University of California, Riverside

Future Physician Leaders Program



Meet the Future Physician Leaders Staff


Neal L. Schiller, Ph.D.

Director, Future Physician Leaders
Interim Dean, UC Riverside School of Medicine

neal schiller

Neal L. Schiller, Ph.D. was appointed interim dean of the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine on September 1, 2015. Well known as a biomedical researcher and highly regarded for his teaching excellence, Schiller has been a part of UC Riverside's Division of Biomedical Sciences and Medical Education Program for more than three decades. He has worked tirelessly to provide students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the opportunity to attend medical school through the array of student pipeline programs he developed and continues to oversee.

Prior to his appointment as interim dean, Schiller had been senior associate dean for student affairs. In this position he provided leadership for the medical school's initiatives in student recruitment, admissions, financial aid, academic enrichment, pathway programs, student well-being and career counseling. He continues to hold the Salma Haider Endowed Chair in Biomedical Sciences and oversees the Thomas Haider Program, which provides a unique pathway to medical school for up to 24 UCR undergraduate students.

After earning his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Massachusetts in 1976 and conducting a two-year post-doctoral research fellowship in infectious diseases at the New York Hospital - Cornell Medical Center, Schiller joined the Division of Biomedical Sciences faculty at UC Riverside in 1979 as an assistant professor. He attained the level of associate professor in 1985, and full professor in 1996. He has been lauded for his instructional ability, receiving the UC Riverside Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006 and being elected to the UCR Academy of Distinguished Teachers in 2006-07.

In 1994, Schiller received his first leadership position, becoming the founding chair of the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Microbiology. He was an associate dean in the Graduate Division for five years beginning in 1995, then served as interim dean from 2000-03.

In 2003 he was named chair of the Division of Biomedical Sciences and made associate dean of the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences, which he held until 2010.

A year later, in 2004, Schiller founded the Medical Scholars Program (MSP), which was designed to improve the diversification of the nation's healthcare workforce. The program, which serves educationally and or socio-economically disadvantaged undergraduate students, has been an overwhelming success, significantly increasing the graduation rate and BS degree attainment for this student population.

In 2008, Schiller founded and served as the first director of the Premedical Post-baccalaureate Program, designed to assist educationally and/or socio-economically disadvantaged applicants in gaining acceptance to medical school. He was named senior associate dean for student affairs in 2010 and returned as director of the newly-renamed Thomas Haider Program in 2012.

Schiller is a member of the American Society for Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research deals with the microbial physiology, genetics, immunobiology and pathogenesis of bacterial agents.

Raul Ruiz, M.D.

Founder, Future Physician Leaders
Congressman, 36th District

Raul Ruiz Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., graduated from Coachella Valley High School and grew up in Coachella, CA. He completed his undergraduate studies at UCLA and earned his medical doctorate from Harvard Medical School and master's in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

He specialized in emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and completed a fellowship in international emergency medicine with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative where he also obtained a master's in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Ruiz is currently serving as a congressman representing the 36th district. However, he still makes time to participate in FPL events as his schedule permits.

Teresa Cofield

Director of Student Pipeline Programs

Teresa CofieldAs the director of the Pipeline Programs for the UCR School of Medicine, Teresa Cofield has played a key role in implementing the Medical Scholars Program for undergraduate students, Premedical Postbaccalureate Program, and Medical Leaders of Tomorrow, a summer program for high school students.

Cofield has spent more than two decades at UC Riverside, first as an undergraduate student earning her bachelor's degree in applied mathematics with an emphasis in economics. She also worked as a peer mentor at the UCR Academic Resource Center, then joined the staff full time after graduating.

While with the the Academic Resource Center, Cofield was the founding coordinator for the California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, a National Science Foundation funded program supporting underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Sophia Rodriguez

FPL Program Coordinator, Coachella Valley Riverside-San Bernardino

Sophia RodriguezSophia Rodriguez moved to Murrieta/Temecula from Los Angeles before entering high school and has resided in the Inland Empire ever since. She completed her undergraduate degree at University of California, Riverside and received her Bachelor's of Science in Neuroscience.

During her last year of school, she completed an internship with the City of Temecula as the FPL Temecula Coordinator. After completing her internship, she joined the UCR School of Medicine as the new program coordinator in 2015 for Coachella Valley and Riverside-San Bernardino. From her previous experiences serving the community, she has developed a passion for public health, community health and epidemiology. In addition, she is also the program coordinator for the Diabetes Health Coach Program.

Christina Granillo, Ph.D.

FPL Community Health Project Director

Christina Granillo Christina Granillo, Ph.D. was raised in San Bernardino, California and graduated from Colton High School. She graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a B.A. in psychology and then went on to earn both her master's degree and doctorate from Claremont Graduate University in psychology. Her research has focused on Latino health and language brokering (children who translate for their immigrant parents) among Latino families.

In addition to her work with the program, Granillo is a self-employed consultant providing evaluation, research, grant writing, and strategic consulting to organizations.

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