Faculty Leadership

Medical Ethics Program Director

Aaron Kheriaty, MD is an associate professor of Psychiatry and director of the Program in Medical Ethics at the UC Irvine School of Medicine. He also serves as chair of the clinical ethics committee at UC Irvine Medical Center.

Kheriaty graduated from the University of Notre Dame in philosophy and pre-medical sciences, and earned his medical degree from Georgetown University. He is the author of several books and articles for professional and lay audiences on bioethics, social science and psychiatry.

In addition to articles in peer reviewed journals, his work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Orange County Register, Public Discourse and First Things. He has conducted print, radio and television interviews on bioethics topics with The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and Fusion. He has been invited to address to the California Medical Association, the UC Center in Sacramento, the Sacramento Press Club, and he has testified before the California Senate Health Committee on matters of public policy, bioethics and healthcare.

Affiliated Faculty

Chief Medical Officer

Douglas G. Merrill, MD, is a board-certified UC Irvine Health anesthesiologist and chief medical officer of UC Irvine Medical Center.

Merrill, who has more than 25 years of medical and hospital experience, came to UC Irvine Health from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, where he was director of its Center for Perioperative Services, overseeing budgets, quality of care, accreditation and personnel. While at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, he opened a new ambulatory surgery center and led the renovation of its main operating rooms.

Merrill earned his medical degree at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. He completed a rotating internship at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, CA, and a residency in anesthesiology at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, CA. Merrill also earned a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Iowa, while serving as assistant hospital director and chief patient safety officer at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, IA.

Medical Humanities Program

Johanna Shapiro, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Director of the Program in Medical Humanities & Arts at UC Irvine School of Medicine.

As a psychologist and medical educator, she has focused her research and scholarship on the socialization process of medical education, with a special emphasis on the impact of training on student empathy and on the doctor-patient relationship, including physician interactions with “difficult,” stigmatized and culturally diverse patient populations.

Spiritual Care Program

The Spiritual Care Program is run by board-certified chaplain Joseph Nguyen, MDiv, MA, BCC, STD.

Nguyen has liberal arts degrees in Philosophy, Psychology and Religion, as well as extensive training in music, languages and the arts.

He received his doctoral degree in Moral Theology & Biomedical Ethics from Santa Clara University's Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, where he specialized in ethical anthropology and the ethics of genetic patenting. Nguyen came to UC Irvine to pioneer the Spiritual Care Program at the medical center after extensive work as clergy, educator and healthcare liaison for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

Human Kindness Curriculum

Ralph Clayman, MD, former dean of the UC Irvine School of Medicine, is an internationally respected urologist who pioneered minimally invasive surgical techniques that have revolutionized treatment for diseases of the kidney and urinary tract.

He performed the world's first removal of a tumor-bearing kidney through a small incision using a laparoscope. He also perfected the use of cryotherapy to treat renal cancer, as well as other less invasive methods to improve patient outcomes. Clayman has invented more than a dozen devices for performing minimally invasive surgery.

Clayman, who has published more than 400 articles in peer-reviewed journals, is currently leading an effort to implement and study an innovative curriculum for medical students on cultivating kindness and related clinical virtues.

Questions? Contact Program Coordinator Stefanie Yoshii at or 714-456-6749.