended medical school at the Medical College of Ohio (now the University of Toledo). He went on to complete residency here at St. Mary Medical Center. He enjoys teaching the residents both in clinic and on the wards. Outside of work, Neill enjoys sports like basketball and golf, and he also enjoys living a couple blocks from the beach after living in the Midwest and spending time with friends and family especially singing karaoke.

Chester Choi, MD, MHA, MACP
Chief of Academic Medicine
Professor of Medicine, UCLA
Medical School: UC Davis

Chester Choi received his MD from the University of California, Davis School of Medicine and completed his Internal Medicine residency at St. Mary Medical Center in 1976 and his Chief Residency in 1977.  Following a fellowship in Infectious Disease at Harbor – UCLA, he returned to join the faculty at St. Mary in 1980. He is currently a Professor of Medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine.  He served as the Southern California Region I Governor for the American College of Physicians and also as the President of the California Chapter.  His areas of expertise include the rational use of antibiotics, meningitis, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, travel medicine and vaccinations, community acquired pneumonia, urinary tract infections and infections in the elderly.  Other professional activities include serving as a consultant in the Division of Infectious Disease at Harbor – UCLA Medical Center, directing the St. Mary Medical Center Travelers’ Clinic and serving on the Language Access Leadership Council for the California Endowment. His hobbies include woodworking, computers, and gardening.  He enjoys traveling and hiking in Yosemite with his wife Lynn.

Donna Varela, MD
Teaching Head, Critical Care Medicine
Director, Resident Wellness
Medical School: New York Medical College

Dr. Varela was born and raised in Los Angeles. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) for college where she majored in biochemistry and “loved every minute” of her time in Santa Barbara. Although most folks at UCSB took an average 5-6 years to graduate (perhaps because no one ever wants to leave the campus’ beauty), she graduated in 3 years. She moved away from Southern California just once and only for the four-year duration of her medical education at New York Medical College, Valhalla. She completed her clinic rotations in New York City, where she was exposed to an amazingly diverse patient population, both culturally and in medical pathology.

She returned to California to be near her family. She completed her internal medicine residency training at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (HUMC) in Torrance. During her residency training, she worked on research projects focusing on pancreatic cancer and biliary stents. After completion of her residency program, she worked as an attending hospitalist at both at HUMC and LAC+USC Medical Center. She went on to a combined fellowship in pulmonary disease and critical care medicine, also at HUMC. During her time as a fellow, she broadened her education by performing research in the field of sleep medicine. She specifically studied the complex HUMC sleep laboratory operations, in order to improve the efficiency of performing sleep studies in a resource-restricted safety net hospital model. After fellowship, she decided to stay in the area and continue to work within our community. Dr. Varela is currently certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in internal medicine, critical care medicine, and pulmonary disease.

On her free time she enjoys playing beach volleyball, (attempts at) surfing, running along the beach and dancing. Despite her busy work schedule, she has joined a city volleyball league and weekly dance classes. All her children have paws (Harli, Dolce & Gabanna) and give her the biggest welcome home after long hours at the hospital. Anyone who works with her will know them as if they are their family as well. Before becoming a full time pet parent, she traveled often and has amassed memories for a lifetime. She has visited over 20 countries and determined her ports of call based on her favorite movies: New Zealand for Lord of the Rings, Jordan for Indiana Jones, Europe for Da Vinci Code. She looks forward to continuing her medical services to our community in a setting of clinical teaching and life-time learning.

Sarah Jean Strube, DO, FACP
Academic Hospitalist
Associate Clinical Professor of Health Science, UCLA
Medical School: Western University of Health Sciences

Dr. Strube was raised in Huntington Beach, California and completed her undergraduate degree at California Polytechnic University Pomona and graduate studies at California State University, Fullerton. Prior to entering medical school, she worked for Pioneer Service and Engineering as an Electronics Technician and at Hewlett Packard as a Customer Service Engineer and later attained licensure as a Certified Physician Assistant. She was eventually able to pursue her life-long dream of becoming a physician and attended medical school at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona. She graduated with academic honors and was the recipient of numerous awards including the National Dean’s List, Medical Women’s Award, and Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges. She completed her Internal Medicine residency here at St. Mary Medical Center. Additionally, she has attained certification through the American Board of Internal Medicine, focused practice in Hospital Medicine.

Dr. Strube now enjoys teaching and interacting with the Internal Medicine residents and strives to provide exceptional medical care to her patients. Her academic activities include mentor and advisor for journal club, quality improvement projects and written and oral case presentations. Her other interests include environmental exercise physiology and preventive cardiology.
Dr. Strube previously competed at the national level in fastpitch softball, including three appearances at the college national championships. She has attained athletic recognition for all-league, all-region and most valuable player at third base.” She remains very active in cycling and functional weight training to maintain her conditioning. She is an audiophile and enjoys golfing, reading and spending time at the beach playing with Rennie, her Doberman.

Rima Gharibjanyan, MD
Academic Staff Physician
Clinical Instructor of Health Sciences, UCLA
Medical School: Yerevan State Medical University, Armenia

Dr. Gharibjanyan was born and raised in Armenia. She received her MD from the Yerevan State Medical University and started Anesthesia and Critical Care residency program in 1999. During her training had opportunity to do several clinical rotations at UC Davis Medical Center in 2000 which played a major role in changing her life and goals. She moved to United States and completed her Internal Medicine residency at St. Mary Medical Center in 2012. Dr. Gharibjanyan really enjoys working on inpatient wards, teaching residents and students in adding to their medical knowledge while providing excellent medical care to patients. Outside of work she enjoys cooking, music, nature, and taking care of her family and raising her sons.

Brian Rayhanabad, MD
Academic Staff Physician
Medical School: Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

Dr. Rayhanabad was raised in Southern California and completed his undergraduate studies in biology at the University of California, Irvine before heading to North Chicago for medical school. After completing his medicine internship in New Jersey he returned to Los Angeles and to St. Mary Medical Center to continue his internal medicine residency. In his final year of training, his leadership skills were recognized and he was selected as Chief Resident. He was also an active participant at the Solomon Scholars Research Day held annually at the UCLA School of Medicine. He completed his residency training in 2013, and he is board-certificated by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Rayhanabad excels as a teacher and takes great pride in structuring and moderating several didactic educational sessions each week for housestaff and medical students.