Dr. Gold supervises test subject using virtual reality headset

Biobehavioral Pain Laboratory

Meet Our Team

Principal Investigator
Jeffrey Gold, PhD

Jeffrey I. Gold, PhD

IRB Chair, Human Subject Protection Program
Director, Children's Outcomes, Research, and Evaluation (C.O.R.E.) Program
Director, Pediatric Integrative Medicine
Director Emeritus, Pediatric Pain Medicine Clinic
Professor of Anesthesiology (Clinical Scholar), Pediatrics, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine of USC
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Nhat Ngo

Program Specialist

(No pronoun preference)

Nhat graduated from the University of Southern California with their BA in religion and BS in human biology with an emphasis in biomedical sciences. During their undergraduate career, they explored their passions as community-based research internship at AIDS Project Los Angeles and as a volunteer health educator at Ánimo South Los Angeles Charter High School. Their experiences encouraged them to pursue a career in healthcare to serve low-income and underserved communities. Thus, they found themselves drawn to the Biobehavioral Pain Lab’s integrative approach to pain management and CHLA’s commitment to its surrounding community and patient population. Nhat was introduced to the lab by way of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at USC and hasn’t looked back since. They have worked on all research projects in the lab including VR for pediatric pain and anxiety, secondary traumatic stress in nurses, mind body physical education for undergraduates, and VR for MRI preparedness to name a few. Outside of the lab, they enjoy reading with their book club, going to concerts, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, and making the most out of their LACMA membership.

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Chelsea C. Okoro

Project Coordinator


Chelsea graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a BS in human biology and society and a minor in public health. The majority of their undergraduate career was devoted to the intersection between society and medicine, especially as it pertains to social determinants of health and low-income, underrepresented, and medically underserved communities. From her varying experiences as a health educator, caseworker, and researcher, Chelsea is set on improving healthcare and health outcomes through innovation, community, and social justice. These passions guided them to the Biobehavioral Pain Lab at CHLA for their devotion to its patients, community, and transformative care. As Chelsea embarks on her new position as Project Coordinator, they are excited to engage with the various research projects in the lab and better health outcomes for all. Outside of the lab, Chelsea enjoys dancing, music, all things fashion, and spending quality time with loved ones.

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Mikayla Sutter

Clinical Research Coordinator


Mikayla graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Honor’s Psychology. Mikayla hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology to work with addiction, adolescents, and teens. In her free time, she loves spending time at Malibu beaches, curating playlists, and watching Quentin Tarantino movies.

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Cristal Lopez, PhD

Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow


Cristal Lopez, PhD, is a Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. As part of her fellowship, she joined the Biobehavioral Pain laboratory under the primary mentorship of Jeffrey I. Gold, PhD. She earned her doctorate from Texas A&M University and has trained at Texas Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Texas A&M University School of Medicine. As a scientist-practitioner, she has assisted in various clinical research trials aimed at evaluating and validating therapeutic interventions for pediatric populations. Her emerging program of research at CHLA seeks to evaluate integrative medicine practices such as acupuncture, massage and mindfulness for pediatric patients experiencing acute and chronic pain and palliative care needs. Specifically, Dr. Lopez is interested in examining how adverse childhood experiences and cultural factors play into families' openness to receive integrative medicine services, and patient outcomes. After the fellowship concludes, she hopes to continue measuring the impact of integrative and whole person health for diverse pediatric patients and their families.

Research Assistants
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Shannon Lau

Research Assistant


Shannon is a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles studying Human Biology and Society and double minoring in Applied Developmental Psychology and Theater. She is passionate about the intersectionality of health care and the multiple identities a patient has, along with the need for an increase in accessibility for scientific literature and the arts. Shannon hopes to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant and to, one day, join the peace corps. Outside of the lab, she enjoys going to movie screenings and premieres in Westwood, spending quality time with family and friends, and creating short films with fellow members of LCC, an Asian American Theater company.

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Marcus Chang

Research Assistant


Marcus is a senior at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Physiological Science and minoring in Society and Genetics. Marcus has hopes of pursing an MD and is set on using his educational experiences to eventually implement more equitable, holistic healthcare policies. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, eating new foods, and trying out new board games and video games with friends.