Professional Training

Outstanding Public Health & Medical Education

“The cutting edge work of our graduate students and faculty are critical parts of UC San Diego’s success, bringing hard work, ingenuity, creativity and a diversity of life experiences that enrich the campus and its scholarly pursuits,” said Chancellor Pradeep. K. Khosla.


UC San Diego’s School of Medicine, established in 1968, is the youngest among the nation’s top medical schools and has frequently ranked among the top programs. Recently, it placed 18th among 118 research-intensive medical schools by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools, 2017 Edition. In addition, UC San Diego Health has been ranked the #1 hospital in the San Diego metropolitan area for six consecutive years.

The Center for Better Beginnings is part of that cutting-edge work. Located in the Division of Dysmorphology and Teratology within the Pediatrics Department in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, the Center provides professional training to medical fellows and pre- and post-doctoral research scholars in the fields of dysmorphology, genetics, epidemiology and teratology. Co-directors Dr. Christina Chambers and Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones are actively involved in a teaching program that includes undergraduate students, graduate students, medical students, medical residents and fellows, and postdoctoral students.

  • Clinical & Research Fellowship Professors

    Shaping Pediatric and Prenatal Health

    Dr. Chambers holds joint appointments in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. She gives didactic lectures at the UCSD School of Medicine, is a group leader for Epidemiology for Medical Students at UCSD School of Medicine, an instructor at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences where she gives an eight-week elective on Teratology, and lectures in the UCSD undergraduate program for Environmental and Preventive Health Issues. She is actively involved in teaching and mentorship of students enrolled the Public Health Joint Doctoral Program from UCSD and San Diego State University. She also mentors graduate students from the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences for six-week elective rotations, and mentors Human Development course undergraduate students with an independent research project for 10-week internships. Postdoctoral scholars also find a home at the Center for Better Beginnings under the mentorship of Dr. Chambers. In recognition of her commitment to training the next generation of scholars, in 2016 Dr. Chambers received the Patricia Rodier Mid-Career Award for Research and Mentoring from the Teratology Society.

    Dr. Jones is the Independent Study Projects liaison for the Department of Pediatrics. He conducts resident rounds for neonatal fellows, residents and medical students in the UCSD neonatal intensive care unit and newborn nursery. He gives didactic lectures at the UCSD School of Medicine. At virtually all times, he has a pediatric resident from UCSD or the Balboa Naval Hospital rotating on service as part of the Dysmorphology/Genetics elective. Fourth-year medical students may also rotate on this service on a case-by-case basis.

  • Pre- & Post-Doctoral Fellowship

    Emerging Scholars in Maternal Health & Child Development

    The Center for Better Beginnings supports pre-doctoral training for students enrolled in the Public Health Joint Doctoral Program from UCSD and San Diego State University and postdoctoral training for graduate scholars holding a research doctorate. Our trainees have been very successful in their pursuit of research funding through competitive funding sources and our alumni hold faculty positions at some of the nation’s top research organizations. To learn about our current pre- and post-doctoral trainees, please read their profiles.

    Learn More

  • Medical Fellowship

    Training in the Pediatric Sub-Specialties of Genetics and Dysmorphology

    Rady Children’s Hospital offers clinical training in Genetics-Dysmorphology with Center for Better Beginnings’ leaders in the Rady Children’s Hospital Genetics/Dysmorphogy Clinic. All medical fellowships are designed to train residents in the approach to evaluation, diagnosis, and management of individuals with a wide variety of birth defects, developmental and genetic problems.