Nico Kahl was born in Liguria, Italy and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attended Las Lomas High School. He graduated summa cum laude from UC Santa Barbara in 2013 with a major in Biological Sciences, a minor in Italian Studies, and induction into Phi Beta Kappa.
Nico served as President of the Health Professions Association, and was responsible for directing UCSB’s 2013 Conference, which featured workshops from 10 physicians, and had 110 attendees. He investigated a previous administration’s misplacement of $2000, to assure the UCSB student body of HPA's transparency and accountability. Nico's board completed a $350 donation to local nonprofit organizations Doctors Without Walls and Street Health Outreach to demonstrate HPA's commitment to the local community and underserved populations. Nico and his board also set up an online payment system for HPA membership dues, and created the HPA website at ucsbhpa.com. Being a part of the HPA helped shape Nico's desire to help other students interested in getting into medicine, which he plans to carry forward throughout his medical career.
In his college career Nico contributed to stem cell research at UCSF's Gladstone Institutes and UCSB's Clegg Lab, and worked as an Italian tutor with CLAS. During his senior year of college he began working as a medical scribe at Santa Barbara Cottage ER, a clinical experience that continued during his two gap years. Nico has participated in humanitarian medical clinics with Global Medical Brigades in Honduras, Lwala Community Alliance in Western Kenya, and Doctors Without Walls locally in Santa Barbara. Nico received his M.D. at UC Irvine School of Medicine in 2019. He is involved in coordinating medical mission trips to Tijuana for UCI Medical Students. Nico hopes to have a balanced medical career that involves patient care, procedures, administration, and lifelong service to the community. In his free time, Nico enjoys traveling, cooking Italian cuisine, hiking, playing beach volleyball, playing and watching baseball, and seeing live music.
Lauren Downey started her career in the Health Professions Association her sophomore year at UCSB as the Public Relations Director in 2013. She worked primarily on marketing strategies and recruiting members. Through volunteering at Cottage Hospital, Lauren was able to set up a relationship with the Events Director at Cottage and organized a group of HPA members to volunteer every year at Cottage Hospital’s Annual Heart Health Fair. Her largest contribution to HPA was her co-founding of Partners in Wellness with Amir Soltani at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
During her junior year at UCSB, Lauren was Co-President of Partners in Wellness and continued to work on the growth of HPA by providing new volunteering opportunities for members and improving group unity within the HPA board and with the general members. One of her favorite volunteering opportunities that she set up was the Special Olympics, coaching the swim team with other HPA members. Outside of HPA, Lauren worked as a Personal Care Attendant through Devereux for three autistic adults, one of which was paraplegic.
Currently, Lauren works at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA as a Clinical Research Coordinator in Ophthalmology. She is pursuing her doctorate in Optometry, which includes studying for the OAT and shadowing two optometrists as she prepares to apply to Optometry schools. Working at UCLA has given Lauren hands-on experiences with patient care and clinical research. In addition, she is a visual acuity examiner, photographer, and surgical scribe for the studies that she manages at UCLA.